Making a ‘significant contribution’Published 9:13am Thursday, December 20, 2012
The president and CEO of Farmers State Bank was named Outstanding Woman in Banking by a banking trade magazine last month.
Nancy Skophammer was among five woman who appeared on the cover of the Nov. 15 edition of NorthWestern Financial Review, a twice-a-month publication that reaches 2,000 banks in 14 Upper Midwestern states. The award is given to a selection of women once a year and has been a tradition of the magazine since 1988.
“We are trying to recognize people who might not otherwise be recognized,” said Tom Bengtson, editor and publisher.
The women are nominated by the readers of the publication.
The criteria for the honor, he said, call for making a “significant contribution to the banking industry” in addition to being involved in a local bank and local community.
Skophammer served as chairwoman of the board for the Independent Community Bankers of Minnesota, the first woman to hold that spot in 50 years. She also was on the committee for rural banks with the Independent Community Bankers of America, but now she is on the political action committee and goes twice a year to Washington for ICBA meetings.
The magazine penned an article about how Skophammer transitioned from a successful career as a psychologist in the Twin Cities to take over the job of running the bank her father owned.
Joseph Skophammer was hired in 1929 at the Farmers State Bank in Hartland as a cashier. He bought out the shareholders over the course of 58 years, gaining control in 1987.
Here is an excerpt from the story:
“Skophammer, who was well into a career as a psychologist, joined the bank’s board in 1984. In addition to her childhood experience, she brought to the board her experience with Marquette Bank in Minneapolis, where she had been a personal banker.
But in 1994 she made a change. Her father was chairman of the bank, and he was 89 years old. After an exam a regulator approached her about succession at the bank. ‘He suggested to me that I needed to help my father let go and sell the bank, or have a family member come on,’ Skophammer explained. The problem was that Skophammer’s sisters were pursuing careers elsewhere and her father didn’t want her to give up her life in the Twin Cities.
“Fortunately, Skophammer had been on the board for 10 years and wanted to move on from her career as a psychologist. ‘I was ready to make a change,’ she said.
“She began working full time at the bank in 1994. She worked as a teller and became involved with marketing and human resources, oversaw an addition to the Hartland office in 1996, and the purchase of a branch in Freeborn in 1999. While she never had any lending responsibilities, she completed the Graduate School of Banking in Madison, Wis., in 1997 and continued her responsibilities as a director.
“Then, in 2000, her father — chairman of the bank at age 94 — passed away. Skophammer became chief executive officer joining Gary Hansen who had been president and head of lending since 2000. Then three months later, Hansen was killed in a snowmobile accident. In just 90 days, the bank lost two of five directors, leaving only those who were not lenders to guide the bank. Two weeks later, the regulators came for an exam. ‘They were pretty worried,’ Skophammer said. But they never did anything formal. They were seasoned regulators who were great to work with and were encouraging and supportive.’”
Skophammer said Wednesday that she was honored to receive the award and credited the team-oriented nature of the Farmers State Bank employees.
“They are wonderful at customer service,” she said.
She said the bank has done well in difficult times, like many independent banks, by not making risky moves that could threaten their customers’ trust.
The bank purchased the Freeborn branch in 1999 and established an Albert Lea branch in 2004. The Albert Lea location is now the bank’s largest.
The original chartered bank in Hartland turned 100 years old last February and celebrated its 100th anniversary in mid-June with a big tent gathering that attracted 1,000 people.
Skophammer said customers see many women in banking because they are tellers, loan officers and in other roles the public sees, but they are uncommon in management and upper management, which she said is about 98 percent men.
The other women honored by the NorthWestern Financial Review were:
• Doris Loen, First Security Bank/Amundson Group, Benson
• Mary Sulser, Buena Vista National Bank, Chester, Ill.
• Julie Causey, Western Bank, St. Paul
• Jennifer Sobotta, Forward Financial Bank, Marshfield, Wis.