Bill Thompson Reflects on the Banking Industry and Queensborough’s Unique Niche
Monday, April 27th, 2015
Queensborough National Bank and Trust Company, headquartered in Louisville, Ga., delivers big bank products with small town service. The bank that has been in business since 1902 now has 22 branches, mostly located in small communities where their 270 employees both work and live. Seven of those branches are in Augusta, making Augusta Queensborough’s biggest market, while Queensborough also has a significant prescence in Savannah.
Bill Thompson, Executive Vice President and Chief Lending Officer says, “The bank is the largest national bank headquartered in the state based on its $800 million in assets.” Founded originally as First National Bank and Trust Company, the organization underwent a name change in 2006 to minimize confusion with similarly named institutions. Though the name has changed, throughout its 110+ year history the bank has adhered to two priorities: (1) to listen to the needs of its customers and (2) to keep the banking process as simple as possible.
“We’ve always been a friendly bank,” says Thompson. Several years ago, however, in an organized effort to define what consistent service looks like, Queensborough undertook a project in which employees supplied insight into the definition. Thompson says they also studied companies known to exceed customer expectations, such as Chick-fil-A and Apple. Queensborough’s Q Star Service Standards resulted from the process and were established to ensure that all Queensborough employees know and understand the commitment and expectations that the Bank places on providing exceptional customer service. “We’re providing products and financial services that larger banks have, but we’re doing it with the local customer service most of them cannot,” Thompson says.
Nonetheless, Queensborough faces the same challenges as the bigger banks, in particular heavy regulations. Over the course of his career in the banking industry, which began in 1981, Thompson has seen the industry cycle from heavy regulation to minimal regulation, resulting from congress’s repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, and back to complex regulation with the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act. At the same time, the banking industry has become more sophisticated and analytical in the way it does business. Together, these changes mean less risk for the consumer but an increasing cost to the banking industry.
“It isn’t a challenge we’ve shied away from,” says Thompson. “We spend time studying the regulations and training our people.” He adds, “We work closely with depositors and investors to understand their risk profile so that we can provide a reasonable return on their investment within their comfort zone.”
As larger banks have closed in Georgia’s small towns, from Savannah to Augusta, Queensborough has capitalized on the opportunity to provide individuals and businesses with access to convenient, hometown banking available face-to-face or via technology. Businesses in Georgia’s smaller communities, such as Metter, Thomson, Sylvania and Midville, benefit from products like remote deposit, online cash management, commercial loans and merchant service accounts.
In addition to contributing to the economic strength of rural Georgia, plus the CSRA and Savannah, Thompson says, “We invest in the communities where we do business and encourage our employees to do the same.” For nearly five years, Queensborough has partnered with Golden Harvest Food Bank to end hunger in areas where the bank has a presence. “We’re proud to say that our employees have adopted and supported this partnership with their time and resources. Since November of 2010, we have hosted and funded 37 mobile pantry events, distributing over 190,000 pounds of food to the hungry. We currently have seven mobile events on the calendar for 2015,” Thompson summarizes.
Queensborough National Bank and Trust Company continues to evolve to meet the needs of its personal banking and business banking customers. In 2014, Queensborough initiated Q Works, a workplace banking program that takes financial teaching to the employees of its business banking clients. In addition, the Finance Works product, available to account holders via Queensborough’s Internet banking website, enables customers to aggregate all of their assets, even those held by different institutions. Finally, Thompson says, “We’re trying to turn our branches into financial education centers,” where bank customers are both trained to use Queensborough’s various products and services and instructed in matters related to personal finances.