The following is a brief interview between WBA President and CEO Rose Oswald Poels and Bank of Milton President Dan Honold.
Rose: How did you first get into the banking industry?
Dan: After graduating from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, I was hired by the Federal Land Bank Association of Janesville. I was an ag real estate lender, and I managed the Elkhorn branch. After working there for two and a half years, I was contacted by a job recruiter who asked if I would be interested in interviewing for a job at the Bank of Milton. Remember that in 1987, we didn’t have cell phones or the internet with Google Maps, so I had to pull the Wisconsin map out of the glove box in my car to see where Milton was! I was offered the job as vice president at the Bank of Milton, took over as president in 1995, and now have been with the bank for over 35 years.
What is your favorite aspect of your role at your bank?
As bankers, we are financial counselors. There is nothing more gratifying than having a bank customer come to you with a financial issue and being able to help put them in a better position financially than they were in before meeting with you. The end result is a customer for life.
What do you wish the general public understood about the banking industry?
My pet peeve is when a customer says you have “bankers’ hours.” I really don’t think the general public has any idea of how many hours a community banker must work to do their job and be successful.
Where do you believe the industry’s greatest challenges are in the next three to five years?
The greatest challenges for bankers over the next 3–5 years will be how to attract and understand the needs and wants of our younger generation. With the technology that is available to them, the way of doing traditional banking is changing at a fast pace. Every day, bankers serve their local communities by helping their customers achieve their financial dreams.
Please describe your current role at your bank and share with us one of your more rewarding experiences.
Over the past 35 years, not only have I been involved with the day-to-day operations of our bank, but I have had the pleasure of serving in over 20 volunteer roles with various community organizations and nonprofits. I believe that, as community bankers, we need to make a difference in the communities we serve.
One thing that I take great pride in is having been a youth coach for basketball and soccer for the Milton School District for 20 years and coaching over 400 kids in that time frame. I am very passionate about our youth, and I feel that it is very important that we help prepare them for their future.
I had one situation a few years back where a young girl that I coached came to me for help regarding her homelife. As her parents struggled to provide for her and her three younger siblings, my wife and I stepped up to help the family out by providing food, clothing, and making the necessary repairs to their home so that the kids could stay there.
When the girl reached high school, I hired her at the bank to earn money for college. She is currently in college and has a great outlook on life.