Banking is evolving, Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank is also

The Martha's Vineyard Savings Bank headquarters is located on Main Street in Edgartown. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

As the recently appointed president and chief executive officer of Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank, I’m grateful for this opportunity to introduce myself to Island residents, business owners, and the community at large. It is great to be here, and I realize I have not yet begun to touch the surface of this wonderful, vibrant, and special place most of you have called home for many years.

I was asked to comment on 2013 banking “trends.” Complex and expanding regulations are a sure bet for 2013. New or enhanced technologies that allow banks to deliver more convenient and flexible products efficiently are also odds-on favorites. While many may consider these to be modern trends, I believe these trends are consistent with age-old community bank practices. That is, community banks are safe, sound, friendly, and convenient.

Regulation is designed to ensure that banks facilitate commerce within the communities in which we live and work, in a safe and sound manner. New regulation has been necessary to keep pace with new technologies, such as online banking and mobile banking. Regulation was also necessary to address practices that contributed to the 2008 financial crisis. While most Northeast banks did not engage in these non-bank or non-traditional, banking practices, we must dedicate resources to satisfy the new requirements, and customers will notices the changes.

Banks will continue to evolve in 2013, in order to meet the inevitable competitive and regulatory changes. Community banks must be successful in this regard to remain vibrant and relevant within the communities they serve. Customers should look to embrace the changes as they are necessary to the long-term success of community banks and the financial strength of the surrounding communities.

Martha’s Vineyard is perhaps one of the best examples of a successful evolution precipitated by outside events. The discovery of cheap oil in Pennsylvania in the mid 1800s led to a quick and dramatic decline in demand for whale oil and blubber and a devastation of the whaling industry by 1870. Martha’s Vineyard was able to adapt and successfully transform its economy form a whaling-based economy to a vibrant seasonal tourist destination. The change was not easy and was not embraced by everyone. However, the evolution was necessary to ensure the long-term viability of the Vineyard.

Banks and the Vineyard are not immune from the effects of change across the region, nation, or globe. Some of these changes may benefit the Island community, others may create a challenge. The key is to be looking for and expect change, make proactive assessments, and evolve as necessary. This approach is required if community banks are to fulfill their fundamental mission, which is to facilitate commerce and contribute positively to the communities they serve.

So, I look forward to a continuation of recent bank trends in 2013, that is, for bank customers to prefer to do business with banks and bankers they know and trust and that consistently reinvest in the communities they serve. I am ever confident and grateful for this trend. Happy New Year.

Paul Falvey is the new president of the Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank.