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A Guide to Joining a Community Bank’s Board

Responsibilities, benefits new board members can expect

By Hannah Flanders

Community banks serve a unique and important purpose in every Wisconsin community by directly supporting the growth and stability of small businesses and families. With a mission of reinvestment, it is critical that Wisconsin’s community banks are led by individuals who share similar values to the institution, are knowledgeable of the community, and have experience in banking or local business.

As community banks across the state look to recruit new board members and enhance their strategic planning for the coming year, an increasing number of community leaders who are recruited for their knowledge and skills are curious — and rightfully so — of what responsibilities they will take on as a member of the board.

Key Responsibilities

Like any commitment, joining a bank board leaves individuals to consider many aspects of their willingness to engage with the organization, its shareholders, and bank employees; their understanding of (or desire to learn about) bank policy and regulation as well as the national and local economy; and what skills or experiences make them a qualified leader.

A strong board member adds diversity to the table — be it through their experience or their perspective — and ultimately aids in the growth of the bank.

According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), a bank’s board of directors is responsible for overseeing the institution’s business performance, selecting and retaining competent management, establishing the institution’s long- and short-term business objectives, adopting operating policies to achieve objectives in a legal and sound manner, monitoring operations to ensure that they are controlled adequately and are in compliance with laws and policies, and ensuring the institution helps to meet its community’s credit needs.

Joining a community bank’s board is a substantial commitment to not only the bank, but the community as well. It is essential that responsibilities, such as regularly attending board and board committee meetings, are a top priority of every member of the board.

Benefits for Community Leaders

The benefits new members experience upon joining the board of directors for a community bank range from building connections within the banking industry and expanding skills and knowledge to staying updated on local and national issues. In addition, this unique opportunity allows leaders to give back to their communities and promote economic growth and prosperity.

To many, being elected as a community bank’s board member highlights those who have proven themselves as trustworthy, knowledgeable, and active leaders both in their business and throughout the community. By joining as a board member, community leaders contribute significantly to shaping the local economy and expanding the legacy of Wisconsin’s community banks.

 

What to Consider Before Joining a Bank’s Board of Directors

  • Commitment to:
    • Professional development
    • Community growth
  • Engagement with:
    • The bank (shareholders, other directors, committee members, staff)
    • The community
  • Experience in:
    • Business, banking,
      or leadership
    • Also includes education or financial/business connections
  • Desire to learn about:
    • Bank regulations
    • National and local economy
  • Fiduciary responsibility:
    • Trustworthy, objective, responsible, and efficient

Bank Director Resources: