You’re retiring after a 43-year career in banking. What’s your takeaway?
The best thing about this whole gig and getting to be a community banker was getting to help people get what they need and what they want, to be able to see them succeed and live their lives. It’s obviously a people business and that’s what I have found to be so interesting and rewarding. I’ve seen a lot of their milestone moments, buying a car, starting a family. I was getting a little sentimental in the last little while and I got to thinking, I can count on more than one hand the families I’ve dealt with four generations of that family. It’s quite a privilege.
In October 2016, OakStar Bank closed on the purchase of Bank of Urbana, ending four generation of your family’s ownership. Was that bittersweet?
Yes and no. It was when I realized there wasn’t anybody in the family who had an interest in the bank and banking. Then it wasn’t quite so hard because it’s been a great run for us. Thinking back, 113- almost 114-years is kind of a long time.
What concerns you most about the current state of banking?
The amount of regulations on smaller institutions. It gets to be quite the burden. If we don’t get some relief, we are going to see more small banks going away because it just gets to be too much. Just to keep up with them, we were having to hire more and more people who didn’t even have customer contact.
Many of the regulations weren’t all that fitting to us; they seemed to do a one-size-fits-all regulation. What fits for Bank of America isn’t quite so apropos for the Bank of Urbana.
They need to look into that a little bit more to determine where the risk is to the economy, where the risks are to the insurance fund and things like that. Then, as a result, tailor regulations to that.
Where is there the most room for opportunity?
Technology is driving a lot of things right now in our industry. I think while we are very strong in the commercial side of the business, with OakStar, we got some growth in the consumer side that will come about. Overall, I think our economy is going to come out and be pretty strong, not that we won’t have a bump or two along the way, but all segments are ripe for growth.
Speaking of tech, do you ever think you’d see something like Apple Pay?
No, we would have never thought that was possible. When I started at the bank, my uncle handed me a folder – and it was a thin folder – that had to do with the automated clearinghouse system that was beginning and direct deposit. That was where the future of banking was going. Now, it’s just exploded from there in all the different channels we have available to conduct banking, whether it’s in person or from your watch. People don’t get paper checks anymore, but if you do, you can take your smartphone and deposit it directly into your account.
You’re being inducted into Drury University’s Breech School of Business Administration Hall of Fame on Feb. 10 and a retirement celebration is slated Feb. 23. What’s next on your agenda?
It’s going to be a big month and I also turn 65. For Drury, it’s exciting, but also humbling to be considered for that and chosen. There are some really successful and good people who have been giants of the industry that I will be sharing this honor with. I will be at OakStar full time until Feb. 28. We hope to do some traveling, and our daughter is having twins in April.
Bill Vaughan is an advisory director with OakStar Bank. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.