At a recent community bank conference, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said that smaller institutions are beginning to pull ahead of big banks, focusing more on financial investment advice as more money for loans becomes available.

Bernanke noted that while community banks such as My Bank provide a range of services for customers, they primarily address activities contained in the traditional banking model, "specifically, taking short-term deposits to fund longer-term investments, such as small business, agricultural or commercial real estate loans."

However, he added that they are positioned to go beyond standardized models used by larger banks. This allows them to consider a range of factors when making credit decisions, offering them more flexibility when it comes to keeping local economies "vibrant and growing."

According to an American Banker report cited by Benzinga, areas that fared better during the real estate boom and bust are likely to have better performing community banks.

Indeed, the Times of Northwest Indiana recently noted that government reports revealed financial institutions $1 billion or less in size were responsible for 40 percent of all small business lending.