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Rose Oswald PoelsBy Rose Oswald Poels

Ensuring the financial success and prosperity of our community members is at the heart of the banking industry. Recently, the FINRA Investor Education Foundation released its National Financial Capability Study results, providing insights into the financial capability of U.S. adults. The findings are a helpful resource in understanding the financial circumstances of households in Wisconsin compared to the region and nation.

The summary of FINRA’s findings — split into specific sections such as making ends meet, planning ahead, managing financial products, and financial knowledge — underscore a few of the most important areas relating to financial literacy. Conducted June through October 2021, the results show that Wisconsinites stand ahead of the rest of the U.S. in many critical areas such as having emergency funds, a savings account, and a plan for their future.

Bankers play an important role in outreach efforts in your communities to equip consumers young and old with the knowledge and resources needed to achieve financial stability and prosperity.

In countless ways, Wisconsin bankers do so much to promote financially healthy communities. To support you in this work, the Wisconsin Bankers Foundation (WBF) serves as the hub for all things financial literacy. Annually, Wisconsin bankers venture into schools as part of Teach Children to Save Day in April using WBF’s Reading Raises Interest Kits. In addition, the Foundation is actively working to curate relevant resources bankers can use with people of all ages and levels of financial experience — please wisbankfoundation.org/resources to view what we have available now.

As a reminder, the 2022–2023 Financial Education Summary Forms are now open. Not only does the Foundation assist Wisconsin bankers in providing resources for all consumers, but we also celebrate these important contributions you make each day to our state. If your bank employees participate in any financial education-related event from June 1, 2022 through May 31, 2023, please submit a form as you go to record your activity. Questions related to WBF and resources available for your bank can be directed to Hannah Flanders, WBF coordinator.

Bankers should also be aware of programs such as America Saves, Wisconsin Saves, and ELEVATE Wisconsin that can be implemented in the office, shared with business customers, and members of the community.

  • America Saves: Accessible online guidance, best practices, and goals consumers can pledge themselves to.
  • ELEVATE Wisconsin: An online wellness program providing interactive, effective, and unbiased instruction in personal finance and investing fundamentals to Wisconsin employees.
  • Wisconsin Saves: Small- and medium-sized employers can promote to their employees the ease and benefits of saving automatically for emergencies through split deposit.

Thank you to every bank that assists our industry in continuing its commitment to serving and educating members our communities. Time and time again, data such as FINRA’s National Financial Capability Study reminds us of the strength in our industry — where we’ve come from and where we have yet to go.

*Graphs provided by the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) based on information provided by the FINRA Investor Education Foundation National Financial Capability Survey.

Rose Oswald PoelsBy Rose Oswald Poels

When WBA’s charitable arm, the Wisconsin Bankers Foundation (WBF), was founded in 2015, education remained a top priority to aid the public in increasing their financial literacy and responsibility.

As part of this, the Foundation is proud to offer well-known programs such as Reading Raises Interest Kits that assist bankers in coordinating curriculum used during Teach Children to Save Day in April and scholarships awarded to students throughout the state for their demonstration of excellent financial capabilities. Involvement in these programs brings the Foundation one step closer to ensuring the financial knowledge and responsibility of every youth in our state.

Now through November 15, the Foundation will be accepting applications for the third annual Agricultural Banking Scholarship!

Students who will be enrolled in an accredited Wisconsin college, university, or technical college during the Spring of 2023 and are pursuing a career related to agricultural banking are encouraged to apply.

With agriculture serving as one of Wisconsin’s largest economic drivers, it is critical that we invest now in the students that are interested in driving this critical sector of our state.

The Foundation is also excited to announce this year’s Agricultural Banking Scholarship award has been increased to $1,500 each for the two qualified winners in order to help combat rising tuition costs, assist individuals in reaching their goals, and promote financial literacy in every consumer.

I encourage you to share this exciting opportunity widely within your networks — current and past ag interns, parents of college-aged children, and educators at the many ag programs throughout the state. By aiding us in spreading the word to qualified students, you play a significant part in assisting the Foundation to serve its mission as well as provide new opportunities for your community!

Please visit wisbankfoundation.org/scholarships to learn more or contact WBF’s Foundation Coordinator Hannah Flanders with any questions.

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Rose Oswald PoelsBy Rose Oswald Poels

As students around the state head back to school, the importance of ensuring every individual has access to high quality financial education and resources to improve their financial literacy continues to ring true. The Wisconsin Bankers Foundation (WBF) has served since 2015 as the hub for Wisconsin bankers when looking to provide resources, including Reading Raises Interest Kits each spring, to communities across Wisconsin.

As the Foundation continues to grow, we are happy to provide small grants to Wisconsin nonprofit organizations that align with our mission of improving the financial capability of our communities.

WBF recently awarded a second $5,000 grant to Asset Builders, a Wisconsin nonprofit organization, in support of its Finance and Investment Challenge Bowl, a quiz bowl competition geared towards high school students on subjects such as personal finance, economics, business, and marketing. The program aligns with Wisconsin’s statewide learning standards and is an effective strategy to complement what students are learning in the classroom.

The Challenge Bowl serves as an exciting and interactive supplement that educators across the state year after year sign up and accompany students to participate in. As students work in small groups to prove their mastery of finance-related knowledge against their peers, they also have a unique opportunity to interact with local banking and financial services professionals, who serve as quizmasters and competition judges.

For the 2022–2023 school year, the Finance and Investment Challenge Bowl tournament now has 12 regional competitions — reaching students in every corner of the state — and concludes with the state championship in Madison in May. These in-person tournaments are lively and immersive for students and volunteers alike. As the Challenge Bowl continues to expand to reach more students, I highly encourage bankers to volunteer not only to keep this value-adding program as high quality as possible, but as an opportunity to connect the banking industry with hundreds of passionate students. This type of engagement demonstrates our industry’s involvement in these critical efforts to keep our community members financially savvy. If you or any member of your staff is interested in a fun and rewarding service experience, please contact Cassie Krause, WBF’s executive director, or me.

In addition to volunteering for one of the many Finance and Investment Challenge Bowl tournaments across Wisconsin, please also consider making a tax-deductible donation to the Wisconsin Bankers Foundation. Contributions made to the 501(c)3 nonprofit organization support financial education in communities across our state. Thank you for your continued support of not only the Foundation, but of programs such as the Finance and Investment Challenge Bowl that offer engaging educational opportunities to Wisconsinites.

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Rose Oswald PoelsBy Rose Oswald Poels

As we emerge from the pandemic and face historic levels of inflation, people across Wisconsin are experiencing high levels of financial stress and burnout, which is impacting various aspects of their lives and our economy in general. The Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) and the Governor’s Council on Financial Literacy and Capability, on which I serve as a member, have partnered with the Financial Fitness Group to help improve the financial well-being of people who live and work in our state. The program is an expansion of a prior collaboration between DFI and the Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds, which helped educate over 12,000 state employees over the last year.

ELEVATE Wisconsin is an effective and unbiased financial wellness program designed to enhance the lives of Wisconsin employees and their families while generating positive exposure for businesses.

The cost of financial stress impacts more than an individual’s bank account. Economic challenges affect employees’ health, workplace effectiveness and productivity, long-term financial stability, and ultimately an employer’s bottom line. A few key facts:

  • 68% of the retiring workforce worry about having enough money to retire.
  • 67% of Americans lack the knowledge to make sound financial decisions.
  • 64% of the American workforce is living paycheck-to-paycheck. When economic downturns happen, it causes even more stress on them.
  • 33% of Americans have minimal to no retirement savings.

Why is ELEVATE Wisconsin Important?
Financial education can positively enhance the lives of Wisconsin employees through financial wellness and improve their financial security while fostering financial confidence.

ELEVATE Wisconsin represents truly unbiased, FINRA-compliant financial education that has been proven to be effective and measurable. ELEVATE Wisconsin focuses on improving the financial aptitude, behaviors, and confidence of Wisconsinites and their families.

What is ELEVATE Wisconsin?
ELEVATE Wisconsin is an online wellness program providing interactive, effective, and unbiased instruction in personal finance and investing fundamentals to Wisconsin employees.

DFI is a key sponsor of the program and has worked with the Financial Fitness Group to help develop the program. The Financial Fitness group is an industry leader, having already provided financial education to over 2 million users at more than 1,000 major U.S. organizations. Financial Fitness Group’s financial fitness solutions can assess, score, and educate consumers at a quarter of the cost of conventional methods.

ELEVATE Wisconsin Financial Education Includes:

  • A personalized financial wellness platform where participants can access tutorials, interactive calculators, videos, and more!
  • Pre- and post-lesson quizzes to determine knowledge change and measure program effectiveness.
  • Certificates, points, and badges to motivate users to keep on learning.
  • Access to the Financial Fitness SCORE™, a Financial Fitness Checkup that allows users to benchmark their overall financial health — aptitude, behavior, and confidence.
  • 24/7 online access from any device — smartphone, tablet, or computer.
  • A reporting dashboard where administrators can access real-time data on overall organizational metrics, user progress, financial assessments, learning data, and most popular courses.

What Role Can Banks Play?
As employers are trusted partners in financial education, this program is designed to be delivered through the workplace. Banks can join as program sponsors, offering the program to their business customers (for example, small businesses or nonprofit organizations that would like to make the program available to their employees) as well as to the bank’s own employees. The online platform will be co-branded for the sponsor and the business, so users (employees) see the bank’s logo as well as their employer’s.

We look forward to getting the word out on this important financial wellness program that aims to empower more than 100,000 employees and engage over 500 employers throughout Wisconsin by 2025.

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By Daniel J. Peterson

For 130 years, the Wisconsin Bankers Association (WBA) has led bankers in their efforts to deepen their knowledge and connect with their communities. This intense focus and commitment to Wisconsin bankers has allowed the organization to serve as a pillar for all things banking — such as education and advocacy.

While the Association only continues to grow, serving 98 percent of the banks in the state — over 35,000 bankers total — the pandemic halted many of the ways in which bankers connected with their peers and community members.

As WBA events, and life in general, more closely resemble the state of normalcy we last knew in early 2020, I encourage WBA-member banks to take this year to further deepen your engagement with the Association and ultimately make the most of your membership.

Whether it be taking part in events such as the Building Our Leaders of Tomorrow (BOLT) Summits, any of the nearly 900 educational opportunities offered each year, volunteering in WBA’s Advocacy Officer program, or one of the many committees — there is something of interest for every member, at every level of your bank.

WBA also offers several resources for bankers, including the newly remodeled Engagement Center located at the WBA office in Madison. This space includes state-of-the-art technology and ample room for banks to lead planning sessions, hold hybrid or in-person meetings, or designate a quiet area to work. Additionally, the Engagement Center annually hosts hundreds of bankers from around the state for training sessions, seminars, and schools.

WBA’s role in fostering the growth of the banking industry in Wisconsin is critical and unlike many other opportunities offered elsewhere. Your engagement in WBA’s efforts assists the organization in staying relevant and helps provide the highest quality resources and information to every member.

As I look to the year ahead, I am excited to discover all the new ways WBA members will create deeper connections with their peers and the banking industry. Not only do WBA programs provide benefits for banking leaders and their teams, but as trusted advisors and leaders in our communities, we have a unique opportunity to share our financial expertise with public officials and neighbors. Bankers throughout the state serve as the most important spokespeople for our industry.

By increasing engagement, not only do our teams benefit from education and networking opportunities, WBA is able to better understand how to best serve Wisconsin bankers. I am repeatedly reminded that WBA is our association. Now’s the time for bankers around the state to take advantage of the multitude of ways in which to engage for the benefit of shaping professional growth, developing connections, and shaping our industry as a whole.

Peterson is president and CEO of The Stephenson National Bank & Trust, Marinette, and the 2022–2023 WBA Chair.

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Rose Oswald PoelsFrom the Desk of Rose Oswald Poels

Every day, bankers throughout the state make remarkable efforts to assist their neighbors in building a solid financial future. This tradition often goes above and beyond the normal role of bankers — taking them into classrooms or community centers — and has proved time and time again the value of the connections formed by community bankers in assisting Wisconsinites of all ages to gain important financial education. Our industry does not get enough recognition for all it does since bankers are often quick to deflect attention and praise to others.

This article serves as a reminder of the various recognition and awards that you — individually and as a bank — may apply for. I encourage all of you to take the time to apply and be recognized for the dedicated and often creative work you do to improve financial education.

Individual Financial Education Efforts

The Wisconsin Bankers Foundation (WBF) recognizes individual bankers for their financial literacy efforts throughout its fiscal year. Bankers are able to submit summary forms recognizing each presentation, visit, or volunteer time spent with classrooms and community members focused on increasing financial literacy. WBF compiles total numbers of presentations and/or outreach events and awards bankers based on these totals. I highly encourage bankers to submit their forms reflecting their individual efforts in financial education from June 1, 2021 to May 31, 2022 by the July 31 deadline. To begin submitting your summary forms, visit www.smr.to/p80094. These awards are presented in the fall at WBA’s Lead360 Conference.

 

Bank-Wide Financial Education Efforts

WBF also recognizes banks as institutions for the aggregate time spent by employees during the period from June 1, 2021 through May 31, 2022 on financial education efforts. Since this award is based on the aggregate time spent by each bank on financial education initiatives, several banks may win this award. In addition, a bank may also submit an application for WBF’s most prestigious award, the Financial Education Innovation Award. This award recognizes only one member bank for its innovative approach to financial education. To learn more about WBF’s bank-wide awards or submit the summary form by July 31, visit www.smr.to/p77960.

WBF’s Bank Award

The Bank Award compiles the various financial education efforts put forth by the whole bank and showcases the tremendous work done by all employees. This award is presented in the fall at WBA’s Lead360 Conference.

WBF’s Financial Education Innovation Award

The Financial Education Innovation Award recognizes one bank for adopting an innovative, creative, and/or unique approach to financial education annually. Now presented at WBA’s Bank Executives Conference in February, this well-deserved honor recognizes a bank’s innovative approach to financial education.

 

2022 Governor’s Financial Literacy Awards

In addition to submitting a summary of financial education activities and efforts to WBF for recognition, I highly encourage bankers around the state to also consider applying for one of three categories of the 2022 Governor’s Financial Literacy Awards.

Recipients are selected by a subcommittee of the Governor’s Council on Financial Literacy and Capability based on their excellence in increasing financial literacy, capability, and inclusion among Wisconsin residents. I am proud to be a member of this Governor’s Council but have noted that in the past few years very few banks have been applying for this recognition all the while credit unions are applying. The awards highlight individuals, businesses/organizations, and legacy efforts throughout the state to improve financial education.

I highly encourage banks to share their financial education efforts by submitting the 2022 Governor’s Financial Literacy nomination form by the December 2 deadline for the chance to be recognized for the outstanding work bankers engage in every day. The nomination forms are now available, so do not wait until later this year to submit your bank’s nomination.

Students from the West Salem “Pink Panthers” test out their buzzers at the Finance and Investment Challenge Bowl State Tournament, hosted by the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions.

The Finance and Investment Challenge Bowl tournament for high school students across Wisconsin culminated in the state championship on Wednesday, May 18. The tournament is organized by the nonprofit organization Asset Builders and championship sponsors included the Wisconsin Bankers Foundation, Associated Bank, Huntington Bank, Old National Bank, and U.S. Bank.

Thank you to the WBA-member bankers who volunteered as quizmasters, scorekeepers, and judges at the championship tournament: Colin Brown, U.S. Bank; Lynn Boelter, First Federal Bank; Melissa Castillo, Monona Bank; Donna Cotter, Old National Bank; Leann Eddingsaas, First Federal Bank; and Matt Moore, U.S. Bank.

The Challenge Bowl is an opportunity for students to build upon their classroom learning in finance and economics in a fun and engaging environment. The spirit of friendly competition was evident as the teams competed for trophies and prizes.

Congratulations to this year’s winners (and their teachers):

  • First place – State Champion: Sun Prairie (Kurt Nickelsburg)
  • Second-place: Monroe (Erin Speth)
  • Final Four teams: Nicolet (Dan Schramka) and Monroe
  • Consolation Champion: Green Bay East (Scott Christy), with Stevens Point (Mike Olson) coming in second
  • Crowdpurr individual competition: students from Rhinelander (Patrick Kubeny), Milton (Nick Manogue), and Middleton (Shane Leadholm) finished in the top four spots.

Look for more information in the Wisconsin Banker Daily this fall on how to get involved with a regional tournament in your area.

Vieau and Endres on Farm

By Cassandra Krause

Ask anyone from out of state what the first thing that comes to mind is when they think of  Wisconsin, and they’re likely to respond “farms” — and for good reason. Wisconsin farmers work hard to put food on tables across Wisconsin and the globe. Fondly known as “America’s Dairyland,” Wisconsin is also a leading producer of cranberries (the state fruit), soybeans, potatoes, ginseng, corn — the list goes on and on.  

According to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP), agriculture is a major economic driver, contributing $104.8 billion annually to our state’s economy. The state is home to 64,100 farms on 14.2 million acres (the average farm size in Wisconsin is 222 acres). For those working in the industry, farming is not just a profession, but a way of life — one that poses unique stressors and challenges.

Tough Times Made Tougher by the COVID-19 Pandemic

In the years leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. farmers were already dealing with damaging weather conditions, increased global competition and tariffs, and falling commodity prices. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), citing data from the Federal Reserve, reported in July of 2021:

Clear signs of financial distress had emerged among U.S. farmers even prior to the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak. Investment in equipment was down, farmer debt was up, and so was borrowing against land. By the end of 2019, the delinquency rate on commercial loans hit a six-year high, and the delinquency rate on farmland loans was at its highest level since 2013.

When COVID-19 began rapidly spreading and parts of the global economy shut down, the food system was hit by major supply and demand shocks. For example, when demand for milk from restaurants and schools plummeted due to closures, producers were forced to dump milk. Meanwhile, milk supply on grocery store shelves was sparse for consumers purchasing for their homes, and prices rose.

Sara Kohlbeck

Sara Kohlbeck
is the director of the Division of Suicide Prevention at the Medical College of Wisconsin and a researcher on farmer suicide in Wisconsin.

Especially on small farms, many families rely on income and benefits from jobs outside of the farm and were hurt by job losses due to the pandemic. In addition to the financial stresses of running a family farm, interpersonal issues often come into play between spouses and family members who work together. This is particularly evident when it comes to succession planning and the legacy of a longstanding family tradition.

A 2018 survey from the National Farm Medicine Center, headquartered in Marshfield, showed that 29% of farmers suffered from depression and 35% suffered from anxiety. The National Farm Medicine Center conducts a wide range of research ranging from topics such as child rearing and women on farms to veterans who become farmers. More can be found at marshfieldresearch.org/nfmc.

Sara Kohlbeck is the director of the Division of Suicide Prevention at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) and is researching farmer suicide in Wisconsin for her doctoral dissertation. “Just about every farmer I talked to mentioned finances as a stressor,” said Kohlbeck of interviews conducted for her research. A small, organic farm may be one hailstorm away from being wiped out, and a larger farm may be millions of dollars in debt — the farmers’ entire livelihood can be at stake. While suicide is a relatively rare outcome (about 190 farmers are reported to have died by suicide from 2004–2018), Kohlbeck emphasizes that, “even one is too many.” Suicide rates are disproportionately high among farmers (about 2% of total suicides in Wisconsin, while farmers make up about 1% of the labor force), pointing to a larger mental health concern.

Resources for Farmer Wellness

Wisconsin Farm Center and Farmer Wellness Program
Farmcenter.wi.gov

  • Farm Culture Training for Ag Lenders and Ag Service Providers
  • Online Farmer and Farm Couple Support Groups
  • 24/7 Farmer Wellness Helpline | 888-901-2558
  • Tele-counseling | 888-901-2558
  • Counseling Vouchers | 800-942-2474

DATCP’s Farm Center started during the farm financial crisis of the 1980s, when farmland values dropped up to 60% in some areas of the Midwest. At its onset, the Farm Center strengthened relationships between ag lenders and farmers. It has since expanded its consulting and referral services to include financial consulting (reviewing balance sheets and cash flow, analyzing profitability and viability, analyzing debt structure, etc.), transition/succession planning (financial stability, operating agreements, tax implications, etc.), and farm mediation (dispute resolution).

The Farm Center’s Farmer Wellness Program began with $200,000 of funding in the 2019–21 biennial state budget and is now in addition funded by USDA grant money and other sources.

Vieau and Endres on Farm

Penn Vieau and Karen Endres are hosts of the “Rural Realities” podcast and recently brought their wellness messages to the stage at the WBA Agricultural Bankers Conference.

The Farmer Wellness Program offers services including a 24/7 Wisconsin farmer wellness helpline (888-901-2558), tele-counseling, and counseling vouchers. It also hosts online farmer and farm couple support groups. All of the resources are free of charge to Wisconsin farmers and their families. The services are there for those who are experiencing anxiety or depression, or just need a welcoming ear to talk to. Karen Endres, Farmer Wellness Program coordinator at the Wisconsin Farm Center, explained that the program was designed with the “4 A’s” in mind: affordability, accessibility, acceptability, and awareness. “Our most important resource is our mind,” said Endres. “We need to do a better job of taking care from [the neck] up.”

Endres noted that rural areas lost some of their sense of community during the pandemic as people were no longer seeing each other at coffee shops, card clubs, and so forth. The Farmer Wellness Program’s farmer support groups have served to combat the isolation felt by many farmers and have the added benefit of connecting farmers from around the state who may not otherwise have met but have much in common. Every session is facilitated by a licensed mental health provider with experience serving farmers and/or a trained peer leader.

The helpline, tele-counseling (via phone or Zoom), and vouchers for in-person counseling sessions all connect farmers and their families with licensed mental health professionals. The counselors can help bring control to farmers in navigating challenging situations. One farmer caller who sought mental wellness counseling for the first time through the program said, “please tell every farmer there is hope.”

Shifting the Mindset

Endres teamed up with mindset coach and former banker Penn Vieau to produce the Farm Center’s ‘Rural Realities’ podcast, which provides expert advice that can help farmers reduce stress, improve finances, implement effective farm family communication skills, and more. Vieau recently addressed the Wisconsin Bankers Association (WBA) Agricultural Bankers Conference on the power of a positive mindset and is scheduled to speak at the upcoming WBA Building Our Leaders of Tomorrow (BOLT) Summer Leadership Summit, June 9–10, 2022 in Wisconsin Dells. He discussed how the stigma of mental health in farming communities can be a barrier to getting help. “Stress does not equal crazy,” said Vieau. “When stress is too much to bear, talk to somebody.”

A 2019 American Farm Bureau Federation study revealed that a majority of farmers/farmworkers think the media (72%), people in their local community (58%), and their friends (56%) attach at least a fair amount of stigma to mental health.

How Bankers Can Support Farmer Mental Health

Agricultural bankers are part of rural communities and have strong ties to the farming industry — many grew up on or live on farms themselves. MCW’s Kohlbeck said bankers may be coming into contact with farmers more often than their doctors. “We’re not expecting them to be therapists, but in some ways, bankers can be nontraditional helpers,” she said. She said the most important ways bankers can help are 1) sharing resources and 2) understanding the red flags and what to do about them.

Karen Endres

Karen Endres
Farmer Wellness Program Coordinator
Wisconsin Farm Center

Endres underscored, “bankers are relationship people, and they want to do what’s best.” She recommends the Farmer Wellness Program’s online farm culture training for agricultural service providers. It is a free, virtual course to help ag lenders and other service providers understand the unique stresses and challenges of farming, handle difficult conversations, and recognize signs and symptoms of stress with farm clients. More information and the link to register are available at farmcenter.wi.gov.

One piece of advice Vieau offered the attendees of his presentation was to create a “personal board of directors” for their mental wellbeing — in other words, identify a group of close contacts to serve as trusted advisors and consultants. He pointed out that a banker is most likely already on a farmer’s “personal board of directors,” so the banker has a unique opportunity to share a flyer or card for the Farm Center’s services. “Bankers are always offering a value-add, like sharing trending reports,” said Vieau, and likened the practice to hospitality staff offering tips on local attractions. He said it’s a great idea for bankers to use the resources and information offered by the Farm Center for themselves personally and as an added service for their clients.

To learn how to spot the signs of distress in farmers, bankers and community members may participate in gatekeeper training for lay people. The Wisconsin Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is one example of an organization that offers free, one-hour training sessions online and in person.

The Outlook

All of the experts interviewed for this story agreed that more can be done to build more supportive communities and policies for farmers. “Instead of expecting farmers to reach out, we need to reach in,” said Kohlbeck. “Farmers are proud. For policies on things like climate change, don’t put the onus on farmers to solve the problems on their own.”

Penn Vieau

Penn Vieau
Professional Speaker and Coach

Vieau noted, “we spend a lot of time with [corporate] executives doing leadership training, and we need to do the same to break the stigma with farmers, who are independent businesspeople.” He highlighted that this focus is also important in encouraging the next generation of young people, who prioritize mental wellness in their careers, to become farmers.

Similarly, Endres expressed the need for everyone to look out for our farmers, who are stewards of the land and grow our food. She encourages community members to talk to one another and direct those who could benefit from a resource or service on how to access it.

“If one person shares a resource and saves a life, that’s a pretty great day,” concluded Endres.

If you are thinking about suicide or are concerned about the wellbeing of someone you know, call the Wisconsin Lifeline at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255), the Wisconsin Farmer Wellness Helpline (888-901-2558), or 911.

Rose Oswald PoelsBy Rose Oswald Poels

Each year, bankers throughout Wisconsin go above and beyond in their mission to provide for their communities. As we near the end of Wisconsin Bankers Association’s (WBA) fiscal year on May 31, we want to be sure to recognize the efforts our member banks accomplish in pursuit of bettering the financial education and responsibility of their communities.

Alongside the Wisconsin Bankers Foundation (WBF) in its mission to empower financial decisions through education and research, I highly encourage all WBA-member bankers to track and submit their data to help WBA and WBF better understand the financial education-related activities Wisconsin banks and their bankers are involved with each year.

New this year, bankers are able to submit their presentation summaries online at wisbankfoundation.org/education/.

The two summary forms aim at highlighting the achievements of both individuals as well as the bank for their financial education presentations and activities from June 1, 2021 through May 31, 2022. These activities often include volunteer hours with Junior Achievement, Teach Children to Save presentations, and bank tours — events that many bankers take part in during the month of April as part of Power of Community Week.

The individual summary is intended to capture one event or presentation. Therefore, bankers who have or expect to engage in multiple financial education-related activities from June 1, 2021 to May 31, 2022 should expect to also submit multiple summaries. Because each summary reflects a single event, all co-presenters should be listed on the same form.

Exceptional individual efforts are recognized by WBF with either a Certificate of Recognition or Certificate of Excellence based on the number of presentations given. These awards, along with the top two banker awards, are presented each year at WBA’s LEAD360 Conference in the fall.

The bank summary form is intended to capture information related to the bank’s entire financial education initiatives. Based on the level of a bank’s total activity, member banks may earn the Excellence in Financial Education Award. This award is also presented each year to the winning banks at WBA’s LEAD360 Conference.

In addition to the Excellence in Financial Education Award, banks are strongly encouraged to apply for the prestigious Financial Education Innovation Award. This award is given to one bank each year that has financial education initiatives or programs that are very creative, reaching a wide audience. The 2021 Financial Education Innovation Award was presented to Bank Five Nine at WBA’s Bank Executives Conference in February for their efforts in creating an innovative approach to financial education. Banks may apply for this award by completing the final portion of the bank-wide presentation summary form application online.

You all do great work in the financial education space in your communities so take the time to get recognized for your outstanding work! Completing the forms this year is even easier now that they are online. You may submit forms at any time but the final deadline is July 31, 2022. I look forward to learning more about your efforts this past year and recognizing the incredible work Wisconsin bankers do each day. Please reach out to Hannah Flanders at hflanders@wisbank.com or me if you have questions regarding the completion of the two summary forms.

Individual Financial Education Summary FY 21–22

Bank-wide Financial Education Summary FY 21–22

Events

Join WBA and your fellow Retail, Sales, and Marketing peers from across Wisconsin for the gathering of the WBA LEAD360 Conference! The Conference will kickoff on November 16 at 9:30 a.m. and adjourn at Noon on November 17. 

Bank Member Registration: The registration fee is $350 for first attendee. Each additional attendee from your bank is $300 each additional attendee in-person*.

  • Registration includes networking meals and breaks, general sessions, breakout sessions, and access to the conference mobile app. Day Two Only Registration is $100/per attendee.

*To receive the published discount, you must register everyone at the same time.

Associate Member Registration:

  • Associate Members are encouraged to send their staff as well! The same registration fee is available to WBA Associate Members.
  • Interested in upgrading your presence? Register to be a conference sponsor to receive additional benefits and conference recognition!
  • Click on the Speakers and Agenda tabs for more information.  This Conference is for your Retail Bankers, Sales/Marketing Bankers, and Financial Literacy Bankers.

Associate Member & Exhibitor Registration Information:

WBA Associate Members can register to exhibit at the conference ($600/booth including 2 attendees; $250/additional booth attendee) or register as a non-exhibiting conference attendee ($350/attendee).

Please contact WBA’s Nick Loppnow at 608-441-1259 for more information.

  • Non-members are welcome to register to exhibit at the conference at the non-member rates ($1,000/booth including 2 attendees; $250/additional booth attendee)
  • Interested in upgrading your presence? Register to be a conference sponsor to receive additional benefits and conference recognition!

A fundamental study of how money functions in the U.S. and world economies. How money supply, the banking system, the Federal Reserve and the federal government are all interrelated, and how changes in the financial system can affect individuals, businesses, and governments on a world-wide basis are covered.

The required textbook for this course is Money and Banking.

IMPORTANT:  Be sure to order the required book for this course.  We recommend that you FIRST select and add your course session to the shopping cart, then select your preferred format of book from the “Recommended Training” options that appear alongside the shopping cart.

Audience: Bank personnel who have not had a formal course in money and banking and who wish to increase their understanding of the banking industry; officer trainees through the mid-management level.

Price: $430

A fundamental study of how money functions in the U.S. and world economies. How money supply, the banking system, the Federal Reserve and the federal government are all interrelated, and how changes in the financial system can affect individuals, businesses, and governments on a world-wide basis are covered.

The required textbook for this course is Money and Banking.

IMPORTANT:  Be sure to order the required book for this course.  We recommend that you FIRST select and add your course session to the shopping cart, then select your preferred format of book from the “Recommended Training” options that appear alongside the shopping cart.

Audience: Bank personnel who have not had a formal course in money and banking and who wish to increase their understanding of the banking industry; officer trainees through the mid-management level.

Price: $430

Topics in analyzing source documents, recording business transactions in a journal and posting entries in a ledger. How to prepare a trial balance, gather adjustment data and complete a worksheet are covered, as well as how to prepare financial statements and post-closing entries.

This course is the recommended prerequisite for Analyzing Financial Statements.

Audience: Bank personnel at any level with little or no accounting background

The required textbook for this course is College Accounting, 13th Edition.

IMPORTANT:  Be sure to order the required book for this course.  We recommend that you FIRST select and add your course session to the shopping cart, then select your preferred format of book from the “Recommended Training” options that appear alongside the shopping cart

Price: $471

Topics in analyzing source documents, recording business transactions in a journal and posting entries in a ledger. How to prepare a trial balance, gather adjustment data and complete a worksheet are covered, as well as how to prepare financial statements and post-closing entries.

This course is the recommended prerequisite for Analyzing Financial Statements.

Audience: Bank personnel at any level with little or no accounting background

The required textbook for this course is College Accounting, 13th Edition.

IMPORTANT:  Be sure to order the required book for this course.  We recommend that you FIRST select and add your course session to the shopping cart, then select your preferred format of book from the “Recommended Training” options that appear alongside the shopping cart

Price: $471

An overview of tools and techniques to analyze and improve a bank’s financial performance. Participants observe the effects of certain kinds of risk on a bank’s financial track record, and the correlation between risk optimization and superior financial performance.

Audience: This course is designed for junior-level bank officers all the way up through CEOs who need to analyze their bank’s performance. Participants should have basic knowledge of balance sheets and income statements.

The required textbook for this course is Bank Management, 8th Edition.

IMPORTANT:  Be sure to order the required book for this course.  We recommend that you FIRST select and add your course session to the shopping cart, then select the book from the “Recommended Training” options that appear alongside the shopping cart.

*Please note this book is used for all four Bank Management courses: Analyzing Bank Performance, Managing Interest Rate Risk, Managing Funding, Liquidity, and Capital, and Managing the Bank’s Investment Portfolio.*

Price: $660

An overview of tools and techniques to analyze and improve a bank’s financial performance. Participants observe the effects of certain kinds of risk on a bank’s financial track record, and the correlation between risk optimization and superior financial performance.

Audience: This course is designed for junior-level bank officers all the way up through CEOs who need to analyze their bank’s performance. Participants should have basic knowledge of balance sheets and income statements.

The required textbook for this course is Bank Management, 8th Edition.

IMPORTANT:  Be sure to order the required book for this course.  We recommend that you FIRST select and add your course session to the shopping cart, then select the book from the “Recommended Training” options that appear alongside the shopping cart.

*Please note this book is used for all four Bank Management courses: Analyzing Bank Performance, Managing Interest Rate Risk, Managing Funding, Liquidity, and Capital, and Managing the Bank’s Investment Portfolio.*

Price: $660

Legal Foundations in Banking presents the underlying legal structure for conducting the business of banking. The course covers key legal requirements affecting banks and bankers, as well as core language that must be understood to be effective. It provides the critical legal knowledge that every banker should know.

Learning Outcomes and Objectives: 

  • Understand the basic foundation for transaction processing and deposits
  • Identify the key areas that encompass the legal risks banks face
  • Provide a foundation for determining safety and soundness requirements to provide protection to the bank
  • Establish a framework for sound practices and understanding of financial transactions and their requirements

IMPORTANT: Be sure to order the required book for this course, Legal Foundations, if you did not already purchase it. We recommend that you FIRST select and add your course session to the shopping cart, then select your preferred format of book from the “Recommended Training” options that appear alongside the shopping cart.

Price: $550

Legal Foundations in Banking presents the underlying legal structure for conducting the business of banking. The course covers key legal requirements affecting banks and bankers, as well as core language that must be understood to be effective. It provides the critical legal knowledge that every banker should know.

Learning Outcomes and Objectives: 

  • Understand the basic foundation for transaction processing and deposits
  • Identify the key areas that encompass the legal risks banks face
  • Provide a foundation for determining safety and soundness requirements to provide protection to the bank
  • Establish a framework for sound practices and understanding of financial transactions and their requirements

IMPORTANT:  Be sure to order the required book for this course, Legal Foundations, if you did not already purchase it . We recommend that you FIRST select and add your course session to the shopping cart, then select your preferred format of book from the “Recommended Training” options that appear alongside the shopping cart.

Price: $550

Suitable for anyone who wants to learn more about the commercial lending process—the backbone of most banks’ lending portfolios. Learn what goes into making a successful commercial loan and how to manage a customer relationship once the loan is approved.

Audience: Commercial and/or business bankers and credit analysts

The required textbook for this course is Commercial Lending, 7th Edition.

IMPORTANT: Be sure to order the required book for this course.  We recommend that you FIRST select and add your course session to the shopping cart, then select your preferred format of book from the “Recommended Training” options that appear alongside the shopping cart.  

Cost: $455