Many Hats: Kerry Neils

The Many Hats of Kerry Neils

The Many Hats of Stockman

Kerry Neils

Kerry Neils, VP Senior Portfolio Manager Stockman Wealth Management

Meet Kerry Neils. You may know Kerry from our annual Stockman Calendar. His stunning Montana photos always appear at least a few times within its pages! It may surprise you to know that Kerry is actually a Vice President, Portfolio Manager for our Wealth Management team in Helena. In conversation with Kerry we learned that whether he is analyzing market prices or showing us Montana through his camera lens, his creativity knows no limits.

Q: How long have you been taking pictures?

I have been taking pictures since I was in middle school. My love for bird hunting and being outdoors coupled well with wildlife photography. By 20, I was busy with work and other aspects of my life so I stopped taking photos. 35 years later my wife, Laurie, bought me a digital camera and I fell in love with photography all over again!

Q: How long have you been a Wealth advisor?

It doesn’t seem possible, but I have been working professionally in the investment world for 32 years! I don’t know where the time went.

Q: What you do professionally is a very left-brained career but taking photos is very right-brained.  Is there any overlap between these two passions?

Kerry NeilsI guess the common denominator is that I started both photography and investment analysis, in an amateurish way, when I was still a child.  My dad had subscribed to Barron’s Magazine for many years and he kept all the old issues.  Barron’s published tables of each week’s high, low, close and volume for most US stocks.  With graph paper, pencil and ruler I would plot the high, low, close and volume for every week over the past four or five year’s worth of data. I kept all the charts up to date with each new week’s data as it became available.

In addition, I believe that a bit of deliberate analysis of a scene or a landscape, or of the ambient light, makes a better photograph than just “winging it”.  So both investment management and photography involve art as well as science.

Q: What is your most memorable photo excursion and why?

That’s a tough one! There have been many great trips to Glacier National Park, the Rocky Mountain Front, Jewel Basin, Flathead Valley, the Cabinet Mountains, and so many others. It’s a long list with great memories.

Kerry Neils - Various Photos

Lost Lake

I’d rather talk about an exceptional, little-known area of Montana that I have visited many times. Grab a map and draw a triangle from Great Falls to Fort Benton to Lewistown and back to Great Falls. Contained within that triangle are a multitude of geological features on the landscape that are entirely unique.  Lost Lake, for instance, is a basin carved into the earth when an ice dam broke. Today, it has left a remnant horseshoe shaped “dry falls” of Shonkinite rock that stands higher and broader than Niagara Falls.

Kerry Neils - Lost Lake

Square Butte

Another place that comes to mind is Square Butte, which is north of Stanford. It is made from hard, igneous rock that formed when magma forced its way upward through the existing bedrock. The dark Shonkinite on its flanks makes it look like something out of a Tolkien novel.

Kerry Neils - Square Butte

Arrow Creek Breaks

One of my favorite places is the Arrow Creek Breaks. Arrow Creek currently flows in an old river channel 500 feet deep in some places, and is as much as two miles wide from rim to rim. Today, just a very small stream, it meanders along the bottom of this old ice-age river channel. You can also find huge, perfectly round spheres of hard, dark sandstone coming to light as the softer, lighter colored sandstone erodes away. They are called “concretions” and can be found all over the world ranging from pea to grape size. In Arrow Creek, however, the sandstones tend to be around eight feet in diameter! Ancient fossils of trilobite and ammonites have also been found in the sandstones of central Montana.

Kerry Neils - Arrow Creek

There you have it. Kerry Neils, portfolio manager on weekdays and photographer over the weekend. He truly wears many hats! Be sure to stop by any of our branches at the end of the year to pick up our 2020 calendar. I’m sure you will see a photo or two taken by Kerry.

Wealth Management Disclosures


Many Hats Bret Carpenter

The Many Hats of Bret Carpenter

The Many Hats of Stockman

Our new blog series, The Many Hats of Stockman, introduces you to people who lead interesting lives both inside and outside of Stockman. Those who give of their time and talents to their communities are the back bone of our great state.

Bret Carpenter

Bret Carpenter, the President of our Lewistown bank, is a cornerstone in his community.

Bret is the type of person who doesn’t wait around for change to come, instead he gets involved. Lewistown which is located in the center of the state and surrounded by the Judith, Little Belts, and Big Snowy Mountain ranges, faces similar challenges to many rural Montana communities:  attracting and keeping businesses that support the local economy, an aging population, and an outflow of young adults.

Bret and Bill - 65th Anniversary

Bret is someone who wears many hats. When asked what he does for “fun” when he is not in the bank, what he said was eye-opening, to say the least.  He’s a volunteering machine! Here are just a few of the hats he wears:


“Growing up here, I have had numerous needs for local health care as a kid, parent, and adult. It seems like they know us on a first name basis! As the area’s largest employer, I also know several employees there, and felt honored to be invited to join the board of directors… something I always wanted to consider if asked. Getting to know some of the providers also made me realize the expectations they are under and have for the general good of our community that many are unaware of. Without a hospital in a community, it would be difficult to attract new families, employers, retirees, etc. to this area. Keeping an open hospital is critical to our community’s viability. I am currently on the Finance Committee.”


“I have been on this board a long time… since it started nearly 20 years ago (got off for a while when I was ‘termed out’). I am currently the chair, and we focus on growing economic development in Fergus County. As a volunteer board, with no real budget or assets, it is difficult to accomplish much without the help of the general community and other entities. We are working on workforce issues, business park finalization, and recruiting a new business to Lewistown that may create nearly 60 jobs. Our board is from the private sector.”

Bret Carpenter - Grants


“I was invited to this board in recent years, along with other volunteers. Monthly, we review requests from area groups for financial support, funded by the earnings we receive from past donations and endowments left under our care. There is never enough money to go around, but good causes typically receive some sort of financial award from us, assuming they are eligible. We also fund area scholarships to graduating high school seniors, and existing college students.”

Bret Carpenter - Lewistown Parade

Bret summed up our visit with these words of wisdom: “I believe the above groups do make a difference, and if no one volunteered for similar groups like these in our area, we would be just another shrinking community not trying to stay viable and vibrant. Little successes sometimes lead to bigger rewards… but may take a few years to realize them.

Lewistown has a new ‘buzz’ to it recently… more younger couples with little kids moving here (some grew up here), and finding employment. Lifestyle is a sought after asset, and found here. My kids have even told me in recent months when they return to visit that they’re proud of how Lewistown has gotten more progressive than when they grew up here. I feel this is a result partly of all the area volunteers working toward improving the community, with results finally being felt.”

We tip our hat to Bret and the many people who make our communities better places to live, work, and play.

Bank Disclosures