Meet Ben Franko, Mortgage Lender and Home Loan Expert

Ben Franko, Mortgage Lender at Merchants Bank, and his son

Ben Franko, Mortgage Lender at Merchants Bank, and his son.

Get to know Ben Franko, Mortgage Lender at Merchants Bank in Eau Claire.

When did you start your banking/lending career?

Ben: I’ve been in banking since September 2005. I’ve worked in many positions on the retail side of the bank, such as a personal banker, customer service supervisory, branch manager, mortgage officer and mortgage sales manager. I started with Merchants on June 30, 2017 as a mortgage lender and I’m happy to use my experience in credit and customer service to help people get homes they could afford.

What is your best borrowing/banking tip?

Ben: My top home buying tip is always get pre-approved for a mortgage before you start the home buying or building process. It’s important to understand how the purchase you’re making will affect your budget.

What is something smart borrowers do?

Ben: This ties in with getting pre-approved for your mortgage: be prepared, know how your costs will interact. Just because you can afford a payment on paper, doesn’t mean that’s realistic. It’s a bad idea to stretch your budget; you want to be comfortable making that payment even when unforeseen expenses come up.

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

Ben: One of the things I was taught from a young age is you work very hard for your money, so spend and save wisely. It’s always good to avoid making impulse purchases. Picture your dream home.

What is your favorite room in your house and why?

Ben: I’m very fortunate to have my dream home, and my favorite room is my kitchen/sunroom. I love being in the kitchen cooking and entertaining. It was the most important feature when we were looking, so when we walked in we knew immediately we were home.

If you had $1,875,000, what is one FUN thing you’d do with the money?

Ben: I would go back to Europe and spend most of my time in Belgium and Holland where my family is from.

Arlene Schwerzler Joins Merchants Bank in Red Wing as a Mortgage Lender

Arlene Schwerzler, Mortgage Lender

Arlene Schwerzler has joined Merchants Bank in Red Wing as a Vice President and Mortgage Lender, according to Mike Grove, President of Merchants Bank in Red Wing.

Schwerzler is a familiar name and face to the Merchants Bank employees and many customers in Red Wing. As a long-time mortgage lender at Merchants Bank in Winona, Schwerzler served many customers in Red Wing.

“Many of my customers already live in Red Wing, and I’m lucky to have a strong referral network,” Schwerzler said. “I look forward to being in Red Wing every day and taking care of mortgages for my customers, the people referred to me and many new customers from start to finish.”

Schwerzler has been in banking for more than 30 years. She started as a Mortgage Lender at Merchants Bank in Winona in 1998 and also spent a short amount of time at Merchants Bank in Rochester. She has a loyal following.

“Certainly, Arlene has a great amount of experience and that helps to serve her customers, but what makes her stand apart from other lenders is her willingness to go the extra mile and to be there whenever her customers have questions,” Grove said. “Buying a home can be stressful, but Arlene takes that stress away.”

Merchants Bank offer a full-range of home mortgage products and is well known as a leader in the mortgage industry because of its commitment to integrity and service to its customers, making sure they are taken care of throughout the process. Another of Merchants Bank’s strengths is that it services its loans, which means that questions are answered by a Merchants Bank employee who lives in the area. Currently, Merchants Bank services more than $2.6 billion in home mortgage loans.

Merchants Bank has 21 locations, including Minnesota locations in Red Wing, Cannon Falls, Hampton, Winona, St. Charles, Goodview, Rochester, Caledonia, La Crescent, Spring Grove, Rushford, Lanesboro, 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. Loans are subject to approval. Merchants Bank Equipment Finance, the company’s leasing arm, is based in the Twin Cities.

Ben Franko Joins Merchants Bank in Eau Claire as a Mortgage Lender

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Ben Franko, Mortgage Lender

Ben Franko has joined Merchants Bank in Eau Claire as a Mortgage Lender and Assistant Vice President, according to Larry Accola, President for Merchants Bank in Eau Claire.

“We’re excited to add Ben to our team. His knowledge and passion for our community, the Chippewa Valley and mortgage lending will make the experience easy for customers as he guides them through the mortgage loan process from start to finish and helps get them into the right home,” Accola said.

Franko has been serving customers throughout the area in a number of roles over the past 13 years, including more than nine years in mortgage lending, most recently with Wells Fargo.

“I believe the most important part of banking is the relationship between a banker and customer,” Franko said. “And the best place for a customer to develop that sort of relationship is in a true community bank like Merchants, where it’s clear the Bank puts its customers’ best interests at the forefront of what it does each and every day.”

One of Merchants Bank’s strengths is that it services its loans, which means that questions are answered by a Merchants Bank employee who lives in the area. Currently, Merchants Bank services more than $2.5 billion in mortgage loans.

A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Franko has been involved in the community and currently serves as President for the Community Table Board of Directors. Franko and his wife, Sonja, have a son, George, and a daughter, Madeline.

Merchants Bank has 21 locations, including its location in Eau Claire and another Wisconsin location in Onalaska. Minnesota locations include Winona, St. Charles, Caledonia, Spring Grove, Rochester, Rushford, Lanesboro, La Crescent, Cannon Falls, Red Wing, Hampton, and the southern Twin Cities metropolitan suburbs of Apple Valley, Cottage Grove, Hastings, Lakeville and Rosemount. All banks are FDIC members and equal housing lenders. Loans are subject to approval. Twin Cities-based Merchants Bank Equipment Finance is also a division of Merchants Bank, N.A.

Susan Clark is Now a Mortgage Lender at Merchants Bank

 

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Susan Clark, Mortgage Lender

Susan Clark is now helping customers in her role as Mortgage Lender at Merchants Bank in Winona, according to Sue Hovell, Director of Retail Banking Performance.

“Given her background, knowledge of the Winona market and her desire to provide customers with guidance and walk them the mortgage process from start to finish, we know Susan is an important addition to our growing Winona mortgage team,” Hovell said.

Clark has been serving Merchants Bank customers in a number of roles since 2003 and has been a Winona resident for most of her life. Her background includes finance, lending, and bank compliance. She is certified as an American Bankers Association Residential Mortgage Lender.

“With the wide variety of home financing options available and what seems like a mountain of paperwork before you start, it can be intimidating to know where to begin,” Clark said. “I can help, and look forward to making the process as clear and stress-free as possible for our customers. I truly want to be there every step of the way.”

Clark points out that her experience as part of their family business allows her to understand the complexities self-employment can create when applying for a home mortgage. Clark volunteers her time throughout the community in support of area schools as well as many non-profit organizations.