Interacting with my clients and hearing their stories is a big part of why I'm still in banking after over 35 years. And it's not only getting to know their businesses, but also them as individuals, their life stories. Developing those relationships is one of my favorite things about being a banker, and I know many of my peers feel the same.
Those relationships have fueled me, my staff, and I'm sure most of you, as we work nights, weekends, and non-stop to help our clients and customers weather the fallout from the coronavirus. Whether it's processing as many SBA Paycheck Protection Program loans as humanly possible for local small businesses or talking long-time customers out of withdrawing all of their cash from the bank (presumably to store under the mattress), I'm proud of how Wisconsin's banks have stepped up to help our communities during these challenging times.
At the same time, we as an industry have needed to adapt dramatically to a new, socially distanced world. For the first time, as many of our employees as possible are working remotely (which comes with a host of technology and security challenges many banks had not previously needed to address), and our customers are relying on digital banking options more than ever before. Again, our industry has met these challenges with courage and compassion. We have adapted our operations to function over distance and we have coached our customers on online and mobile banking, showing them how we can meet their needs even when many of our branch lobbies are closed to protect the health of our customers and staff.
While the battle against COVID-19 is far from over—the economic impact may last for years, and some industries will be changed forever—I am confident in our ability as an industry to help our clients and communities survive and thrive in the coming months and years.
Meloy is CEO of First Business Bank, Madison and WBA Chair.