Bill Coffee - Coffee Talk

Coffee Talk – 3rd Quarter 2019

Bill Coffee - Coffee Talk

Bill Coffee, Chief Executive Officer

The old adage, “time flies when you’re having fun,” is certainly true. I can’t believe I have been with Stockman Bank for 25 years now. People often ask me about comparing Stockman Bank, and banking in general, back to when I started so many years ago. My answer is simple, “the whole world has changed.” Most people believe technology is the answer. While that is true to a large extent, it is only one part of the story.

A Big Step

In 1994, I decided to put everything on the line and left a promising career in law to help start a new bank on the budding west end of Billings. At Stockman Bank, we were preparing to begin serving Billings with a new, full service bank. This was a big step for our small family company which had been focused on eastern Montana for 41 years.

For decades, Stockman had customers in Billings but no bank building or direct local service. Starting in the late 1980’s, our Billings area customers and others in the community, requested Stockman expand into Billings and enhance the bank-by-mail and telephone services that were the only available options. During that time in Billings, the larger “chain banks” were beginning to centralize their services (many to out-of-state locations), removing authority from their officers and staff, and generally limiting their services. The smaller banks at the time were either unwilling or unable to deliver the financial services customers in Billings needed.

After visiting with several Billings businesses, ag producers and consumers about the condition of financial services in Billings, it was apparent that Stockman’s full-service, community banking model had been lost in Billings. So, my grandfather, Bill Nefsy, coined the phrase “coming soon, a fresh approach to banking”. We used this as our slogan as we worked to open the new bank on King Avenue and for several years after.

Change and Customer Expectations

Banking in general has changed, but again, not only in the usual terms of more regulation or complaints about the younger generation “not doing things the way we used to.” Many of the new banking regulations are positive for the industry, for Stockman and for our customers. Similarly, most of the new ways are more efficient for Stockman and more convenient for our customers. Rightfully so, our customers’ expectations have changed along with these advancements.

Now customers expect 24/7 service from whatever device or delivery channel they choose and to have a full-service branch nearby, staffed with friendly, knowledgeable, local professionals. Additionally, the greater expectation of many customers today is their financial institution shares their general values, creates local jobs, places their deposits back to work in the community to expand local businesses, allows family farms to successfully transition to the next generation, and to fund new homes in their communities for growing families. Customers also expect their financial institution to give back and support the community in a number of ways, including financially, volunteering and in leadership. At Stockman, we continue to meet and exceed these higher expectations, and use these opportunities to show why we are very different from most of our competitors. Stockman is truly neighbors serving neighbors.

Future Growth and Opportunity

Lastly, I have changed over the last 25 years and so has my outlook on Billings and our great state. Today, I am even more optimistic about the future of Billings and the future of Montana. Our unique way of life here is becoming increasingly rare in the world every day. Our western values and Montana lifestyle are envied and sought after. Plus, technology has greatly diminished the challenges that have historically faced Montana as a vast and sparsely populated state. The future here is very bright with growth and opportunity. That’s why we remain focused on Montana, and only Montana. We don’t want to be anywhere else!

On Friday September 27, we are celebrating Good Neighbor Day at all of our branches.  Please stop by and say hello.  It’s our way of saying “thank you” for the privilege of being your neighbor in the Montana communities we call home.

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Financial Tips for Freshmen

Top 10 Money Tips Every Freshman Should Know

The college season is back in full swing and you are a college freshman. Congratulations! You’ve worked hard to get here. Right now, you are very busy, finding your way around campus, meeting new roommates, exploring new classes and new teachers. And, if you are like the majority of college students, you are hoping you can afford college without too much of a financial burden in the future.

Financial Tips for Freshmen


There is much you can do right now to take control of your financial future by saving wherever and whenever you can. Treat personal finance like a second major and you can avoid unnecessary expenses now, reducing your financial burden when you graduate.

Calculating a Budget

Here are some helpful money management tips.

  • Create a budget. You’re an adult now and are responsible for managing your own finances. The first step is to create a realistic budget or plan and stick to it.
  • Watch spending. Keep receipts and track spending in a notebook. Pace spending and increase saving by cutting unnecessary expenses like eating out or shopping so that your money can last throughout the semester.
  • Use credit wisely. Understand the responsibilities and benefits of credit. Use it, but don’t abuse it.  How you handle your credit in college could affect you well after graduation.  Shop around for a card that best suits your needs.
  • Take advantage of your bank’s resources. Stockman Bank and most banks offer online, mobile and text banking tools to manage your account night and day. Use these tools to check balances, pay bills, deposit checks and monitor transaction history.
  • Lookout for money. There’s a lot of money available for students — you just have to look for it. Apply for scholarships, and look for student discounts or other deals.
  • Buy used. Consider buying used books or ordering them online.  Buying books can become expensive and often used books are in just as good of shape as new ones.
  • Entertain on a budget. Limit your “hanging out” fund. There are lots of fun activities to keep you busy in college and many are free for students.  Get the most from your student ID.  Use your meal plan or sample new recipes instead of eating out.
  • Use only your bank’s ATMs. Avoid fees by using ATMs owned by or affiliated with your bank. If you must use an ATM that is not affiliated with your bank, take out larger withdrawals to avoid having to go back multiple times.
  • Expect the unexpected. Things happen, and it’s important that you are financially prepared when your car or computer breaks down or you have to buy an unexpected bus ticket home.  You should start putting some money away immediately, no matter how small the amount.
  • Ask. This is a learning experience, so if you need help, ask. Your parents are a good place to start. Or, you can contact your Stockman banker. We are always ready to help, and remember—the sooner the better.

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Back to School Kids

Back to School Requires Many Hands

Misti Anderson, Operations Officer in Sidney

Misti Anderson, Operations Officer in Sidney

Labor Day weekend marks the end of summer as well as back to school time for children across Montana. Our Sidney bank  has stepped up to support elementary students begin the school year with a good start.

We have just wrapped up the second successful year of donating over 600 new backpacks to Sidney elementary students, special needs pre-K through 5th grade, at both Westside and Central Elementary Schools. The backpacks were once again full of some basic school supplies as well as pencils/pens, pencil sharpener, crayons, glue stick, notebook, eraser, ruler, folder and three-ring pencil pouch.

Back to School

In conversation with Sara Romo, Central Elementary Principal, she tells us what this program means to Sidney Elementary school and students.

Sara Romo

What does this program mean to Sidney Elementary Schools?

This program shows what an amazing community we live in. We have organizations that put kids first and put the tools in our students’ hands that allow them to begin the school year with confidence.

How does this program benefit Sidney Elementary students?

Starting the school year can be stressful for families, and having the opportunity to provide backpacks and supplies for students that may go without, is rewarding and has a positive impact.

What has your most rewarding or favorite memory been with this program?

I have seen families come in and say that they will be late getting backpacks and supplies for the year because of funds. It is always rewarding to tell families that we have backpacks and supplies for them. Seeing a child pick out a backpack and making it their own is a reflection of how great our community is.

School SuppliesSchool Backpacks

The backpack program was started to ensure that local children have the essentials to learn and succeed at school. We hope this program can become an annual project here in the MonDak region going forward. Our goal for next year is to include other area elementary schools in Lambert, Fairview, Savage, Rau and Brorson.

A new school year is always an exciting time for students and families alike. A full backpack with new supplies will start the school year off on the right foot!

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