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Steven Fisher: Banks across nation are ready for pandemic

By Steven Fisher

As a 110-year old community bank, nothing is more important than the safety and health of our employees, customers and communities. F&M Bank, along with banks across our nation, has taken prudent and effective steps to prepare for the coronavirus pandemic.

Every customer can be assured that their bank is prepared, their deposits are safe and that they will have continued access to their funds and banking services. All banks are required by law to have extensive disaster recovery plans in place to protect customer accounts and access to funds. State and federal regulators along with industry experts routinely examine and test each bank on their preparations. 

F&M Bank and the U.S. banking industry as a whole is entering the current coronavirus crisis from a position of strength thanks to record capital and liquidity levels as well as prudent planning and strong risk management.

Make no mistake, this is a health care crisis, and the best way to limit the economic damage is to follow the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and trusted health care professionals so we can contain the virus as quickly as possible. In the simplest of terms, stay home. This health care crisis will have a significant economic impact, and America’s banks will do their part to limit that impact and help pave the road to recovery.

F&M Bank and banks of all sizes are responding to the needs of individual and business customers directly impacted while continuing to execute our own business continuity plans under challenging and constantly changing conditions. We have a variety of customer assistance programs designed to reduce the economic impact of this crisis on our customers and to assist them in overcoming the challenges ahead.

The one thing you can count on in these times of uncertainty is the safety of your money at the bank.

F&M Bank has weathered two world wars, the Great Depression, the Great Recession and multiple national disasters and health threats, including pandemics. Your money is secure, insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and you will have access to these funds. Whether using your debit card, mobile device, online banking, ATM, telebanking or need to see us in person (via drive-thru or a lobby appointment), we will be here to serve you. The American banking system is absolutely the safest, most accessible place for your funds during an event like this. 

We encourage our customers to reach out and let us know if they have been impacted by the pandemic. We stand ready to discuss a wide range of assistance options, depending on your circumstances.

Two important things to keep in mind:

• You have time and we will work with you to assess your options

• The media moves faster than the legislation or the assistance programs. Many of the programs you may have heard about have not yet been established. We are working closely with those agencies to connect you as quickly as possible. Know that we will be here to assist you. 

Financial services are designated as “essential services.” Even in the event of a “stay-at-home” or “shelter-in-place” order, your F&M Bank personal banker will be available to help you navigate these unchartered waters.

We have taken precautions in the areas of social distancing, limiting exposure of our workforce and increased levels of individual hygiene and office/drive-thru/ATM cleaning practices to make sure that we are here to meet your needs. 

We will be here for you in the midst of the storm and after it passes to help rebuild. Stand fast, and don’t forget to wash your hands. We will get through this together (by standing apart). 

Steven Fisher is chairman and CEO of Salisbury-based F&M Bank.

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