Community Building – When is a Bank More Than a Bank?

by Linda Lenore on July 14, 2011

"Community Building" is a key principle in both green and sustainable building practices and Feng Shui chi. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, having a sense of community is a powerful and integral component and one that is missing in most of our culture these days.

Then a bank thinks "outside-the-box" by providing a venue to bring people together to socialize and get to know each other. What bank is this? It's the First Republic branches in the San Francisco Peninsula area.

Marybeth Bond at the Menlo Park Branch of First Republic

Marybeth Bond at the Menlo Park Branch of First Republic

Last week I attended a talk by Marybeth Bond, National Geographic's author of Best Girlfriends Getaways Worldwide. A delightful and informative talk on traveling with aging parents, family and by oneself ensued.

Besides the talk and travel tips, there was time to mix and mingle with the personal bankers, other clients, the caterer and Marybeth while a jazz band was playing. Travel journals and luggage tags were included as well as the book in "thank you for attending" ribbon-tied cloth bags. A real "first class presentation" all around from First Republic!

Today I again attended an event at a different branch of First Republic. This time it was photographer Robert Buelteman with Californiana - a showing of his black and white photos from - you guessed it - California!

Photographer Robert Buelteman reading a quote from his pictorial book at First Republic's Palo Alto Branch.

Photographer Robert Buelteman reading a quote from his pictorial book at First Republic's Palo Alto Branch.

Again there was a presentation by the celebrity, food, wine, a harpist and time to talk with other clients as well as the photographer. Robert has created a new technique to create unusual color images of plant life. You can view these beautiful images at: www.Buelteman.com.

With my interest in all things involve in community building, I was fascinated by the response to these events by the bank employees and clients as well as the motivation behind these events from the corporate offices. Now that First Republic is no longer under the thumbs of a big institution, many of the friendly and customer-first elements have returned. I had a chance to talk to Greg, the Branch Manage at the Menlo Park Branch, about these events.

In my words, as part of the personalization of the bank, they are reaching out to the community to let them know they - as a bank - care about the community. They hired local vendors to create the ambience, thus giving support and visibility to them.

In general, it has been a huge success. All to whom I spoke enjoyed the events and several have reconnected already, doing business and expanding community involvement. What a great marketing tool and relationship builder!

I personally got to meet several people I want to know better. We've already been in touch and I'm excited to support the community by building better relationships through the local businesses.

"When is a bank more than a bank?" - when they work together to build community as part of their values as community leaders! Great job First Republic!

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