Cindy Adolph Receives Promotion to Lead Risk Initiative at Merchants Bank

Cindy Adolph

Cindy Adolph, Risk, Compliance and Audit Manager

Merchants Bank Vice President Cindy Adolph will take on new responsibilities to help Merchants analyze, report and manage risk, according to Merchants Bank Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Sue Savat.

“Addressing and mitigating risk is one of the most important challenges facing banking today and in the coming years,” Savat said. “Cindy has been leading our efforts to date in this important field. Formalizing and focusing her energies will add an even sharper point to this significant area.”

Adolph will now be the Risk, Compliance and Audit Manager for the Merchants organization. In her new role, Adolph will be responsible for the leadership, innovation, governance and management necessary to identify, evaluate, mitigate and monitor all of the company’s risk components.

“It’s important for us to take the necessary steps to ensure we are aggressively addressing risk, so we can continue to keep our customer and bank information secure,” Adolph said. “Given technology, it’s a role that will continue to increase in importance.”

Adolph joined the Merchants organization in 2007 with the acquisition of The First National Bank in Cannon Falls, where she had been working since 2002. Prior to that, she worked for 21 years at Goodhue County National Bank.

Merchants Financial Group, Inc. Posts Second Quarter Earnings Ahead of Plan

Rod Nelson, President/CEO

Rod Nelson, President/CEO

Merchants Financial Group, Inc. (MFGI) posted earnings of $6,275,265 through the first half of 2015, more than $960,000 ahead of its plan, according to Merchants Financial Group, Inc. President & CEO Rodney R. Nelson.

“It’s again been a team effort and a team accomplishment,” Nelson said. “Specifically, the performance was driven by good commercial loan volume, mortgage loans that exceeded our expectations and continued excellence in credit quality.”

Nelson noted that the banking industry continues to evolve, and the Merchants Bank organization is continuing to enhance what it offers, especially in the areas of bank security and e-channel delivery, to ensure customer expectations are being met.

“As I look forward to the remainder of the year, I am anticipating we will continue to meet and exceed our goals,” Nelson said.

MFGI owns 21 Merchants Bank locations, including Minnesota locations in Winona, St. Charles, Goodview, Rochester, Rushford, Lanesboro, Caledonia, La Crescent, Spring Grove, Cannon Falls, Red Wing, Hampton, and the southern Twin Cities metropolitan suburbs of Apple Valley, Cottage Grove, Hastings, Lakeville and Rosemount. Merchants has Wisconsin locations in Eau Claire and Onalaska. Merchants Bank was founded in 1875 and is celebrating its 140th anniversary this year. All banks are FDIC members and equal housing lenders. Merchants Capital, the company’s leasing arm, is based in the Twin Cities.

Merchants Bank has more than 440 employees, many of whom give significant volunteer time to organizations in their communities. Additionally, during 2014, Merchants Bank made charitable donations to nearly 300 organizations. The ownership of Merchants Financial Group is made up of its employees and mostly individuals and families from southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin.

Merchants Bank Mortgage Lender Arlene Schwerzler Recognized in “Independent Banker” Magazine

Arlene Schwerzler, Mortgage Lender at Merchants Bank

Arlene Schwerzler, Mortgage Lender at Merchants Bank

Merchants Bank Mortgage Lender Arlene Schwerzler has been recognized in the July issue of “Independent Banker” magazine as an outstanding community banker.

The magazine, a publication of the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA), recognized six community bankers from around the country.

“It’s important to me to work with my customers from the beginning of the process to the end, so they understand the advantages of being smart borrowers. I take pride in educating my customers. I want them to understand why good credit is important and how mortgage pre-approval can benefit them, among other things,” Schwerzler said. “The recognition in the magazine is nice, but it’s really just a bonus for doing what I really like to do.”

Schwerzler is the top mortgage producer for the Merchants organization in total number of loans, with more than 1,025 in the past three years. Schwerzler has been with Merchants for more than 17 years and has consistently been a top producer.

“Arlene is so good at what she does because she understands and can communicate the technical side of a mortgage and also helps people through the emotional side of the process,” said Sue Hovell, Schwerzler’s supervisor and a Senior Vice President at Merchants. “The real testament to her commitment to helping her customers is that most of her business comes from referrals.”

Larry Accola Appointed President at Merchants Bank in Eau Claire

Merchants Bank Eau Claire

Larry Accola, President of Merchants Bank in Eau Claire

Larry Accola has been appointed President of Merchants Bank in Eau Claire, according to Merchants Financial Group President and Chief Executive Officer Rod Nelson.

“We believe Larry is a great addition to our team in Eau Claire,” Nelson said. “He knows the market and the people of the region and is the perfect choice to help us continue to build our brand in the Chippewa Valley.”

Accola has more than 25 years of experience in the Eau Claire market, including more than 20 years at Royal Credit Union, where he served as the Senior Vice President of Business Loans and Services.

“Merchants Bank has a tremendous reputation as a community banking leader throughout southeastern Minnesota and west-central of Wisconsin. It is a perfect fit for the values and financial needs of the people and businesses in our area,” Accola said. “I look forward to sharing the Merchants’ story.”

Accola has a long history of community involvement, including the Eau Claire Economic Development Corporation, Eau Claire Noon Kiwanis, Eau Claire County Industrial Development Agency, Eau Claire City Revolving Loan Fund, Eau Claire Near Equity Loan Fund, Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce, Chippewa County Economic Development Corporation, Chippewa Falls Chamber of Commerce and the Eau Claire Downtown Business Improvement District.

John Doepke Joins Merchants Bank as Network Infrastructure Administrator

John Doepke

John Doepke, Network Infrastructure Administrator

John Doepke has joined Merchants Bank as a Network Infrastructure Administrator, according to Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer Rodney Nelsestuen.

“We are excited to have someone with John’s skill and experience join our team,” Nelsestuen said. “He will have a great deal of responsibility in maintaining and enhancing our information technology infrastructure.”

Doepke will be responsible for assisting in the management, administration, operation, security and maintenance of Merchants Bank’s internal server-based support systems and services.

“I look forward to the responsibility and the opportunity to serve Merchants Bank’s customers,” Doepke said.

A native of central Wisconsin, Doepke has been in the IT field for 15 years, including the past six years at Winona National Bank, where he served as a Network Manager.

Meet Kerri Bronk, Senior Operations/eChannel Officer at Merchants

Kerri speaking in Spring Grove about fraud

Kerri speaking in Spring Grove about fraud.

When did you start your career in banking?

Kerri: In November of 1996, I started as a teller at the Merchants Bank location in Goodview. A few years later, I moved to the Operations Department and I’ve been here ever since.

What’s one thing someone can do right now to protect their personal information?

Kerri: Think about where you are storing your personal information. For example, do you know where your birth certificate is or your Social Security card? You should keep paper items somewhere safe and accessible, like a safe deposit box – not in your purse or wallet.

Are there any websites where you’ve used the “save password” option? If so, this could make it easier for fraudsters to figure out your password for other sites. If there are websites you don’t use any more, go out and delete personal information that is saved or stored with that website.

What’s your biggest tip for preventing fraud?

Kerri: Know who you are providing your information to and question if sharing personal information is necessary in every circumstance. For example, a form at a business might ask for your Social Security Number. Is it necessary for you to give them the information or is it on file? Ask. Many times a Social Security Number isn’t required – it is just habit to have on the form for the business.

It’s always important to question if a situation seems too good to be true. If people listened to their gut more often, many of them wouldn’t be facing fraud issues on their account. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

What’s one thing your mom or dad taught you about money?

Kerri: When I was a little kid, I sold produce. I would ask my dad if I should sell something for two “bucks” and he would always tell me that money was not called “bucks” they’re “dollars.” He would say “bucks are deer, not dollars.”

If you won the Powerball, what’s the first thing you would do?

Kerri: I would set up a foundation so that I could continue to do good after I’m gone.

Besides money, what’s your favorite green thing?

Kerri: Flowers and produce. I grew up in the garden.

Has being the Security Officer at Merchants affected your life outside of work?

Kerri: My friends tease me all the time about being the “Security Officer.” I’m always thinking about the risks of a possible situation. I am always aware of my surroundings – making sure people see me when I walk outside, being aware of emergency exits in a building, using caution when giving out my personal information and posting on social media. I also think about how I respond to emails…if I don’t know the sender should I delete the email or risk getting a virus or being scammed? I think it is important to be in aware of and in control of your situation.

Traci Stier Promoted to Item Processing Officer at Merchants Bank

Traci Stier, Item Processing Officer

Traci Stier, Item Processing Officer

Traci Stier has been promoted to Item Processing Officer at Merchants Bank, according to Kerri Bronk, Vice President and Senior Operations Officer.

“Traci has shown leadership, especially in our most recent bank conversions following acquisitions,” Bronk said. “Traci and her team work with many departments in the Bank and have a daily impact on helping our customers because of the number of checks that process through their area.”

Stier manages all the aspects of Merchants Bank’s ability to accept checks and remote deposit capture files, including setup, testing and the coordination of all the pieces that allow Merchants Bank to accept payments. Stier has been with the Merchants organization for the past 15 years and noted that changes in technology, especially over the past few years, provide for faster responses for customers in processing their items.

“I enjoy and welcome the opportunities I have to assist any customers – both internal and external, to build relationships with people and earn their trust because they know I will take care of their needs,” Stier said.