Shannon Spahr of Merchants Bank Successfully Completes CPA Exams

Shannon Spahr

Shannon Spahr

Merchants Bank Finance Specialist Shannon Spahr has passed her Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exams.

“The CPA exams are difficult, and Shannon’s ability to pass those exams while working full time for us reflects not only her ability, but also her focus on meeting a significant goal that moves her career ahead and helps move us ahead as an organization,” said Sue Savat, Chief Financial Officer for Merchants Bank. “We’re happy for her and proud of her accomplishment.”

Spahr said she recognizes the investment of her time and energy is paying dividends for her career. Spahr has been with Merchants since September of 2010 and has recently moved into her role as a Finance Specialist. Spahr said the four CPA exams each take three and a half to four hours, and the passing rate for each of those exams is 45%-50%.

“I believe that hard work, maintaining a positive attitude and support from family and co-workers all contributed to me passing the exams,” Spahr said. “I’m very grateful to have the chance to work under Sue’s direction here and look forward to learning more.”

Spahr is a graduate of Winona Senior High School, Winona State University, where she received an Accounting degree, and Stetson University, where she received her Master’s in Accountancy.

“I’ve always valued furthering my education. It provides me with a great foundation. The book knowledge is important, but I feel I’ll be able to learn the most from my co-workers,” Spahr said.

Mortgage Operations Leader Completes Advanced Degree

WINONA, Minn. – Robert Dougherty, Vice President of Mortgage Operations at Merchants Bank, has completed his MBA at Concordia University in St. Paul.

Dougherty leads the mortgage operations area at Merchants Bank, which supports and processes mortgage loans for Merchants’ 18 locations, as well as 210 other community banks and credit unions across five states that make up the correspondent mortgage banking network that Merchants Bank serves.

“I think that through the MBA experience I better developed the ability to understand issues and opportunities holistically through areas of expertise like risk assessment, cost-benefit analysis and strategic planning,” said Dougherty, who has supervisory responsibilities for nearly 50 employees. “That should benefit my co-workers, and, in turn, our customers.”

Dougherty has been with the Merchants organization for two years and has nearly two decades of mortgage experience.

Merchants Bank’s Jeff Carter Graduates from Graduate School of Banking in Colorado


Jeff Carter

BOULDER, COLO. – Jeff Carter, Vice President and Business Banker at Merchants Bank in Cottage Grove, recently graduated from the Graduate School of Banking at Colorado (GSBC), a 25-month banking school which provides senior management and leadership education for community-banking professionals. Carter was among 164 graduates of the 63rd Annual School Session, hosted July 14-26 on the campus of the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colo.

GSBC students are recognized by their bank’s executive team as rising stars in their organizations, and as graduates, often continue to become leaders in their respective organizations.

“Completing the coursework and projects associated with the Graduate School of Banking at Colorado is a great accomplishment for community bankers around the country,” said GSBC President Tim Koch.

Graduates receive a diploma upon successfully completing six weeks of classroom training which focuses on the areas of general management, lending, leadership and human-resource management and financial management. Requirements for graduation also include comprehensive examinations, intercessions research projects and participation in a bank-management simulation course designed to provide the student with experience managing a bank.

Merchants Bank Business Bankers Complete Training that Promotes Greater Flexibility in Making Loan Decisions

HarrisonCindyWINONA, Minn. – Business bankers throughout the entire Merchants Bank organization completed online training and an intensive three-day workshop designed as a comprehensive analysis process on extending credit to small business borrowers.

“Omega training allows our bankers to better understand the credit needs of small business borrowers and better serve them,” said Senior Vice President and Credit Administration Manager Cindy Harrison.

The Omega Training program teaches bankers to better consider the business and related personal factors that impact creditworthiness and the ability to repay.

“Specifically as it relates to small business, the training helps us to consider other factors than just the balance sheet when it comes to making a loan,” Harrison said. “This makes the loan experience more personal for the customer and the banker, and that’s what community banking is all about.”

Merchants stock is closely held, but is available to the public when shares become available. There are approximately 400 shareholders, mostly individuals and families from southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin. Merchants also has an Employee Stock Ownership Program (ESOP).

Read about this and other news at Merchants by visiting our website.