Community banks. Online banks. Cooperative banks. Let’s be honest, banks today come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors (personally, we prefer orange). But it’s not just our sharp color that makes Avidia stand out; it’s also our charter as a mutual savings bank.
Now you’re probably thinking, mutual savings bank…I know I’ve heard that banking term before… but what does it actually mean?
To answer that question, we went right to the top to speak with Mark O’Connell, Avidia’s President & CEO. “I think there’s a lot of confusion about what it means to be a mutual bank. It basically means we don’t have shareholders and can act in the best interest of our customers.”
Sure, a lot of banks say they do what’s best for their customers, but as a mutual savings bank, however, Avidia put its money behind it.
“Because we’re not beholden to stockholders, we don’t have the pressure to deliver quarterly returns or pay dividends with the profits. Instead, we can put the profits back into the bank to reward our customers in other ways,” explained O’Connell.
One such way is to offer lower fees and competitive rates.
The bank is also able to invest in one of its most important assets – its employees – to deliver a higher level of service. “We’re able to offer competitive salaries and to provide opportunities for training and growth,” said O’Connell. This investment is one of the reasons why Avidia has a high employee retention rate and why you continue to be served by the same friendly, knowledgeable people year after year.
Independence and stability
Mutuality offers another important benefit – stability. “We are an independent bank. That’s why we’ve been around for 150 years and why our customers can feel confident that we’ll continue to be there for them – even as other banks are being purchased by larger financial institutions,” said O’Connell.
Another benefit of mutuality involves lending. “We’re able to make local lending decisions. So if a business is looking for a commercial loan, they don’t have to go through layer upon layer of approvals. They also have access to the decision makers,” said O’Connell. The mutual structure also allows Avidia to be a little more flexible when it comes to lending decisions. “We can be patient lenders, providing flexibility to help business owners through challenging economic cycles,” said O’Connell.
O’Connell is especially proud of another benefit of being a mutual savings bank – the opportunity to give back to the community. “Every year through the bank and through our charitable foundation, we’re able to invest in our communities.” That might involve donations or sponsorships to local events or contributions or grants to the non-profit organizations that make our communities stronger.
Benefits we can all share
Lower fees. Stability. Reinvestment in the community. You don’t have to be a banking scholar to see that mutual banking at Avidia has its benefits.