Years ago, financial institutions were more than just a place to manage your money. They were a part of the community. They participated in events, supported schools and organizations and went out of their way to serve their customers.
Also, to entice new customers, they were always giving things away such as free checking or savings accounts, pens, pencils, clocks and toasters.
Even a short 10 years ago, I remember how bank officials visited my children’s school to entice them to open savings accounts through a special program. They were given small gifts, including stickers, a pencil and ruler, and the school held a weekly bank day where the kids brought in their deposits.
I thought those days were long gone, but it seems financial institutions are starting to return to their roots, at least here in Boulder City.
Take, for example, “Coach Pete” Amaya, the new vice president of community banking and branch manager for Wells Fargo (see article on Page 8A).
He puts community first and believes if he supports the community, the community will, in return, patronize his bank.
Our paths have crossed several times at various events throughout Boulder City, including the recent State of the City address. He told me that night he surprised quite a few people who were not accustomed to seeing a banker at city functions.
In other cities where he worked, he joined numerous organizations, including those that work to make the city a better place to live. He said he fully intended to do the same here. It was his duty as a resident and businessman in Boulder City.
True to his word, he was welcomed into the Boulder City Sunrise Rotary club as a member last Thursday.
That same night, I witnessed another prime example: the annual meeting of Boulder Dam Credit Union. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a meeting like that before, especially one presented by a financial institution.
The credit union welcomed more than 350 members to dinner, acting as a gracious host. The evening seemed designed to make them feel that the credit union is more than just a place to do business. It is a place to belong and make friends.
And it seems the feeling is mutual. Eric Estes, president and CEO of the credit union, said it sold out of tickets to the event in six hours and had 80 people on the waiting list. Fortunately, staff agreed to give up their tickets so that credit union members could attend.
Sure, there was the customary election of board officers, news about new policies and procedures and presentation of the financial report. And there even was a pen and pencil set for every attendee. But all that was tempered by the buffet dinner served before the business portion of the event and the chocolate-covered strawberries waiting on each table when we arrived.
In these days where interest-bearing accounts are practically a thing of the past, how often do you find financial institutions giving back money? The credit union does — and did — concluding the evening with prize drawings for nearly $3,000 cash. What a way to say thanks for being a member.
Next year is the credit union’s 75th anniversary, and Estes promised the annual meeting will be even more exciting. I can’t wait — and they don’t even need to give me a toaster.