By Alana McLain
Sara Girard, President of Central National Bank and a Kansas State University graduate, stopped by campus on November 8 to talk to Student Fellows about the risks facing banks today. Sara is the president of CNB, but has been with the bank since she started in 2005 as a marketing officer.
Central National Bank is one of the oldest banks in Kansas, chartered in 1884. They are also one of the top 10 largest banks in Kansas, with over $950 million in assets. Their conservative approach to banking has helped protect them through many financial crises, while their innovative thinking has allowed them to expand to 22 communities and implement leading technology. Sara mentioned many of the successes, and blunders, that the bank has seen during her time as an employee, including the launch of several Interactive Teller machines.
Banks must rely on their competitive advantages to set them apart. Some of the competitive advantages that CNB has are service excellence, product selection and quality, and service after the sale. These advantages have allowed CNB to grow and acquire smaller banks that cannot compete in today’s banking environment.
Sara highlighted several risk factors of banking including credit, interest rates, liquidity, price, operations, compliance, strategy, and reputation. Sara walked us through the many risk management strategies for these factors, the main ones being: effective policies and procedures, adherence to policies, portfolio diversification, stress testing, and research on customers. Some of the major blunders that CNB has faced are due to fraud, an underlying aspect of every risk factor mentioned, and not adhering to bank policies. However, due to their conservative approach, CNB was sheltered from large losses and didn’t suffer massive consequences from these mistakes.
Much of Sara’s daily work is devoted to assessing, managing, and evaluating risk, although CNB also has an Executive Vice President of Risk Management. The bank has quarterly and monthly risk management committee meetings that focus on setting short and long term goals for the bank and assessing their current risk positions. The riskiest factor facing the bank today is credit risk, which encompasses most of their liabilities. They are also working on making the bank chain more efficient, especially branches located in rural communities.
Sara provided great insight into Central National Bank’s risk management strategies and the risks facing the banking industry today. The Student Fellows enjoyed hearing from a former Kansas State graduate who holds such an influential position in managing risk.