The Power of Change

By Brad McEwen

I don’t know about everybody else, but here lately as I’ve puttered around town, to work, practices, etc., I’ve noticed quite a bit of long overdue work being done to the city’s roadways, including the repaving of some major thoroughfares that have long been in desperate need of an upgrade.

While I’ve haven’t really enjoyed the few times I’ve had to deal with slower traffic or bumpy gravel on an in-progress paving job, the truth is, I’m beyond pumped to see the local government holding true to its recent promise of improving Albany’s streets.

In some ways AB&T went out on a limb earlier this year, partnering with the city of Albany and the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, to use our Beyond the Bank platform to help educate the community on the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (T-SPLOST) referendum that was recently passed by area votes.

Although we value the leadership of our local government, by simply providing a platform to educate folks on what T-SPLOST is and how it can benefit Albany, our participation was seen by some as an explicit endorsement of the referendum that is now helping to fuel all of the road work we’re seeing around town.

While we do feel T-SPLOST was the right move, it’s always risky taking a public position on a political matter.

But thankfully, and truly not surprisingly, the city of Albany and the Dougherty County government have held true to their promise to the citizens of this community that voted to approve the T-SPLOST and it’s refreshing to see those promises come to fruition.

Back when the T-SPLOST referendum went before the voters, there was a large group within the community that was against the measure, feeling that it represented one more expense an already income-strapped community would have to absorb. Others expressed doubts about the ability of local government to effectively manage the funds once the tax revenue started rolling in.

Good points to be sure, and I certainly would never tell someone who felt strongly about these things that they were wrong, but regardless of those arguments, one thing that was (and still is) undeniable, is the fact that something needed to be done.

The proliferation of cracks, potholes and truly unsafe conditions were wreaking havoc on this community—causing added vehicle maintenance expenses for residents, delays in moving goods around and negatively impacting economic development.

In a nutshell—like the T-SPLOST referendum or not—the roads have to be fixed. Improvements must be made.

As I see it, failure to adapt, to grow and to develop infrastructure is tantamount to giving up, to throwing in the towel, to saying, “this is the best we’ve got and we’re not trying to find better ways.” In other words, failure to adapt and grow signals the end.

For a community, a business, or even a private household to progress, survive and ultimately thrive over the long term, there must be change.

Even if that change is costly. Even if that change is painful or unpleasant.

The very notion of change has always fascinated me. Like many of us, for whatever reason, my initial reaction when I’m confronted with change—especially change I didn’t dictate, is typically that of reservation or fear.

There’s just something about the unknown that is scary.

I mean even when it’s clear the present situation might not be good, it’s tough to get on board with change, with many of us holding to the old notion of, “better the devil you know than the one you don’t.”

I get that. And I’ve certainly taken that position in my life on more than one occasion.

But I’ve also been kicking around the 3rd rock long enough to know that whether I like it or not, change is coming. It’s inevitable. And more often than not, it’s necessary.

Which really brings me to the bigger point of this week’s Beyond the Bank.

Just as the city of Albany had to step out of its comfort zone and go to the voters once again asking for their help to generate the funds necessary to make those long overdue transportation infrastructure improvements, AB&T is now facing a similar situation.

While the bank has never been healthier, and our ability to service our clients has never been stronger, we understand we can always get better. And we’d argue that no matter how good an organization believes it is, things can always be improved.

Whether it’s bringing in high caliber associates who understand not only the complicated world of banking and finance, but who also have a deep understanding of Albany and the surrounding area, or bringing in technological features and functions like mobile banking and ApplePay, AB&T has always striven to meet its mantra of providing the Gold Standard in community banking.

Better yet, as far as we’re concerned, making those kinds of improvements is so important to the health of our clients, our bank and our community, that we go so far as to challenge the status quo and look for ways to redefine what Gold Standard banking means, and what it looks like.

In short, few things are as important to this company than finding new and innovative ways to take care of the clients and the community we serve.

Well, just as the time has come for our community to invest in its future by investing in its infrastructure, that time is here for AB&T too.

Although we believe we are already the premier bank in Albany and that our methods of relationship banking stand head and shoulders above others—we still want to be better. We want to improve what we do and continue to wow our clients and community and inspire their confidence in us.

And in order to that, we’ve got to adapt. We’ve got to reinvest in ourselves and we have to push this company forward.

This weekend, the bank will experience the culmination of the many, many months our team has spent working late nights and weekends, analyzing data, exploring the financial services landscape and recommitting ourselves to our mission of providing the tools and guidance our clients, coworkers and community need to live their lives, operate their businesses and realize their dreams.

This Thursday night, we will basically “flip the switch” and take a bold new step into a future where we can merge the relationship banking at the core of what we do with the kind of secure technology we all need to fully function in this fast-paced world.

Now, the vast majority of the things we’re changing shouldn’t have any direct impact on the clients who have trusted us with their financial lives, but the indirect benefits of improved efficiency will directly allow us to better serve all of our present and future clients and provide the kind of client experience they’ve come to expect not just from their bank, but from all of the businesses they chose to partner with.

But while some of the changes won’t be readily visible to the entire AB&T family, some of the advancements we’re making absolutely WILL have a direct benefit to our clients. Things like our new and improved digital banking platforms that add a new layer of functionality and security, will most definitely have a direct impact on the way our clients do business.

And we believe that impact will be a gamechanger.

While I could wax for days about how these changes will push our company, and by extension our community, forward, I won’t do that here.

But I do want to focus on what really keeps running through my mind as we approach this important time in AB&T’s history. I want to stay focused on the notion that even though change can very often be painful, the results of a positive and necessary change always outweigh the benefits.

Granted change is often thrust upon us, and that’s never a good feeling when it happens, but I’ve learned over the years that even those changes forced upon us, often end up being for the better if we remain diligent and work hard to ensure that’s the case.

Change is inevitable—a fact that, get this, will never change—and I’m of the mindset that when we control the change and we make changes for the right reasons, it allows us to grow and to become better (often in ways we don’t always comprehend right away).

I’m not going to lie. The herculean task the associates of AB&T have been tackling over the past several months is daunting. And we’ve got a lot of work left in front us (the thought of which, most assuredly brings that tinge of fear we all know so well). But I also know—even as that silent specter tries to play tricks, I only have to think about the awesome team I go into battle with every day (or of the countless clients that for us are more like friends and family members than simply folks we do business with) and I’m renewed and refreshed.

And I also know that we’re prepared. We’ve done our homework, we created a solid plan and we’re executing that plan to a T. Life will always have its uncertainties, and fear is a very real thing, but if you’re thinking clearly and you’re prepared, that fear doesn’t stand a chance of derailing you.

I have no doubt that we’ve got this and I believe that we’ll stand on the other side and look back with pride on what we’ve accomplished—despite whatever anxiety a change like this might bring.

That’s because while there’s some truth to the whole devil you know versus the one you don’t thing, I know what lies at the heart of AB&T and I know why we’re putting in all the hard work.

At AB&T we don’t just sell products and features. We bring knowledge, expertise, technology, love, kindness, understanding and community-focus to the folks we’re blessed to have the chance to serve.

And any changes we make, we do because it’s flat out the right thing to do. Just like paving streets and putting in new curbs, gutters and crosswalks—we must improve and get better because we’ve already made our commitment to the entire AB&T family.

We intend to honor it.

Connect with Brad – 229.405.7212 - brad.mcewen@abtgold.com - @BradGMcEwen 

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