May 7, 2020
In the Trenches

Bankers have been kind enough to share some of their experiences since the onset of the coronavirus crisis. We thought you’d enjoy a few anecdotes from your compatriots in the trenches across the country. These have been lightly edited for clarity, style and length.
The Start of the Crisis

I am so proud of our team, as we are nailing it. HQ split into three sites early on to diversify exposure risk, now have call center broken into five sites, 1,100 working from home, virtual video meetings the norm, and senior leadership in five locations connected virtually. Once again, our in-house IT enabled a superfast response to a situation.

Jim Reuter, CEO of $20 billion FirstBank Holding Co. in Lakewood, Colorado
Early in the Paycheck Protection Program 
Boy, have we needed our people in the past eight weeks and they have stepped up in a big way! PPP for Heritage Bank has been an enormous success — but not without some ups and downs, and not without the brute force of hundreds of our people working together as a team to get it done. It has been a beautiful thing to be a part of and as a result, I believe we can accomplish anything we set our minds to in the future.
Jeff Deuel, CEO of $5.6 billion Heritage Financial Corp. in Olympia, Washington
Midway Through PPP
We have participated in PPP Phase 1 and 2. After a rough start in Phase 1, due to all the changes, Phase 2 kicked off Monday with worse-than-expected results. Like most banks, we couldn’t get much of anything processed and regrouped. We decided that we would take a different approach and find times that the portal is less active. In our case, that was evenings and late nights. Tuesday morning was not much different. I was right there with the team and it took me over 2 hours to process one upload. Refresh, crash, refresh, crash, etc. By afternoon things started moving, and by 7 p.m. — lightning speed.
The result?
By 9 a.m. on Wednesday, our teams processed our total application base with 100% success. 650-plus applicants for nearly $90 million in loans, in support of our customers and our communities. 100% success rate. No better way to start a day than calling customers to let them know we got them approved. Tears, laughter and joy. This is community banking; this is why we do what we do.

CEO of an $800 million bank
Tail End of PPP
The day the SBA made the decision to stop banks over $1 billion from processing SBA authorizations between 4 p.m. and midnight, three of us elected to start processing applications at midnight to obtain more authorizations. At 11 p.m., we had a group of five to seven more people, without asking, send emails and text to ask to help. We had a half dozen people from multiple departments processing SBA loans until 4 a.m. This same group was again processing deals by 8 a.m. No one complained, no one asked for recognition.
Richard Vaughan, senior vice president at $4.5 billion Peoples Bank in Marietta, Ohio

The typical person on the street may not know what bankers have been up against since all this began, but those of us in and on the periphery of the industry certainly do.

- John J. Maxfield, executive editor of Bank Director
/ ideas, insights and perspectives on
Banks play a vital role in ensuring communities come out stronger on the other side of today’s crisis.

“Bank Iowa, like many financial institutions, recognizes that supporting small businesses can’t be limited to the SBA program.” 

•   Emily McCormick  / Vice President of Research for Bank Director