One of Gary Plemones’ most recent clients at Simmons Bank was seeking advice to make the first big purchase of her life: A bicycle.
The little girl was brought by her grandparents, who explained that if you have money questions, you talk to a trusted banker.
“I sat down with their granddaughter and explained you have to have a goal for something really important to you,” Plemones says. “Sometimes getting something instantaneously is not as fulfilling as working toward it.”
Plemones is speaking from experience. Graduating from the University of Delaware with a bachelor’s in philosohy and Concordia College with a doctorate in philosophy, Plemones began his financial career in 1986 as finance director of Pinegar Chevrolet Inc. in Republic. In 2008, he made the move to Simmons Bank in Marshfield, where he found his passion in banking – including a specialization in business loans. He held a business-banking portfolio of $22.9 million with 378 clients in 2017, up from $14.8 million in 2016.
In this role, Plemones says he gets frequent visits by clients facing a bump in the road for their businesses and needing financial advice to remedy the problems.
“People call me when they have issues or a problem that needs resolved,” Plemones says. “I love what I’m doing because I can help people. That’s why I got into banking.”
Plemones’ community service aims at local organizations where he can volunteer with his wife Amber. Together, they provide marriage and premarital counseling – which he says sometimes includes going through radio host and podcaster Dave Ramsey’s financial courses with young couples. This counseling role, he says, also becomes part of his banking career when he helps couples – new and longtime – with financial issues that could otherwise become divisive in a marriage.
“You don’t know what you don’t know,” he says.
“Financial responsibilities come up that you had no clue you had.”
Plemones says he’s unafraid to tell a client the truth to help them make wise financial decisions based on fact.
“My clients and I work through each situation. We discuss what they can do to improve their situation or structure it differently to benefit them and help them be more successful in the future,” he says. “I feel every loan and investment is equally important – whether it is a thousand dollars or a hundred million. Everyone has worked hard for what they have or dreamed to achieve, and I don’t want to let them down. I will always do my part.”
Sometimes that is helping a teenager get their first auto loan, and other times it is assisting a church take out a commercial loan for a new roof, planning a client’s retirement or assisting a developer to finance a subdivision.
No matter the situation, for Plemones, it’s all about the Golden Rule.
“I’m truly concerned and care about people. I truly care what they’re going through,” he says. “A lot of times people just want to be listened to. They just want someone to talk to. I think it’s just, in general, being available and treating people the way I would want to be treated and being willing to listen.”
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