For the third straight year, Peoples State Bank has been named as one of the Best Banks to Work For by American Banker magazine and Best Companies Group. Peoples is one of just three Wisconsin banks to make the list. The ranking comes on the heels of American Banker naming Peoples as a Top 200 Community Bank for 12 straight years.

“This honor celebrates all our employees and their dedication to help others,” said Scott Cattanach, president and CEO of Peoples State Bank. “We’re extremely grateful for the trusted relationships that exist between our employees and our customers that continue to earn us a place on this special list.”

“This year’s list honors those banks which have gone above and beyond to invest in employees’ personal and professional growth,” said Alan Kline, editor in chief of American Banker.

“Peoples is proud of the efforts we’ve made to help our employees achieve their best in a team atmosphere,” said Cattanach.

American Banker noted the bank’s digital technology upgrades and redesigned employee roles as factors in the ranking. Their story stated a new digital banking specialist role created to build the digital banking knowledge base and develop best practices for working with customers through various banking channels.

“Peoples has focused on employee strengths, matching those strengths to roles that will help them and our customers succeed,” said Tina Seidl, Peoples State Bank’s vice president – human
resources director. “It’s a win-win, providing positive change for our employees while being a benefit for our customers.”

American Banker took special note of Peoples efforts to adjust their employment status to phase into retirement or to take reduced working hours as semi-retirement.

American Banker magazine used a two-part process to determine the best banks in the country to work for. The first step involved evaluating workplace policies, practices, and employee demographics. In the second step, employee surveys assessed the experiences and attitudes of bank employees for their workplace. The combined scores of the two steps determine the top banks and the final ranking. Full results are available at American Banker online or in the November issue of American Banker magazine.

American Banker magazine looked at health and wellness programs, retirement plans, compensation, company policies, and workforce demographics. Best Companies Group managed the overall registration and survey process, analyzed the data, and used their expertise to determine the final ranking.

Terri Bulman celebrated 30 years of service with National Exchange Bank & Trust on November 11, 2021.

Bulman is a member of the loan services department and works out of the operations office in Downtown Fond du Lac. When she started, Bulman worked as a teller before moving behind the scenes, where she plays an integral role in supporting lending.

Bulman grew up in Fond du Lac where she now resides with her family.

National Exchange Bank & Trust is an independent bank with convenient locations throughout Southeastern Wisconsin. For more information, visit the bank’s website at nebat.com.

Joseph Haas, vice president of private wealth management at US Bank headquartered in Minneapolis, has been appointed to the board of directors of the American Heart Association’s Midwest region for a two-year term. In this role, Haas will help lead the achievement of the association’s mission to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives through oversight of local revenue generation and health impact activities. The American Heart Association is the world’s leading voluntary health organization devoted to fighting cardiovascular disease.

Kevin Harker, executive vice president of the American Heart Association’s Midwest region, said of the appointment, “Haas will be a tremendous asset to our board of trustees. He has a wealth of knowledge to lend our organization, and I look forward to working with Joe to advance the mission of the American Heart Association and improve the lives of people across the Midwest.”

Joseph Haas has been a longtime volunteer with the American Heart Association in Milwaukee, serving on the local Board of Directors from 2016 through 2020, and serving as Board Chair from 2017 through 2019. Haas is passionate about the mission of the AHA because he has a very personal connection. His father suffered a heart attack during his sister’s wedding rehearsal dinner. Each year, Haas and his family form a Heart Walk team and raise funds in honor of his dad.

As a member of the Midwest Board of Directors, Haas will help oversee the American Heart Association’s efforts in a 13-state region, comprised of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

By Scott Birrenkott

Q: Does Wisconsin Require Delivery of Instruments to Mortgage Borrowers after Payoff?

A: Yes. Wisconsin requires delivery of the instrument, and, depending on the transaction, other payoff requirements.

WBA is frequently asked whether banks must provide a copy of a note to the borrower at time of payoff. Wisconsin law requires provision of a payoff statement, and for Wisconsin Consumer Act transactions, the bank must provide a copy of the “instrument.” A copy of the note would meet that requirement.

Wisconsin’s payoff statement requirements can be found under Wis. Stat. section 708.15(3). That section requires that the bank must file and give the secured creditor notification within 30 days after receiving full payment or performance of the secured obligation. Additionally, for loans covered by the Wisconsin Consumer Act, Wis. Stat. section 422.306 provides several requirements regarding receipts, accounting, and evidence of payment. One such requirement is that the bank must give or forward to the customer instruments which acknowledge payment in full. It also requires release of any security interest when there is no outstanding secured obligation.

“Instrument” is a defined term under Uniform Commercial Code Article 9. An “instrument” means a negotiable instrument or any other writing that evidences a right to the payment of a monetary obligation, is not itself a security agreement or lease, and is of a type that in ordinary course of business is transferred by delivery with any necessary endorsement or assignment.

A note would meet the definition of “instrument” under Article 9. WBA is also frequently asked whether it must be the “original” instrument or a reproduction of such item provided to the borrower. This question is not addressed within the statutes. Thus, the bank should check with its practices in relation to the requirements. For example, it could be that the bank has a practice of providing the original stamped “paid,” to provide the borrower with documentation that the obligation has had been paid directly on the original. It might also be a decision which is made as a matter of best practice, as then there can be no question as to whether the original was paid.

If you have any questions on this topic or other matters of compliance, contact WBA’s legal call program at 608-441-1200 or wbalegal@wisbank.com.

Rose Oswald PoelsEach day I am astounded at the work Wisconsin bankers do to promote financial literacy and responsibility to their customers and community members. In 2015, the Wisconsin Bankers Foundation (WBF) was established to promote financial literacy and financial responsibility to the public and to broaden consumer empowerment in the financial services industry through research, education, grants, and scholarships.

On Wednesday morning, the WBF honored several financial literacy award recipients at the LEAD360 Conference in the Wisconsin Dells. I am not only pleased to celebrate this remarkable achievement but also to note that, through their outstanding efforts, Wisconsin bankers reached nearly 6,000 members of their communities during a challenging year.

This year, Sue Krause of Fox Valley Savings Bank was awarded the Financial Literacy Banker of the Year Award. The Financial Literacy Banker of the Year Award is presented to the individual banker who reported the highest number of financial education presentations. Sue was able to do 45 presentations throughout the 2020-2021 fiscal year. Of course, this is quite the feat even during a “normal” year but through her commitment to improving financial education in her community, she went above and beyond this year — thank you, Sue!

The Financial Literacy Banker Award will be presented to Dena Hineline of the Bank of Sun Prairie, who reported the second-highest number of financial education presentations during the fiscal year. Her 21 presentations alone have created a lasting impact on adults, teens, and children throughout the bank’s communities. Both Sue and Dena will also receive a Certificate of Excellence Award for achieving 20+ presentations during the fiscal year.

WBF will also recognize 12 Wisconsin bankers for giving between five and 19 presentations in the fiscal year. Thank you to Pam Blattner, Jimmy Kauffman, and Rob Stelzer, Bank of Sun Prairie; Kelley Jensen and Amy Shorougian, Citizens Bank in Mukwonago; Joshua Pauling, Farmers State Bank of Waupaca; Rachael Danielson, Ryma Lindquist, and Erik Thompson, First Bank of Baldwin; Craig Much, Horicon Bank; and Beth Durow and Julie Matthews, The Stephenson National Bank & Trust.

Ten banks will also be awarded the WBF Excellence in Financial Education Award which honors a bank-wide dedication to financial literacy. These banks include Bank of Sun Prairie, Citizens Bank in Mukwonago, Farmers State Bank of Waupaca, First Bank of Baldwin, Fox Valley Savings Bank, Horicon Bank, National Exchange Bank and Trust, Peoples State Bank – Prairie du Chien, PremierBank – Fort Atkinson, and The Stephenson National Bank & Trust.

As Wisconsin bankers show time and time again their commitment to providing resources to increase financial literacy in their own communities, WBF is proud to recognize the work of so many individuals and banks each year. I invite you to continue sharing your financial literacy efforts in your communities with the Foundation by applying next spring for these WBF awards. I also highly encourage you to submit your work in raising financial literacy and capability in Wisconsin to the 2021 Governor’s Financial Literacy Awards recognizes both individuals and organizations. The deadline for submissions is December 3, 2021.

Thank you again to all the bankers who continue the long-standing industry commitment to improving financial literacy and working towards a more financially responsible state. Your efforts do not go unnoticed and have lasting impacts throughout our community!

As bankers seek resources for how best to manage and mitigate risks associated with ransomware and other malicious code, don’t forget about the free resources offered by the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) which include a ransomware self-assessment tool and resource guide.

The Ransomware Self-Assessment Tool (R-SAT) has 16 questions designed to help banks reduce the risks of ransomware. The Bankers Electronic Crimes Taskforce (BECTF), State Bank Regulators, and the United States Secret Service developed the tool. It was developed to help banks assess their efforts to mitigate risks associated with ransomware and identify gaps for increasing security. The tool provides executive management and the board of directors with an overview of the bank’s preparedness towards identifying, protecting, detecting, responding, and recovering from a ransomware attack.

The resource guide titled CSBS Executive Leadership of Cybersecurity (ELOC) Resource Guide, or “Cybersecurity 101,” is tailored to furnish executives with the necessary tools to better understand and prepare for the threats faced by their bank. The guide addresses challenges faced by both banks and nonbanks and is intended as an easily digestible, non-technical reference guide to help executives develop a comprehensive, responsive cybersecurity program in line with best practices. As each bank is different, the advice in the guide can be easily customized to meet each bank’s unique threats, priorities, and challenges. While the resource guide does not guarantee prevention, it attempts to identify various resources — people, processes, and tools and technologies — that, when properly leveraged, work to reduce a bank’s cybersecurity risk. 

Ransomware Self-Assessment Tool

The Resource Guide

Best Practices for Banks: Reducing the Risk of Ransomware (Developed by the Bankers Electronic Crimes Task Force)

Waukesha State Bank, a 14-branch independent community bank in Waukesha County, is pleased to announce the promotion of Stasia Kruesel to bank manager of its W. Sunset Drive office in Waukesha.

“Stasia has consistently grown her knowledge and expertise during her tenure with Waukesha State Bank and has demonstrated a sincere commitment to our customers and the community,” stated Devon Arnold, Waukesha State Bank senior vice president – retail banking manager. “We are proud to recognize her professional growth and success by expanding her role within our organization.”

Stasia Kruesel started her career with Waukesha State Bank in 2013 and has supported the Oconomowoc, Silvernail Road, and Pewaukee offices in roles ranging from teller to teller supervisor and personal banker. Most recently, she was the bank manager for Waukesha State Bank’s Muskego branch. In her new role as bank manager of the W. Sunset Drive office in Waukesha, Kruesel will be responsible for all aspects of daily operations including business development, personnel management, customer service, lending, relationship management, and community service.

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We are happy to report that 42 institutions have now achieved Gold Triangle status for political fundraising so far this year. Gold Triangle is the highest level of fundraising recognition for banks and achieved through bank employee or director contributions to the Alliance of Bankers for Wisconsin (ABW) political conduit or Wisbankpac, or corporate contributions to WBA’s issue advocacy fund. ABW and Wisbankpac funds are utilized as part of our overall effort to support pro-banking candidates, regardless of whether they have an R or D next to their name. Issue advocacy dollars are used to in several capacities to shape public opinion on pro-banking, pro-business issues.

A number of banks have recently joined in the effort, and it’s not too late to contribute. We have numerous banks on the cusp of achieving Gold Triangle, and WBA government relations staff will be reaching out to those institutions to help them get across the finish line.

Demand on our political action funds is as high as it has ever been, and we are battling on numerous fronts in Madison. If you have not already done so, please consider contributing to WBA political action funds. You may contribute via credit card here.

2021 Gold Triangle Club Members

American National Bank – Fox Cities, Associated Bank, Bank Five Nine, Bank of Brodhead, Bank of Sun Prairie, Bank of Wisconsin Dells, Bankers’ Bank, Bluff View Bank, Capitol Bank, Charter Bank, Citizens Bank, Citizens State Bank of Loyal, Coulee Bank, East Wisconsin Savings Bank, The Equitable Bank, First Citizens State Bank, First National Community Bank, Forward Bank, Horicon Bank, IncredibleBank, Investors Community Bank, Monona Bank, Mound City Bank, National Bank of Commerce, National Exchange Bank and Trust, Nicolet National Bank, Northshore Bank, Northwestern Bank, Oak Bank, Oostburg State Bank, Park Bank, Peoples Community Bank, Port Washington State Bank, Premier Community Bank, Settlers Bank, State Bank Financial, State Bank of Chilton, Stephenson National Bank and Trust, Superior Savings Bank, Town Bank, Waldo State Bank, WBA, and Wolf River Community Bank

Gold Triangle Club Contribution Levels by Bank Asset Size

Bank Assets Total Banker Contributions
$0-25 Million $500
$25-100 M $1,000
$100-250 M $1,500
$250-500 M $2,000
$500-750 M $2,500
$750 M – $1 Billion $3,500
$1 B+ $4,500

THANK YOU to all the banks, Gold Triangle or not, that have contributed to our advocacy efforts.

If you have questions or would like to make a contribution, please contact WBA’s Lorenzo Cruz, vice president – government relations or John Cronin, director – government relations.

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Sydney Braun has joined Starion Bank as Virtual Banking Representative I.

Starion Bank is pleased to announce a promotion and two new hires in its Virtual Banking Hub.

Sydney Braun joined Starion as a Virtual Banking Representative I. Braun comes to Starion with prior customer service experience.

Bodi Hyland has joined Starion Bank as Virtual Banking Representative I.

Bodinoe (Bodi) Hyland joined Starion as a Virtual Banking Representative I. Bodi earned an Associate’s Degree in Business Administration from Victor Valley College in Victorville, California. Hyland comes to Starion with prior financial services and customer service experience. In his free time, Hyland enjoys playing drums and photography.

As a Virtual Banking Representative I, both Hyland and Braun help customers with a variety of banking needs such as: transferring funds, renewing certificates of deposit, assisting with online banking access, ordering checks, ordering debit cards, assisting when cards are lost or stolen, and other general questions.

Tracey Williams has been promoted to Virtual Banking Representative II.

Starion also promoted Tracey Williams to Virtual Banking Representative II. Tracey joined Starion in March 2021 as a Virtual Banking Representative I with six years of prior banking experience. In her new role, Williams assists customers with general virtual banking needs, as well as consumer loans and online account openings. When Tracey isn’t working, she enjoys the outdoors, scary movies and spending time with her children.

Dan Virnig, Logger’s United Booster Club president, accepts a $25,000 pledge from Prevail Bank to build a new sports equipment building at the Phillips High School track & field complex. (l to r): Dan Virnig, followed by Prevail Bank – Phillips branch professionals; Bobbi Taylor, Michelle Blaskowski, Christine Moidl, and Cherie Lenz – branch manager.

A $10,000 check from Prevail Bank, a partial payment of a $25,000 pledge, was presented to Dan Virnig, president of the Logger’s United Booster Club to build a new sports equipment building at Phillips Senior High School’s track, field and ball diamond complex. The improvements made to the athletic field/complex will help make it a more viable host for out-of-town tournaments, which in turn stimulates the local economy.

“We are very appreciative of Prevail Bank’s donation,” said Virnig. “The current building is 32 years old and just isn’t feasible for use any longer. It has a dirt floor; it doesn’t provide protection from weather or animals, and it’s become unsafe. A lot of the school districts’ outdoor sports equipment is housed in this building. A new one is a must-have for our students’ safety, equipment integrity, and quality of play and learning.”

Cherie Lenz, Prevail Bank branch manager – Phillips, shared, “Prevail Bank is proud to support the Loggers United Booster Club. They are a hard-working organization, that helps make this community a better place to live, learn, and grow for our children.”

The concrete foundation has been poured. It is anticipated that the high school construction class will build the structure to code, under the supervision of Troy Makovsky and Eric Winter.

Prevail Bank’s goal is to pursue what’s possible within the communities it serves. It is passionate about economic development, financial stability and growth for individuals, families, and businesses. Prevail Bank is a community bank that is continuously looking for ways to give back, support those pursuing dreams, and make things better in central Wisconsin.

Prevail Bank’s Charitable Contributions program is available for local non-profit organizations that help local people in need, especially those with low-to-moderate incomes; stimulate communities financially; and/or enhances the standard of living of those less fortunate. If your organization is interested in applying for funds for a major initiative in your community, go to: Prevail.bank/resources/community.