Corn seedling

By Amber Keller, Town Bank

I am looking forward to seeing many of you next week at the WBA Ag Bankers Conference. It will be great to reconnect, share stories and experiences, and learn about the latest trends and tips for navigating this agricultural super-cycle and these tenuous times in our world today. Whether you are new to farm lending or have been around the block a few times, there is still much to learn. Yet, some things do not change all that much- sound credit analysis and risk identification, assessment of farm management competencies, optimum use of technology and labor mix, as well as strategic planning for long-term success.

One of the strategic planning topics to be featured at our conference is farm succession and estate planning. Many of us are familiar with estate planning, as it relates to making plans for the business and assets when one passes on. However, farm succession planning also includes what happens to the business and our assets while one is still living. That’s just as important and even more so.

Think of farm succession planning as a way to build a road map for operations and enterprise growth, better defined job roles, knowledge and management transfer, and business decisions to be made by delegation, empowerment, or consensus as a team. Attorneys, accountants, lenders, and others can help farm families view their farms as dynamic businesses, respecting those long-standing traditions and embracing innovations with open minds. Indeed, that’s some powerful planning with purpose.

The legal professionals at Wilson Law Group will share with us some important concepts to consider when referring our clients for farm succession and estate planning services. They help farmers, business owners, and farm land owners plan and protect the assets and legacies they have built and transition them to the next generation and beyond. Hope you can join us next week! I’ll see you in the Dells!

Amber Keller is the current vice chair of the WBA Agricultural Bankers Section Board of Directors and is the senior vice president, director of ag banking with Town Bank in Clinton.

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WaterStone Bank announces the addition of Michael Danielson as vice president – business banking and Nicole DeAngelis as vice president – director of loan servicing.

Michael “Big Mike” Danielson joins WaterStone Bank as a new vice president – business banking. He comes to WaterStone Bank with sixteen years of business banking experience, most recently at Waukesha State Bank.

During 2020–2021, Danielson originated nearly 600 PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) loans to keep struggling small businesses alive during the pandemic. Danielson resides in Elm Grove and serves as a board member and treasurer for both the Elm Grove Community Foundation and the Elm Grove Police Academy.

Nicole DeAngelis is the new vice president – director of loan servicing at WaterStone Bank, with over twenty years of experience in the retail banking industry. In her former role at BMO Harris Bank, DeAngelis managed the production maintenance team that supported all lines of the business. She also co-led the outsourcing and training process for a portion of BMO’s portfolio to their India team members.

Outside of work, DeAngelis enjoys spending quality time with her family playing board games, watching movies, and visiting the Milwaukee Zoo.

Jason Lindeman

Jason Lindeman has joined Forward Bank as a vice president – senior ag & commercial loan officer serving the Colby, Abbotsford, and surrounding area. He joins Gary Schraufnagel in assisting area farmers with their financial service needs.

In joining the lending team, Lindeman will focus on building relationships with area farmers and businesses.

“I’m looking forward to joining this team of experienced ag and commercial lenders,” commented Lindeman. “My experience in the community fits well with the strong reputation of the Forward team, and I’m confident that we’ll work together to deliver the best solutions for our area farmers & businesses.”

Lindeman has his bachelor of science in general business administration from University of Wisconsin – Stout and completed the Graduate School of Banking in Madison. He has been very active in the Colby community as an alderman for the City of Colby, treasurer/secretary/membership of Colby Trail Blazer’s Snowmobile Club, and vice president for Marathon County Partnership for Progressive Agriculture while helping with various other organizations in the area. When not at work or volunteering, Lindeman enjoys spending time with friends and family (at the lake or other outdoors events) and snowmobiling in the winter months.

“Jason is a great addition to our ag and commercial banking team,” said Dave Clark, president of Forward Bank. “His connections and experience working with businesses and farmers in the greater Colby area adds to our already strong team. We are certain that Jason will work well with our insurance and investment teams to help provide solutions to his customers.”

Rose Oswald PoelsBy Rose Oswald Poels

While the Wisconsin Legislature’s 2021–22 regular session has concluded, our work to oppose the expansion of credit union powers continues. On February 15, the Wisconsin Office of Credit Unions (OCU) filed a final rule to broaden which state-chartered credit unions can accept secondary capital.

Last week, WBA filed written comments with OCU expressing our concerns with this expansion and requesting specific limitations. This followed several phone conversations various WBA staff had with different individuals at DFI. Previous rules allowed only low-income designated state-chartered credit unions the authority to accept secondary capital. The revised rule would broaden this to allow nearly any credit union to issue subordinated debt, for among other things, pure asset growth purposes.

During this year’s legislative session, WBA and 87 banks strongly objected to credit union expansion legislation, AB 478/SB 451, which would have permitted, among other concerns, any credit union to issue supplemental capital. During negotiations with elected officials, the credit union industry stated that their interest in expanding a credit union’s ability to issue supplemental capital beyond only low-income designated credit unions was for the sole purpose of restoring a credit union to minimum capital levels. While the credit union legislation (which contained this broad supplemental capital provision) did not pass this session, it seems the industry is using the regulatory process to achieve this same outcome. As a result, WBA is very concerned with the expansion of powers presented by OCU’s recent rulemaking activity.

While there is no formal comment process for this type of rulemaking, I urge each of you to join WBA in emailing written comments to OCU in opposition of yet another example of credit union powers expansion in our state. I have included a template comment letter for your use in these efforts. Comments should be submitted before April 1 through email to Kim.Santos@wisconsin.gov. The rule issued by OCU will take effect on April 1 as originally published unless OCU agrees to make a change prior to this date. Thank you for your quick action on this important matter!

Submit a comment letter by April 1!

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Pictured: Forward Bank team presents $10,00 check to Pittsville Youth Baseball.

Forward Bank has donated $10,000 to the Pittsville Youth Baseball program in support of the field improvement and expansion project.

The baseball fields that the program currently use are in need of new dugouts, lights, fencing, bleachers, and announcer’s booth. Through additional support from businesses and individuals in the community, it is expected that the project will begin August 1, 2022, and should be completed in the summer of 2023.

“What started as a hope for getting lights for the field has now evolved into a full development project that the community can be very proud of,” commented William Buettner, Pittsville Youth Baseball spokesperson. “Partners like Forward are helping make it possible for our venue to impact the lives of Pittsville youth and help us host more youth tournaments locally.”

“Baseball fields in Wisconsin are often a centerpiece of communities,” stated Bill Sennholz, CEO of Forward Bank. “America’s past time brings families together, gets young people active and outside, and teaches lifelong lessons of teamwork. We’re proud to join with others in Pittsville as a group of coaches and parents make this project happen.”

This year, the Wisconsin Bankers Association will offer the 2022 Bank Directors Summit in two locations: Stevens Point on May 18 and Madison on May 19. The event draws beginning and experienced inside and outside directors, bank CEOs, bank executive officers, and bank general counsel. This year’s Summit will take a look at the nuts and bolts that are essential to the role of bank directors, while preparing leaders for the kinds of unique opportunities and challenges that could potentially lie ahead of them in 2022.

One of the key topics addressed at the Summit will be directors’ responsibilities in the investment portfolio. Speaking on the topic will be Ricky Brillard, senior vice president in the Investment Strategies Group at Vining Sparks Associates. Brillard is a Certified Public Accountant who works with financial institutions on balance sheet strategies, the optimization of investment portfolio returns, and the evaluation of asset/liability exposure, while incorporating the entity’s liquidity needs, risk controls, and capital constraints.

A presentation titled ‘2022 — A Year of What Ifs’ will be given by Marc Gall, vice president and asset/liability strategist at BOK Financial. As bankers have come to expect uncertainty over the last two years, Gall will walk Summit attendees through various scenarios to help prepare for the coming months and into the future. Gall is a returning speaker to the WBA Directors Summit, and his areas of expertise include asset/liability modeling, interpreting output and communicating strategies to key management and boards of directors, understanding and complying with regulatory requirements, and fixed income portfolio management/trade execution.

Other sessions to look forward to include ‘Unlock and Inspire a Team That Spans Four Generations’ by Flynt Gallagher of Newcleus Compensation Advisors as well as ‘A Director’s Role in Today’s Changing Banking Environment.’ To learn more and to register for the Stevens Point or Madison event, please visit www.wisbank.com/directors.

First State Bank has named Vice President Kevin Konkol as manager of the Bank’s agriculture – business banking division. As agriculture has changed over the decades, First State Bank has remained committed to serving the unique needs of farmers and other agribusinesses.

Konkol joined First State Bank in 2007 and has worked in ag lending since 2011. He earned a number of promotions since that time and most recently was promoted to vice president agriculture – business banking in early 2021.

“Agriculture continues to play a significant role in our local and regional economy,” commented Konkol. “I am grateful to be able to bring my banking and farming experience together in helping area farmers and agribusinesses with their financial needs.”

Konkol graduated from the Wisconsin Bankers Association Commercial Lending School in 2018 and Leadership Waupaca County in 2020. He is a member of the Waupaca County Forage Council and has volunteered for the Waupaca County Fair. Konkol also continues to help operate the family dairy farm. He and his wife, Jessica, live in Waupaca and have two children.

Mike Molepske, chief executive officer of Bank First (NASDAQ: BFC), is pleased to announce Kelly Dvorak has been appointed to oversee the Bank’s compliance function. Dvorak joined Bank First in 2017 as general counsel and corporate secretary. In addition to her current role, Dvorak will manage the compliance team and utilize her extensive experience tracking regulatory obligations, changes to applicable banking laws, and emerging compliance risks.

“Kelly has a wealth of knowledge in law and banking regulations,” stated Molepske. “The addition of compliance oversight to her role is a natural choice and effectively positions the bank for its continued growth.”

Dvorak earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from UW–Madison, a juris doctorate from UW Law School, and is currently attending the Graduate School of Banking through UW–Madison. She serves on the board of directors of the Manitowoc Symphony Orchestra and UFS, a bank technology outfitter headquartered in Grafton, Wis. Dvorak lives in De Pere with her husband and two children. In her free time, she enjoys reading, downhill skiing, and traveling.

Prevail Bank is pleased to announce that Dave Kuhlman has joined the Medford, Phillips, and Eau Claire team as vice president and commercial banking officer. Kuhlman brings 40 years of experience in banking, financial services, and commercial lending.

“We are excited to have Dave join our team,” said Craig Philipp, Prevail Bank’s chief commercial lender. “Dave brings decades of commercial and agricultural lending experience to our team. He has outstanding customer service skills and will be able to use his talents to help Prevail Bank assist commercial customers in Medford and the surrounding markets.”

“I am excited to join Prevail Bank where we are all owners,” said Kuhlman, vice president and commercial banking officer. “At Prevail Bank we are just like our customers. We own our day and work hard to fulfill dreams. I am looking forward to helping customers solve their problems and pursue what’s possible.”

Kuhlman grew up on a grain and hog farm in southcentral Minnesota. There he learned the merit of hard work, dedication, and the value of a dollar. He is actively involved in Junior Achievement, United Way, and a local mentoring program. He also enjoys golfing, running, hiking and visiting U.S. National Parks and Disneyland/Disneyworld with his family. Kuhlman is well-versed with the challenges and successes of central Wisconsin businesses; he’s lived in the area for nearly 30 years.

Thank you for your continued support

By Hannah Flanders

2022 marks the 130-year anniversary of the Wisconsin Bankers Association (WBA). In celebration of another year assisting Wisconsin banks to better serve their communities, WBA looks back at its humble beginnings, the challenges and growth faced over the last 130 years, and each legacy WBA brings forth into the future.

The Dawn of a New Era

On March 24, 1892, 150 curious bankers met at the Plankinton House in Milwaukee for the first time in nearly 30 years. The meeting’s agenda — creating an organized group of bankers to promote the general welfare and usefulness of the banks in the state. Following many years of general distrust in the banking and money systems, Wisconsin joined 20 other states in establishing a bankers association.

A handful of banks from around the state paid $5 each to join the new organization. The first members of the newly formed Wisconsin Bankers Association wasted no time passing two resolutions urging action on current banking legislation. As is today, advocacy has always lied at the heart of WBA’s mission in supporting the banking industry.

Led by WBA’s first president, N.B. Van Slyke of First National Bank of Madison, the Association’s guidelines, goals, formal Constitution, and bylaws were created and ratified. And so began the next 130 years of overcoming obstacles and meeting new challenges in an ever-evolving industry, all with the goal of serving the consumers of Wisconsin.

Laying the Foundation

With nearly 30 years under its belt and an overall reassurance in the banking system, WBA set its roots down in Milwaukee in 1921. WBA was quickly evolving into the association it is today — from life insurance plans to encouraging bankers to involve themselves with the financial education of their community — several aspects of WBA’s early history developed into subsidiaries serving banks across the Midwest.

During this time, the Association also witnessed the darkest days of The Great Depression, waves of crime, and bank mergers throughout the state. By 1933, WBA membership dwindled from a high of over 1,000 banks to half that number.

In 1942, WBA’s Standard Forms Manual released 130 standard bank forms to members. The popular manual spearheaded the establishment of Financial Institution Products Corporation (FIPCO) in 1987–1988. Today, this WBA subsidiary offers industry leading products — from forms and booklets to consulting services and software — to financial institutions across the Midwest.

Additionally, demands for more employee benefits rose in the late 1900s. WBA’s Employee Benefits Corporation (EBC) was formed in 1982 to provide WBA-member bankers with the highest quality health, life, and disability coverage.

In the late 1950s, the WBA headquarters relocated to Madison. Through the end of the twentieth century to the present, WBA maintained its strong membership base and today represents nearly 98 percent of all banks in the state. The Association helped establish various opportunities ranging from schooling at the University of Wisconsin to general educational conventions and assistance developing advertising for the benefit of its members.

A Legacy to Live On

Following one last headquarters relocation to 4721 South Biltmore Lane in Madison in 1999, the 2000s marked moments of growth for the Association. Between naming its first female president and CEO, Rose Oswald Poels, in 2011 and the creation of the Wisconsin Bankers Foundation (WBF) in 2013 — WBA also underwent a merger with Wisconsin’s other banking association. In an effort to unite the voices of the state’s banking industry, WBA and the Community Bankers of Wisconsin merged in 2015. One year later, in 2016, current President of F&M Bank of Kendall Cynthia Erdman became the first woman to hold the position of WBA chair.

130 years after the founding of WBA, the Association continues to provide its members the valuable resources they need to stay relevant, educated, and aware of emerging trends in the industry. Evidenced by the support it has provided in recent years — be it through economic recession, the COVID-19 pandemic, or the highest inflation rate Americans have seen in 40 years — WBA is dedicated to serving Wisconsin banks.

WBA’s legacy in Wisconsin is far from over. WBA staff are excited about helping member banks navigate future challenges to ensure a vibrant banking sector in the state. Advocacy and professional development for the benefit of Wisconsin bankers will remain fundamental values of the Association as they have been since its inception.

WBA is humbled to represent such an important sector of the economy and looks forward to evolving and adapting with its member banks — as we have for 130 years.

Historical events compiled from “Good as Gold — A History of Banking in Wisconsin,” Copyright © 1992 by Wisconsin Bankers Association.