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“Community banks make people the centerpiece of our strategy”

David Keller is the President of The Bank of Missouri

Interview by Kelsey Meyer of The League of Innovators

David Keller is the Community Bank President at The Bank of Missouri.  The Bank of Missouri is an independent community bank with locations in eight cities throughout Missouri. The Bank of Missouri is the oldest and most firmly established bank in its primary area, and has built a reputation of being consistently conservative and sound.  They pride themselves on their service, and specialty in small business.  David Keller is also the Chairman at the Innovation Center and has been an entrepreneur himself.  It is this extensive experience in lending to entrepreneurs, investing in entrepreneurs, and being an entrepreneur that makes David a great resource for entrepreneurship.

How do your roles as the President of The Bank of Missouri and your role as the Chairman at the Innovation Center compliment each other?

Obviously, both roles require me to be on my game as it relates to public relations. As the Chairman of the Board of the Innovation Center, it’s extremely important that I represent the Board and act as a liaison between the University of Missouri and innovators.

At The Bank of Missouri, my role is to provide a vision for the bank and for the Innovation Center. Serving on the Board of the Innovation Center is really a delight because it helps me balance between being a lender and an investor. I’m able to deal firsthand with entrepreneurs and see what their needs are, and also, size it up as a banker as to how banks can best serve entrepreneurs.

What is the biggest advantage of banking with an independent community bank, such as The Bank of Missouri?

Community banks make people the centerpiece of our strategy. Service is our mantra.  Regional national banks just don’t have the service equation that community banks have to provide. We strive for real fan loyalty. That’s really deep loyalty. I’m talking about like MU tiger fan loyalty. To do that, we greet every customer at the door. We answer every phone call. We greet everybody that walks in the door. We’re involved with our customers. I think one thing that’s really made a difference in our bank is that we have what we call our “two deep policy.” When you’re a customer at this bank, you have a relationship with not just one banker. We make sure you know at least two bankers, so that we can answer your phone call when you have a need on your time.

What should small business owners look for when deciding whom to bank with?

First off, as a small business owner, selecting your bank is a huge, important first decision in determining your success. Believe me, not all banks are made alike. So if you’re a small business owner, obviously, you’re going to be seeking capital. You’re going to be looking for a loan. At The Bank of Missouri, we strive to be the best lender under the SBA program. The SBA program, as a preferred lender, offers the greatest access to capital for a small business owner.

After you determine that the bank is a PLP lender, then you’ve got to match up with a loan officer that has the same values and vision that you do. To do that, you’ve really got to go to several banks. You’ve got to interview the loan officer. You’ve got to determine that it’s a right match for you.

What have you done to differentiate the bank experience at The Bank of Missouri from the rest of the banking industry?

The branch experience, in most banks, wouldn’t be considered to be a social experience. In fact, the statistics show, just this last year, that over 51% would prefer to bank via the Internet, no face-to-face transaction. In that same vein, when it boils down to how many people come into the bank, only about 29% of bank customers actually enter the branch during the course of a year.

At The Bank of Missouri, it is extremely important that we provide a social experience. From the time that you walk in the door, we want you to be greeted. We want you to feel like you’re welcome. We want you to know the people that you’re coming to see. We want you to have news to share. We want to make sure that we understand your needs and that of your family. That social experience is extremely important for both the client and our bank.

Bank of Missouri

Why do you enjoy helping small business owners with their banking needs?

It’s fun. I’m an entrepreneur myself. I’ve started several small businesses besides just being a banker. I think that’s really important because banker’s judgment skills require the bank to be repaid 99.9 cents of every dollar that they loan. If you’ve never been on the risk side before you’ve been a banker, then you really don’t understand the plight of small business owners.

At The Bank of Missouri, we have a great deal of fun networking with our small business owners. We get to know their families. We share in the successes that come along with being in small business. If we really get it right, what we end up doing is that we’re not only a banker to your business, but we’re the banker for your family. When that happens, we know that we’ve been successful.

Can you tell us about your private banking for professionals?

Boy, that’s really where we shine. When we first opened this bank about five years ago, we knew that the competition was really stiff in Columbia. There are lots of really great banks in our town. We knew that we had to have a bank that offered the best professional and business banking services of all the other competition. We used the right blend of high-touch/high-tech to serve our customers. We provide an innovative experience. We go beyond the normal role to service professionals that come into our community.

A good example, it happens all the time in transitioning families is that there’s a trailing spouse. We make it our responsibility to help the trailing spouse, if they need our help, to find employment. Social activities, I remember one instance in particular, we had a trailing spouse of a university executive that loved tennis. We found her a tennis partner. We find and provide help with school searches. We do everything that’s necessary on the professional side to make private banking a real experience.

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