Forbes Magazine has ranked Camden National Bank as one of its 100 “most trustworthy companies.”
The listing follows work the bank has done to reinforce its own core values and comes at a time when the financial sector at large isn’t necessarily viewed favorably by the public.
A few years ago, Camden National Bank did in-depth market research to see if the public felt the bank’s brand image matched up to reality.
“I view it as something organizations should do to make sure we’re being genuine in what we say publicly to customers, potential customers,” said Greg Dufour, Camden National’s president and CEO.
Dufour said Camden National Bank, through its core values, marketing, employee training and other efforts, believed it was seen as a “trustworthy partner” for its customers, shareholders and for the communities it operates in. The market research in 2010 surveyed customers, employees, managers and more, he said, and it reinforced what the bank believed in terms of how it was viewed.
“For us, the good news was it was validating our brand — who we were and what we felt we stood for,” said Dufour.
The Forbes’ listing was further validation, said Dufour.
According to Forbes, to create the list the magazine turned to GovernanceMetrics International to examine more than 8,000 companies traded on U.S. exchanges. The goal was to find the most “transparent and trustworthy businesses” that are publicly traded.
“What these companies have in common is what they don’t have: problems that indicate elevated risk,” GMI Chairman James A. Kaplan told Forbes. “Those problems can range from high executive compensation or incentives that are not aligned with shareholder interests to inconsistent application of accounting principles, or the occurrence of negative events.”
In recent years, the banking industry in general has been tarnished by the role of some institutions in the financial meltdown.
But Dufour notes that in the Wall Street crisis, “a lot of organizations have been lumped into one.” Maine has a number of community banks like Camden National and those banks are part of the state’s cities and towns, Dufour said, and weren’t part of creating that crisis.
“As a community banker, when I go to the grocery store, I could see a neighbor, customer, shareholder,” said Dufour. “It’s a 24-7 job. You’ve got to live it and breathe it, understand the decisions we make are right here — we’re living with it every day.”
Dufour said the bank, until recently, operated under 10 core values developed several years ago. Now it has been boiled them down to five core values: honesty/integrity, trust, service, responsibility and excellence through hard work and lifelong learning.
Each new employee is taught the importance of those values and how they’re part of the bank’s culture, said Dufour. When he has decisions to make, he reflects on those values to help him make a choice, Dufour said.
Those basic values are what make Camden National trustworthy, he said.
“This isn’t about us creating a brand and living up to a brand,” said Dufour. “I look at it as what do we do to operate this bank on a daily basis — the brand is a result of that.”
Camden National employs more than 400 people in Maine through the bank and its wealth management company, Acadia Trust NA. It trades on the NASDAQ under the symbol “CAC.”