First Bank Financial Centre: Community is the Driving Force 

First Bank Financial Centre, (FBFC) Wisconsin’s #1 SBA lender, has been helping local businesses start-up and grow since 1859. They position themselves as a community bank, and truly embrace the word “community,” in every aspect of their work. Stacy sat down with Juanita Lopez, a Business Development Officer and SBA Specialist and Tim Schlosser, the Director of Wealth Management Operations, to hear more about FBFC’s connection with the community and how the bank has grown and developed over the past few years.

Talking to both Juanita and Tim, it is clear that growing a culture of community is the driving force behind First Bank Financial Centre’s employee and customer relations. FBFC’s slogan is “One Bank. One Family,” and First Bank Financial Centre staff carry out this philosophy, each and every day. All new employees, whether it’s a teller, a lender, or an executive go through the same orientation, and CEO & President, Mark Mohr, attends these to introduce himself and explain his philosophy. “It’s about culture, you’re on this team because of who you are, not necessarily because of what you know or who you know” says Tim.

Mark Mohr strives to make each and every employee feel as though they are part of a community and a family at First Bank Financial Centre. Mark hand delivers a personalized card to each employee on their work anniversary, no matter which branch that they work out of. He draws pictures with colored pencils and puts a little gift card in the card along with a hand written note.

This kind of inclusive atmosphere, instills pride and encourages positivity. Even though there are 4 main departments at First Bank Financial Centre: retail banking, commercial banking, mortgage, and wealth management, everyone works together to help their customers make smart financial decisions that will ultimately benefit their business or family. From Tim’s perspective: “I’ve never worked for a company, I’ve always been a self-employed, independent contractor, but it’s unbelievable, the people that I now work with. I never have any issues; everyone respects one another. Everyone knows that we’re all a part of the same team, trying to move in the same direction.”

First Bank Financial Centre’s strong team comradery ultimately benefits their clients. “When someone walks into the branch, everyone knows who that person is. ‘How’s your daughter’s basketball team doing? Does your nephew still need help with his Eagle Scout project?’” This focus on building strong relationships with clients, ensures trust in FBFC as their team of financial advisers, and makes clients feel like they are a part of the First Bank Financial Centre family.

80% of First Bank Financial Centre’s employees and 100% of the bank’s management, volunteer their time at some point throughout the year. FBFC logs over 10,000 volunteer hours per year among their 14 branches. This past Saturday, First Bank Financial Centre partnered with the Grafton Senior Center to host Grafton’s 22nd Annual Easter Egg Hunt. This is just one example of the many ways that FBFC interacts with the local community. “Reaching out to community members at events like this, is one of the best ways to make connections and discover news ways that First Bank Financial Centre can help grow the local economy” says Juanita.

Sometimes small community banks are owned by either families or small groups, but First Bank Financial Centre does not have any shareholders that own more than 5%. Because of this, FBFC has been committed to staying independent, which helps them to stand out from their competition. “We definitely do our banking very differently than your typical large corporation. The money deposited with First Bank Financial Centre, is loaned back out to the local community to help grow the local economy” says Juanita. FBFC strives to be a top contributor to a community’s commerce, and to make a difference in that community.

First Bank Financial Centre President and CEO, Mark Mohr, was awarded the Community Banker of the Year Award by the Independent Community Bankers of America because his organization embodies the definition of “community bank” and strives to create a community environment for both its employees and their clients, something that is sometimes lost in the corporate culture. First Bank Financial Centre truly is “One Bank. One Family.”