9 ways financial organizations are aiding battle against coronavirus
By Allissa Kline, Jim Dobbs, John Reosti, Laura Alix, Jon Prior and Alan Kline
From the start of the novel coronavirus crisis, it became clear that banks had major challenges on their hands yet a real opportunity.
The pandemic dealt a swift blow to public health and economic livelihood, driving many customers (consumers and business owners) into desperate situations and making it harder for bank employees to do their jobs.
Banks insisted that they were not the cause of the financial meltdown this time (unlike a decade ago), that they were highly capitalized by historical standards and that they could help. They obviously realized they had an opportunity to redeem themselves after a decade of withering criticism from politicians, protestors and academics following the Great Recession.
The jury is still out on whether banks have seized the moment. The headlines have not been kind, raising questions about whether lenders dispensing federal aid favored their clients, especially large ones with other means of raising money, over the neediest small businesses. Banking industry officials have been quick to complain about emergency-loan programs and to demand regulatory rollbacks.
However, this cardshow is about the other side of the moral ledger — very creative efforts by banks of all sizes, and nonprofits that work with them, to help clients and the broader public fight for survival amid the pandemic. A community bank in Virginia has steered a portion of fees earned from the Paycheck Protection Program to help medical workers and the hungry; the nonprofit Operation Hope is hiring financial counselors in anticipation of “getting slammed” with requests for advice from the newly unemployed; and CIT Group has helped customers retrofit their businesses to produce personal protective gear for those on the front lines of the crisis.
Here are nine examples of outside-the-box thinking and resourcefulness that could make a positive difference in the country's time of need.