Features

Class size, session length make Barret unique

Ask bankers what they want from a graduate school of banking program, and they’ll tell you. That’s what Chris Kelley and fellow board members found in 2001, after the estate of Paul W. Barret, Jr. granted $8 million to what was then the Mid South School of Banking in Memphis, Tenn. Barret was the chairman of Barretville Bank and Trust Co., Barretville, Tenn., established by his father in 1920. [Continue]

Mix of disciplines is the value proposition at Stonier

Historic in its legacy since 1935, the American Bankers Association’s Stonier Graduate School of Banking holds special appeal for its unusual partnership. The respected Ivy League Wharton School of Business hosts the program on its campus at the University of Pennsylvania, and executives successfully completing the courses and a capstone project graduate with both a Stonier diploma and a Wharton leadership certificate. [Continue]

Marquette U’s commercial banking program fills industry pipeline

For Kent Belasco, becoming director of the commercial banking program at Marquette University in Milwaukee was the start of a second career. He had retired as executive vice president, chief information and operations officer at First Midwest Bank in Itasca, Ill., after 37 years in banking. In mid-2015, Marquette University was looking for a finance professor with teaching experience and a commercial banking background. MU had begun to understand “not all students wanted to be investment bankers,” Belasco said. He began to build a curriculum during his last year at the bank. [Continue]

At 75 years, GSB-Wisconsin has kept pace

“The trouble with opportunity is that it always comes disguised as hard work,” Dr. Herbert V. Prochnow once wrote. That could be a fitting description for the programs at the Graduate School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which students describe as challenging, yet career-changing. Prochnow, a noted toastmaster and author who went on to become an executive at the First National Bank of Chicago, started the school in 1945 in collaboration with what was then the School of Commerce at UW-Madison and the Wisconsin Bankers Association. [Continue]

Refined lending approach attuned to business lifecycles

The best companies in your loan portfolio are likely the ones at capacity, providing stable and predictable return on investment. It doesn’t matter if these firms are large economic enterprises or small mom-n-pop shops — sales and earnings variances are low and businesses experience planned growth with long term stability.

One only needs to look at the business lifecycle model and place a finger firmly on the place where business is at market equilibrium (see graph 1). Your best businesses are at the place on the model that creditworthiness risk algorithms are designed for — the prediction of future trajectory based on a substantial record of past performance. But something is missing. This is not the only phase on the business lifecycle model, and certainly it does not take into account businesses that are at the point of invention, innovation or pre-launch development — which includes research and development activities — nor  does it account for business launch, the period of exponential growth on the way to capacity and equilibrium, nor businesses that are ready for expansion. These six “other” phases are real and they deserve bankers’ attention.

The business lifecycle model is a valuable tool because in its totality, it reminds that the phases of a business’ lifecycle can be identified in discrete and knowable pieces, and that the phases have predictable characteristics. The characteristics of each phase are different, and shouldn’t be measured using the same criteria — if for example, we judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, the fish will fail every time.

Likewise, a banking culture that is driven by a measure of what is not helps no one go forward. Ratios and algorithms tell the banker what is, but do not provide any insight into the questions what else, who else, and so what? The answers to these questions come with evaluation in the presence of the appropriate criteria relevant to the specific phases of lifecycle. This is not a process where one tool fits all uses. Resilience and a commitment to evaluating each business phase as an opportunity is a creative endeavor, one that can help overcome banker burn-out and bring an excitement that is the result of finding and applying fresh perspectives to solutions all along the business lifecycle. It helps bankers and businesses alike to meet each other where they are, on the way to where they need to be. [Continue]

Bank Midwest leader is 2019 Banker of the Year

In 1995, Mary Kay Bates walked into the Okoboji, Iowa, branch of Bank Midwest with a portfolio full of “B” credits. She had been working as a mortgage lender with Stockdale Bank, one of the last in a strange breed of private banks that took uninsured deposits and originated mortgages for high-risk customers. Regulators weren’t pleased to have private banks operating outside the system, so on its way to extinction Stockdale Bank sold its deposits and mortgages to Bank Midwest, which was why Bates was in that day, fully prepared to explain every relevant detail to the portfolio’s new owners. [Continue]