A Note From the Chairman
May 6, 2020
Before the March passing of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, our team of bankers had never heard of a PPP loan (Paycheck Protection Program). For that much, neither had the Small Business Administration. But in just a matter of weeks we have now completed thousands of them for hundreds of millions of dollars that have been going straight into our community to help small businesses manage their payrolls. Before I continue, let me interject, that getting this done is our specialty. I am actually referring to a specific nuance so I will explain. But first, back to the PPP story.
The effort has been beyond anything I would have imagined as we have witnessed so many of our bankers working 40 or more long days in a row, including weekends, to get this done as quickly as possible and there is still more to be completed in the weeks ahead. Not only did we have to figure out the ever-evolving program but we had to create a system, a work flow, train our staff and make modifications as the program unfolded. As they say, truly meaningful things are often hard. Our bankers did not have an easy button, no magic wand to wave. It was one loan application at a time, over and over and over. This was a heroic effort by hundreds of our staff for which we have recently paused for a moment to celebrate and acknowledge each of them.
Our process was open to both existing customers and the broader community. Guess what, people found us. One by one new customers sent in applications, often being referred by their friends who already banked with Allegiance. Well over a thousand new customers opened business accounts using our electronic process, very handy during days of social distancing. We not only welcome all our new friends, we are reminded just how much we appreciate the relationship we have with our existing customers.
As to our specialty. My Dad often told a story about a taxi driver in New York City. The driver was apparently in a hurry. After several harrowing blocks and screeching turns, my Dad commented to the driver that he had taken that last turn pretty fast to which the cabby responded, “Yes sir, that is my specialty, watch me on this next corner!” My Dad laughed heartily when telling this story and was forever repeating that phrase, “This is our specialty.” And everyone has one, or at least they should. At Allegiance, our specialty is in building long-term relationships with customers, the community and each other. It is what we do, so to all our new and existing friends, I say hang on; you are in for a great ride.
For the present time, though, the opportunity to shake everyone’s hand will have to wait as we will continue to follow social distancing guidelines. The good news is that unless things change, our offices will soon open for foot traffic (in addition to the drive-thru facilities) while observing capacity limitations and other protections much like restaurants and other businesses.
It isn’t our favorite way to start a new relationship or to show appreciation for our old friends, but I am reminded of what happened to a buddy of mine who was being hasty. He fell off his ladder when cleaning his gutters. “What happened?” I asked. Apparently, he had reached out too far instead of climbing down and moving the ladder. He learned his lesson the hard way. So, as we reopen, Allegiance will continue to place the safety of our customers and employees as our highest priority.
Despite the negatives associated with limited personal interactions, there are memories of these days that we will carry with us. I will tell my grandkids about brave men and women who work at our bank. I will describe how families became closer than ever and of 47 consecutive home cooked meals. I will laugh about how my wife and I celebrated a birthday for a friend by driving by their house and honking while they sat on the porch.
And just as the Blue Angels flew over our local hospitals today, I will stand up when I tell them about frontline workers who put it all on the line.
Finally, I will look back at how our bankers, after all they have accomplished together these past weeks, became tighter, more unified than ever. This time not only marks the advancement of our internal esprit de corps, but we have also become closer to our customers than most ever thought possible. It is remarkable how facing a tough challenge together can have an impact that otherwise could have taken years.
One last thought. Despite the recent “on hold” conditions in our community, the vision for Allegiance to be “the bank that the Houston region deserves to call its own” has not been deferred. We not only remain so oriented but somewhere in all of this, we are even more clearly discovering our true purpose, “our specialty.” And we continue to make great progress, not only through expanded products and services but even more importantly through the dedication that earns the trust of our customers one turn at a time.
Chairman of Allegiance Bank
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