The power, and the principles, of community
Walk up to the Bank of St. Francisville’s graceful brick building on Commerce Street and the first thing you’ll notice is the tree that arches overhead. Strong and lithe, this handsome young live oak seems almost to embrace the institution that has grown up beneath its branches. But this oak was little more than a sapling back in 1978, planted when H. Carter Leak III and Conville Lemoine chartered a small bank in a trailer on this exact site, with a dream of building a financial institution to serve the town they called home. When they chose a logo to represent the bank they were building, it’s little wonder that Carter and Conville settled on an acorn.
Since 1978, the tree, the building behind it, and the business of banking have all changed a lot. But while modern technology has brought powerful new tools that make banking more convenient than ever, the principles of good banking remain the same. The Bank of St. Francisville’s mission is still to help customers and community to grow their businesses, to secure their financial futures, and to become the best they can be. At the forefront of that mission: developing the tools and the technology to match the offerings of the big banks, while maintaining the neighborly, one-on-one personal attention that only a small-town institution can provide. When twenty-first century technology meets hometown community service: that’s when better banking happens.
This is what Community Looks Like
The Bank of St. Francisville has been instrumental in helping iconic local businesses such as the Magnolia Café, Redstick Armature, and Wilcox Oil build strong foundations, capitalize on new opportunities, and take advantage of the latest online banking products. It has helped countless homeowners to buy houses, build investments, and secure their children’s futures with access to West Feliciana’s exemplary school system. Carter Leak III, bank founder and current president and CEO, explains that the bank’s deep commitment to community growth plays a major part in every loan and donation decision.
“One of the things we feel like we specialize in is putting a square peg in a round hole,” says Carter. “We’ve made loans that people thought we were crazy to do. On paper they might not have made sense. But if the community needed it, we went out of our way to support it. A bigger bank might not have been interested in that kind of commitment to community, but ultimately, doing what’s good for the community plays a big part in our decision making.”
This is Family
Executive Vice President, Carter Leak, IV, was raised in St. Francisville, and returned to West Feliciana in 2014 to continue building the institution his father helped to found. He explains that, right alongside solid banking practices and cutting-edge mobile banking technology, the commitment to building a strong community foundation is baked right into the bank’s DNA. “With what happens here in West Feliciana, there is an emotional, community-based dimension to everything we do. We’re all in this together,” he says. His father Carter, III, is founder of the West Feliciana Community Development Foundation; co-founder of the West Feliciana Chamber of Commerce, the St. Francisville Rotary Club, and Feliciana Vision—a community-wide strategic planning initiative. In 2000 Carter III was named Volunteer Economic Developer of the Year by the Southern Economic Development Commission. Carter IV serves on the boards of the St. Francisville Area Foundation and the West Feliciana Education Foundation; and mentors community kids by coaching numerous sports teams, and as Co-Chairman of Young Life of West Feliciana. Vice Chairman of the Board, Conville Lemoine, is an advisory board member of Heritage Ranch Children’s Home and has served on the West Feliciana School Board for thirty years. Collectively and individually, the bank and its staff sponsor multiple community-building initiatives and capacity building events, from St. Francisville’s famous Audubon Spring Pilgrimage, to the West Feliciana Education Foundation’s annual Dodgeball Challenge.
Competitive Loans, Cutting-Edge Technology, and a Whole Lot More
As the bank’s founders have worked to build their parish on a personal level, they’ve stayed in step with the modern world, too. Business and personal banking customers have access to a broad range of deposit and lending products, sophisticated online banking access, and a powerful mobile banking app featuring Remote Check Deposit, Bill Pay, People Pay, and more ways to put money to work, right from the palm of their hands.
That’s the Power of Community
So what does all this mean for you, the customer? It means access to the power and convenience of twenty-first century banking, backed by real relationships with people who care about you, your family, your business, and the community to which you belong. It means getting a real person on the phone first time, every time. It means putting your money to work not only for yourself, but also for the community you call home. Like the live oak that springs from the smallest acorn, that’s how a local bank grows, supports, protects, and thrives. That’s the power of community.