Wisconsin's bankers are the definition of "community advocates" in all that you do every day to improve your local economy through your bank's products and services, as well as through your generous philanthropy of time and money. This column shares and celebrates the diverse backgrounds, experiences, perspectives, and innovation of some of the extraordinary bankers in this state.
The following is a brief interview between WBA President and CEO Rose Oswald Poels and First National Bank and Trust President and CEO David McCoy.
Rose: How did you first get into the banking industry?
David: $500. That’s all it took 36 years ago to set me on the path to becoming President and Chief Executive Officer of First National Bank and Trust (FNBT). Preparing to graduate from college with a degree in accounting, I thought I’d be an accountant. But, after receiving two job offers in one day, the bank job offered $500 more and the rest is history. I like to tell college kids that I got into banking for $10 a week.
What is your favorite aspect of your role at your bank?
Over the years, I held several positions with increasing responsibility. I joined FNBT, Beloit, as Chief Financial Officer in 2016, and was promoted to President in 2018. Now as President and CEO, I value all my experiences and most importantly the relationships with the people I’ve met.
Community banking is about building trust with everyone you come into contact with. You need to be out there, talking with everyone to build trust. That’s what I believe a true community banker does. That’s advice that I take to heart each day at FNBT. I’m a firm believer in open communication, and I believe it’s important to take time to get to know each of your employees. For me, that’s nearly 300 employees at the bank. It’s truly worth it to spend time at events and get involved in the community.
What do you wish the general public understood about the banking industry?
FNBT views itself as a small business, like so many of its customers. We’re faced with many of the same challenges that all businesses navigate. As a bank, it is easy for us to relate to our customers because we’re customers too. Our employees aren’t just bankers. They are also customers and community members. I think the general public forgets that we’re people too. We attend the same churches, shop at the same stores, and have a vested interest in what’s happening locally in our area and beyond.
Where do you believe the industry’s greatest challenges are in the next 3-5 years?
Like many businesses, the banking industry is challenged by the current economic situation. Chicago Federal Reserve Chairman Evans said recently that they believe rates to stay the same or nearly the same until 2024. Banks will need to learn how to drive profit with this continued compressed margin environment. We’ll need to do even more with our existing resources. We’ve talked so much about revenue diversity in the past, but now we are being forced to come up with ways to continually sustain and grow profits for our shareholders.
The global pandemic has certainly added more complexity, but FNBT was there to provide support and resources for its community and customers. I’m proud of our team’s work. Our operations never stopped; we simply adjusted the way we delivered service. We continue to provide support for employees throughout the adjustment which allows us to focus on our customers. We constantly invest in our employee family because we care.
Please describe your current role at your bank and share with us one of your more rewarding experiences.
We helped 665 businesses secure nearly $78 million in funding which impacted more than 9,600 local jobs through the first round of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). This was no small feat. Bankers worked around the clock to help our customers, their neighbors.
And it’s not just about providing financial support. Volunteer work is an important part of my role at FNBT. After relocating to Beloit, I became a volunteer board member of a not-for-profit hospital. I’ve also been involved with a major education initiative in Beloit. The community ranks in the bottom 10 of schools in the state, so I want to help turn that around.
In 2019, FNBT employees volunteered more than 3,200 hours of time to non-profit organizations and the bank donated to nearly 300 agencies. The pandemic changed the volunteerism landscape, but the bank donated nearly $70,000 in COVID-19 specific programs in 2020, including an Employee Directed Donation Campaign allowing employees to select area organizations to support. A total of $2,500 was donated to over 50 non-profit agencies through this initiative. These programs provided critical support to our communities during a very difficult time, and we’re all proud of our work. The commitment to our community family through giving and continued volunteerism shows that we live up to our mission of treating others like family. It has been a difficult time for everyone, but FNBT continues to do the right thing to help everyone succeed.