Community Bank Leader Spotlight | Citizens State Bank of Lankin
We sat with Christine Grove, ISO and CBSM of Citizens State Bank of Lankin to discuss how CalTech, Community Banks and technology has helped to support small business and the families that occupy their local communities.
Why do you feel community banking is important?
Well, I grew up in small-town North Dakota. Working in a community bank, it has always been important to me to reinvest our dollars back into the community; helping our customers, local business owners and their families sustain and improve their lives each day.
We know our customers, and attend local events such as schools, fundraisers for local hospitals, nursing homes, churches, and even individual family fundraisers. At the end of the day, it’s important to aid in keeping our communities alive and thriving.
How long have you worked in community banking?
Altogether 13 years. I started at Citizens back in 1998 for five years. I came back in 2012 and have been here again for the past eight years now.
How can community banks help improve or streamline efforts in the community, as opposed to how some larger corporate banks operate?
The great thing about a community bank is that we know everyone who comes through the door. Due to time restraints with the family’s other businesses, they were looking to sell the local grocery and were having difficulty selling. The community and Citizens State Bank held several fundraisers and events to keep the store stocked and open to help save the business. A resident of the community offered to manage the store to keep it open and the city came to the rescue, and now, they own it. I don’t know that you see that a lot in larger communities.
Most times, we have the ability to push loans for families and small businesses right through on the same day it was applied for. I worked for a larger bank for a short time, and the process was much less streamlined. I did not really like the fact that I never got to know my customers the same way I can at a community bank.
Speaking to size, how big of a community is CSB of Lankin currently serving?
We are currently serving four communities in North Dakota. We are mainly an Ag bank, so we serve these four communities and surrounding areas. Lankin, which is our charter bank, is the smallest town we are in with around 100 people. Edmore is another small town, serving maybe a few hundred. Edinburg, as well, has about 200. And our biggest town is Park River, where I am, with about 1,500. We are more recently getting back into the real estate market to support our local families.
How would you say technology has helped your bank reach its goals?
Well, we’ve started to utilize social media more than in the past. We advertise local events on Facebook and are looking to get more involved on Instagram and Twitter. We currently send out several E-blasts with helpful resources and information such as Cyber Security Awareness.
We have multiple generations banking with us and with technology, we don’t have to lose our local students who go off to college to the larger banks due to our mobile deposit feature. They have been able to keep their account open at their hometown bank they grew up in. We have also had customers that have moved away due to job relocation, they have kept their accounts open here with our mobile deposit feature, and they know who we are and know they are going to get a friendly voice when they call in with any questions.
Technology has certainly helped us become more productive and efficient in supporting other avenues within the community, allowing us to spend more time hands-on with our customers.
Has CalTech and the services we’ve provided assisted in helping Lankin be more efficient and serve the community better?
Oh, absolutely! From where we came from in the past, we have a lot more resources thanks to CalTech, including the tech that is supporting us. I feel more comfortable with CalTech, and there is a lot less for me to worry about so that we can focus on other areas needing our attention.
What more do you think could be done from a Leadership position to best support small business and families that own and operate businesses in your area?
It would be great to share more small business content on social channels, whether or not they are customers or not. For example, we encourage people to shop locally to support small businesses.
We help with some community events in the summer, but hosting more events for small businesses throughout the year would also be great.
We partner with EVERFI, a financial literacy program. They contact local schools and teachers to run financial literacy programs through the school. They teach everything from banking basics, income & employment budgeting, consumer skills, managing credit & debit, financing higher education, and insurance. It’s been a great resource for the community. There are also courses for adults!
Where do you feel technology is moving towards in the next year or two?
For our bank, as a smaller bank, we are going through a core conversion. That will help us with our customers as we look towards the future, for the younger generation especially. We will be improving our online banking, mobile banking, digital account opening, and there’s even voice-banking with Alexa, which I’m interested in learning more about.
What would you say are your biggest goals for CSB to achieve over the next 3-5 years?
With the new core, I know we will be more efficient allowing us to concentrate on our customers and our communities. I would love to see us be more active in schools with our EVERFI program.
My biggest goal would be to see more cybersecurity training in schools.
Overall, you’re always looking out for your customers. You want to make them happy, talk with them, support them and their needs as we all aim to grow our businesses together.