Ray M. Robinson Chairman of the Board – Citizens Bancshares Corporation
2018 was a history-making year for Citizens Bancshares Corporation. We added value to our customers, shareholders, community, and our team. Providing this level of performance for all of our stakeholders not only made us proud but was extremely rewarding as well.
Citizens Bancshares Corporation’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Citizens Trust Bank, was the success behind the performance. History-making: This was the theme of the year supported by several noteworthy achievements, at the bank level, including:
- Historic Earnings: 29% YOY growth in pre-tax income to $5.6 million in 2018
- Historic Return on Assets: 1.07%
- Historic Return on Equity: 62%
- Historic Asset Quality Metrics
Other performance items to note include: 1) a 6% or $14 million growth in loans, 2) a decline of approximately $24 million in deposits resulting from a decision to release high cost, out of market deposits and 3) a withdrawal of an $18 million short-term deposit from a long-term customer placed at the end of 2017 that was withdrawn in early 2018. The resulting impact was an $18 million decline in total assets.
During 2018, we also made significant capital improvements to our branch facilities to ensure they represent the spirit and brand of our Company.
We are proud of our execution of key initiatives. Our strong performance has been driven by our strategy to enhance the financial well-being of our customers, our shareholders, our team, and the communities we serve. We made significant strides positioning our Company for future growth and continued forward momentum.
In a highly digital and evolving environment, moving into 2019 our number one priority remains our customer. Our goal is to help them achieve their life goals by providing options for healthy financial living. Engaged at every organizational level, we will deliver on our promise through our strategic commitments. Our commitment centers on:
- Customer Engagement
- Customer Experience
- Innovative Solutions
- Inspired People
- Community Impact
We believe that taking care of our customers and community through personalized engagement: we create a win for everyone, we enhance our performance and we enable our ability to remain a valued partner.
Customer Engagement and Experience
From utilizing research to better define how to best engage our customers, to leveraging technology to create efficiencies in our service delivery, we are striving to ensure that every customer experience with us is meaningful and pleasurable. We want our customers to understand our value proposition, and we will solicit their feedback to ensure we are getting it right.
For the upcoming year, in order to grow and retain deposits, we will place a tremendous emphasis on this promise as deposit rates rise and liquidity in the market tightens.
In today’s marketplace, innovation in engaging the customer isn’t an option but a necessity. We are continuously seeking new and better ways to enhance our customer’s experience. In a community bank innovation and technology can be costly, so engaging the right strategic partners is key. We are intentional and deliberate in pursuing partners that align with and can deliver in support of our strategic initiatives in an efficient way.
With 22% of our new deposit accounts, 34% of consumer loans and 100% of our mortgage loan applications initiated through our website – CTBconnect.com and strong website traffic, boasting an average of 50-60,000 visits each month, digital banking is quickly becoming a very important part of our business. We must continue to make significant investments in this segment to sustain and grow in this competitive environment.
Over the next three to four years, skills required in the workplace are expected to change as a result of changes in digital business trends and thus impacting how we engage with our customers. These changes will require us to reimagine a workforce that aligns with our business and strategic initiatives. This will include coaching and hiring a team that represents a culture of highly motivated, high-performance people will grow with our Company. While this initiative might challenge us to evolve our team during a very tight labor market, we are optimistic that we can navigate our way through it.
We are committed to impacting our community through active engagement. We continue to gain success with our Financial Independence Training (FIT) program. It is our commitment to educate, motivate and inspire young people to obtain a future of healthy financial well-being.
The program has helped to lay fundamental steps necessary for future generations to build strong financial habits.
The F.I.T. course is taught by our partner schools, and through the program, we have engaged 7,789 students in and around our market. The program’s success to date has exceeded our expectations and will continue as a cherished community partnership.
Leveraging the success of the FIT program, our desire is to broaden its reach. We are seeking to expand the program through partnerships with area colleges and universities, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities, throughout our market.
Impacting the community at large, we sponsor approximately 1,800 customized financial well-being workshops, bank tours and special mentoring events. We trust that our outreach demonstrates our care and commitment to financial education and differentiates us as a valued partner in the community.
Driven to Excel
While we are making greater strides in evolving our Company than we envisioned even 12 months ago, we are not complacent. Every day, operating in a highly competitive, dynamic and fluid environment, brings new challenges. The key to overcoming these challenges lies in constantly setting the bar higher.
Together with our board, we regularly examine, refine, and adapt our business model, and we believe our strategic initiatives – to engage our customers and create pleasurable customer experiences; cultivate partnerships to deliver innovative solutions by inspired people; and impact our community in a meaningful way– will assist us in driving continued success, forward momentum and long-term value for you, our shareholders.
Let’s keep making history, together!