AFCM Interviews Town Center Bank President Bruce Bryant
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AFCM: How does Town Center Bank set interest rates on HSAs?
BB: Rates are tied to our Money Market Account rate. The Health Savings Account is an interest-bearing checking account that comes with a debit card. Right now itís around two percent.
AFCM: Does the Bank offer brokerage accounts?
BB: Not yet. We may consider such an option. As HSA balances build over time, we believe the client will want to place those funds in a vehicle that may earn greater returns than a Money Market account.
AFCM: Does Town Center Bank offer online account management?
BB: Yes, with digital images of checks. Each month you get a statement.
AFCM: What type of training do you provide?
BB: Our customer service agents are generally knowledgeable and we have a couple of specialists available. Weíre excited about the future of HSAs but weíre also conservative and we want to make sure we expand our HSAs-related services carefully.
AFCM: Whatís your marketing philosophy?
BB: In sending out material to various insurance agents, we are connected with the County Bar Association and they have linked their Web site to our bank Web site. We sent brochures and flyers to our own agent database, which we developed from the Yellow Pages and from organizational rosters, and to a database of Certified Public Accountants [CPAs]. We also attend trade shows of employee benefit planners. People like to do business eyeball to eyeball, across the table, or over the phone, and they want their questions answered. Youíre seeing more and more articles about HSAs in the small business community and I think small business is demanding to know from their professionals more about HSAs. With CPAs, itís an opportunity to educate them.
AFCM: Why do you suppose more banks havenít created HSA products?
BB: Probably because there are so many other issues to deal with and when you think about HSAs, itís like, Ďthatís kind of interesting but I have a pile on my desk.í One of the only reasons our bank is invested in HSAs is because an individual employee, Darlene, was bright and persistent enough to convince us.
AFCM: Does Town Center Bank offer HSAs in all 50 states?
AFCM: How do you gain new customers?
BB: Most are coming from agents selling the [compatible high deductible health insurance] plans. Itís hard to tell if weíre getting business from our Web site.
AFCM: How do banking regulations affect business?
BB: They have a tremendous impact on the bankís overall cost structure. Itís just basic economics and regulations have made banking more expensive for everyone. Some of the regulations are arguably beneficialófor instance, the Truth in Lending Actóbut I canít tell you how expensive it is to comply with what seems like a pretty easy regulation like that; there are so many nuances that make compliance with various regulations very expensive. What we ought to do is say, Ďhereís the meat of the transaction and then hereís all this other stuff that the government says is important and if you donít think itís important, please drop your congressman a line.í
AFCM: Which principle defines Town Center Bank?
BB: Banking is a personal business, which goes to the reason our bank was established. Oregon is a relatively small state in terms of the number of banks. For years, two banks that held 75 percent of the market share dominated banking in Oregon. Through the Depression era, they acquired many of the smaller banks and they did provide a good level of service. When I started my banking career in the 1970s, those two banks held the market. That started a change in the mid-1980s, as mergers began to occur. The old First National Bank of Oregon and U.S. Bank of Oregon were acquired and, all of a sudden, their owners were located out of state. The old one-on-one approach to customer service, where the local branch manager had some degree of authority in making loans, went out the door. There were several local business people in the mid-1990s who had just had it [with impersonal banking] and, based on the concept of personal banking, our bank was chartered in the Clackamas area. We opened the doors as a small community bank with 250 investors and about $5 million in capital as a bank that welcomes the small businessman. We mean it; we believe it and we live by it every day. Our phones are still answered by live people right here in our local offices.
Scott Holleran, Editorial Director
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