First National Bank Wealth Management is a premier sponsor of Startup Sioux Falls.

As the city’s oldest financial institution, The First National Bank in Sioux Falls (FNBSF) has weathered numerous storms but never wavered as a reliable and trustworthy partner for its clients.

Founded in 1885, FNBSF has maintained its commitment to being the principal, locally-owned and independent, community bank in the region. As businesses face an ongoing period of economic uncertainty due to COVID-19, that endurance is even more reassuring. 

“The history of our Bank and the Sioux Falls community have always been interwoven,” said FNBSF president and CEO, Chris Ekstrum. “We’ve gone through hard times together. From the Great Depression, two World Wars, and other difficult times in our history, we’ve stood strong through them all. We have no doubts that we will make it through this, and so will our customers.”

Treating customers like family

FNBSF is widely known as a community advocate and champion of small businesses. Ekstrum highlights a culture built around customer relationships.

“We treat our customers like family, and we will do whatever it takes to ensure our family is taken care of,” he said.

As the COVID-19 pandemic hit Sioux Falls, and businesses were forced to innovate swiftly or close their doors, FNBSF paid close attention to their needs and drew staff from across the institution to process applications for the Paycheck Protection Program. Employees from the wealth management and credit departments, as well as a personal banker, an auditor, and a member of the employee experience team supported the business banking team to process applications quickly and efficiently for clients.

“We’ve seen our business banking customers continue to find new and creative ways to keep their businesses moving during this time,” Ekstrum said. “Whether it’s offering delivery for the first time, providing new services or products, or just taking extra steps to keep their customers and employees safe, the small businesses and nonprofits we serve are second to none. We’re so grateful they’ve chosen to trust us, and we won’t let them down.”

Ekstrum says those strong relationships are especially critical in difficult times. 

“As a financial partner for life, we’re committed to helping our customers on whatever journey they’re on, regardless of what stage of life they’re in or what they’re going through,” he said.

Over the past couple months, FNBSF has offered payment deferrals to loan customers, answered a record amount of customer service calls (565 in one day), and processed more than $100 million in loans for local businesses.

“Our bankers have stayed well past midnight multiple times to make all of this happen,” Ekstrum said. “That’s all taken some adapting, for sure, but it’s what we’re called to do as a local bank that’s truly invested in the success of our customers and our communities.”

Prioritizing wealth management in uncertain times

For many businesses, the financial focus during this time has been survival. Thinking about wealth management may be anxiety-inducing or simply not a priority. 

But FNBSF’s wealth management team has long been a trusted partner for businesses and individuals when it comes to planning for the future, however intimidating it might seem. The team offers three areas of service: individual wealth, institutional trusts, and retirement plans for small to mid-sized businesses.

Adam Cox is the executive vice president and chief wealth management officer for FNBSF. He offers two crucial pieces of advice for businesses during this time.

“The first is to focus on what you can control during periods of uncertainty. Take the time to evaluate your spending habits, how much you are saving, and how you are invested,” he said. “Make sure you have your arms wrapped around those things within your control when so much is outside of our control.”

Next, he emphasizes the importance of a long term perspective in difficult situations. During periods of heightened anxiety, Cox says maintaining a wide lens can elicit great perspective and keep you on the right track.

“This is a tough moment in time, to be sure,” he said. “What matters in investing is the long term. Are you sticking to your investing and savings goals? Are you making strategic changes that downturns allow for? How do you want to be positioned coming out of the downturn?”

Regardless of your business’ situation, Cox emphasizes the importance of starting early and remaining committed.

“The biggest misconception people have is waiting too long to plan for this,” he said. “They think they don’t have enough money or they’re too young, but we have clients at both ends of the spectrum. The biggest mistake entrepreneurs make is being hyper focused on their business and forgetting to take care of themselves and their financial futures.” 

In both good times and bad, Cox and his team are committed to the startup and small business community in Sioux Falls. 

“Across our client spectrum, the ones we do best with have some dirt under their fingernails,” he said. “They’re just good South Dakota people who understand the value of advisors and are committed to relationships and partnerships.”

Cox adds that all businesses start somewhere and face challenges along the way. How they choose to move forward and where they place their trust has a lot to say about their long term success.

“I think back to some of our biggest and best clients, and at some point, they were a small business. At some point, they were just an idea. They took a chance on us, and we took a chance on them, and we’ll continue to do that,” Cox said. “People who are willing to take a chance will move this city forward, and we want to be there for those folks before they make it. All of our best customers started with an idea.”

Visit the website for more information on The First National Bank in Sioux Falls’ wealth management division.