Rising Stars 2021: Iowan tours community, advocating education

Holding his drumsticks, Kyle Baker peered out at the crowd, absorbing the rhythm of the din. It was mid-summer in 2010, and he and his band, the Superunknown, were backstage at the Riverbend Music Center in Cincinnati, opening for KISS during their “Hottest Show on Earth” tour. The atmosphere shifted when the lights dimmed, and Baker stepped onstage with a rush of energy.  [Continue]

Rising Stars 2021: Indiana banker envisions growth, potential

When Amanda Morris-Feldman met Don Groenleer, she was a 25-year-old CPA working for Crowe Horwath LLP, her first job out of college, and he was chief financial officer at First Federal Savings Bank in Rochester, Ind. At the time, she had no reason to envision herself in his role. But five years later that’s exactly where she was.  [Continue]

Rising Stars 2021: Minnesotan defines community banking on home turf

A lot of people talk about being a community banker, said Nate Lloyd, “but I don’t think you’d know what a community banker is and what it entails until you actually do it in a community that you care so deeply about.” By banking in his hometown, Lloyd, vice president of business banking at Minnesota’s Grand Rapids State Bank, has found fulfillment in the puzzle of understanding his community. [Continue]

Rising Stars 2021: Relationships are foundational for CSO

When you drive onto a farm, you’d better have a feel for the position that farmer is in, said Juhl Erickson; you better understand their time is important. Erickson, chief sales officer for Spirit Lake, Iowa-based Bank Midwest, learned these things young. While growing up on a southwestern Minnesota farm, Erickson recalled the unsolicited sales calls made at the farm, and how his father, Frank, would call out the arrival of these peddlers the way one might announce an approaching storm: Here comes another one. [Continue]

How has the pandemic impacted branch strategy?

Bank building photo

Bank owners are in the throes of rethinking their branch networks. This process has been ongoing for years, thanks largely to the rising popularity of digital banking, but the pandemic has brought the question of the future of branches into sharper focus. Aware that a substantial share of customers likely won’t return to branches after Covid-19 fears abate, community banks continue to invest in digital banking tools that kept them in business during the pandemic. But small institutions haven’t abandoned the concept of the retail branch. [Continue]

Rising Stars 2021: Michigander delivers service ‘behind the screens’

From a hillside barn in Litchfield, Mich., a calf gnawed on Scott Ferry’s finger. He held up his phone, livestreaming the scene for his banker, Stephanie Brummette. “It’s almost feeding time,” he told her. “Oh my gosh. Best job ever. I’m glad I needed a signature,” Brummette said, beaming through her computer at Union Bank’s digital call center in Odessa, Mich. The two had been sorting out the paperwork for the fourth-generation Ferry Farm’s Paycheck Protection Program loan. [Continue]

Nothing beats a written plan when setting goals

For quite a few years, the conversations surrounding agriculture have focused on financial stress. Since 2014, we’ve had a rise in farm bankruptcies, we watched low commodity prices place downward pressure on land values, we expected farm incomes to be stretched thin, and we knew that years of struggle were manifesting in mental health crises across rural America. [Continue]

What the USDA’s American Families Plan means for farmers

The USDA issued a press release in which they indicated that the transfer tax proposed in the American Families Plan will not affect 98 percent of farm estates. However, the details are lacking and most farm families that keep the farm in the family may not owe any transfer tax — but they will owe a lot more income tax under the proposal. [Continue]

Rising Stars 2021: Illinois banker serves community and customers alike

Courtney Olson’s banking career began because of a family connection. While a freshman in college, Olson’s aunt, who was vice president of a community bank in Riverwoods, Ill., needed someone to fill in as a teller. Within a week, she was opening CDs and from there moved into a role as a personal banker. Every summer and winter break, she would return to the bank, eventually taking a full-time job following her graduation. [Continue]

Understanding encryption (and why it’s not enough)

Bankers keep a lot of secrets, and they are able to do this in our modern world with encryption. For most, encryption is a mystery and taken for granted. We know it’s important. We know we’re doomed to be a criminal’s mark without it. Yet, we probably have little sense of when it’s in use or not.  [Continue]