The following is a brief interview between WBA President and CEO Rose Oswald Poels and Spring Bank, Brookfield CEO David Schuelke.
Rose: How did you first get into the banking industry?
David: I was born into a banking family. Even though my father, Don Schuelke, was a banker, he didn’t encourage me to pursue a banking career and it wasn’t an original career goal for me. I graduated college with an accounting degree intending to enter public accounting. However, I accepted a good offer from First Wisconsin Bank to start my professional career. At First Wisconsin, I joined an outstanding culture and a talented team of professionals. Those colleagues and that culture led me to want to remain in the banking field.
What is your favorite aspect of your role at your bank?
The most rewarding aspect for me is helping businesses. I’ve always been intrigued and fascinated by different businesses — how they operate, how similar businesses do things differently but all reach success in their own way. It’s also meeting people and the variety. But nothing is better than somebody telling you that you came up with an idea that helped them improve their business.
I also enjoy watching my colleagues advance in their careers and sharing news of our strong financial results with my fellow shareholders. I’m very proud to have played a key role in developing a successful bank — from raising the capital to open to forming a team that executes our business plan of being a locally owned, locally operated bank focused on providing the personal attention our customers deserve.
What do you wish the general public understood about the banking industry?
I wish the public had a better understanding of how banks operate within very narrow interest rate margins and about the costs to maintain the infrastructure needed to deliver high quality service and products. This lack of understanding leads a few clients to expect bank services to be delivered at little or no cost.
Where do you believe the industry’s greatest challenges are in the next three to five years?
Our industry’s greatest challenges include changing technology, a sometimes-oppressive regulatory environment, and potential economic challenges.
Technology will continue to evolve rapidly. Figuring out how to adopt new or changing technologies is a constant challenge. The cost to keep up with regulatory pressures has easily doubled, and possibly tripled or more, since we opened Spring Bank in 2008. Managing these increasing costs and requirements is a big challenge.
Lastly, current levels of inflation, supply chain disruptions, and a shortage of workers have resulted in expectations of a recession after many years of economic growth. When the next recession arrives, banks will need to focus on credit quality and work to resolve problem loan situations that arise. Fortunately, the banking industry is better capitalized today than it was at the start of the last recession.
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.
With regard to community involvement, one of the most impactful days of my life was joining a group of over 100 World War II veterans on a trip to Washington D.C. to view the WWII Memorial as part of the Stars & Stripes Honor Flight program. Spring Bank has supported this effort for many years as part of our pride and appreciation for our nation’s veterans. Speaking with many heroes that day, watching them interact with their peers, and experiencing the welcome home celebration at the end of the day is a memory I will never forget.