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Citizens State Bank

Review sheds light on bank's decision-making


By Jason Winter
Citizens State Bank President

A few months ago, I was checking the Internet when a Google review popped up about the bank. It was from a non-customer about how the bank helped his daughter.

The review reads as follows, "The only bank willing to help my daughter process her 'Penny War' donations. We called or stopped at 5 banks before finding you. You answered your phone (which is rare) and did not try to take a percentage of the donations. You were incredibly kind and helpful to my daughter even though she did not have an account with you. She will be back soon to open an account! Thanks again for your amazing customer service!"

This review sums up why I love this bank. While the bank typically charges a fee to non-customers to use our coin machine, it doesn't surprise me our employees did the right thing helping this young girl.

That's the same culture that I sought in an employer.

After graduating college with a finance degree, I was ready to start my career in banking. My first job search upended those plans when I narrowed the choice to two positions: a consumer loan officer for a regional bank or a mortgage loan officer for a subprime mortgage company. The latter promised a pay rate that was more than double what the bank offered. It was not the path I was planning, but the pay lured me in. I spent the next 90 days in the subprime mortgage company’s training program, where they taught all about mortgages, but mostly how to sell their terrible mortgage loan products by basically duping people. My conscience wouldn’t let me do it. All along I dreaded my decision and I ended up leaving the company without completing the training.

I then took what I learned and started my career as a mortgage broker, but I took the opposite approach of the subprime lender. My goal was to teach my customers about mortgage financing by taking the time to explain the ins and outs of credit scoring, loan terms, rates, fees, APR, etc. I’d then encourage customers to take that knowledge and compare my quote to someone else. My customers appreciated my honesty and openness about the process and business was good.

The long hours and weekends that it took to do that job well ended up taking its toll on me. When our second child was born in 2008, my wife, Marissa, and I knew it was time for a change. I made the move that I wished I had done years before and was hired as a Financial Services Officer at Citizens. Bank leadership had faith in me that I could transition the knowledge and skill set I’d learned from residential lending into ag and commercial lending. From day one, I knew the move was the right decision.

I’m fortunate to follow Perry Forst as the bank’s president. He has been a great mentor for the last 13 years and likely into the future. The majority of my banking acumen comes from working alongside him on a daily basis along with three years at The Graduate School of Banking.

I love working at Citizens. You know the culture at the bank is good when you look around and see many of the employees have 10 years, 20 years, or 30+ years at the bank. It’s my hope that I can simply take what Perry has built and the legacy he’s leaving and continue down that same path.

As the review above indicates, what has been built here is different from the rest. That's on purpose. If you haven't already, check us out.