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Rose Oswald Poels (left) awards Dena Hineline (center) and Sue Krause (right) with prestigious awards.

On Wednesday morning, fourteen Wisconsin bankers and ten banks were honored by the Wisconsin Bankers Foundation (WBF) for their efforts in promoting financial literacy to Wisconsin’s consumers. WBF is the nonprofit arm of the Wisconsin Bankers Association (WBA) whose mission is to assist bankers in promoting financial literacy and financial responsibility to the public and to broaden consumer empowerment in the financial services industry through research, education, grants, and scholarships.

Sue Krause, Fox Valley Savings Bank, was awarded the prestigious Financial Literacy Banker of the Year Award and Dena Hineline, Bank of Sun Prairie, was honored with the Financial Literacy Banker Award. Both Krause and Hineline also were honored with the Certificate of Excellence for exceeding twenty financial education presentations in their local communities during the Foundation’s 2020–2021 fiscal year.

Twelve individuals received a Certificate of Recognition completing at least five financial education presentations. This year’s recipients are 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.

Rose Oswald Poels (left) recognizes several award recipients at WBA’s LEAD360 on November 17.

The WBF Excellence in Financial Education Award was presented to 10 WBA-member banks for their bank-wide dedication to financial education during the 2020–2021 fiscal year which encouraged over 270 bankers to get involved for the wellbeing of their communities. The banks awarded 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.

The outstanding efforts of all honorees were celebrated at the recent WBA LEAD360 Conference held in Wisconsin Dells. During the 2020–2021 fiscal year, these fourteen individuals and 10 banks helped WBF expand its financial education reach to nearly 6,000 people throughout the state. As a result of the pandemic, many bankers have come up with creative ways to advocate for the importance of financial literacy to consumers of all ages.

“These individuals have truly gone above and beyond in the last year to ensure that Wisconsin communities continue to have access to invaluable financial education,” said Chair of the Wisconsin Bankers Foundation Rose Oswald Poels. “We thank everyone that participated for their commitment to their communities and their overall dedication in leading the strive towards a more financially responsible state!”

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!

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By Rose Oswald Poels

Rose Oswald PoelsFor over a year, WBA has been executing a Board-developed plan focused on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives, accomplishing many of our objectives. With direction from our banker-led DEI Advisory Group, WBA prepared a template policy for members, offered DEI topics and speakers at many education programs, created a DEI Connect peer group, and began a Diverse Voices in Banking video series, among other initiatives. These member-facing resources along with other DEI information can now be found in a central place on our new website.

Last December, WBA hosted an all-member webinar on anti-racism that was thought-provoking and well-received. This year, I would like to invite you to join me in another one-hour webinar with TJF Career Modeling CEO Tara Jaye Frank on Driving Workplace Equity and Inclusion, held on December 7 and sponsored by the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago. Ms. Frank will address the topics of equity and inclusion and share perspectives from her newest book that comes out on December 10 — The Waymakers: Clearing the Path to Workplace Equity with Competence and Confidence. Each registered attendee will also receive a hard copy of the book upon its launch.

Frank will lead us through facilitating “waymaking,” a way to embrace diversity and in turn, create an environment where people and the company are able to thrive. “Waymaking” is more than approaching inclusiveness from a gendered or racial perspective; it is seeing and having the ability to emphasize the potential in every person.

The registration fee of $29/connection includes one connection to the live program, access to the online recording for 30 days following the live program, and a copy of Tara Jaye Frank’s book, The Waymakers, mailed to you. We do have a team discount in place as well, so for every five attendees you register, you get one attendee free. Last year, many member banks offered our program to all or nearly all of their staff. If your bank would like to coordinate a larger group of attendees (more than 18), we will certainly work with you on further discounting.

Bankers are leaders in their communities, serving the needs of all persons in their communities, and I’m always proud to highlight so many diverse bankers working in this industry. This webinar is intended to help you and your team continue to grow in your DEI journey both as an employer and as a community servant. I hope you will join me on December 7!

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By Kenneth D. Thompson, WBA Board chair, president and CEO of Capitol Bank, Madison

Ken Thompson HeadshotWe are closing out this calendar year with a better understanding of COVID-19 than we had at this time one year ago in 2020, however the ongoing pandemic casts a heightened degree of uncertainty onto predictions for the 2022 economy. As bankers, we are responsible for interpreting economic data and trends that will impact the financial health of our institutions, our customers, and our communities. To support us in this important aspect of our work, the Wisconsin Bankers Association and partners organize the Midwest Economic Forecast Forum annually. This year’s event is set to be an exciting opportunity to hear from nationally renowned experts as they present their perspectives on economic conditions that continue to be susceptible to the risks and challenges posed by the pandemic.

The forum will be held virtually on January 4, 2022 from 10:30 a.m.–noon CT. Individual and group rates will be available, giving banks the opportunity to invite their staff, business customers,
directors, and others to join in on the viewing as part of their group registration.

Headlining the event will be Federal Reserve Bank President Neel Kashkari, who will provide an economic outlook. Kashkari took office as president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis on January 1, 2016. In this role, he serves on the Federal Open Market Committee, bringing the Ninth District’s perspective to monetary policy discussions in Washington, D.C. In addition to his responsibilities as a monetary policymaker, Kashkari oversees all operations of the Bank, including supervision and regulation, treasury services, and
payments services.

Presenting on the topic of “Economic Mega Trends 2022 and Beyond” will be David Kohl, Ph.D., professor emeritus, Virginia Tech. Kohl will cover questions such as: What are the global economic disruptors and power shifts? How will trade, geopolitics, supply chains, climate changes, and weather in extremes impact competitors? How will the stimulus package and Central Bank’s accommodative policy impact strategic positioning? What are some major mega trends on the horizon? What are the lead and lag indicators that need to be on the dashboards of decision makers?

With the level of uncertainty surrounding our economy moving forward, bankers should be especially interested in attending this engaging and informative event. The year ahead will no doubt be affected by excess liquidity in the banking system, supply chain delays/disruptions, labor shortages, and inflation fears. Bankers need to have a keen eye on how these key economic drivers will impact their banks and clientele. I look forward to the discussion on these topics at the Midwest Economic Forecast Forum and hope many of you will join us.

By Craig Rogan, Investors Community Bank

Craig Rogan, Investors Community BankAs the 2021 harvest season comes to an end, a new beginning is in the horizon. As we reflect on the second year of increased feed inventory throughout most of the state for dairy farmers, our producers may be facing a decision on how to best capitalize on excess feed inventory. The farmer, with the help of his team of advisors (nutritionist, agronomist, vet, consultant, banker), may consider the following options:

Should excess feed be sold as another revenue stream?

Does the farmer consider alternative crops such as oats to sell and harvest the straw to sell or keep for their own use?

Can the herd be expanded in existing facilities to increase milk production with more animals on feed?

If an expansion is looked at, be sure to consider whether it will affect a quota with the milk plant or if the milk plant will even take the additional milk.

Does the increase in feed inventory provide an opportunity to reduce cropping costs in 2022?

Feed and cropping expenses increased throughout 2021 and appear to be on an upward trend into 2022. Does the excess feed inventory provide opportunity to save on fertilizer cost, for example, knowing they can reduce spread on the field despite a potential negative effect on 2022 yield?

The importance of making a robust plan with the help of advisors will be a key to success for our farms in 2022. 

As bankers, we can help our customers navigate through making these decisions by providing financial analysis help in working through various scenarios and the impact each has on the client’s cost of production.

As feed and fertilizer cost increase heading into 2022, maximizing this excess feed inventory will be the key to 2022 cash profitability. One notable aspect that can be completed now to assist in mitigating continued rising costs is fall tillage. Future fuel costs are expected to be higher than today and it could be prudent to do tillage along with manure application in the fall. Optimum 2021 fall weather conditions are ideal for completing tillage. By completing fall tillage this will allow for less work, stress and timely planting in 2022. Not completing fall tillage will be a missed opportunity. Communication is the key in any relationship. Continue to work with your customers to be proactive in their planning for the upcoming year.

Craig Rogan is vice president, ag banking officer with Investors Community Bank in Stevens Point and serves on the WBA Agricultural Bankers Section Board of Directors.

By Erika Pierce, J.D., The Millennial Boardroom

Erika Pierce will be presenting at our November 4 WBA BOLT Winter Leadership Summit in Stevens Point. Visit the registration site to learn more!

Soft skills are skills that you learn through experience, mindfulness, and reflection. They’re your good habits, personality traits, and understanding of workplace norms. These skills are important to have for any worker, especially to those in higher positions. Possessing these skills often denotes experience, confidence, and professionalism.

If you’re chasing a new job, a higher position, or career independence, you need to develop your understanding of certain soft skills. Here are just five important important soft skills that you need to grow your career:

Communication

Being able to communicate well in a professional setting is one of the most important stepping stones to a large network and successful career.

Your communication skills dictate how well you relate with others. Being a good communicator often leads to having great workplace relationships with your co-workers, a more healthy and efficient work environment, and being a better leader.

To be a good communicator, you have to hone specific communication skills. This includes public speaking, giving clear directions, and active listening. It’s also important to hone your nonverbal communication skills, like reading body language, tone of voice/writing, and other unspoken cues.

Self-Management

While you might think that the people who go furthest in their careers are the ones that put in 60-hour work weeks and almost never seem to rest, think again. For most people, this kind of work-life balance is unsustainable and can often lead to burnout. If you want to sustainably grow your career, you need to develop your sense of self-management.

I’ve learned that once you take charge of your own career, you’re in charge of your own work-life balance. You’re the one who decides how often you work, and consequently, how stressed you are.

Knowing when to take a break and step away from your work is a skill in itself. Setting aside time for yourself allows you to reap the benefits of your hard work, and helps remind you why you want to grow even further. This leads to a healthy work-life balance and a sustainably growing career.

Marketing

Even if you aren’t a marketer, having marketing skills is important to career growth.

Knowing how to sell yourself is essential to getting hired, promoted, or even working independently. This means understanding what a company, position, or client needs and highlighting why you’re the perfect fit for the job.

Career Management

Sometimes, career growth doesn’t mean a promotion, but an opportunity elsewhere. Being able to recognize this is a skill in itself, but you should also have the drive and willingness to at least consider new career options.

I tell people that they should look at the market every now and then, even if they’re not looking for a new job, because it’s always changing. If you always know what the market is like, you might find an opening with a better salary, a more convenient location, or even at the company of your dreams.

Resilience

There’s a lot of pressure involved in growing your career. Job interviews, chasing deadlines, and application processes are just some of the pressure situations you’ll be faced with in your career. But how much you grow your career depends on how much you can handle and thrive in the face of this pressure.

There’s a reason some of the biggest career success stories are stories of resilience. When you’re growing your career, you will be faced with challenges and tough times. But the truth is that you grow the most when you’re out of your comfort zone. Understanding this will help you grow your career to new heights.

 

These are just some of the soft skills that you should develop if you want to successfully grow your career. If you want to learn more, consider joining my membership community where we share all kinds of career tips and advice.

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Join Us for the WBA LEAD360 Conference on November 16-17 in Wisconsin Dells!

By Hannah Flanders

When Josh Mabus founded Mabus Agency in 2008, customer relationships with banks had already begun evolving. What started as general services creative agency soon morphed into a bank-focused marketing agency with a mission to both help people and raise the creative bar. Mabus and his team have reimagined marketing with banks and their customers in mind.

This year at the Wisconsin Bankers Association’s LEAD360 Conference, Mabus will be hosting a session that will assist banks in creating strong customer relationships through branding.

“Attendees will gain new perspectives in how an overarching brand can affect all areas of a customer’s life. I’ll share Mabus Agency’s unique perspective of the five key components of bank marketing, and how they work together to build effective and efficient strategies,” said Mabus.

LEAD360 is an annual conference that gathers retail bankers, sales/marketing bankers, and financial literacy bankers from across Wisconsin for two days of comprehensive breakout sessions and networking among peers.

“I love the focused learning that comes from smaller groups like these,” said Mabus. “Not only is it easier to communicate to smaller groups, but everyone in the room has similar experiences marketing to shared customers.”

If you are interested in learning more, make sure you’re registered for LEAD360 in Wisconsin Dells November 16–17. For more details on Josh’s LEAD360 session and the full agenda, visit the event page.

Join us on Thursday, November 4 in Stevens Point for the WBA BOLT Winter Leadership Summit! BOLT (Building Our Leaders of Tomorrow) is a great opportunity for current and emerging leaders to come together and learn from both peers and industry experts. The summit connects community bankers from around Wisconsin for one day full of education and networking. All WBA member banks are encouraged to identify their emerging leaders and register them to participate in WBA BOLT events as an investment in their future with your bank.

BOLT provides an environment where energized and motivated WBA-member bankers have an opportunity for peer networking, educational growth, and leadership development, helping to expand their leadership roles. Community bank leaders will interact with and learn from each other and discuss current industry challenges. Knowing how to respond quickly to changes in the industry is key for leaders when many of these issues are complex and here to stay.

Always rated highly by attendees, this winter summit will once again host small peer group discussions based on various roles and areas of interest within banking, allowing for bankers to share their experiences, ask questions, learn from others, and make lifelong banking connections. The summit will also feature interactive keynote sessions led by national speakers.

Look for more information about the other keynotes and breakout sessions at www.wisbank.com/BOLT.

WBA hosts BOLT summits twice a year, so watch for the next Summer Leadership Summit! This past June, over 115 current and future leaders of Wisconsin’s banking industry gathered for networking and education with sessions on building economic inclusion in our state, taking your career to the next level, thriving in challenging times, and re-engaging your team after and during a pandemic.

The Winter Leadership Summit is only one day out of the office with the low registration fee of $100 per attendee for your emerging leaders to make connections and grow their professional skills! Hotel accommodations with special BOLT rates are also available for attendees.

Visit www.wisbank.com/BOLT to register your emerging leaders today.

For the first time, this year WBA’s Secur-I.T. Conference will be combined with the annual BSA/AML Conference! These meetings — which cover many functions of a bank such as Bank Security Act (BSA)/Anti-Money Laundering (AML), Operations, Security, and Technology — draw banking professionals from all around the state of Wisconsin for education and networking. The 2021 WBA Secur-I.T. & BSA/AML Conference will be held September 21–22 at the Kalahari Resort and Convention Center in Wisconsin Dells.

Attendees will benefit from over seven hours of presentations from general session topics to breakout sessions by nationally recognized speakers and local professionals; networking with more than 125 banking peers; and meeting several exhibitors who offer products and services geared to help banks with customer experiences, BSA/AML programs, security, and technology.

The conference will kick off with a discussion on virtual currency as that continues to emerge as a hot button conversation for BSA/OFAC risk. The first conference speaker, Robin Guthridge of Wipfli LLP, will discuss FinCEN and the U.S. Treasury advisories regarding the risk virtual currency transactions could present. The event will also explore monitoring and SAR-filing responsibilities relating to virtual currency transactions.

Terri Luttrell from Abrigo will be diving into a topic that is closer to home than many may think. Human trafficking is one of the fastest growing criminal activities in the world, exploiting over 45 million people and generating an estimated $150 billion in profits each year. Financial institutions have a critical role to play in identifying and disrupting human trafficking. This next session at the conference will discuss what financial institutions and BSA professionals can do to help identify, flag, and prevent human trafficking.

The conference will close out with Alex Weber, international speaker, American Ninja Warrior, and awardwinning performer for NBC. Weber’s contagious energy and strategic methods to transform audiences to achieve at their highest levels will certainly leave attendees feeling their best and excited to return to the bank post conference. Whether you are looking for BSA updates, high-tech discussions, peer networking or all of the above, you will want to make sure you are in attendance at this year’s Conference. We hope to see you there!

Ken Thompson, WBA Chair, President and CEO of Capitol Bank, Madison

Ken Thompson HeadshotSeptember means back to school, and while education is top of mind, now is a great time to remind our bankers of the importance of continuing education and how that serves our customers and community. “Expanding on Education” is one of the pillars of focus I named in my June 2021 inaugural Chair’s column, so I’ll take this timely opportunity to elaborate.

As bankers, here are a few opportunities on the horizon that will allow us to be a continued resource for our communities long after the memories of 2020 Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loans and record mortgage activity have faded. Timely topics such as Bitcoin and enterprise risk management are on the agenda for the Management Conference, which will be held September 13–14 in Green Bay. The event will also include tailored tracks for roles including CEOs, CFOs, CCOs, HR, and other bank leaders. A couple of weeks later, the Directors Summit (September 28 in Stevens Point) will focus on topics such as digital banking, succession planning, proposed federal tax changes, and shareholder management. Continuing to learn is every bit as important in a leadership role as it is in the early stages of a banker’s career, and the Management Conference and Directors Summit offer both the content and the networking opportunities that keep bank leaders coming back year after year.

The September issue of the Wisconsin Banker features a “Back to School” focus on p. 18 where you can find out more about this fall’s trainings. We are fortunate to have access to these top-quality courses right here in Wisconsin, which WBA designs specifically for banks in our state. As usual, the Education Calendar (on p. 17) provides an overview of all of the upcoming WBA conferences, schools, workshops, webinars, and more, so you can easily match your team members with a relevant event.

While our industry and the economy continue to face challenges with interest rate margins and the uncertainty of COVID-19 in our future, it is important to focus on the positive and the things we can control. As bankers, we must keep our eyes on the opportunities that lie before us. Our customers and community are counting on us to do so.

Thompson is president and CEO of Capitol Bank, Madison, and the 2021–2022 WBA board chair.