Find a Bankable Banker who Got Ethics!

Avoid the 2-Faced Bank


A capitalist society like ours demands effective financial decision making by individuals, families, and small businesses. Our economy cannot function without a banking system either. Therefore, we all need a reliable banking relationship for our planned progress. The recent history has eroded the public trust of the banking sector forcing us to question the reputation of banks.  This brings us to the dilemma of selecting a strategic banking relationship with a financial services institution that is mindful of its social responsibility.


The World Economic Forum has identified the criterion for what makes a socially responsible bank that would be an effective partner in the economic progress of any society. These Criterions are:

  1. Governance: In the purest form, Governance requires the balancing of individual, organizational and societal interest with the goal of sustained progress. 
  2. Regulatory Compliance: Self governance in the collective leads to relaxing of regulation.  Regulation is nothing but a “break system” when the movement is in a dangerous direction. Just like a car needs breaks so do commercial activity impacting society.  Complying with existing regulation and self governing allows for easing of the regulation and avoiding new regulations so that commerce can thrive.
  3. Client Advocacy: Focusing on the needs and wants of clients to drive economic progress one individual or business at a time is the ultimate purpose of any bank. By fulfilling this purpose, a bank becomes vital to the economic development of a community thus earning sustained competitive advantage.
  4. Social Responsibility: Banks needs to have a mutually beneficial relationship with its client base as well as underlying society to be viable. This is also the socially responsible way to perform the banking function.  Lack of social responsibility is akin to being a parasite upon society; a relationship that ultimately destroys the parasite upon the demise of the host. 
  5. Fair Compensation: Perception of clients is the reality for any organization and banks are no exception.  Therefore, it is imperative to actively listen to the voice of clients and not be gouging profits.  


When you find a bank that embodies these five critical factors, you know that you have struck GOLD! This is not easy to come by, in the world we live in today.  “Got Ethics?” is not a question we overtly ask a banker; we must discern it through continued interaction as part of the relationship building process.  Know what a bank values:

  1. Banks value time of length of relationships
  2. Banks value types of relationships
  3. Banks value locations of relationships in conjunction with local branches
  4. Banks value history of relationships
  5. Banks value other banking relationships

Then, build a relationship with a socially responsible bank meeting the criterion listed above such that the bank knows what you value. Good banks know that you are more than just a customer who is looking for transactional services; they will build a client relationship to enable mutual transformation where both parties in that relationship emerge better than the state they entered that relationship.


In our local community, we have the opportunity to select from an array of global, national and local banks.  A local banker embodying the criterion we have explored is Mike Daniele of First Midwest Bank. Under the proven track record of “We Focus on YOU” value proposition this bank is known to uphold:

  • Commitment
  • Character
  • Client Focus
  • Community

Mike Daniele of First Midwest Bank embraces the client relationship by transcending the transactional customer relationship as I have learned firsthand.  Offering a plethora of services across our local community, Mike Daniele serves our market place with Personal Banking, Business Banking and Wealth Management needs as a trusted banker. 


In selecting your banker and trusted financial risk advisor, here is a road map to follow:

  1. Do your homework and get to know the banks in your community
  2. Make sure your short list of banks meet the socially responsible financial institution criterion
  3. Explore and determine if the bank’s mission statement is consistent with how it functions in your community-Avoid two faced banks that say one thing and do another
  4. Find a banker who will listen to your “voice” and serve you, within the bank that that meets your standards
  5. Think of your banker as your Treasurer, a strategic partner to help mitigate financial risk
  6. Look for a deal maker not a deal breaker, someone who will guide you right
  7. Look for someone who understands relationship management and keep you in focus
  8. Look for business experience
  9. Look for someone you would be able to brain storm with and build a personal connection
  10. Don't assume you need a big bank; you just need a trusted bank


**Do share your thoughts and lessons learned on selecting a trusted banker so that we can all learn from each other’s experience.  By collaborating we can work in tandem to grow our economic viability, building financially stable families and local communities. I look forward to an engaging discussion! **

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Mike LaComb August 28, 2012 at 08:09 PM
Excellent article Dr Kas, couldn't agree more with building a relationship with a bank, especially for businesses. As a relationship grows with a banker you will find he has a little more insight to your personal needs and will help guide you in the right direction when making every day or life changing decisions. As for large or small I tend to lean towards the smaller community bank because I have seen to much shuffling between positions and locations at the larger corporate banks!
Dr.Kas - Tips for Financial Health August 28, 2012 at 08:13 PM
Thanks Mike. Here is a good reason why most folks are leery of big banks! “The head of compliance at HSBC has resigned from his position and apologized after a US senate investigation found that Mexican drug cartels laundered billions of dollars through its US division.” Read http://en-maktoob.news.yahoo.com/hsbc-apologise-money-laundering-144951257.html for the details.
Mike Daniele August 28, 2012 at 08:38 PM
Yes, I read that article last month. Thank you for the kind words. Honestly, it troubles me to think that some other banks (and their employees) don't keep the client's best interest as the focus and priority. All I do is do what I think is right for people. Sad to think that is such a rarity in the industry nowadays. To respond to Mr. Lacomb, you will see some level of shuffling in all banks, big and small. Good employees are promoted and their hard work is rewarded. When your favorite banker is no longer at your preferred location, is it because of a promotion or turnover to a competitor? There is a significant difference between the two. Personally, I value a company who promotes from within and appreciates it's staff.
Steve Smith August 28, 2012 at 08:41 PM
Great Article Dr. Kas. It is so important to have a relationship with your banker. I personally have been with mine for 21yrs. It helps with everything from simple questions on your statement to SMB business loans. I just sent my first son to college and my banker was a great help in getting the necessary funding. As you highlighted do your homework, know who you trust your money with and they will always do right by you.
Dr.Jeff Moore, DC August 28, 2012 at 09:57 PM
I am astounded Dr Kas of the complexity of our banking system and money supply. I am grateful that people like you and Mike Daniele can explain all that to those of us who would otherwise be pray to unscrupulous individuals. Its people like the two of you that I trust to have a customers best interest at heart.
Peter Luchsinger August 28, 2012 at 10:51 PM
A banker is a person and if you can know, like and trust them it is a good thing. The news and events of the last few years (Have you seen the video "Inside Job"?) makes me question the banking industry's world level leaders.
Timothy Fraser August 28, 2012 at 11:39 PM
I often will tell my prospective clients that my services ( wealth management) are like a QB of a football team. A focal point where all financial plans are created and implimented, all decisions go through the QB. A great banker can serve that roll as well, helping a client make important financial decisions and leading them in the right direction. Mike Daniele is an all-star QB in my book.
Dr.Kas - Tips for Financial Health August 29, 2012 at 04:17 AM
Mr. Smith, you are really lucky to have a 21-year banker relationship given the merger & acquisition activity we have seen in the banking world since the deregulation! It is this post regulation era that has also caused us much pain (http://moneymorning.com/2009/01/13/deregulation-financial-crisis/). Rule #1 of Capitalism is "Buyer Be Aware" and it applies to buying services too!
Dr.Kas - Tips for Financial Health August 29, 2012 at 04:43 AM
I hear you Mr. Luchsinger! I started my professional career at a British Bank that was not only a for-profit emerging market global bank but was the Federal Reserve of Hong Kong. I have experienced how a responsible bank can help build a sustainable economy and lift up society. To this day, this bank has remained an emerging market bank because it does not want to alter its value proposition of social responsibility for collective economic growth. So, it is possible to achieve a dependable banking system if “we the consumer”, “we the voter”, “we the employee” and “we the investor” realized that all 4 interests serve the same “we the people” and hold all parties accountable by acting in our self interest without getting distracted by rhetoric.
Ken N August 29, 2012 at 02:30 PM
We recently renewed our home equity loan, and chose to move it to 1st Midwest, primarily because their rates and terms were significantly better than the others. But the good news was their service - Mike Daniele and Shawn Blaha made the entire experience "the way it should be" - full information, simple application, quick approval, smooth and fast closing. These folks go long way toward restoring my faith in good faith banking. Thanks, guys!
Jim Christensen August 29, 2012 at 04:11 PM
Dr.Henry, as always you article does a nice job of both educating and stirring the pot, making people think, consider current and future options. I like Tim Fraser's analogy, whether it is business or personal, each of us has a "team" or in some instances several "teams" depending upon our needs, our requirements. At the heart of any of my teams is my relationship with each member of the team. I need to trust them, respect their expertise, and believe that they have a genuine willingness to do what is in my best interest. Mike Daniele possesses those qualities. While Mike's earlier statement is true, good organizations do reward their good performers with advancement. However, great organizations establish a culture that makes sure that the entire staff has the right core values, so the next person in line treats his/her clients the same way. That is the hallmark of a great company. To be completely honest, I am very comfortable in recommending Mike Daniele and First Midwest Bank, I am equally comfortable in recommending Home State Bank and the Northern Trust Bank. My experience has been excellent with all three! Jim Christensen
Dr.Kas - Tips for Financial Health August 29, 2012 at 10:11 PM
You said it perfectly, Jim! A good organizational culture creates a seamless experience so that the overall service quality is upheld even when the service is being provided by someone other than your personal banker. While Mike may not be the banker providing the plethora of banking services offered by First Midwest Bank, as the personal banker to his clients, he can make the necessary introductions and leverage the relationship already established. This is what clients are looking for when they build banking relationships… They are looking for a strategic partner who can be the access point for all their banking needs.
Jared Silver August 30, 2012 at 12:51 PM
My father in law, the late George W. Bonham, was a highly educated man who often categorized an individual as coming from one of two camps... "givers" or " takers." Regardless of profession or position, there are always people who "play" these roles. Our job as "consumers" is to identify and select a banker, lawyer, doctor, butcher, baker, candlestick maker ;) who we feel comfortable working with. Yes, one might say this is at the lowest level and may not have much of an affect on an industry, but I believe there IS a trickle up affect that occurs. Hey, at the very least we as consumers have power to surround ourselves with professional people who we know, like and trust. Mike "the banker" is most certainly one of those professional people who I consider a "giver."
Sam August 30, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Very interesting, informative and insightful article. I think a lot of banks, especially, the big national banks, really don't care about individual customers- its all about the numbers, and so they focus on mass marketing, instead of being active in the community and getting to know their customers and potential customers. I know Mike Daniele, he is very active in our community, and he is committed to finding out about his customers' needs and goals so he can best serve them. in this way he is not only to help grow the business of his bank, but the community as well.
Jeff Sims August 31, 2012 at 09:00 PM
I'm also fond of Tim Fraser's analogy of the "team" approach. Team: Together, Everyone, Achieves, More.


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