Local banking officials say asking questions and being informed about a bank's history are two of the most important things a customer can do to ensure the security of a financial institution — and the security of their money.

After the recent failures of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank, two local banking leaders spoke on the best ways for customers to stay aware and also how their banks guarantee customers' money is safe. 

Brad Tidwell, chief executive officer of VeraBank, said it's important for customers to know the financial institution they're doing business with.

Customers should feel comfortable to ask questions about their financial institution, such as about its financial track record. Direct communication between the banker and customer helps facilitate a smooth working relationship, Tidwell said. 

VeraBank takes a conservative approach in taking care of customers' money, he said. 

"We don't want to take excessive risks," he said. "Our philosophy at VeraBank is that we're managing other people's (money) and that the safety and security of their money is first and foremost."

Because it has always been prudent with customer finances, the 93-year institution is able to fall back on its track record, he said. 

Tidwell referenced the recent banking failures and said while it's understandable for people to have concerns, the banks in question failed because they were singularly focused and based on unique business models.

"Most banks in this country are very diversified and strong — they don't rely on any one kind of business," he said. "I don't think this is a widespread problem, but it is a problem with a few institutions."

Kevin Hood, Texas Bank and Trust president and chief operating officer, said it is important for customers to understand that overall, the banking industry remains strong, resilient, well-capitalized and positioned to continue serving customers well.

Some important aspects to consider when choosing a financial institution to do business with is how long it has been in business as well as its history of stable growth and profitability.

"At Texas Bank and Trust, we believe it is also important to know an institution's commitment to the community, either from a corporate standpoint financially, or indirectly through the efforts of its ownership, management and employees," Hood added.

Specific resources can be used to determine the financial health of a bank, he said. One resource is the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) website, which has financial information for every commercial bank in the country. He also recommends weissratings.com, which provides ratings of banks compared by industry standard and size. 

While these resources are helpful, Hood said nothing beats a customer's personal experience with his or her local financial institution. Being able to ask questions of employees is imperative to a quality banking experience, he said.

Additionally, Hood said finding out how a bank has operated through different economic cycles is useful knowledge.

Texas Bank and Trust manages itself with a conservative business model that relies on responsible banking and sound practices to provide financial services, Hood said. The bank remains well capitalized and advises customers to structure their accounts to maintain the most FDIC insurance coverage available. 

"While our industry may have been challenged in recent weeks, our banks, specifically, Texas community banks, remain strong and steadfast in our commitment to fuel the economic engines of our local communities," Hood said.

I'm Yoleyne Romero and my beat includes city/county government. I'm a graduate from The University of Texas at Tyler with a Bachelor's degree in Mass Communication. I have a dog named Okami that provides endless sunshine in my life.