Tell us about yourself and why you initially got into banking.
It’s a funny story. Throughout college I worked at LensCrafters as a salesperson and after I graduated, I started in their management program. One day while making a pair of glasses in the lab, I almost cut my thumb off with a very sharp tool and was taken to the hospital—it was a bad deal! Several weeks later while in the surgeon’s office for a follow up, I overheard a nurse talking to another patient asking them their occupation and employer, and the patient said she was the director of HR at a bank.
I decided to risk embarrassment and walked over to her with my arm in a cast and introduced myself, saying I had a very strong interest in banking and asked how I could get a job at her bank. The rest is history—two weeks later I started in the file room. There I spent six months learning the industry and the bank’s operations. Because of this first job, I’m always aware of the importance of the operations side of the bank and expressing my appreciation for associates in those roles. We can only be successful as much as we cultivate team relationships and it’s crucial to have a respectful relationship between support, operations and the commercial bankers.
From there I went into loan review and credit analysis and administration for about ten years transitioning into commercial banking engaged in sales and portfolio management for another 10 years. Today, I’m privileged to part of the regional banking leadership team and feel blessed to have been with UMB Bank for the past 16 years.
What are some of the challenges and successes you and the Midwest region team have faced over the past year as we’ve shifted to working from home?
Before the pandemic hit, I traveled a lot for work, going to the different regions to check in face to face. The thing that I’ve been most impressed by over the past year is seeing how much closer our team has become meeting through the virtual medium. We’ve all been able to adjust and still support each other while we are all working from home. I’ve found that the shift to a virtual environment has also allowed me to be more productive. Instead of taking a 6-12 hours out of my week to get in the car and drive, I can now schedule a video call and be face to face with customers and associates from all of the Midwest. While I am looking forward to returning to visiting customers and regional teams in person, this time has allowed me to still feel connected with our team and feel more connected to my family, friends and loved ones.
We had some terrific results in 2020 throughout a very challenging year. I am so proud of our team as they have found a way to focus on the positive and work collaboratively even while apart. Through a great team effort, we had our best year in our history in terms of new funded loan production, revenue, and operating income. This year I’ve been able to witness how this team has stepped up and see how hard they work to deliver an unparalleled experience to our customers and associates.
What is the overall sentiment of your customers and clients?
We have a terrific customer base and UMB has always been committed to building strong relationships with our customers and developing an understanding of their business and their goals. Our aspiration as commercial bankers is to be their trusted partner and provide customized solutions to support their goals.
During the pandemic, we increased the frequency and quality of our communication and check-ins with our clients at an almost weekly cadence and found that our customers embraced that willingly as they wanted to hear from their bank. As clients faced hard decisions, we made sure they knew we were there to support them through the uncertainty of the pandemic and a lot of goodwill was built. I’m extremely proud to say that almost the entirety of our customer base had very good years in terms of profitability and navigating the economic volatility. We bank conservative, well-led companies that made a lot of positive strategic moves due to the pandemic and many took PPP loans to retain most of their workforce. Some navigated through some revenue issues, but by being able to adjust expenses quickly, most of them were as profitable or more profitable than they’ve ever been. We really had no credit issues to speak of and I think that’s a testament to the quality of our clientele and commercial banking team at UMB.
What are your guiding principles for success?
Our mantra in the Midwest Region is growth through excellence. At UMB, we take ownership of the relationships with our customers and associates very seriously, and we challenge ourselves to be your best in everything you do. We do our best to demonstrate our tenacity for success through transparency, clear communication, and consistency each day.
I think that when you truly believe that your organization is what it says it is, then you can take that integrity to your clients. I’m constantly reminded why I joined this team—it’s because of the bank’s great culture, people and customer focused atmosphere, and philosophy of always doing the right thing. With this commitment to integrity, it is always our goal to be honest and direct with our clients so that they have the best information possible from their bank to make important decisions. Because of that commitment, I believe our customers really value the relationship with UMB.
What is the best advice you’ve received?
Someone once told me, “never apologize for your priorities,” and this has made a profound impact on me. I’ve always put faith and family first and through the years, have learned that you cannot be your best professionally if it’s costing you the things that you value most. But if you stay committed to your priorities then that will translate into being a better employee and being more productive. It is terrific to work for an organization like UMB that allows me to be my best self at work and at home.
On a personal note, what are you looking forward to most in 2021?
I love to get quality time with my family watching their activities or traveling together in new places. I’m blessed to have two amazing daughters. My first-born Emma is a junior at William Jewell College in Liberty, and she is very passionate about theater and the arts, so it has been fun to be with her on that journey. We’ve been privileged to see her some great roles and it is so cool to see her embrace her talents. My other daughter, Clara, is a junior in high school, plays varsity volleyball, and is very involved with Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) and student council. I am so proud of my girls and am privileged to be their father. As with most people’s plans for 2020, ours were disrupted as well. In 2021, I am looking forward to traveling and spending more time as a family again. My wife and I are very aware that our girls are at an age where there probably won’t be that many vacations in our future with just the four of us. Our girls are forging their own paths, so we are looking forward to getting a few more great family memories in the books.
Outside of work, where can we find you?
I was a distance runner in high school and college and now have transitioned into cycling and today you can often find me out on the Katy Trail and gravel roads of Boone County near Columbia, Mo. It’s a great way to get outside and stay fit and I find it to be a big stress reliever as well.
My other passion is spending time traveling to new places and tasting wine with my wife, Cori. We have discovered that we both share a keen interest in vineyards and the art of winemaking. Fortunately, we have had the privilege to host several of the UMB trips to Napa Valley which has allowed us to build relationships with vineyard owners and explore the world of wine and winemaking. It has been a fun adventure!
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