Survey: Community bank CEOs focused on growing loans

A new survey of more than 100 top executives at community and regional banks and credit unions found that a majority list growing loans as their top strategic priority. At the same time, many CEOs say they struggle with finding and retaining talent.

The financial technology firm Jack Henry surveyed CEOs at financial institutions with assets ranging from $500 million to more than $10 billion. The company found that 67% of respondents listed growing loans as their top strategic priority. That was followed by boosting operational efficiencies at 44% and adding digital products/features at 39%. When asked their top three concerns, 60% of respondents cited talent acquisition and retention, followed by net interest margin compression at 49% and fraud and security at 41%.

Fintechs and big tech firms were the top competitive threats reported, with each cited by 24% of respondents. The vast majority of respondents—85%—said they plan to pursue a niche market to scale growth, differentiate in a crowded financial services market and support local communities. More than three out of four CEOs said their institutions plan to increase technology spending over the next two years, with digital banking, automation, and fraud and security technology being the highest investment priorities.