The Community Bank Difference

By Owen LaFave, Pinellas County Market President, The Bank of Tampa

All eyes are on the U.S. banking industry as three of the biggest bank failures in U.S. history have created a disruption in recent months. However, while these bank failures have raised concerns about the safety and soundness of the banking system, it’s important to understand that all banks are not created equal.

Unlike some of the larger financial institutions under recent scrutiny, community banks like The Bank of Tampa primarily serve small to mid-size businesses and use a different business model and risk profile. Our core customer base is the small to mid-size businesses and their families throughout Tampa Bay. Community banks generally avoid speculative, high-risk or trendy opportunities, focusing more on the deployment of funds to fulfill community needs.

At the foundation of community banking is a strong focus on the communities where we operate. Our relationships obligate us to make smart, and safe, decisions on our clients’ behalf. We invest in our community through donations, sponsorships and community service efforts, volunteering our time and serving on non-profit and civic boards.

According to the Small Business Association (SBA), community banks fund 60% of small business loans. As locally owned and operated businesses, community banks are a key part of the group of economic influencers that make up 62% of new jobs annually.

Community banks are deeply focused on building relationships with the small businesses and families they serve. We rely on relationships and our reputation; we are dedicated to looking out for our clients’ long-term interests. Community banks help local economies thrive—our success is interwoven with the small businesses and families we support. For that reason, you can trust that your local financial institution is invested in your success.

At The Bank of Tampa, our approach is to focus on established banking practices that have served the Tampa Bay community for generations.

According to recent remarks by FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg, early reports from the first quarter of 2023 indicate net income was roughly unchanged compared to the fourth quarter 2022, excluding acquisition impacts from failing banks. In addition, he states that asset quality remains favorable and the industry remains well capitalized. Deposits actually grew in the first quarter at community banks, which is in contrast to the regional and mega banks that saw deposit outflows.

This isn’t the first time community banks have weathered a financial crisis. We proved stable during the 2008 recession and the COVID-19 pandemic. We are here for our customers through every stage of the economic cycle and we have been for decades. The Bank of Tampa is well capitalized with ample liquidity and a stable deposit base.

Over decades, we have invested time and resources into building those relationships. To us, you are not just an anonymous entity, with a score, applying for a loan. We value and take into consideration who you are, your reputation, our past interactions and, yes, our relationship—not just the hard numbers that don’t always tell the full story. At your local bank, you can depend on working with familiar faces who know your business and are dedicated to helping you be successful in achieving your financial goals.

Owen LaFave

About the Author

Owen LaFave serves as Pinellas County Market President at The Bank of Tampa. Owen has more than 20 years of experience in banking, all of which has been spent in the Tampa Bay area. He is a graduate of the University of South Florida and holds a Bachelor of Arts in business finance. Owen currently serves on the board of the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce and Neighborhood Lending Partners, Inc., and had multiple leadership roles in the past with various organizations in Tampa Bay. In 2016, he was selected as an Up & Comer by the Tampa Bay Business Journal in the 40 under 40 category. Additionally, he is a graduate of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Tampa Class of 2015.

The Bank of Tampa | Member FDIC

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