Banking on the Future

Exclusive interview with Bank of Commerce CEO Tom Romrell

Published online: Jun 29, 2020 Articles
Viewed 897 time(s)

Uncertain times have led to financial anxiety not just in Idaho Falls, but throughout the world. Idaho Falls Magazine staff sat down with Tom Romrell, CEO of Bank of Commerce to gain insight into what Bank of Commerce is doing to keep up with a changing financial landscape and how we as citizens can be prepared for any curve balls that might present themselves in the future.

Q: How is Bank of Commerce helping small businesses? 

A: The banking industry as a whole is well-prepared for this economic downturn; much different than perhaps the industry was in 2008 through 2010. This is especially true for The Bank of Commerce. We have always worked hard at being safe, sound, reliable and responsible in our banking model.  Using this approach has prepared us to assist our community during the severe economic downturn we are confronted with—especially our small businesses and ag customers. 

We have moved quickly to engage with those customers who are struggling as we work through the challenges. This includes modified loan terms to help improve their monthly cash needs and obtain the various federal aid that has been made available to small businesses across the country. We are all in this together, and I believe that we are well-prepared to assist our customers and the communities we serve through the significant economic challenges we are confronted with.

Q: As society deals with the effects of the coronavirus and COVID-19, what are some of the immediate changes that have occurred with people turning to online banking? 

A: In the short-term we have needed to adjust with the way we assist our customers with their everyday banking. Like many banks, we temporarily locked the doors and allowed guests in by appointment only. That meant people were directed to our drive-through tellers and our online banking platform. 

We recently opened back up our doors to the public; albeit, this has cautiously been done by strictly adhering to our social responsibility.  Because many of our customers have already been utilizing the online banking platforms and mobile banking devices this has greatly reduced the concern of not having our lobbies open.  Regardless, for those customers needing to come to the bank we continue to be available to take care of their needs.  

Q: Online banking is becoming the new norm, but many people are superstitious about moving away from cash. Does moving from cash to debit or credit have any impact on anything besides convenience?

A: For many years we have been moving towards a more cashless society. Lots of people like to use their debit or credit cards, or just their online banking platform for paying their bills and utilizing their debit or credit cards when making purchases at a retail store or online business. That said, we still have a significant number of people that like to use cash. Although currently there are some stores that will only take credit cards, I believe this will soften as we still see the need for people utilizing cash to purchase services and goods.  

Q: What kind of advice do you have for everyday people trying to manage their personal finances during these turbulent times?

A: All of us need to look at our monthly budgets—income and expenses. If necessary, you might have to adjust your expenses so that you can continue to meet your monthly cash flow needs. If needed, there are currently several ways the government is trying to assist. For example, if you have a mortgage, it is possible to negotiate with your mortgage company to have a payment deferral. If you are a commercial or small business visit with your banker to see if the terms of your loan can be adjusted for a few months until you are able to get your business up and running again. This could include interest only payments or skip payments. In addition, the government has recently processed over $500 billion of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans.

These are small business loans that were made available through the Treasury Department and the Small Business Association (SBA) to assist small businesses to continue to provide for their employees  while we work towards getting our community opened up for business again. Along with the PPP loans, the government is working on several other loan and grant programs to assist our communities and small businesses. I encourage business owners to review what is being made available to determine if your business qualifies. When needed, our lenders can be of assistance.

Q: If you could share one message with the community, what would it be? 

 A: Look forward with the understanding we will work our way through this challenging situation. Personally, I am glad I live in eastern Idaho. I believe we are in a better place to weather this storm. 

Read more of Idaho Falls Magazine's July issue here. 


Send to your friends!

  • Like what you read?

    Get Idaho Falls Magazine straight to your door!

  • Subscribe Today!

    Sign Up