Richard Campbell, our Chairman was talking to us about the significant changes he has witnessed in his tenure with the bank since the early 70’s. He strongly believes that the best thing that happened to the banking industry and to Astra Bank of course, is the technology that came along, and it only seems to be getting more advanced every day. Technology really has “leveled the playing field” and made life a whole lot more pleasant for the bank and its customers. It has allowed the little banks to take advantage of the changing environment and get caught up with the big banks.
Speaking about the regulatory environment, Richard told us how regulation was less stringent in the past and in recent years this has become much more burdensome. Many of today’s regulations didn’t even exist “back in the day”. He agrees that we need to have regulations, but feels that at times some of the new rules that are in effect make it difficult to really take care of the customers. One of the regulations, for instance, used to limit how much a bank could pay on a Certificate of Deposit (CD) or eliminate paying interest on Demand Deposit Accounts (DDA). Astra Bank was able to work within the regulation and yet keep customers happy (and pay customers interest) with Negotiable Order of Withdrawal (NOW) or checking accounts. Even the ways in which interest was calculated has changed over the years, which could have been disadvantageous to customers prior to the changes. The good news is that at Astra Bank, we have always made sure that customers come first.
Our products and services have evolved to keep pace with the changing environment. For example, the bank offers a “trade-a-rate” a program that allows the customer to not only get a better rate but also extends the term. While other banks also offered this when Astra Bank first started this innovative product, we were one of the only banks to spend time explaining “how” this type of product could really benefit customers. Richard remembers that the highest rate ever paid out was 15.65% on a 6-month CD! While rates likely won’t see those levels ever again, the bank prides itself on continuing to offer competitive rates for customers.
We have also tried to do away with service charges in as many areas as possible. The bank works harder to keep costs low, provide an attractive rate and use that model to make money. The loans are really where the bank makes money, so by not charging service fees on the deposit side, we can bring in the money to fund loans and ensure that rates are attractive for all types of loans—cars, houses, farms, businesses, etc.
If you want to know about the various products and services available to you through Astra Bank, please stop by one of our locations or call us during business hours at (800) 269-5009.