The Best Kind of Banking: Westfield Welcomes the American Bank of Freedom
by Christy Heitger-Ewing
There’s something that has never sat well with Pete Dunbar, Regional President of the American Bank of Freedom, and that’s when a random person steps into a bank and gets a better deal than the loyal customer who has been banking there for ten years.
“That makes no sense,” says Dunbar. “We don’t do that here.”
The American Bank of Freedom, who opened their doors in Westfield in July 2023, is predominantly a business/commercial bank from a lending perspective. They are also heavily involved in commercial real estate from land development construction lending.
Community banks oftentimes attract money and new customers by using specific promotional products and rates. They do that because smaller banks are predominantly funded with deposits and if they see a funding need for a certain structure of loan, then it’s best to go out and match-fund that with deposits.
“That’s been an age-old way to manage risk at a bank,” Dunbar says. The American Bank of Freedom, however, does things a little differently. Let’s say Brand X bank is advertising a 6-month CD at 5%. The disclosures say that at the end of six months, your CD will automatically renew, which is typical. You then go look at their current rate sheet and see for a 6-month CD is 1.5%.
“There’s a game that’s played in which you get notified that your CD is going to mature so you either negotiate or take your money out. The American Bank of Freedom has a different approach,” Dunbar says. “Every day of the week our standard rates will be at approximately the 75th percentile of the market, meaning that we will not always match every promotional rate that’s out there for every type of account. That shouldn’t be important, however, because you’re always going to be earning well above the average of what all the banks in the market are paying.”
This doesn’t mean that they won’t negotiate or recognize their best customers. It just means that customers don’t have to play the rate game. For instance, the bank’s 6-month CD rate is 4.25. Most customers don’t mind going from 5 to 4.25% but don’t like dropping from 5 to 1.5%.
“Customers don’t want to spend their time running around, collecting their money from Bank X when it matures, get a check and run it over to Bank Y to get their rate,” Dunbar says. “They would rather know they’re getting a fair rate all of the time from one bank.”
The American Bank of Freedom works diligently for a bank of its size to make sure that their customers have access to all the information they need at all times. For example, say you spend a chunk of the year at a second home; online banking makes that process much more seamless.
“With our accounts you can set up notifications to alert you by text message or email when your CD is maturing,” says Dunbar.
Being a smaller banking institution means that they serve a different part of the market.
“We are friendly with the National Banks of Indy, Star Banks, Lake City Banks, and Community First Banks,” says Dunbar. “We each do things in different ways and different comfort levels that allows everyone to each have the part of the market that best suits them.”
The American Bank’s SBA lending business is prolific and national, though all of their processing people are right here in central Indiana.
Dunbar, who had done startup banking in southern Florida in the late 1990s, was eager to take on this new opportunity in Westfield.
“I’m highly confident we will meet or exceed our goals and projections for the year because we have a great team,” he says.
The American Bank of Freedom will be speaking at the Westfield Chamber’s Coffee at The Bridgewater Club on October 25 where the topic will be the current changes related to SBA lending that will make it easier to transition a business from one owner to another. At the event, a business transition expert will talk about things business owners should be thinking about doing in order to be ready to transfer. Then Dunbar’s team will discuss how to use American Bank in conjunction with SBA support to make that transaction successful for everybody.
The American Bank of Freedom is located at 14611 N. Gray Rd., Westfield, IN 46062. For more information, call 463-622-2931 or visit americanbankoffreedom.bank