It has helped the locally-owned, independent bank stay in business since 1971.
And that service-driven motto led to the bank’s recent distinction of being ranked among the top 20 independently-owned banks in the U.S. when it comes to commercial auto lending.
Security Federal was recently ranked No. 11 in the nation among 5,000 independently-owned banks in providing commercial auto loans to its customers. The rankings were released in the July issue of the Independent Community Bankers of America magazine.
The magazine recognized independent banks across the nation in several categories, including commercial real estate, residential mortgage, commercial auto lending, credit card lending and consumer lending.
“It’s a big honor,” said C. Todd Thompson, who serves as the bank’s president and CEO. “In 2006, we turned out focus to the used auto industry because Jasper and Walker County has a pretty healthy used auto industry. It employs quite a few people.”
The bank currently services more than 450 auto loans, Thompson said. At one time, the bank held more than 800 auto loans.
“I don’t know if 2006 was a great time to turn our focus to used auto lending, but we did,” Thompson said. “We’ve had a few bumps along the way, but we’ve gotten comfortable with that side of our line of product.”
Giving customers the personal touch has helped drive the auto loan program.
“We gave that kind of service early on,” Thompson said.
Thompson said about 90 percent of the auto loans the bank services are from customers who live in Walker County. “Some people come out of Birmingham to buy cars in Walker County, and we’ll handle those loans, too. We don’t turn down any qualified borrowers, period.”
Thompson said what makes the ranking even more special is that most all the banks ranked ahead of Security Federal are much larger financial institutions.
“If you look at the top banks listed, you’ll see we’re by far the smallest bank to gain any recognition,” Thompson said. “Some are 30 percent bigger than us, but many are multi-billion dollar banks even though they are still considered community banks.”
Thompson, who has worked at the bank for the past 27 years, has served as president and CEO for six years. He took over for his dad, C. Don Thompson, who founded the bank in 1971. The elder Thompson continues to serve as chairman of the board of the bank.
Providing quality service to the customers who rely on Security Federal for auto lending also leads to more business in other areas, Thompson said.
“Many of those have become customers in other areas,” he said. “That’s been the great part of the auto lending program. It’s given us an opportunity to build relationships on the deposit side. We’ve been growing steadily for years now, and we hope the number of people who use us as their primary bank keeps growing.”
“In the banking industry, everybody talks about service,” Thompson added, “but less and less deliver every day. We want to deliver every day. We feel like we have something to offer people.”