For over 125 years, First Bank of Berne management, employees and shareholders have taken significant steps to ensure the stability and security of their bank for years to come. Each decision and advancement made over the years has helped the bank to remain locally focused, financially independent and committed to a strong future for all.
Kent Liechty, First Bank of Berne President has always been transparent about the bank’s organizational structure and financial future. Known for being one of the top performing banks in the state, Liechty shares that they owe much of their success to their people.
Employees Represent Largest Shareholder of the Bank
“The culture and structure here is different from other banks. When you call or stop into your local First Bank of Berne location, you’re not just working with ‘employees’, you’re working directly with owners; owners who live, work and play in your local community. At First Bank of Berne, our employees, collectively through their Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), represent the largest shareholder of the bank. Being owners of the company, means they treat their jobs, the customers and the business differently.”
As collective owners of the bank, First Bank of Berne’s team members play an active role in the decision-making process – and one decision they’ve made clear is that First Bank of Berne has a strong future and will not be selling out or closing its doors, like other banks in the area.
Aside from their employees and shareholders being fully invested into the success of the company, Liechty says there’s much more that has made First Bank of Berne successful over the last 125+ years.
“Over the years, we have always made sure to be adaptable, and ever-changing to the needs of our customers and organization. We’ve added new locations, grown current locations, and invested in the best technology and systems to ensure we can serve our customers no matter where they are located, or what their needs are. This has been vital to ensuring we remain independent moving into the future.”
Significant Facility Investments: Building for the Future
In 2014, First Bank of Berne made a significant investment into the Berne community when they built their new operations center. Liechty says, “In order to support our future as a bank, we needed the right tools, security, and facilities in place to move forward and continue to offer our customers the best experience possible. As a bank, it’s important we remain independent and steady moving into the future, and we knew that in order to keep our financial independence and success, we needed to take action and invest into next-level technology and systems.”
“Our headquarters have always been in Berne, IN. The investment into the new operations facility, allows us the opportunity to continue to grow, expand physically when needed, and keep our headquarters in Berne, IN for good. The new building was another advancement and investment into our future as a bank and ensuring we maintain our independence,” says Liechty.
Technology and Security: A Top Concern for First Bank of Berne Management
Not only does the new operations center allow for company growth, but it has also given First Bank of Berne a unique advantage against competitors.
“We feel it’s important to adjust to the ever-changing needs of our customers and the industry. In 2016, we made a significant change when we teamed up with a major technology partner, taking our core provider system, technology and security to the highest level. This meant a major conversion of systems and upgrades in order to stay competitive. While other banks have resisted making this change due to cost, time and effort, all our employees and shareholders, as a bank, decided this was something we wanted to fully invest in. When we could have easily turned away and said ‘we don’t want to make this investment – it’s too much time, work and money – we will just partner up with another organization who has already gone through this change’ our team did the opposite. We said, ‘We want to remain independent. We want to put forth this effort. We want to invest into this technology, security and the future of our organization and independence as a bank.’”
With many customers holding high-standards for online banking, First Bank of Berne believes it’s important that their bank operating system and security provides the best digital banking experience possible and exceeds the competition. Liechty continues, “As a bank, our goal is not to cut costs in order to make ourselves more attractive to buyers, but rather continuously invest into our future as a bank.”
Board of Directors and Shareholders Keep Decisions Local and Focus on Remaining Independent
With a young and local Board of Directors, First Bank of Berne’s decision makers are constantly focused on how the bank can continue to plan for the future and remain community-minded, keeping all decisions made locally.
“The strategies and tactics we have in place, as an organization, are focused on the long-term success of the bank. Our board of directors, shareholders, employees – everyone – are in it for the long haul. They’re invested into the organization and focused on ensuring we remain independent. 2018 was a strong growth and record year for us. We are excited for the years ahead and confident that we will be here serving our customers decades, even centuries from now. The future at First Bank of Berne has never looked more secure.”