Women of Banking

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Nine women in banking talk about what they love about finance, and what they wish you knew.

Photography by Melissa Bitting

Sally Gilbert
Sally Gilbert

Sally R. Gilbert
Senior Vice President
Business Development
Liberty Bank of Arkansas

What I love about banking/what I do: It allows me the opportunity to show people how they can achieve goals, change their lives, make their dreams come true!

How banking allows me to create the life I want: I am provided the opportunity to use my education and skill set to help others. That is very rewarding and in the process am gifted with friendships. I appreciate being in a professional environment and showing my daughters that they, too, can work in any field. The profession also allows me the flexibility to volunteer my time in areas I am passionate about. I am fortunate to serve on The Baxter Regional Medical Center Board of Directors as well as the Baxter County Library Board and The Mountain Home Rotary Club Board of Directors.

My best tip for making the most of your money: Live within your means and pay yourself first every time! Set a designated savings amount to invest every time you are paid. Study and diversify your investments! Have fun with it and learn from your successes and failures.

What I wish women knew about their finances: They are perfectly capable of managing them! It is your personal responsibility to educate yourself on your current financial situation. Plan for your future and be disciplined so that you achieve your goals. Ask questions! If you don’t understand the steps to financing a home, car, education, or investing for your retirement, ask an expert.

When not working at the bank, I love to: Spend time with my active family! I am blessed to be the mother of basketball, softball, and volleyball players as well as a cheer competitor. We spend every chance we get to be on the water at lake Norfolk or fishing on the river. I am an avid runner and enjoy cooking, reading, singing, and writing. We look forward to “getting away from it all” at my family’s farm in Southwest Missouri where we horseback ride and de-stress! We are thankful for the church family we enjoy at Christ Community Church.

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Jolene McWilliams
Jolene McWilliams

Jolene McWilliams
Office Manager
Integrity First Bank/Gassville Branch

What I love about banking/what I do: Working in the branch environment, I am involved in every aspect of banking, from opening new accounts to community service. I enjoy helping people and seeing their appreciation. I have met so many interesting people with my job and have formed friendships that will last for life.

How banking allows me to create the life I want: The institution I work for allows me to be myself and use my time to volunteer in community organizations and events that make my life fulfilling by helping others.

My best tip for making the most of your money: Create a budget and stick to it. Live within your means and have a savings plan intact, regardless of how much extra money you have. Just save.

What I wish women knew about their finances: Pay off the debt you have before you acquire new debt. Stay away from impulse buying. You will appreciate your decision the next day!

When not working at the bank, I love to: Spend time with my husband and grandchildren, work in the garden, spend time on our boat, and enjoy the beauty of the Twin Lakes Area with friends and family. We are so blessed to live in this area of the country.

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Adrienne Blackwell
Adrienne Blackwell

Adrienne Blackwell
Regional Branch Manager
FNBC

What I love about banking/what I do: I love being a customer’s personal banker. I think it’s important to treat people the way I want to be treated. Sometimes we get only one chance or interaction to make a difference in their life and I want my interactions to count. I think it’s important to be that bond between the customer and their finances. If they need help balancing their checkbook, I want them to know they can call me and I will take care of them. I love being able to assist a customer with their financial dreams knowing that I am doing the right thing for them.

How banking allows me to create the life I want: I have been in the financial industry for more than 11 years, and I have learned that this is the industry that allows me to help others in an area that I feel knowledgeable in. For me, being a banker is more than taking a credit application, it’s a way to impact someone’s life. It’s important that customers are treated as people and not numbers, no matter what industry you are in. Being in banking has allowed me to create the life I wanted by being able to help people and maintain my personal values.

My best tip for making the most of your money: Invest your money wisely and work from a budget. Try to set a budget that works within your income.

What I wish women knew about their finances: It’s important to have discernment when making financial decisions and deciphering between needs and wants. Don’t make an emotional financial decision. Think through large purchases and make sure it is within your budget prior to spending.

When not working at the bank, I love to: Spend time with my family. I have an amazing husband and two beautiful girls that fill my life with joy. I also enjoy playing ragball with my husband and Nertz with my friends. I teach three year olds at East Side Baptist Church on Wednesdays, and I enjoy spending time with my church family.

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Amy Still
Amy Still

Amy Still
Branch Manager
First Service Bank-Yellville

What I love about banking/what I do: At First Service Bank, I have a great opportunity to positively impact the community in which I work and have lived my entire life. The new relationships I have formed in my seven years at First Service Bank have given me an even stronger and prouder sense of community that other jobs would not have provided. I feel very blessed.

My best tip for making the most of your money: It sounds simple, but balance your checkbook! Most people don’t do this on a monthly basis, but knowing what you have in your accounts will do more than keeping you from bouncing a check, it can help you stay focused on your cash flow and disposable income more easily so you can think twice before making any impulse purchases.

What I wish women knew about their finances: We, as women, need to be thinking about the bigger picture. There has been much written recently about women as primary income earners. Although women could soon outpace men as the primary household breadwinners, many of our mindsets are stuck in a way of thinking that managing wealth means being as frugal as possible, rather than actually building wealth. Instead of clipping coupons, we need to focus more on building net worth.

When not working at the bank I love to: My husband, Jason, and I live very close to the Buffalo River with our 7-year-old daughter, Kyleigh. We spend as much time as possible outdoors and enjoying all the river has to offer. I am also an avid runner. It is a known fact that exercise reduces stress and anxiety, and for me, running is my therapy. I love the excitement and sense of accomplishment that comes from training for races. The benefits are too numerous to list, so when people ask me why I run, I usually reply with asking them why they don’t.

How banking has allowed me to create the life I want: Working at First Service Bank has allowed me to have a fulfilling career doing something that I enjoy while remaining in the hometown atmosphere I love. I was born and raised in the area, and my husband and I wanted to raise our family here. I feel very fortunate each day that we get to enjoy all the perks of living and working in this wonderful family-oriented community.

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Sandy Garrison
Sandy Garrison

Sandy Garrison
President
Twin Lakes Community Bank

What I love about banking/what I do: What I love most about banking isn’t all the financial products that first come to mind when someone hears the word bank. Banking is so much more than money. It is the ability to see growth and prosperity come full circle in a community you love so dearly. To see a young person whose grandparents are local shareholders come in and open her first savings account, then grant her a loan for her first vehicle and later help her and her new husband through the application process for their first home loan, that is when I realize what I truly love about banking. Those dollars invested have come full circle. It is people and business supporting each other locally.

How banking allows me to create the life I want: I enjoy change and an environment that allows for constant learning and creativity. Banking has many benefits and diverse career options. There is a need for continued education and the industry is constantly evolving. I enjoy the relationships that are established while working with others and getting to know people I wouldn’t have met if I wasn’t in the banking industry. I enjoy working in a family-friendly environment, and our institution feels strongly about giving back to the community. The bank allows me the time needed to serve on the Twin Lakes Community Foundation Board, the SouthShore Foundation Board, and to volunteer for local community events.

My best tip for making the most of your money: Start early by deciding what is important to you and your family specifically. Don’t be influenced by where others spend, and set aggressive yet achievable financial goals.

What I wish women knew about their finances: Women are often stereotyped as spenders. It is true that women make many household spending decisions, and they should feel empowered when making large purchases. I wish women would recognize their value in the marketplace, share success stories, lessons learned from past experience, and pass down sound financial advice to the young people they influence. Good financial habits are taught, and too many times we fail to recognize others who may need to know what we have already learned through experience.

When not working at the bank, I love to: While banking is what I do, I feel strongly that women shouldn’t ever allow their careers to define who they are. It may be a part of what influences you and you may excel in it, but we are created to be so much more. When not working at the bank, I love to spend time with my family, absorb the beauty of the area in which we are blessed to live, often taking photographs, relaxing on the river or painting on canvas. I enjoy the many roles a woman is cast in—wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend and banker.

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Jennifer Hooyer
Jennifer Hooyer

Jennifer Hooyer
Branch Manager
Arvest Bank

What I love about banking/what I do: The thing I love most about what I do is being able to help customers find financial solutions. Seeing them leave with a smile on their face and less financial burden weighing on their mind is very fulfilling. Banking is always changing, always evolving, and because we adapt and evolve with those changes, I always have great new tools and options to share with my customers. You develop relationships with your customers and really do care about them, so being able to make their life easier and more financially secure is wonderful.

How banking allows me to create the life I want: Working in banking at Arvest Bank has allowed me to develop professionally and personally by providing me with the tools I need to flourish. There are many facets in banking and being able to explore different areas is a great way to better yourself. With continual personal and professional growth, I am able to attain personal goals within the bank that allow me more freedom to spend time with my family. Also, with so many options and opportunities within the bank, you always have a chance to try something new!

My best tip for making the most of your money: I feel that it is crucial to save as much as possible; even if it’s only a few dollars every month. As you save, it is a great practice to visit with your banker or investment specialist so you can explore your options and what will get you the highest return for your hard-earned money. The best investment vehicle/option for one person might not be the best option for the next. Allow your trusted financial representative the opportunity to sit down with you and look at your goals, savings plan and budget, and they should be able to help you put a plan in place that works with your specific needs in mind.

What I wish women knew about their finances: The thing I feel we all need to know when it comes to our finances is that when you budget your spending, you will end up spending less and begin to financially thrive! If you have a significant other, it is a good idea to sit down with them and go over your expenses and income. Doing something this simple will keep you on track to reaching your goals. It will also help you see better what you can put back each month into savings and what you can use to just go out and have some fun!

When not working at the bank, I love to: I really love spending time with my husband, Matt, and our wonderful two-year-old daughter, Zoe. We enjoy hanging out with friends, playing outside, or even just putting on some music and dancing in the living room! We laugh a lot and make it a point to spend time together and enjoy each other. God blessed me with an amazing family and amazing friends, and I am so thankful for them.

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Michele Linehan
Michele Linehan

Michele Linehan
Mortgage Loan Originator
First Community Bank

What I love about banking/what I do: There’s so much to love that I could write a book! I love helping first time home buyers realize their dream of homeownership. It’s so rewarding to be able to help young people get into a home where they can make happy memories and raise a family. It’s really fun when kids who hung out at my house during their high school years come in to see me about buying a home. After that first starter home, it’s rewarding to help home owners upgrade as they add children, or to work with retirees who are trying to finance a property that requires less maintenance. I also get a great deal of satisfaction helping people overcome issues that may have prevented them from buying or refinancing a home. Of course, getting my clients into the right program at the right interest rate is one of my favorite things. Just because it’s right for your next door neighbor doesn’t make it right for you.

How banking allows me to create the life I want: There are great advantages of working in mortgage and banking. Because I often have to work before or after normal business hours, my particular job has allowed me to flex my schedule, which was a huge plus for a single mom. Filling both rolls of mom and dad meant that I needed a job that allowed me to have time for my children. I’ve also been able to satisfy my need to help people. Everyone is motivated by different things. For me, helping others is a very important part of who I am.

My best tip for making the most of your money: Learn everything you can about saving, investing, and credit. The more you know the better you can prepare and make the most of your financial future. Also, bargain shop; you can get deals on almost everything now. Perhaps the most important thing is to learn to budget. Don’t spend more than you earn and pay yourself first in the way of a regular savings deposit.

What I wish women knew about their finances: Everything! I’ve been originating reverse mortgages for many years and it breaks my heart when I see a woman left in a difficult financial position because she just didn’t know what her family’s financial position was. Unfortunately, those circumstances are not limited to seniors.

When not working at the bank, I love to: Travel, preferably somewhere tropical. I love the Caribbean with its shallow water as far as the eye can see and great weather. I’ve also traveled in Europe. I’d love to go to Ireland and Israel. I also LOVE to read, and I read it all: murder mysteries, historical novels, some romance (great for a day at the beach), and serious books about the economy and religion. I just finished Petrus Romanus, a very interesting read.

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Michelle Massie
Michelle Massie

Michelle Massie
Assistant Vice President
Branch Manager – Mountain Home, AR
U.S. Bank

What I love about banking/what I do: Until I fell into banking, I became bored very quickly with almost any job. During my 15-year career in banking, each day is new and different. At U.S. Bank, banking is vibrant and ever-changing. There are always new products and services to master, and I enjoy helping people with their financial needs each day. Many customers have become close friends, and my staff is amazing, truly like a family.

How banking allows me to create the life I want: Working in banking has given me the opportunity to participate in so many aspects of life in the Twin Lakes Area. I’ve become involved in worthwhile projects and groups such as United Way, Mountain Home Chamber of Commerce, and Baxter County Alternative School. Each adds so much to my life, and I look forward to continuing my involvement in our community.

My best tip for making the most of your money: Shop around! There are so many deposit and credit products that offer terms to fit everyone’s special needs, but you need to take a little time to research, ask questions, and study all your options.

What I wish women knew about their finances: Generally, women are great with day-to-day financial activities (e.g. balancing a check book, paying bills, etc.). Planning for their future seems to take a back seat during our busy lives. Each of us, whether single or married, needs to have a solid financial plan for emergencies and retirement. It can start as simple as saving change in a jar or putting 50 cents into a savings account each time you use your debit card. Working with a trusted financial advisor is a great way to start, but each of us needs to take steps to ensure our financial future.

When not working at the bank, I love to: Spend time with family and friends (especially my three grandchildren, Dylan, Logan, and Jordan), play tennis, go boating or just sit on our back deck and watch the deer, rabbits, groundhogs, and the occasional fox!

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Tammy Holt
Tammy Holt

Tammy Holt
Vice President
First Federal Bank

What I love about banking/what I do: What I love the most is the diversity. Each day brings with it new adventures, challenges, and learning opportunities. In addition to managing the Mountain Home main office, I originate home loans, consumer loans, and play a very active role in leadership, guidance, and coaching within the office.

How banking allows me to create the life I want: I am very fortunate to work for such a great company. Our management team is top-notch! They empower me to make decisions and allow me to manage the office in the manner I choose, always knowing they will stand behind me. This freedom allows for a happy work environment we all enjoy. The people I work with on a daily basis truly inspire me to be the best I can be. I’m fortunate to have them in my life. This spills over into my personal life, keeping me balanced.

My best tip for making the most of your money: Always save for a rainy day. Be disciplined, set money aside in savings. As you watch your money grow, you gain a sense of security knowing you have something to fall back on. Start saving today!

What I wish women knew about their finances: I wish they knew being financially savvy equals less stress. Following a budget and sticking to a plan is very rewarding. Organize, prioritize, and utilize technology such as online banking and billpay. I simply couldn’t live without this technology.

When not working at the bank, I love to: Oh my, there’s so much! I am a shopaholic — no kidding. I also have buyer’s remorse, which doesn’t make any sense at all, and I know this. I love to take spur-of-the-moment trips — just wake up and go somewhere. I love Gatlinburg, Tennessee and try to make it that way as often as I can. Coming in at No. 1 would be spending time with my family, friends, and those special to me.

M! Oct/Nov 2013

 

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