Features

Agricultural roundup

Rows of soy plants in a field

In late 2019, when ag bankers reflected on the year and forecast expectations for 2020, they foresaw classic perennial challenges: bad weather and low commodity prices. What 2020 actually delivered would have been hard to predict. No one has been immune from the struggles the COVID-19 pandemic has wrought on the nation’s health or the economy, including farmers and their community banking partners. [Continue]

Webb and team build a people-first village

What does it mean to be family built and community strong? That’s the question Aleesha Webb asked herself as she rejoined Village Bank in 2018. She’d begun her career at the Minnesota bank led by her father, but had taken time to work in other financial institutions. As newly minted president and vice chair, she took stock of the situation and what needed to be tweaked.
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Indiana banker values words, community

Almost every Friday morning for the past 10 years, Kathy Schoettlin’s voice is heard on the local radio. Fueled by fruit and coffee and likely without much sleep, she presents $100 to a local charity in exchange for airtime. Born at the border of Kentucky, she speaks with a slight southern twang, and with careful consideration. Choosing her words, she said, is as important a task as caring for her community. [Continue]

Longtime Minnesota banking leader puts company first

Barb Smith has always been driven to make a difference for her employer. Earlier in her career, Smith had been a senior lender at a Bemidji, Minn., community bank when it was acquired. When a new retail sales role caught Smith’s eye, a colleague wondered why Smith wanted to also learn retail sales and service and deposit functions. She told him it was an opportunity to learn and “a way to make a difference.”  [Continue]

Colorado banker gets the job done

Rebecca Diaz is not a perfectionist. “There’s this expression: GETMO. Good enough to move on,” Diaz explained. “Sometimes you need that philosophy in your life.” Diaz is acutely aware of women’s tendency to abstain from a job application because every prerequisite wasn’t met to a tee. But with experience and working with women along the way, she learned how to run with the big dogs, though her golf skills are still lacking. [Continue]

Michigan banker trail-blazes with transparency

When Michigan legalized recreational cannabis, Edith Farrell, the Bank Secrecy Act officer at Union Bank, Lake Odessa, was in staunch opposition. Well-versed in compliance, Farrell was content to analyze customer data and loan activity. She never expected she’d be the voice advocating for Union Bank to be one of the first in the state to bank the marijuana industry. [Continue]

Fed sets a table for bankers looking for CRA funding opportunities

Partnerships with community organizations are critical for banks to meet their CRA responsibilities. Working on their own, banks can spend days just vetting organizations for CRA-eligible funds, and community groups often struggle to get banks to bite. Through a program called Investment Connection, eight Federal Reserve Banks are taking  a “shark tank,” or speed-dating approach to the set-up, assembling a neighborhood of options. [Continue]

Top performer in Wyoming a community pillar as well

Wyoming Bank & Trust has been one of the state’s top performers for a while, but its stellar credentials don’t only come from its business performance. Cheyenne-based WB&T has harnessed the power of a real estate brokerage to complement its lending portfolio in ag and mortgages. With rates so low, the bank’s mortgage department is humming with activity, while its ag customers have largely done well this year. [Continue]