Accurately describing the career of Missouri community banker Dan Robb requires understanding the mindset shared by successful visionaries across all industries: An extraordinary work ethic, the foresight to accept opportunities others turn down, and the intelligence to decipher patterns that many fail to see.
Robb’s mindset was first developed shortly after he graduated from high school in 1985. The teenager accepted a position in maintenance at a local community bank in the central Missouri town of Cairo. The gig — couriering coins between branches, sweeping the parking lot, washing windows, and other tasks — is at first blush a dead-end job. However, within a month, the recent graduate was offered a part-time teller position, getting his foot in the door of the industry.
Robb, who worked his way through college at the University of Missouri in Kansas City, eventually oversaw the expansion of Missouri’s Jonesburg State Bank as president and CEO by using the same visionary approach. Robb’s development as a leader both at the bank and in the broader industry recently culminated with the American Bankers Association electing him as chair for the 2022-23 association year.
In 2003, Robb, a community bank executive at the time, received a call from a recruiter informing him that Jonesburg State Bank had an open president position. The bank, which had been owned by the Orr family for more than four decades, was in nearby Columbia, Mo. He accepted the offer.
Robb’s leadership in the coming years played a key role in growing Jonesburg State Bank from a $40 million, single-branch bank to a $130 million, three-branch institution. Shortly after being named president and CEO, Robb realized that Jonesburg State Bank already had a sizable customer base only 10 miles away in Warrenton, Mo. Seizing the opportunity, Robb opened a branch in Warrenton.
Following the Great Recession, a couple of larger area banks paused mortgage lending to preserve their long-term financial health. In response, Jonesburg State Bank established new consumer lending relationships by keeping its mortgage program. Following the decision of a regional bank to close a branch in a neighboring community in 2017, Jonesburg State Bank responded by opening a new branch in the area and hiring all five of the bank’s former employees. Shortly after, Jonesburg State Bank attracted former customers of a large bank that closed a local branch by hiring a branch manager.
The bank’s growth came as Robb developed as a key leader for both the Missouri Bankers Association and ABA. He served eight years on MBA’s board of directors, including one as chair. He also served on ABA’s Community Bankers Council and its Grassroots Committee and chaired the ABA’s Government Relations Council in 2020.
Robb will balance his duties as president and CEO of Jonesburg State Bank with his association responsibilities as he embarks on a sometimes-grueling travel schedule as ABA chair. He sees his main role with the ABA as helping to protect banks from potentially damaging regulations and new laws, including the development of a central bank digital currency. “I truly think that would affect [institutions] from the biggest bank to the smallest bank,” he said. “It takes away our abilities to lend to our customers, and I think that really is something that is being considered.”
Robb is also concerned over the aggressive approach of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under Director Rohit Chopra. Though the CFPB is primarily focused on large banks, Robb said the impact of the agency’s actions is trickling down to the community banking level.
To protect the industry against harmful legislation, Robb said he stresses the impact that the proposals will have on customers, not to the banks themselves. “My No. 1 goal, and I think all bankers’ No. 1 goal, is to serve our customers to the best of our abilities,” he said.
“Overreaching regulation is getting in our way, and we’ve got to push back,” he added. “We’ve got to advocate, we’ve got to speak up, we’ve got to use our voices to be heard.”
ABA President and CEO Rob Nichols said Robb “brings a distinguished record of service to both the banking industry and his local community that will serve him well over the next year. I look forward to working with him to advance industry priorities that will allow our members to continue meeting the needs of their customers, clients and communities.”