Rising Stars 2021: Minnesotan defines community banking on home turf

Nate Lloyd of Grand Rapids State Bank, is appreciative of time spent with family, including wife Anna and daughters Alaina and Evie.

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 and one of BankBeat magazine’s 2021 Rising Stars in Banking, has found fulfillment in the puzzle of understanding his community.

Born and raised in the Iron Range town in northern Minnesota, Lloyd’s customers and coworkers are friends and former classmates. They’ve known him as both a banker and a high school basketball star. Crafting solutions specific for each customer — stitched by their particular dreams, goals, skills, history — is what Lloyd finds most profoundly satisfying. 

“[Lloyd] has been like a sponge, spending time with everyone from the CEO to the frontline staff soaking up information, actively listening, seeking input and advice,” said Noah Wilcox, the bank’s chair, president and CEO. “All of that makes him an exceptionally unique lender. He can see all sides of the business.”

Before returning to Grand Rapids, Lloyd collected perspectives and lending experience as a credit analyst at a large national bank during the Great Recession. By analyzing loans on a national scale, he quickly learned to identify the good and the bad, the “do’s” and the “don’ts” of lending. “Having the knowledge of such a wide variety of deals has really helped me as I came back to my hometown,” Lloyd said. 

In the recent round of downturn brought on by the pandemic, the relationships and stability of GRSB’s identity have been vital to both the community and the bank’s survival.

“We’ve been around over a hundred years,” Lloyd said. “When we do have these turbulent economic times, it really allows us to be prepared to not only weather the storm, but it also prepares us to be in the best position to help our customers.”

This applies naturally to existing customers, as well as those who stuck around after the flurry of PPP loan distribution. The $274 million bank has been able to showcase its commitment to the community by being accessible to their customers — for advice, financial or personal — or just for a phone call to check in or follow up. 

Nate Lloyd

Whether it be for a customer who’s either successful or struggling, “I find the most fulfillment, honestly, working with those customers to find a solution that’s going to work for them, and going to work for the bank.

“To be able to go back to them and say, ‘Okay, you know, we’ve listened and we’ve put together a plan that we think is going to be the best path forward for you,’ … that is the most gratifying,” Lloyd said. “You can see how much it affects not only them personally, but also their business.”

Though Wilcox views Lloyd as someone who’s mastered the work-life balance, at times Lloyd finds the wholehearted investment to be taxing. Requiring him to be creative, analytical and personal all at once, the unsolved loan scenarios that follow him home can sometimes bristle into sleepless nights.

“It’s one of those things where I have a tough time turning it off,” Lloyd said. “If there’s something that needs to be done, I like to get it done. I’m a go-go-go type of person.” 

As time passes, routines and job positions evolve, and his kids get older, Lloyd is increasingly aware of the importance of slowing down. Coming home to his wife, Anna, and his two daughters, Alaina and Evie, Lloyd’s restless thoughts of work fade in flickers of quality time — at the dinner table, on the couch, or in the morning with his girls at the counter with a cup of coffee. 

“They’ve taught me the importance of slowing down and being patient and just, you know, believing that everything’s going to be okay and it doesn’t necessarily have to be done yesterday,” he said. “I can’t say I’m perfect at it, but I’m trying to get better.

“For those few minutes it does — kind of, well, you can try and let it — go away.”