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Community Advocate of the Month: Michael Bock, Dairy State Bank, Rice Lake

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Michael Bock

The following is a brief interview between WBA President and CEO Rose Oswald Poels and Dairy State Bank CEO Michael Bock.

Rose: How did you first get into the banking industry?

Michael: After graduating from college with an accounting degree, my career started in public accounting. After eight years spending significant time in the bank audit, exam, and tax area learning about the banking industry, an opportunity presented itself with Dairy State Bank. After 33 years, I continue to say it was a very good decision to come to the banker’s side of the desk.

What is your favorite aspect of your role at your bank?

Without a doubt, interacting with so many great people is what makes this job fun. This comes in the form of helping customers and businesses meet their financial goals as well as solve challenges they sometimes encounter. It also comes from working with a very dedicated and committed staff that are constantly doing their best to make banking easy and rewarding for everyone interacting with us.

What do you wish the general public understood about the banking industry?

To the public — yes, we know it takes a lot of paper to open a new checking account, complete a home mortgage, and do so many other things in the bank, but there are higher forces requiring the paperwork. As bankers, we are all for making sure customers know what they are signing up for. However, the amount of paper is getting so deep it is sometimes overwhelming. If you do get overwhelmed, please ask questions! As community bankers, we commit ourselves to making sure you understand the banking services you use.

Where do you believe the industry’s greatest challenges are in the next three to five years?

This list could be long — including cybersecurity threats, a constantly changing regulatory and political environment, the increased cost of doing business, and what seems like the perpetual effort by the credit unions to expand their footprint while having the huge advantage of no income taxes. But I think one of our greatest challenges is going to be introducing young people to banking as a profession. This business is very satisfying in so many ways as we have a unique opportunity help our communities and customers thrive. Many young people only see the bank as a place to deposit a check or get a debit card and don’t understand the positive impact we make in so many ways.

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.

From making hundreds of PPP loans in the teeth of COVID to donating time and money to community projects that enhance the places we live and lending money to a startup business that grows to become a major employer in the area, the list of rewarding experiences we, as community bankers, have could go on and on.

But I think one of the most satisfying and rewarding acts we do is taking the time to work with a customer to understand when they are being scammed. These are not always easy conversations, because no one wants to admit they may be in a bad situation. However, many times through our observations, conversations, and coaching, our customers keep the money that is rightfully theirs. Assisting our community members like this makes me proud to be a community banker.