How Covid-19 has changed business for Charlotte’s community banks

NORTH CAROLINA — The novel coronavirus that has shuttered businesses across North Carolina has had a different impact on banks here. Deemed essential businesses, financial institutions must remain open even as the governor implemented a stay-at-home order for much of the population.

Bank employees were thrust to the front lines to stifle financial disaster in the virus’ wake. But they have had to adapt.

Gone are the handshakes and personal meetings that drive bankers’ business. They are instead processing loans from home and closing essential transactions at a 6-foot distance.

“There were very few people who were expecting something like this to actually happen,” said Ajay Patel, finance professor at Wake Forest University’s School of Business. “I think the banks are going to have to think of this as a long game.”

Community banks face their own set of challenges with fewer employees and resources than Charlotte’s financial-services giants.

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The banks are adjusting branch operations and sales goals, leaning on digital platforms and focusing on existing clients. That’s all while redirecting operations to accommodate the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, an emergency loan program launched in early April.

CBJ talked with leaders at several local community banks about the ways business has changed. Read the full story here.

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