Q & A with Tyler Landen, Correspondent Credit Officer
Tyler Landen has been a correspondent credit officer for Bell Bank in Fargo, N.D., since April. Before that, the Gothenburg, Neb., native worked as a bank examiner for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) for five years – a job he started right out of college.

Q: How did your experience as an FDIC examiner prepare you for your current role?
A: Being an examiner gives you a good, broad overview of how various areas of the bank operate. Additionally, a big part of an examiner’s job is reviewing credits, so I was able to see the way many different banks handle loans.

Bell’s correspondent banking department also originates bank stock and holding company loans, so an examiner’s background is beneficial in our department, because you already have an idea of how to analyze the performance of a bank and bank holding company.

What do you do in your current position?
When a bank wants to sell a portion of a loan relationship, either to help diversify or to meet legal lending limit regulations, they can ask Bell for help. I am responsible for creating presentations and underwriting the loan before it’s presented to a committee or senior management for approval. Even though the lead bank does its own analysis, we also analyze the loan to make sure it meets Bell’s underwriting standards.  For more sophisticated credits, this sometimes turns into a collaborative process, and together we can help correspondent banks underwrite loans that they would not normally originate by themselves.

I also complete the analysis and underwriting if a bank, bank holding company or shareholder wants to raise funds by using the underlying bank or holding company stock as collateral. I often analyze deals where the borrower wants to raise capital to purchase another bank, inject capital into a bank for internal growth, buyout an existing shareholder or just refinance current debt.

What do you like about your job?
It’s fun to analyze credit. I like putting the pieces of the puzzle together and looking at numbers.

I also like the people I work with at Bell. Everyone’s very intelligent, very motivated.

How did you get started in banking?
I was studying pre-law at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, Neb. I took some finance classes, and I liked those better than the other business classes I was taking. Finance was just interesting to me. To advance my career, I started working at a bank my senior year of college as a teller and customer service rep. Out of college, I ended up getting an offer with the FDIC for a job in Grand Forks, N.D., so I kind of just fell into it.

Why did you leave the FDIC?
With the FDIC, I was on the road an average of 90 nights out of the year. It was too much, and I’m getting to the age where I might want to start settling down and have a family.

As a bank examiner, I had a good sense of what bank I wanted to work for. Bell’s great and has lived up to all the hype. I didn’t apply to any other banks.

What made Bell stand out?
The size of the bank and the type of lending Bell has available lends itself to more challenging projects.  The benefits, like the Pay It Forward program, also made the company stand out, and Bell treats employees and customers really well.

(Pay It Forward is a Bell Bank program that gives employees money every year to donate to people and organizations in need.)

What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
My main hobby is CrossFit – a fitness program that combines cardio, weightlifting and gymnastics. Every day there’s a workout, and everybody at the gym does the same workout. Participants are ranked on time, weights or repetitions. You can do CrossFit competitions locally or nationally online.

I was pretty involved in football and wrestling in high school, so CrossFit is a fun way to work out and be competitive. There’s a good community aspect, too. Everybody does a class together instead of working out at a regular gym where you wouldn’t talk as much. Not being from the area, I actually met a lot of my friends there.

I also like hanging out with friends, tailgating, watching football and spending time outdoors hunting and fishing.

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Enhancing Franchise Value
Regardless of whether you are a bank with few or many shareholders, if you want to sell your institution or purchase another, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. It’s very important to keep your organization strong through a solid balance sheet and great earnings. It’s also crucial to have a strong customer base.

We have seen very small, rural banks that struggle to grow, and we have seen banks of the same demographic type that prosper with lots of growth and exciting new customers. This is driven in part by whether or not the bank has a strategic plan.

Some small banks have used their capital solely to fill the needs of their communities, while others have developed sales strategies that have taken them outside their normal county or regional boundaries. We don’t suggest that either strategy is right or wrong; you and your board need to look at your options and develop a plan that works for you.

That being said, if you want to grow your organization and enhance your bank’s value, you may need to look beyond your own main street for growth. We sometimes get stuck in a rut of only looking at deals that fit our bank’s size, and if one of our customers expands their business beyond our limits, we either send them to a larger, more regional bank or we struggle to meet their needs and restrict their growth potential, which ultimately drives them to a larger institution.

Bell Bank can offer a solution to that problem by becoming your partner through participation loans. We can purchase the portion of the loan that is too large for you to handle, and we can serve as a second set of eyes to underwrite and monitor the relationship. We certainly don’t want to drive the relationship with your customer; however, we do see a lot of deals, and our credit officers can be a good sounding-board for you to use when situations arise with your customers.

We can also help you look at alternatives to structure, compliance and underwriting in industries you might not know a lot about. While many banks don’t work on tax-exempt deals, tax-credit deals or product leasing, those are all services we handle regularly.

We can meet directly with your customer or work with you behind the scenes to offer your customer the best arrangement. Don’t hesitate to visit with one of our experienced business development officers about how we can help you grow your bank and enhance your franchise value through participations.

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Things to Consider as 2016 Comes to an End
There are many ways Bell Bank can work with you to add value to your bank. As we move through the last quarter of 2016, here are a few things to consider:

  1. Lynn Paulson, one of the region’s leading agricultural finance experts, writes AgViews, a quarterly newsletter about trends, financing and the most pressing issues facing the ag industry. If you are not getting this information, please contact any of us, and we will add you to Lynn’s mailing list.
  2. We all know that this ag renewal season will have its challenges, so we can’t stress enough how beneficial it will be for you to get an early jump on those renewals. Setting meetings with your customers as soon as harvest is completed and developing a plan early will lessen the issues you have come spring 2017.
  3. If your bank is getting tight on capital and you think you might need to sell off some loans before the year ends to prevent crossing a certain growth threshold or to make sure you reach capital goals and requirements, start on that process early. We have fewer than 30 days to accomplish those goals. Contact one of us, and we will work with you to get the deals approved and booked before late December. It will make for a better holiday season for us all.
  4. Also, remember that we have a lease product available, so if your customers want to satisfy a capital need before the year ends, and they would like to do a lease, we can work with you on that transaction and either keep the lease in your portfolio, or we can book it so you collect a fee. Talk to us about the flexibility we have built into this product to best fit our relationship with you.
Third-Quarter Financials

Bell Bank
September 2016

Capital Ratios
Common Equity Tier 1 Capital
10.15%
Total Risk-Based Capital
11.12%
Leverage
9.29%
Key Call Report Information
Total Assets
$3,993,362,000
Total Liabilities
$3,616,893,000
Total Capital
$376,469,000
Total Loans
$3,707,053,000
Total Correspondent Loans
$443,960,000
Total Loss Reserve
$34,759,000
Net Income
$32,879,000
Call us for flexible underwriting, competitive rates and fast decisions.

Tom Ishaug
Fargo
701.866.4676
tishaug@bellbanks.com

Gary Keller
Fargo
701.371.3355
gkeller@bellbanks.com

Tracy Peterson
Minneapolis
612.270.3314
tpeterson@bellbanks.com

Gene Uher
Sioux Falls
605.201.1864
guher@bellbanks.com

Mary Voss
Des Moines
515.577.0070
mvoss@BellBanks.com

Denise Bunbury
Madison, Wis.
608.234.1438
dbunbury@BellBanks.com