Editorial: Banks must invest more in community

Fortifi Bank will open a Ripon location this summer.

The Ripon area’s banking industry is in transition.

In February, Fortifi Bank announced its plans to open a full-service location this summer in the old NFL Building, which was built decades ago by the long-since defunct Central Federal Savings & Loan.

Matt Lueptow, a man who grew up in Ripon and has three decades of lending experience at two of Ripon’s other banks, will be president of the Ripon site. This will make the ninth location for the Berlin-based financial institution, whose assets total $420 million.

Also in February came word that Horicon Bank, with assets of $750 million, will be buying Markesan State Bank and its $130 million in assets.

Expansion and consolidating occurring at the same time.

What’s the deal?

Banks are trying to grow market share by digitizing their core business ... But it also comes at the risk of losing the fuzzy factor, seeming less warm, more impersonal, more ... bankish.

So some banks are beginning to swap the traditional model of banking — the mother ship (e.g. BMO in Montreal) and her many satellites (e.g. BMO on Blackburn Street) — for digital-only entities seeking to expand their return on assets with lower overhead. ...

When Fortifi opens in a few months at 125 Watson St., Ripon will host six financial institutions: BMO Harris, Fortifi, Golden Rule Credit Union, Horicon Bank, Marine Credit Union and U.S. Bank.

... The bank(s) that emerge as the winner(s) of consumers’ ability to differentiate will be those who innovate, market and get their hands dirty, figuratively, as they use their time, ideas and capital to make our city a better place to live.

— Tim Lyke

To read the entire editorial, see the April 4, 2019 edition of The Ripon Commonwealth Press.

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