George Bailey, the Jimmy Stewart character in the 1946 classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” would have felt right at home at Erie’s Marquette Savings Bank.
That’s the conclusion of The Economist, one of the world’s oldest and most respected magazines with a publication of about 1.5 million.
An editor for the London-based publication held Marquette up as standard of small-town banking values in a recently published story.
The article compares Marquette favorably to the Jimmy Stewart character, a banker who devotes his life to the fictional town of Bedford Falls.
According to the article, “Most banks pay lip service to such goals, but fall laughably short.”
The Erie region, the magazine said, is “littered with grand but derelict banks that used to cater to them.”
Until recent intervention by regulators and policymakers, the magazine said, Marquette held on to the mortgages it originated “instead of selling them to government-sponsored entities as most banks did.”
According to The Economist, “Marquette’s survival … depended on the quality of its appraisals of borrowers and homes.”
Much of that information was gleaned firsthand from bank trustees who paid a personal visit to each loan applicant.
It was a formula for success and for modest foreclosure figures.
Since the beginning of the banking crisis, Marquette’s assets have doubled to $800 million and its profits have tripled to about $8 million.
Changing times have forced Marquette to sell its mortgages, but Chief Executive Michael Edwards said Marquette has worked hard to maintain what it calls the hometown touch.
“We are very pleased and flattered The Economist chose to visit and write about us,” he said. “We know our growth and success are due to the trust our customers have in us.”
— Jim Martin