PRESIDENT & CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER,
DOUGLAS COUNTY BANK
Third Quarter 2012
photos by STEVEN HERTZOG
MY PERSPECTIVES ON COMMUNITY BANKING WITH DOUGLAS COUNTY BANK
Many aspects of the banking business attracted me. When majoring in economics and mathematics as an undergraduate at KU, one of the most fascinating and challenging courses was Money and Banking taught by Dr. Leland J. Pritchard. When I went on to graduate school at the University of Minnesota, my area of emphasis and Ph. D. dissertation were monetary economics. That led to an economics faculty position at Kansas State University.
It was really nice to be back in Kansas close to our families in our hometown, Salina. I really enjoyed teaching and working with students, but was not strongly motivated toward research. In addition to community involvement during those years, where I knew many local bankers, I had the experience of serving as the minority staff economist for two years on the Senate Budget Committee staff working for Senator Bob Dole.
Upon returning to teaching, part of my responsibility was being the executive director of the Kansas Economic Education Council that was strongly supported by community bankers throughout the state. Those were challenging times of a recession, high unemployment, inflation and very volatile interest rates.
Many aspects of banking are so enjoyable, fascinating and challenging. What I enjoy most are the remarkable people with whom I work, the strong relationships developed with the people,businesses and organizations we serve and the community volunteers and leaders who become good friends. The banking business is more interesting than ever, and it is both challenging and rewarding to deal with the ever changing technology, economic conditions and regulations. The wide variety of businesses we serve and learn about is fascinating and the high quality banking services – personal, business, trust and investments – we provide are very gratifying. Challenges include understanding and keeping up with the latest technology and keeping our services as near to the leading edge as is safe and sound for our customers.
I am so very fortunate to now be in my 12th year with DCB. We are celebrating our 60th year! The philosophy of the bank’s founders – “the Bank of friendly service” – and the enlightened guidance of the Beach family for nearly 50 years keep DCB true to our community bank tradition. We all really miss Mr. Beach, but carry on, as he would want, with the Beach family guidance, including RA Edwards, who is our Board Chair.
The opportunity to be involved with a variety of community and professional organizations in Lawrence has been interesting and gratifying. Serving as United Way Campaign Chair several years ago increased my appreciation of the outstanding services provided by the United Way and its agencies. Serving as Chair of the former statewide KTEC Board led to serving on the Board of the
Lawrence Regional Technology Center, now the BTBC, for several years, enabling me to stay involved and support the development of technology based businesses in our community, drawing on the talents of KU faculty and the entrepreneurial abilities of business leaders, faculty members and investors.
It does concern me that the ever increasing regulations make it more and more difficult for smaller community banks to keep up, and requiring more time and focus that can interfere with serving our customers with the flexibility needed to fit their individual needs. Technology changes and large bank competition with extensive advertising exposure is a competitive challenge.
Nancy, my wife, and I really love living here. Lawrence and Douglas County is a great community. We appreciate the strength and diversity of our local economy. Lawrence has a vibrant downtown and strong retail service areas, a thriving business and professional community with excellent career opportunities, cultural and athletic events at KU, a great community hospital and quality retirement communities. With 5 of our 8 grandchildren living in Kansas City, that is a huge bonus for us!
Banking is a fascinating, challenging and rewarding career for me. The good fortune to be working with such a sound bank and so many fine longtime bankers makes it very enjoyable. In serving our customers, we have the advantage of 33 staff members with over 10 years of experience with DCB and 15 of those with over 20 years! Largely because of that, we have many longtime loyal customers who have become friends. The 60th Anniversary commemorative bench designed for us by VanGo Arts represents several of those businesses, the growth of our branch facility locations, and our relationship with the community.
One of the exciting aspects of banking is the rapid evolution of electronic banking services that provide great convenience. We are very focused on providing the online and mobile banking services, and the financial management tools linked to personal and business bank accounts, that are on the leading edge of the business. At the same time, we believe the personal service touch through our branches and bankers is still very important. Even with all the technology, and often because of that, people and businesses really need and appreciate the personal service that is readily available. People still like the personal service and assistance of friendly, capable bankers.
The biggest challenges in banking now are the costs of keeping up with technology, the increased and evolving banking regulations that require time and systems to show compliance and the current economic environment. The current monetary policy of forcing interest rates lower and lower has become counter-productive because of the impact of retirees and others who depend on interest earnings for their income. It is not working because lower interest rates will not have much impact on borrowing and spending decisions, such as business projects, home purchases or major expenses like vehicles.
As a nation, we must get our budget back in reasonable balance. The budget process in Congress and the relationship with the Administration has simply not worked for several years. That needs to change. My personal preference is to greatly simplify the tax laws and code, with tax rates at a level needed to balance the budget as sound economic conditions return.