“SERVICE” – Our Last Name, Our First Priority!
“SERVICE” – Our Last Name, Our First Priority!

Banks’ True Currency: Trust

Lenders’ value is measured in more than dollars and cents, U.S. Bancorp chairman says

This essay was written for The Wall Street Journal by Richard K. Davis, chairman and chief executive officer of U.S. Bancorp. USB 0.16 %

A bank is the heartbeat of every community in which it operates—whether that community is local, regional, national, or global. It is a bank’s single greatest purpose—to keep entire communities growing and going.

A strong bank fortifies the overall health of our communities. The stronger the bank, the stronger the community. The stronger the community, the stronger the bank. It’s a symbiotic relationship that has always been built on trust.

Richard K. Davis
Richard K. Davis

The financial crisis eroded trust and challenged a core belief: that a sound American economy and strong financial system would always create upward momentum. Banks are working hard to regain that trust, to rebuild communities and to support the restoration of the economy.

I believe we are at a defining moment that makes it essential to recognize that a bank—and only a bank—can be the financial bedrock for the vibrancy of our communities: It is time to trust again.

Rebuilding that trust is crucial, because banks’ engagement with customers is infinitely different today than when I started my career as a bank teller more than 40 years ago. Back then, banks would primarily tell customers what we could do for them. Today, customers are telling banks what they need from us.

We are listening and adjusting. Changing customer values and lightning-like adoption of varying technologies are altering the expectations for speed, tolerance for risk, fears about data security, and visions for their personal financial freedom. It demands transparency and trust.

Plus, our customers’ definitions of community are evolving and we must evolve with them. Community now transcends geography and includes deeply personal issues, such as financial literacy, corporate social responsibility and reaching the unbanked.

As we rebuild trust between the banks and our communities, the strength of a bank is a far more important consideration than the size of a bank. We need large banks, midsize banks, and neighborhood banks working together to build our communities. Size is arbitrary. Strength is measurable. Trust—banks’ true currency—is built on strength.

To reach our goal, we must ensure that no external forces or internal distractions interfere with what banks do best—keeping entire communities growing and going. Every day, banks withstand shortsighted attempts to redefine or criticize the industry. This rhetoric is harmful to the American economy and detrimental to the psyche of customers—and largely unwarranted given the progress we are making.

Banks have learned many lessons in recent years. While considerable protections have been added to improve the safety and soundness of the industry, we know we must get better every day—and we are.

We are stronger today on the Main Streets across the nation than we have ever been.

I am proud to be a banker. I am proud to lead a bank that is an engine for economic growth. I am proud that our first core value is “do the right thing.”

Most importantly, I am forward-looking and focused squarely on being the most trusted choice for our communities.