Friday, August 28, 2015


I bank at a couple of boring banks. The same boring banks that pretty much everyone banks at. Household word banks.

I don’t care about them one way or the other. They – and their ATM machines – are there when I need them.

But my heart doesn’t go pitter-pat when I think about them. In fact, my brain doesn’t go pitter-pat, either. Because unless there’s a problem or I need Euros, I don’t think about them one way or the other.

But maybe if I had a bank with a fun name, both heart and brain would, at least on occasion, go, if not pitter-pat, at least pitter.

As in, if I lived in southern Pennsylvania, I’d be really inclined to bank with Bank of Bird-in-Hand.

Seriously, if there’s a better name for a bank than that, please let me know.


To me, it says be prudent, be a saver, don’t get greedy – all things that, over time, seem to work for the better, finance-wise.

The bank is actually named for the town of Bird-in-Hand, but I’m sure they could have picked another name from the ‘hood. There would have been good reason to avoid naming it for neighboring Intercourse. But they could have situated it a stone’s throw away and called their bank the Bank of East Lampeter. Or the Bank of Upper Leacock.

What’s most interesting about the Bank of Bird-in-Hand – other than its name, and the fact that it’s the first bank to open in the wake of the financial crisis – is its clientele:

…the local Amish community, a religious group sceptical of modern technology and, it turns out, a rather good credit. Since opening in 2013, Bank of Bird-in-Hand has never had to write off a loan. (Source: The Economist)

How serious are they about their clientele?

Well, here’s the image on their web site:Bank of Bird-in-Hand

And, oh yeah, “the bank’s drive-through window [is] large enough for a horse and carriage.”

Anyway, the Amish are good bets because they generally borrow money only when they want to buy land, and land makes for better collateral than, say, a used car. They’re also savers, so they can make big down payments. And they have a strong community behind them.

I don’t want to wax too sentimentally about the wonders of Amish life. Maybe it’s okay if you grow up in it, but it’s no place I’d want to get plunked down in. Little value placed on education and intellectual exploration. No literature. Shunning members who fall away. (Imagine if Catholics tried to shun ex-Catholics…) A pretty strict patriarchy. Living a 19th century rural life. No TV, no tacos, no tampons.  I’m feeling oppressed just thinking about it.

But it’s interesting to see that some non-Amish bankers figured out that they can build a solid and profitable, albeit modest, business catering to the plain people.

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