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Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate Social Responsibility

At Commerce Bank, we believe in enriching the lives of our customers, neighbors, shareholders and employees. To achieve this, we invest in ideas, programs and technology that strengthen communities, help people tackle complex financial challenges and support a healthy environment. To ensure our efforts are making a difference, we make it our mission to get to know people and build strong relationships. It is through these relationships that we’re able to celebrate continued strong performance, invest in communities to strengthen our region and be a force for good in our industry.

Our culture, which dates back more than 150 years, holds us accountable to our mission on a daily basis. Our social responsibility practices are guided by our core values: forward thinking, teamwork, responsibility, relationships and accountability, and we’ve highlighted some of our efforts below. For more information, download our 2017-2018 Corporate Social Responsibility report.

Download 2018 Corporate Social Responsibility report [PDF] 1

Since our founding in 1865, we’ve always looked to the future. Our team members, customers and the communities where we live and work are the foundation of a strong and lasting business. As we look ahead to the next 150 years, we are committed to investing in ideas, people and communities for the long term.

Building strong communities.
Our investment in the communities we serve spans all areas of the bank, through charitable giving from the Commerce Bancshares Foundation, volunteering and community reinvestment efforts. We support a wide range of charitable organizations, and they’re all focused on improving the lives of people in the communities where we are located. We believe everyone should have access to economic opportunities, affordable housing, education and culture. Working alongside our community partners, we are helping to build a strong future for the communities we serve.

Community Reinvestment Act
We not only comply with the Community Reinvestment Act, we make it a priority. Our branches work to meet the financial needs in the communities we serve, including low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, and we engage customers in those communities to understand their needs as we develop products and services. As a result, we have earned an “Outstanding” rating consistently for more than 23 years. 

Our Community Reinvestment Act Performance Evaluation can be found here.

Commerce Team Members in the Community

From festivals to food drives, Commerce team members are active participants in the communities where we live and work. We’re willing to captain a cardboard boat, flip burgers for hungry ball players and ride a bike in a Santa costume – as long as it’s for a good cause. Commerce-sponsored volunteer opportunities are a popular way for employees to get involved, but our teams often plan activities on their own. Thanks to our employees, we can truly say we have a spirit of participation and service.

Investing in ideas for the long-term.
Throughout our history, we’ve maintained an innovative mindset. This is valuable for launching new products and services, but it’s also crucial for solving existing and emerging business challenges. At Commerce, all employees are encouraged to be innovative, no matter their role. There are many channels for pursuing new ideas, from discussing them with managers to participating in semi-annual Hackathons.

Our innovation efforts are managed across three areas: Incremental, Significant and Breakthrough. While we appreciate the value of breakthrough ideas that can transform our business and industry, we also encourage our employees to make incremental daily improvements to our processes and significant developments in our products and services.

Innovation highlights for 2016:

  • Leveraged data modeling to advance real time fraud detection.
  • Evolved the technology for our Special Connections Card to create the first multi-account card with an EMV chip.
  • Simplified reports on funds transfers for business customers to make them easier to understand.

Innovation Campaigns
Employees are brought together from across the bank to participate in campaigns focused on stimulating brainstorming and idea generation. They’re encouraged to submit ideas and are then matched with a mentor who helps them expand on their idea. Finally, the mentor facilitates conversations between the employee and the decision makers who can best leverage the idea.

Investing in a sustainable future.
In our branches, headquarters, operations centers and offices throughout the Midwest, we pay close attention to the impact our business has on the environment. We aim to be as efficient as possible in our use of the Earth’s resources and measure our consumption and waste each year to ensure we’re being mindful stewards.

Project Green Committee
The Project Green committee sets goals, tracks sustainability metrics, explores new technology and fosters an eco-friendly mindset throughout the bank. In recent years, the committee has accomplished several sustainability goals, including incorporating LEED principles in all construction projects and enhancing a recycling program for all employees. In 2016, we converted exterior lights to LED bank-wide.

Charge Your Car While You Bank
Electric car charging stations were installed at 12 Commerce Bank branches throughout the St. Louis Metro area. For electric car drivers on the go, the stations make it easy to “fill up” while they’re running errands. They can get a full charge in 30 minutes or less, whether or not they’re a Commerce Bank customer. Commerce partnered with Nissan to fund the project, and the stations are managed by EVgo.

As a regional company, it can be difficult to maintain strong relationships with team members in other bank locations. At Commerce, we believe it’s important to work together across the bank, and we are committed to fostering a positive culture in which team members feel connected. To help all employees be at their best, we foster a positive culture in which all voices are heard, and we encourage personal development through a variety of opportunities.

As a result, in 2016, we celebrated employee engagement and enablement scores of 79% - a score significantly higher than both the U.S. financial services norm and other U.S. high-performing companies. Our survey partner, Korn Ferry, identifies engagement and enablement as key factors for team success and retention.

Forbes Recognizes Commerce as a Best Midsize Employer
On Forbes’ annual Best Midsize Employers list, Commerce ranked #62 and second among other banks on the list. The ranking was based on anonymous feedback from employees about whether they would recommend their company to others. We are honored by the recognition and see it as a marker of our commitment to creating a positive environment for our team members.

Commerce Named One of Three Outstanding Employers in America

Each year, we collect feedback from our team members through a bank-wide survey. We work with Korn Ferry, a third party company, to ensure responses are anonymous. Recently, Korn Ferry recognized Commerce for best-in-class levels of engagement and a high percentage of employees who feel proud to work here and would recommend us to others. Commerce received one of the top three scores among companies in the United States. Research by Korn Ferry has shown that a high level of employee engagement is a key competitive advantage, and that companies with high engagement often experience revenue growth of “up to two and a half times over peer companies”1.

Inviting diverse perspectives.
At Commerce, we recognize that diversity makes for a stronger company, and we ensure that our workplace supports all team members, helping them bring their full selves to work and seizing opportunities to succeed equally. We value, embrace and leverage the variety of perspectives that come as a result of our individual differences. These ideas help us be more innovative and make work more interesting, which, in turn, increases productivity. In addition, by building teams that are representative of our communities, we are better able to understand our customers’ needs and engage them now and into the future. In 2016, we renewed our commitment to inclusion and diversity through several ongoing initiatives.

Inclusion & Diversity Councils

We have a goal of better understanding the needs of the communities we serve – through a lens of inclusion and diversity. Our growing list of Inclusion & Diversity Councils brings together employees involved in the area to discuss opportunities to improve our efforts.
In 2016, we formed a new council to represent several communities we serve in Southern Missouri. Councils also serve the Central Missouri, St. Louis and Kansas City markets, and a total of 65 team members serve on Inclusion & Diversity Councils.

Empowering Women
RISE is the first employee resource group at Commerce. It was launched in 2016 to engage and support female employees at Commerce. RISE – which stands for Respect, Inspire, Succeed, Empower – helps promote the advancement, retention and recruitment of women at Commerce. Any employee can join and attend events, participate in virtual workshops and network with fellow members. Since its founding, RISE has seen a 66% growth in membership with 450 total members.

Increasing Access for All Team Members
Across the bank, we strive to be inclusive to people with disabilities both in our hiring practices and in the workplace. In 2016, we renewed that commitment by becoming a member of the Greater Kansas City Business Leadership Network (GKCBLN), an organization that assists businesses with recruitment, hiring management and marketing practices inclusive to individuals with disabilities. With this relationship, we are committed to increasing access to help ensure all team members can equally participate and succeed.

Mission: Hire
We believe veterans bring a valuable set of skills with them to the workplace, and we make concerted efforts to recruit and support former members of the military. We also offer flexible job options for reservists. To strengthen our efforts in providing veterans meaningful opportunities, we joined the Kansas City Veterans Coalition, a group of large employers working together to support veterans through job opportunities, mentoring and networking.

As a financial institution, we take our role as stewards of sensitive information very seriously. We believe that sound corporate governance, risk mitigation and security practices are vital to operating as an ethical and socially responsible business. Our corporate governance standards help ensure compliance with laws and regulations, and we proactively address potential sources of risk to help prevent issues. We work diligently to mitigate risk in order to continually earn the trust and confidence of our customers, vendors and shareholders. Ultimately, our sense of responsibility helps ensure a better experience for our customers. You can review our Corporate Governance Guidelines, Code of Ethics, compliance committees’ charters and other governance documents using the links below.

Customer Education
We believe customers are a first line of defense against security risks. Customers are educated on security concerns so that they are better able to identify and avoid fraud and identity theft. They are encouraged to report phishing or other fraud concerns to the bank.

Protecting Customers’ Privacy
The security of our customers’ information is a top priority. We continually improve our security policies, standards, reviews and testing to ensure customers’ personal information and accounts are protected.

Defense Against Fraud
Today, security threats are ever-increasing in number and sophistication. Getting ahead of emerging fraud schemes is a priority for us. We regularly evaluate, adjust and implement our technologies and programs to ensure the highest level of security possible. As a result, we continue to receive satisfactory reviews and compliance assessments by bank regulators.

Following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the USA PATRIOT Act was signed into law, expanding anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism obligations for U.S. financial institutions. A significant part of the new legislation required the establishment of a customer identification program. Commerce is required to obtain, verify and record information that identifies each individual or entity that opens an account or requests credit.

Red Flags Identity Theft Program
The Fair Credit Reporting Act's ("FCRA") Red Flags Identity Theft provisions require Commerce to implement a risk-based program that helps to detect, prevent, and mitigate the risk of identity theft in connection with both the opening and maintenance of certain types of accounts. Commerce's program incorporates existing policies, procedures, and processes that are designed to control foreseeable identity theft risk to customers.

It’s all about our customers.
When life gets messy, our customers don’t need a bank, they need an ally. They need someone who can empathize with what they’re going through and help them figure out what to do next. Our super-community model, which combines personal attention and high-quality products and services, empowers us to be that ally. Whether they’re logging in to online banking or visiting a branch, they are treated like an individual and connected to the right resources for their situation. Behind the scenes, we’re continually refining our delivery model to create a consistent, positive experience across all of the ways people bank with us. In 2016, we made enhancements to several branches, our mobile app and digital banking platform for one reason: connecting with and supporting our customers.

Branch Transformation

Even with the rise of technology, the local bank branch still proves to be a key part of our relationship with customers. We have a number of ways that customers can handle simple transactions, like check balances, making deposits or transferring money on their computer or smart device, but when they need advice, have a question or want some help, they tend to prefer to visit a branch. With this in mind, we’ve been redesigning branches throughout our footprint to create more opportunities to connect with visitors.

In 2016, we remodeled or rebuilt eight locations across the network. In each of these projects, we rethought all aspects of the branch to ensure they contribute to and enhance the customer experience – from the lobby visuals to the private meeting rooms. These physical transformations leverage technology and design to enhance the high-touch service we provide. Customers are greeted and engaged by a Personal Banker from the moment they enter a branch, and bankers work with them to ensure their needs are met.

Enhancing the Digital Experience

Whether online or on a smart device, banking on the go is a convenient time-saving option. In 2009, the branch was the most popular way for people to bank, but today 90% of transactions at Commerce are handled digitally. Our customers login 27 times a month, on average, which tells us they’re making daily transactions through our digital platforms – online and through the mobile app. We’re honored to be part of their routine, and so we try to be as consistently helpful as possible. Our goal is to be clear and easy to understand; help customers understand their options and feel confident in their decisions; and help them feel their privacy is protected. And, we keep a close eye on customer reviews to understand their issues so we can make necessary improvements as quickly as possible.

We want to be at our best, so we can be of the most service to our customers, shareholders and team members. In order to achieve results, we hold ourselves accountable and continuously measure our performance to make improvements as necessary. We show up, do the best job we can and try to be present in our work – whether that’s with customers or colleagues. The recognition that we’ve received as a result is a nod to the hard work of our teams, and our commitment to holding ourselves accountable to our work.

Industry Rankings & Recognition

Our super-community banking model gives us a competitive edge in the industry. We are able to provide high-touch service through long-standing relationships in the communities we serve, all while ranking among the top largest banks. There are several rankings we keep a close eye on to monitor our industry performance.

  • Among all U.S. banks, Commerce ranked as the 39th largest bank based on asset size, with a market capitalization of $5.7 billion.1
  • Commerce Trust Company ranked as the 21st largest bank-owned trust company in the U.S.1
  • Commerce consistently ranks among the top issuers of credit, debit and commercial cards, according to The Nilson Report. We are currently ranked as the 7th largest purchasing card issuer and the 16th largest commercial card provider in the U.S.2
  • Moody’s ranks Commerce among the top 7 banks in the country with a baseline credit assessment of A1, reflecting our standalone credit strength.3
  • Forbes ranked Commerce as the #62 Best Midsize Employer for 2017.
  • Commerce was 1 of 3 U.S. companies named an Outstanding Employer for 2017 by Korn Ferry for best-in-class employee engagement.

1. SNL Financial as of March 31, 2017
2. The Nilson Report, June 2016.
3. Moody’s US Banks Ratings; February 14, 2017.

2016 Performance Highlights

  • Commerce reported earnings per share of $2.61, up 7% from 2015. Return on average assets (ROA) was 1.12%, while return on average equity (ROE) was 11.3%. This compares favorably to our peer bank average ROA of .88% and average ROE of 7.8%.

  • Net income amounted to $275 million, an increase of $12 million from the prior year.

  • Total shareholder's equity grew to $2.6 billion, and we recognized a Tier 1 common risk-based capital ratio of 11.6%, in line with our peers and well above regulatory minimums. 

  • Total loans grew $983 million, or 8%, during 2016 with solid growth from our commercial loan portfolio. Loan growth in our expansion markets continues to be strong, increasing 15% to $1.5 billion.

  • Fee income from our wealth management businesses grew $144 million, an increase of 6%. Trust assets are growing steadily and now total more than $4.3 billion.

  • In our payments system businesses, fees totaled $294 million, an increase of 4% over the previous year. We expected significant growth in years to come. 


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