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Community banks are the lifeblood of their communities

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There has been much discussion and debate recently about the role of community banking in America.  In fact, I read with interest a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, “Tally of U.S. Banks Sinks to Record Low,” which compelled me to write this blog post reaffirming our support of these banks.

The article points out that the number of banks has dramatically decreased to 6,891 as of September 30, 2013. The reasons for this decline are varied.

On one side there are changing demographics, and the challenges smaller, more rural communities face while simultaneously trying to prosper. Not to mention the impact of rapidly changing technology and accelerating costs.

On the other side, persistently low interest rates and a difficult regulatory environment have made the business of banking more challenging. Clearly interest rates will return to a more “normal” level at some point, and our hope is that regulators find proper balance as we move forward.

So, you may be wondering, what does this all mean for the banking industry? Opinions have varied greatly as to whether a reduction in the number of banks is a positive or negative trend. There also have been various viewpoints on the impact it could have for community banks, given the large number represented in the decline. This in particular is the point I would like to address.

UMB has been offering Correspondent Banking services since 1928, and we currently work with more than 1,000 community banks. Because of our relationships and experience in this area, we know firsthand the value they provide and the part they play in not only our industry, but in their communities as well.

We understand the critical banking and financial needs community banks address within their communities, and we are firm in our convictions that the community banking model works. Our company has always been an advocate for community banks that serve their local communities, businesses and citizens, often providing services larger banks are frequently unwilling to extend.

We know that banks are the lifeblood of their communities. As such, having community banks solidly positioned with the services required to fulfill their mission of growing and supporting their communities is crucial to the long-term economic health and vitality of their communities. It is also essential for the future of banking—and we will continue to be here to support community banks in their endeavors.


Mr. deSilva is president and chief operating officer of UMB Financial Corporation. He is also vice chairman of UMB Bank, n.a. Mr. deSilva joined UMB in January 2004. He is primarily responsible for UMB's fee-producing business units and product lines, including Scout Investments; UMB Fund Services, UMB Healthcare Services Payment Solutions, Prairie Capital Management. Additionally, he is responsible for all corporate operations, technology, properties, security and marketing.

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