Ag bankers are unicorns. Due to the nature of the industry that we lend into, we don't quite fit in with our commercial and business banking peers, but yet we are usually measured by the same standards and goals as they are. To our customers, we are expected to be a financial advisor, guidance counselor, economist, and friend. We are the ones who need to have the credibility to deliver the bad news with empathy, and the good news with cautious optimism. Ag Bankers need to be able to crunch the numbers, understand them, and then convey the message that they tell to the farmer in terms that are understandable. We also need to be able to explain the situation in the bank boardroom too, where not everybody at the table is necessarily on your side. It takes a rare skill set that includes analytical and communicative ability, as well as the confidence in yourself and the industry to see the plan through. Unicorns indeed.
I am a proud member of the WBA Ag Banking Section, and am grateful for the opportunity to have served on the Ag Section Board since 2014. As an organization, we have seen modest growth over that period, and we have tried to format the WBA's offerings to fit the needs of these challenging days. As I look back, however, I think that the most important part of being a member are the conversations with other bankers and ag professionals: networking, if you will. I have learned a great deal at Ag Section events by simply listening and sharing with others in the field, then taking that information back with me to share with my clients and fellow bankers. The WBA has tremendous resources to aid us in our jobs, but it also can act as a conduit to further our continuing education as well. Ultimately, the goal of the Ag Section is to make better bankers, and I think that the organization provides the resources to do that very well. It has been a privilege for me to serve, and I encourage all of my fellow unicorns to consider a turn on the board.
Buttke is Past Chair of the WBA Agricultural Bankers Section Board and vice president – commercial & agricultural banking at Nicolet National Bank in Wausau.