Leaders in Banking Excellence celebration tent photo

Pictured left to right are: Lee J. Schmalz, John K. Reinke, and Robert J. Just, Jr.

Five individuals were honored by the Wisconsin Bankers Association for their excellence in banking, community service, and civic involvement. A celebration was held on Friday, September 9 at the WBA headquarters in Madison, where a Leaders in Banking Excellence Wall installation displays a tribute to outstanding current and former bankers. The wall, established in 2020, now profiles 22 exceptional leaders.

“This year’s Leaders in Banking Excellence are once again deserving of the name,” said Rose Oswald Poels, WBA president and CEO. “These five bankers have not only been influential in their profession but have also been actively involved in their communities throughout their careers.”

The honorees in the Class of 2022 Leaders in Banking Excellence are:

  • Robert J. Just, Jr., Mound City Bank, Platteville;
  • Debra R. Lins, the former Community Business Bank, Sauk City (and others);
  • John K. Reinke, The Stephenson National Bank & Trust, Marinette;
  • Lee J. Schmalz, East Wisconsin Savings Bank, Kaukauna; and
  • the late James B. Wigdale, M&I Bank (now BMO Harris Bank), Milwaukee.

To read the bios of each of the 2022 Leaders in Banking Excellence honorees, please visit the Class of 2022 page.

Following a strong start to 2022, Wisconsin banks rounded out the second quarter of the year with total assets up 1.81% quarter over quarter from March 31, 2022 to June 30, 2022 and total assets up 5.54% year over year from June 30, 2021 to June 30, 2022, according to the latest numbers released by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Total deposits remained stable quarter over quarter (-0.28%) and were up 5.76% year over year. Noncurrent loans and leases continued on a significant downward trend, indicating consumers’ ability to pay down debt amidst inflation concerns.

Notable indicators include:

  • Residential lending increased over 5% year over year and quarter over quarter. Despite the Fed’s interest rate hikes, mortgage rates remain at historically low levels.
  • Commercial lending is back to where it was a year ago after seeing decreases due to supply chain issues and worker shortages. A 7.80% quarter-over-quarter increase in commercial and industrial loans indicates business owners’ renewed focus on growth.
  • Farm loans increased 19.27% quarter over quarter and 4.09% year over year. Farmers who had financed their own expenses in recent years — due to stimulus packages and strong balance sheets — are increasingly looking to borrow with high input costs such as fuel and fertilizer and less favorable outlooks for 2023.
  • Credit quality continues to improve as more borrowers are keeping up to date with their payments. Noncurrent loans and leases decreased 21.33% year over year and 11.04% quarter over quarter.

Statement on the release of second-quarter 2022 Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) numbers from Rose Oswald Poels, president and CEO of the Wisconsin Bankers Association: 

“Wisconsin banks continue to meet the borrowing needs of consumers and business owners alike. Bankers understand the changing economy coming out of the pandemic and are working with their customers who are looking to purchase homes and grow their businesses. During this time of heightened inflation and ongoing global concerns, Wisconsinites can feel confident in their bank as a safe place to deposit their money and a trusted partner in meeting their financial goals.”

FDIC-Reported Wisconsin Numbers (Dollar Figures in Thousands)

Ag Lending School Class Photo
The Wisconsin Bankers Association (WBA) is pleased to announce that 11 bankers have completed the 2022 WBA Agricultural Lending School, which was held August 10–12 at the WBA headquarters in Madison. The WBA Agricultural Lending School’s rigorous curriculum includes case studies, a farm visit, and in-class work and discussions. The individuals who completed this year’s school are:
  • Cassandra Baeten, Ag Portfolio Manager, Bank of Luxemburg
  • Cody Belken, Credit Analyst, Royal Bank, Dickeyville
  • Riley Carson, Ag Loan Officer, Community Bank, Vernon Center
  • Hope Francis, Credit Analyst, Community First Bank, Platteville
  • Chris Greenwood, Branch Manager, Waumandee State Bank, Arcadia
  • Heather Hafften, Ag Loan Officer, Peoples State Bank, Dickeyville
  • Marissa Hanley, Agricultural Credit Analyst, Nicolet National Bank, Seymour
  • Mara Hird, Residential Relationship Manager – AVP, Peoples State Bank, Wauzeka
  • Jamie Horsfall, Agricultural Relationship Manager, Peoples State Bank, Fennimore
  • Rayanne Walker, Agricultural Credit Analyst, Nicolet National Bank, Eau Claire
  • Amy Bloczynski, AVP/Branch Manager, Waumandee State Bank, Black River Falls
Ag Lending School Class Photo

(Left to right) Cody Belken, Jamie Horsfall , Cassandra Baeten, Rayanne Walker, Brad Guse, Mara Hird, Hope Francis, Chris Greenwood, Amy Bloczynski, Marissa Hanley, Kevin Bernhardt, Riley Carson, and Heather Hafften

“I am happy to congratulate the bankers who recently completed the WBA Agricultural Lending School,” said WBA President and CEO Rose Oswald Poels. “Agriculture is integral to Wisconsin’s economy, and having highly professional ag lenders who understand the needs of our farmers is key.”
Through the program — led by faculty Bradley Guse, senior vice president, agribusiness banking at BMO Harris Bank, NA, Marshfield, and Dr. Kevin Bernhardt, professor and UW-Extension farm management specialist, UW-Platteville — participants built their knowledge and skills around current trends in agriculture, borrower/lender relationships, farm business financial modeling, and best practices in lending. WBA’s educational programming keeps Wisconsin bankers at the forefront of their profession, so that they are able to offer the highest quality service to the customers and communities they serve.
Triangle Background

The Wisconsin Bankers Association (WBA) is pleased to announce the promotion of Scott Birrenkott to director – legal; promotion of Cassandra Krause to executive director of the Wisconsin Bankers Foundation (WBF); and hire of Nick Loppnow as director of Associate Membership and business development.

“I’m very happy to congratulate Scott, Cassie, and Nick on their achievements,” said Rose Oswald Poels, WBA president and CEO. “Their skill sets combined with their passion for what they do will help them carry out the work of our Association and nonprofit Foundation.”

Scott Birrenkott

Scott Birrenkott

Birrenkott joined WBA in June of 2015 as assistant director – legal and over the past seven years has provided WBA members with current information on the banking industry’s constantly changing regulatory, legislative, and judicial requirements. As director – legal, Birrenkott will continue to collaborate with the WBA Government Relations team on advocacy efforts, speak at WBA education programs, and act as senior writer for the WBA Compliance Journal. Birrenkott earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and his Juris Doctor degree at Marquette University.

Cassandra Krause

Cassandra Krause

Krause has been selected by the WBF Board of Directors to serve as the Foundation’s executive director. WBF is the nonprofit arm of WBA whose mission is to promote financial literacy and capability through education, grants, scholarships, and research. She will continue her role as WBA communications manager, which she began in March of 2021. Krause came to WBA from the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. She has a background in international business and development. Krause holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a master’s degree from the Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany.

Nick Loppnow

Nick Loppnow

Loppnow began his career at a financial institution, followed by over eight years with WBA, most recently in the position of director – Associate Member and education services. He then went on to work for a financial institution training development company before returning to WBA as director – Associate Membership and business development. In his new role, Loppnow will manage the Associate Membership program (vendor program), coordinate event exhibit halls and sponsorship offerings, and meet with WBA Bank Members. Loppnow earned his Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

WBA Releases Results of Bank CEO Economic Conditions Survey

In the Wisconsin Bankers Association’s biannual Economic Conditions Survey of Wisconsin bank CEOs, 71% of respondents rated Wisconsin’s current economic health as “excellent” or “good.This marks a decline from the mid-year 2021 survey, when 91% of survey respondents gave “excellent” or “good” ratings. Nearly all (over 98%) of the Wisconsin bank CEOs who completed the most recent survey predict that the economy will stay the same or weaken in the next six months. 

“Wisconsin bank CEOs have a unique vantage point in that they are both financial experts and highly involved individuals in their local communities,” said WBA President and CEO Rose Oswald Poels. “While the economy remains relatively stable, bankers are keeping a close eye on important indicators and stand ready to support their customers through possible economic challenges over the coming months. 

Among the economic bright spots cited by bank CEOs in the survey were strong tourism, construction, manufacturing, and agricultural industries. Survey results indicate that the hiring market and real estate market are cooling down. Top economic concerns reported by bank CEOs were inflation, cost of living/childcare/education, rising interest rates, oil and gas prices, staffing shortages, and the war in Ukraine.

The midyear 2022 survey was conducted May 24–June 10 with 56 respondents. Sums may not equal 100 percent due to rounding. Below is a breakdown of the survey questions and responses.

Wisconsin Bank CEO Economic Conditions Survey Results
How would you rate the current health of the Wisconsin economy. . .  Mid-Year 2022  End-of-Year 2021  Mid-Year 2021 
Excellent  7%  6%  15% 
Good  64%  73%  76% 
Fair  29%  20%  10% 
Poor  0%  1%  0% 
In the next six months, do you expect the Wisconsin economy to. . .        
Grow  2%  21%  48% 
Weaken  63%  15%  39% 
Stay the same  36%  64%  13% 
Over the next six months, do you expect inflation to. . .       
Rise  50%     
Fall  22%     
Stay about the same  28%     
How likely would you say a recession is in the next six months?       
Very unlikely  4%     
Unlikely  16%     
Neutral  20%     
Likely  45%     
Very likely  16%     
Rate the current demand in the following categories:        
Business Loans        
Excellent  2%  9%  10% 
Good  48%  48%  30% 
Fair  48%  39%  52% 
Poor  2%  5%  8% 
Commercial Real Estate Loans        
Excellent  7%  11%  13% 
Good  52%  44%  44% 
Fair  36%  41%  33% 
Poor  5%  4%  10% 
Residential Real Estate Loans        
Excellent  2%  25%  40% 
Good  20%  48%  48% 
Fair  50%  24%  12% 
Poor  29%  3%  0% 
Agricultural Loans        
Excellent  2%  1%  2% 
Good  37%  22%  34% 
Fair  51%  58%  56% 
Poor  10%  18%  8% 
Excellent  5%     
Good  55%     
Fair  38%     
Poor  2%     
In the next six months, do you anticipate the demand for the following categories will. . .        
Business Loans        
Grow  11%  28%  43% 
Weaken  48%  14%  7% 
Stay the same  41%  59%  51% 
Commercial Real Estate Loans        
Grow  13%  24%  31% 
Weaken  48%  21%  8% 
Stay the same  39%  55%  31% 
Residential Real Estate Loans        
Grow  4%  11%  14% 
Weaken  63%  56%  41% 
Stay the same  34%  33%  46% 
Agricultural Loans        
Grow  6%  15%  18% 
Weaken  31%  14%  6% 
Stay the same  63%  71%  76% 
Grow  11%     
Weaken  36%     
Stay the same  53%     
In the next six months, are the businesses in your bank’s market area likely to. . .        
Hire employees  31%  68%  82% 
Maintain current staffing levels  61%  33%  15% 
Lay off employees  7%  0%  3% 
In the next six months, is your bank likely to. . .        
Hire employees  34%  55%  48% 
Maintain current staffing levels  63%  43%  45% 
Lay off employees  4%  3%  6% 

Wisconsin banks started the year 2022 strong with total assets up 5.04% year over year from March 31, 2021 to March 31, 2022. Despite concerns about rising inflation, total deposits were up 7.08% for the same period. The financial health of consumers was also evidenced by a 20.88% year-over-year decrease in noncurrent loans and leases.

Notable indicators include:

  • Residential lending slowed only slightly as the housing market remained a hot sellers’ market.
  • Commercial lending decreased 14.42% year over year. Supply chain issues and worker shortages continue to inhibit business growth and cause hesitancy among business owners to take out loans.
  • Credit quality continues to improve as more borrowers are keeping up to date with their payments. Noncurrent loans and leases decreased 20.88% year over year and 5.69% quarter over quarter.

Statement on the release of first-quarter 2022 Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) numbers from Rose Oswald Poels, president and CEO of the Wisconsin Bankers Association:

“Wisconsin’s banking industry stands poised to meet the banking needs of Wisconsinites in 2022 as government pandemic relief funding phases out. Bankers will be keeping a close eye on global supply chain and geopolitical issues as well as the Fed’s rising interest rates going into the rest of the year.”

FDIC-Reported Wisconsin Numbers (Dollar Figures in Thousands)

By Wisconsin Bankers Association President and CEO Rose Oswald Poels 

In a deal announced yesterday, Summit Credit Union will acquire West Bend’s Commerce State Bank. This marks the sixth acquisition of a taxpaying Wisconsin bank by a tax-exempt credit union in a decade, continuing a concerning trend of taxpaying community banks being bought by large, growth-oriented credit unions. The acquisition will bring Summit Credit Union to nearly $6 billion in assets with 54 locations. With Commerce State Bank’s $837 million in assets, this is one of the largest credit union acquisitions of a bank nationwide to date.

Wisconsin taxpayers should be very concerned about this transaction as the state alone will lose over $1 million annually in future tax revenues with this sale because credit unions do not pay any state or federal income tax. With large credit unions becoming indistinguishable from tax-paying banks, it is time for the public and elected officials to question the public policy rationale for this significant tax benefit. Why should the 14 Wisconsin-based credit unions over $1 billion in asset size pay nothing in state income tax to support social services, law enforcement, schools, and other public services? Individuals, families, and tax-paying businesses are left to shoulder these growing expenses. Not only is tax revenue lost in these transactions, but jobs in the state are often lost when the acquirer is an out-of-state credit union and/or when certain functions are consolidated. This type of consolidation is not in the public’s interest.  

While Wisconsin now has two pending bank acquisition transactions by credit unions, credit unions are also actively seeking expansionist powers from the legislature and their regulator that, among other things, would permit credit unions to raise capital from private equity investors. The days of small, employer- or neighborhood-focused credit unions are long gone. Elected officials should carefully scrutinize this legislation and strongly oppose Wisconsin AB 478/SB451 as it is in direct conflict with the public policy intent behind the tax exemption granted by this same body decades ago.  

It is time for growth-oriented credit unions to be paying their fair share of taxes. Competition in any industry is fair and healthy, but only when the playing field is level. Taking a tax-paying business off the tax roll by a “not-for-profit,” tax-exempt entity directly harms the citizens of this state and threatens the vibrancy and diversity of our state’s financial system.

Yellow triangle background

Indicators reflect a healthy financial environment for Wisconsin consumers and banks 

Wisconsin banks demonstrated a strong performance at the end of 2021, while navigating the ongoing effects of the pandemic. Total assets were up 8.45% year over year from December 2020 to December 2021 and 1.16% quarter over quarter from September 2021. The financial health of consumers was evidenced by a 10.88% year-over-year increase in deposits as well as a 24.75% decrease in noncurrent loans and leases. 

Notable indicators include: 

  • Residential lending slowed slightly as the housing market began to stabilize. 
  • Commercial lending saw only a slight quarter-over-quarter increase. Some business owners had fewer borrowing needs, while others remained hesitant to borrow as their growth was hindered by supply chain issues and worker shortages. 
  • Credit quality trends continued, with borrowers largely keeping up to date on their loans and leases. 

Statement on the release of fourth-quarter 2021 Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) numbers from Rose Oswald Poels, president and CEO of the Wisconsin Bankers Association:  

“Wisconsin’s banking industry remains in a solid position as the economy continues to steadily rebound from the onset of the pandemic. While Russia’s invasion of Ukraine casts uncertainty on the 2022 global economy, the overall financial outlook is positive.” 

FDIC-Reported Wisconsin Numbers (Dollar Figures in Thousands)