Thornton, Iowa, population of nearly 400 people, has one bank and one primary banker serving its customers’ needs. That banker is Randy Bohman. He is not only well known because of his job, but also because he grew up on a nearby farm and was an educator for over 30 years at the area schools that eventually became West Fork Community School District.
“Fortunately, when I started working here, I knew a lot of people and so they kind of just accepted me at the bank because this is my home basically,” said Randy. “I also worked a lot with former students. I had one come in this afternoon about 30 minutes ago.”
Students would remember Randy from his classes in record keeping, computer applications, business law, general business, and accounting. In fact, accounting was his favorite class to teach, and he thought, if the right opportunity for that skill set came along, he’d consider a change in careers.
“Then an opportunity became available a half a block away,” said Randy. “Linda Shaw retired from the bank in late 2011 and so there was an opening. I decided to jump on it, and they accepted me here.”
Randy started as a Retail Advisor. People in this role work one-on-one with customers on a wide variety of banking questions and transactions. They are often the first people a customer goes to for help.
However, Randy’s job was slightly different in that two days of the week, he used his teaching skills to assist the bank’s marketing department. He would go to schools in the bank’s market area and present lessons on financial literacy to kids in all grades.
“I enjoyed working with kids and teaching financial literacy when I first started here,” said Randy. “It's important for kids to learn about that while they're in school before they get out on their own. You've got to have a handle on your finances.”
As Randy progressed through his career, he started taking on more and more responsibilities. He started working on consumer loans (for example, a loan to buy a car), home loans, Individual Retirement Accounts, Health Savings Accounts, and more. Now that the Thornton branch is a one-person bank, Randy has to be very well-versed in everything. He still has a support system in his coworkers at nearby banks in Rockwell and Hampton, though, if he ever needs assistance.
“I’m not afraid to ask questions of them and they’ll ask questions of me. We share our knowledge with each other,” said Randy.
As with any job, it took Randy several years to get to the level of expertise and independence he enjoys as he mans the Thornton branch. He is also evidence that despite not having a background working in the field of finance, the right personality and interest in learning can lead to a fulfilling career in banking.
“Number one, you've got to be good with people,” said Randy. “You've got to have the ability to relate to people. And as a teacher, I could relate to people.”
However, Randy added that there are a variety of other options for anyone who is maybe less comfortable working in front of customers.
“There’s a lot of positions that are important to the bank. There are all sorts of different career paths you might not think of,” he added. “It’s not all working with people on the Teller Line. There’s Loan Operations, Data Services, Customer Care. There’s always something that can be done on the backside of banking.”
Although there are many options to choose from for a career in banking, Randy is happy with his choice. He enjoys getting to know customers and learning what he can do to help them. Just as a teacher may help a student navigate life during a brief but pivotal stage in their development, Randy and other bankers can sometimes work with customers (in his case, former students) for a decade or more.
“It’s developing relationships that go for a long period of time,” said Randy. “My favorite thing has been working on the front line with people.”
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First Security Bank & Trust has locations across North Central Iowa and headquarters in Charles City. Member FDIC.