Behind the scenes
For many years community bank stock has generally been controlled by a small group of people, usually directors and their families. In some instances it was just the prestige of owning a piece of the local bank and the rarity of the investment. But another reason many of these institutions were owned by so few is that it has been one of the best places to put investment dollars to reap a substantial return without the volatility contained in the major markets. Well managed community banks earn an average of 6-8% return on their shareholders equity. This is in addition to the investments compounding return and the tax deferred treatment of gains. It has provided many bank shareholders a worthwhile investment over the last 100 years.
After many buy-outs of local independent banks by larger bank holding companies approximately 100 independent Ohio banks are still locally owned, down from 600 in 1977. Generally these buy-outs mean that decisions, such as loan policies, are made by management many miles away and are not necessarily beneficial to the local community. Many of the community banks have learned that close concentration of ownership increases the likelihood of an undesired takeover. At Community Banc Investments, we work with these banks to broaden their stockholder bases, which also opens up many new opportunities for marketing the banks services.
For the past 30 years the management of Community Banc Investments has worked in communities throughout the state of Ohio in assisting banks to retain their independence. Our goal is to inform the stockholders of the qualities of this excellent investment so they can make educated decisions. We have found that few community bank stock holders truly understand how this investment differs from other more commonly traded stocks. While this rare investment is a very poor short term "trading stock", and is mediocre as a cash yield stock, its long term growth potential is difficult to match. We believe educating the shareholder and potential shareholders of the details of these things are the best way to help a bank to remain independent.
We are very excited about community banking as we enter a new era. We find a growing trend in the market place as customers become more and more frustrated with the high service fees and the impersonal approach of the "big city bank". We believe our greatest success stories in the future will be the ones about community banks that are aggressively going after markets that have been dominated by their larger brethren.
While the money gurus with their crystal balls and computer analysis search for the perfect investment in these uncertain economic times, investors should check out local independent banks.