Citizens State Bank and Community Financial Bank have reached an agreement that would merge the two institutions under the Citizens State Bank name. The deal will increase Citizens State Bank’s assets to approximately $220 million and bring their branch locations total to seven.

“We are very excited about our expansion into these new markets. Our team is ready to welcome our new customers and team members to Citizens State Bank.” said Tim Cruciani, president, and CEO of Citizens State Bank. “We were founded on and remain rooted in people. Community Financial Bank embraces similar values, and we look forward to sharing our customer/team centric approach to banking with them and the communities they serve.”

Chartered in 1902, Citizens State Bank has been a staple in the Chippewa Valley, which makes Tim Pritzl, president of Community Financial Bank, excited for the merger.

“I have spent my tenure at Community Financial focused on our people, our customers, and the community. It’s clear that Citizens State Bank has been doing the same for over 100 years, and we look forward to being a part of that legacy and continued growth moving forward.”

The transaction has been approved by the Board of Directors of both banks and requires approval by state and federal regulators. Citizens State Bank expects to close the deal in first quarter of 2023.

By Wisconsin Bankers Association President and CEO Rose Oswald Poels 

Yesterday, a deal was announced that Wings Financial Credit Union, Minnesota’s largest credit union, will acquire Wisconsin-based Settlers Bank. According to the release, the transaction, which requires approval by state and federal regulators, is expected to close in the first quarter of 2023. At that time, Settlers Bank locations will be re-branded as Settlers Best Credit Union, a division of Wings Financial Credit Union.

Credit unions are continuing their aggressive behavior in Wisconsin using taxpayer dollars to purchase profitable, tax-paying banks. For the seventh time in the state of Wisconsin, a Wisconsin bank is being acquired by a credit union. Settlers Bank, located in Windsor, just outside of Madison, is selling to Wings Financial Credit Union, which has over $8 billion in assets. This is yet another profitable, business-focused bank located in an affluent part of the state, being purchased by a credit union taking more tax revenue off the state and federal tax rolls. If this acquisition closes, Wings Financial Credit Union will be the largest credit union doing business in Wisconsin. Recently, the deal announced earlier this year of Summit Credit Union buying Commerce State Bank, headquartered in West Bend, closed, costing the state over $1 million in annual tax revenue.

Wisconsin is quickly becoming a target for these acquisitions because existing laws in Iowa and Minnesota prevent such acquisitions. Much of this election season has been focused on social and fiscal responsibility. It is time for large credit unions (Wisconsin has 14 with assets over $1 billion each) to start supporting government social services by paying state and federal income taxes.

East Wisconsin Savings Bank (“East Wisconsin”), a mutually owned institution located in Kaukauna, Wis., and Lake City Federal Bank (“Lake City”), a mutual institution located in Lake City, Minn., have announced plans to merge into a single financial institution. After the merger, the combined savings bank will remain 100% mutual owned, have assets of approximately $370.7 million and operate a network of seven branches in Outagamie County, Wis. and Wabasha County, Minn.

East Wisconsin is a wholly owned subsidiary of EWSB Bancorp, Inc., which in turn is wholly owned by Wisconsin Mutual Bancorp, MHC, a member owned mutual holding company. Upon the successful completion of the merger, Lake City will merge with and into East Wisconsin, and East Wisconsin will continue as the surviving institution and will remain in the mutual holding company form of ownership. The members of Lake City at the time of consummation of the merger will become members of Wisconsin Mutual Bancorp, MHC.

This partnership will combine two mutual organizations with similar cultures and core values. The merger will also allow the combined savings bank to offer enhanced benefits such as increased lending capacity, a larger network of branches and to continue each bank’s legacy of providing customer service built on relationships of trust, integrity and personalized service.

“This transaction is a merger of strong, customer owned and highly-respected institutions,” said Charles Schmalz, president and CEO of East Wisconsin. “Both East Wisconsin and Lake City have a similar culture and take pride in our long traditions of outstanding customer service and community involvement. We are very pleased to have Lake City join the East Wisconsin family.”

“This strategic partnership will expand resources to the individuals and businesses in our market area. East Wisconsin and Lake City remain committed to create superior and lasting banking relationships. In addition, this merger will also expand the bank’s deposit and lending capabilities, allowing us to better serve our customers,” said James Mack, president and CEO of Lake City.

Upon the completion of the merger, it is expected that two current directors from the Lake City board will join the boards of the continuing entities.

The boards of directors of Lake City and each of the East Wisconsin entities have approved the merger. The merger is subject to regulatory approval, the approval of the members of Lake City, and is expected to close in the first or second quarter of 2023.

The law firm of Luse Gorman, PC acted as legal counsel for East Wisconsin Savings Bank. The law firm of Ballard Spahr LLP acted as legal counsel for Lake City Federal Bank.

Horicon Bank and Cornerstone Community Bank, based in Grafton, Wisconsin announce plans to merge, pending customary regulatory and shareholder approvals.

Frederick F. Schwertfeger, Horicon Bank chief executive officer says the merger offers a strong partnership for both Cornerstone customers and the bank’s local communities.

“We are blessed to find such a complementary partner bank in Cornerstone Community Bank based in great Wisconsin communities in Grafton, Menomonee Falls, and Slinger,” said Schwertfeger.

Paul A. Foy, Cornerstone Community Bank president agreed. “We see Horicon Bank as having a similar family atmosphere for our employees,” said Foy. “They have a strong business banking function which will enhance our services to our customers.”

Horicon Bank is a full-service community bank with twenty locations in fifteen communities. Cornerstone Community Bank is in three communities and has $250 million in assets.

Schwertfeger said the merger will also enhance the future regional flagship bank branch at The Mayfair Collection in Wauwatosa, which is expected to open in 2023.

The combined organization will keep Horicon Bank’s “The Natural Choice” brand and will be a $1.5 billion bank with a $20+ million legal lending limit.

Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c. served as legal counsel and Performance Trust Capital Partners, LLC served as financial adviser to Horicon Bank in the transaction. Godfrey & Kahn, S.C. served as legal counsel and Edelman & Co., Ltd. served as financial adviser to Cornerstone Community Bank.

This year’s event centers around the theme “Rise”

The Wisconsin Banker’s Association is thrilled to announce that the annual Bank Executives Conference will be back in person February 9–11, 2022 at the Kalahari Convention Center in Wisconsin Dells. This is the premiere event for bank leaders in the state. The theme of this year’s event will be “Rise.” Wisconsin bankers have risen to the occasion over the course of the pandemic, and this conference will address what it will take to be resilient and relevant in 2022.


Being back in person opens the door for the kind of networking opportunities that bank leaders have been craving for nearly two years. The conference will kick off with a networking reception on Wednesday evening, but bankers are invited and encouraged to arrive earlier for optional afternoon “banker-only” peer group discussions starting at 2:30 p.m. Peer group discussions are geared toward the roles of CEOs, CFOs, credit and lending, operations, and organizational development. Opportunities to connect with fellow bankers, WBA Associate Members, and WBA staff will be plentiful throughout the conference, with an exhibitor Marketplace providing a dedicated space for making connections.

Executive-Level Education

The WBA Bank Executives Conference brings national experts to Wisconsin, while providing tailored programming specific to the needs of banking leaders in our state. Among the trending topics that will be covered at the conference are:

  • Changes that emerged during the pandemic that are now here to stay
  • Talent recruitment and retention
  • Technology, fintech, and digital transformation
  • Cryptocurrency
  • And more!

New Hybrid Option for 2022 A livestream will allow attendees at the bank to view the keynote sessions on February 10 and 11.

The opening keynote session is titled, “Business as Unusual: How to Future-Proof Your Business in Transformational Times.” In this engaging, provocative, and insightful keynote session, acclaimed global futurist and best-selling author Jack Uldrich will not only discuss how the Coronavirus is transforming the world of tomorrow, he will explain why it is accelerating many of the trends that were already at work prior to the epidemic. History reminds us that great crises produce great change — as well as great opportunities. To take advantage of these extraordinary opportunities, businesses must position themselves now to operate in a world where “business as unusual” is the new “usual.” This session will help leaders at every level of an organization leverage ten “unconventional” techniques to succeed in today’s — and tomorrow’s — transformational times.

Dr. Chris Kuehl, managing director of Armada Corporate Intelligence, will present a keynote session, “2022 – The Real Recovery Year?” That honor was supposed to go to 2021, but we all know what happened over the last several months — inflation, labor shortage, supply chain breakdowns, and the repeated resurgence of the virus. Now we have these lingering issues along with the reactions — higher interest rates, efforts to restore, continued engagement by the government. The bankers have been placed squarely in the middle of all this and expected to do most of the heavy lifting. Does that continue and what can we really expect as far as growth and recovery?

For more details on programming and to view the full agenda, please visit

Banking leaders are eager to rise to the challenges ahead of them, and the conference will provide actionable tools and knowledge attendees can bring back to their banks and communities.


The 2021 Banker of the Year will be announced at the conference, recognizing a bank CEO or president (or an individual who has recently retired from these positions) who has made an outstanding effort throughout their career in service to their bank, to their community, and to the banking profession.

The Wisconsin Bankers Foundation Financial Education Innovation Award will be presented at a special luncheon on February 10. This prestigious award recognizes a bank’s unique efforts to enhance the financial capability of consumers in their community, whether it’s a new kind of educational game for students, curriculum developed for adult seminars, or some other new or innovative approach to financial education.

The 50- and 60-Year Clubs recognize bankers who have served in the banking industry for 50 and 60 years, respectively. These awards will be presented during the special luncheon at the conference to honor professionals who have dedicated their careers to the banking industry.


Ope! Charlie Berens, best known to Wisconsinites for his viral video series, “The Manitowoc Minute,” will perform at the Chairman’s Dinner Program on Thursday, February 10.

Comedian, Emmy award-winning journalist, and Wisconsin native Charlie Berens — who rose to fame from his video series, “The Manitowoc Minute” — will provide the entertainment for the Chairman’s Dinner Program on February 10. Attendees can expect lots of laughs from the author of the recently released book, “The Midwest Survival Guide: How We Talk, Love, Work, Drink, and Eat. . . Everything With Ranch.” Berens has been featured on Fox, CBS, Funny or Die, TBS Digital, Variety, MTV News, and more. In 2013, he won an Emmy for “The Cost of Water” while reporting for Texas news station KDAF. “The Manitowoc Minute” series has garnered millions of views and paved the way for a sold-out standup comedy tour. Geez, Louise, this is sure to be a hilarious show you won’t want to miss!


To register for the conference, please visit We look forward to seeing you Wednesday, February 9–Friday, February 11 at the Kalahari Convention Center in Wisconsin Dells!


Mergers and acquisitions are happening all around us. But what’s the market really like? Join us to learn more about the community bank M&A atmosphere from both buyer and seller viewpoint.

Understand the differences between community bank and general M&A
Recognize emerging trends for community banks whether buyers or sellers
Identify common mistakes of buyers and sellers
Discuss the board and senior management’s obligations to promote shareholder value and organizational relevance in an M&A market
Better position your organization to buy, sell, or remain independent

This informative, upbeat presentation will delve into the community bank merger and acquisition (M&A) environment from both a buyer and seller’s perspective. Recognizing the unique factors that impact community banks in the M&A environment compared to publicly traded or larger organizations is vital for the long-term success of all community banks. This session will present practical examples and provide tools so your organization can take advantage of this dynamic market.

Attendance certificate provided to self-report CE credits.

This informative session is designed for directors, executive management, and others involved in mergers and acquisitions.

Comprehensive slides and detailed narrative materials discussing the M&A market
Sample bank due diligence checklist
Employee training log
Interactive quiz

Philip K. Smith, MBA, JD, Gerrish Smith Tuck, PC
Philip K. Smith is chairman, CEO, and a board member of the Memphis-based law firm of Gerrish Smith Tuck, PC, and its affiliated consulting firm, Gerrish Smith Tuck Consultants, LLC. Philip’s legal and consulting practice places special emphasis on mergers and acquisitions, financial analysis, acquisition and ownership planning for boards, strategic planning for directors, regulatory matters, bank holding company formations and use, securities law concerns, new bank formations, S corporations, going private transactions, and other matters of importance to the financial industry. A frequent presenter at industry seminars, he also is or has been a faculty member at several banking schools.

Philip received his bachelors and masters of Business Administration from the Fogelman School of Business and Economics at the University of Memphis, and his law degree from the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law at the University of Memphis. In addition, he is a summa cum laude graduate of the Barret School of Banking where he has been a faculty member.

$245 Live Webinar Access
$245 On-Demand Access + Digital Download
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