April RMI holds steady

Despite a slight decline, the Rural Mainstreet Index posted a healthy 69.0 in April, up from March’s 71.9, and still well above growth neutral. This is the fifth straight month of economic growth in the survey of rural bank CEOs from the central ag- and energy-dependent states. Just over a third of respondents said their local economies had expanded between April and March.  [Continue]

Basketball court aims to be winning shot for bank

When State Nebraska Bank & Trust in Wayne first looked at rebuilding its Campus Branch on the north side of town, CEO Matt Ley knew it was an opportunity to do more than update the 1980s structure. The bank bought some adjacent lots and decided to add leasable Class A office space to the building — plus something extra. [Continue]

DCI’s Fankhauser leverages people skills to navigate challenges

When Sarah Fankhauser became president and CEO of core provider Data Center Inc. — the first woman to lead the Kansas-based company in its 57-year history — she faced an unfolding and historic pandemic that spurred the industry to become increasingly reliant on technology. Having come up through company ranks on the customer support side (after beginning her career at a bank), Fankhauser’s people skills proved consequential. These are skills hewn by experience. [Continue]

Boutique core providers carve niche with customization, responsiveness

The realities of the core processing industry are stark: The industry’s Big Three — Fiserv, Jack Henry and FIS — account for the vast majority of the market. The remaining wedge is divided among a range of smaller shops. At its heart, the pitch from smaller core providers mirrors the one community bankers give those considering them over their largest competitors: They offer a high-touch, focused service model with real people responding to inquiries, problem-solvers able to understand and react to swiftly or at least explain their limitations without sounding like automatons. [Continue]

Montana Banking Commissioner leverages tech to modernize regulation

Melanie Hall lived through Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, and the experience surged to the top of her mind this year. The commissioner of Montana’s Division of Banking recently compared the pandemic’s economic impact to the storm and its destruction. Despite state and Federal help, “[the impact] will come home to all people eventually,” Hall said. “We need to be ever vigilant that it could come to our banks. [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.

Missouri COO balances banking’s three-legged stool

Kathleen Bruegenhemke started her career as an examiner with the FDIC in the midst of the ag crisis of the 1980s, and initially rejected the possibility of a transition into banking. None of the banks she examined in her first year on the job were very profitable, she said. “I didn’t see that as a real enticing industry to go into.” [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]

The value of the marketing change-up

Marketing in the middle of a global pandemic and the resulting economic turmoil isn’t easy. There’s a fine line to walk between continuing to put your message in front of customers and not seem like you’re trying to profit from dual crises. Use of social media to spread reassurances was a key theme of the earlier stages of the pandemic, with many banks opting to focus on messages of unity and togetherness. [Continue]