Regional banks rush to reassure customers after SVB failure
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After the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank, some regional banks now have a public relations problem on their hands: how to assuage customers’ anxieties that their bank might be next.
Many have been reaching out to their customers this week, and maybe you’ve been on the receiving end of one of those statements reassuring you, that in essence, your money is safe.
On Monday morning, customers of Cambridge Trust in Massachusetts found a video in their inboxes, featuring CEO Denis Sheahan as he explained that his bank does business differently than the two that failed.
“I’m speaking to you today as a result of recent developments in the banking industry,” he began. “Our balance sheet is conservatively managed, and we have strong capital, strong asset quality and robust liquidity.”
Keeping things positive is the right approach, said Merrie Spaeth, an expert on crisis communications. “If you say ‘Don’t panic!’ everybody of course says, ‘Ahhhh!’ And they panic,” she said.
Bank leaders are trying to project confidence right now, Spaeth said.
Brad Tidwell — CEO of VeraBank, headquartered in Texas — even invited anxious customers to call his personal cell. So we decided to give him a ring.
“Is what you’re really saying is that you read that letter, and you go, ‘Oh, my God, I can’t believe that guy’s that stupid, so I gotta talk to him’?” he said, chuckling.
Tidwell’s number went out to about 70,000 customers, and around 100 have reached out. He’s spent hours fielding those calls.
“I thought it was real important that we get our story out,” he said. “Our bank is nothing like these other banks, and, oh, by the way, if you have any doubt about it, call this phone number and I will talk to you.”
With lots of misinformation swirling around, including on social media, Tidwell said that time spent working the phones is worthwhile.
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