People’s Utah Bancorp President and CEO Richard Beard has been named the chairman of the board for the Western Independent Bankers’ Association. His experience with and passion for community banking has positioned him to help WIB support community banks throughout the western United States.
Beard has been the president, CEO and a member of the board of directors of People’s Utah Bancorp and Bank of American Fork since 2004. He currently serves as a member of the board for the State of Utah Department of Financial Institutions and has also served on the board of directors of the Utah Bankers Association. Prior to his appointment as the chairman of WIB, Beard served on the board and executive committee.
WIB is a trade association that informs, educates and connects community banks with banking-related resources and services to achieve the highest standards of personal and organizational performance. More than 150 community banks in the western states are members. Besides educating bankers, WIB also educates communities on why the community-banking model should matter to local citizens.
Beard and WIB are passionate about the community banking model. Community banks are focused on the unique needs of local businesses and families. Loans are generally invested in the local economy and decisions impacting customers are made locally, by people who live and work in the communities they serve.
According to the Independent Community Bankers of America, community banks fund nearly 60 percent of loans to small businesses, although they compose just 10 percent of the nation’s banking assets. The high-touch, personal service they offer to individuals and communities can’t be matched by banks that make loan decisions a thousand miles away from the borrower’s community.
“When you look to your community banker for a mortgage loan or funding for local business, you can feel confident that they care about what they are offering the community,” Beard said. “Community bankers want to see people get into homes or get the loans they need to grow or start their businesses, and make loan decisions that ensure profits are reinvested in the local economy. We live and work in the community, too, so we have a vested interest in seeing the economy and individuals thrive.”
The number of banks in the United States is shrinking dramatically. In 1990 there were more than 12,000 banks in the country. Today there are less than 7,000, 98 percent of which are community banks. Some experts predict that soon there may only be 3,000-4,000 banks left after the last economic downturn and with continued consolidation subsequently occurring. WIB is concerned with the shrinking number of community banks, since fewer banks mean fewer choices for individuals and business owners.
Business owners benefit from working with local lenders who have unique knowledge about their communities—Senior Economist and Economic Advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago Robert deYoung calls this “soft information,” and it comes from a relationship-based approach to lending.
Beard’s new position as chairman of WIB will allow him to continue to help preserve this critical community-banking model.