Experienced Correspondent Banker Helps Bell Expand Correspondent Reach

Craig McCandless has worked in correspondent banking for most of his adult life. Yet few people outside of banking understand what he does for a living. A banker for other banks, Craig sees his job as far more than that.

“I truly enjoy developing relationships with community bankers and ultimately helping their banks and communities,” he remarks.

Growing up in a small Oklahoma town, Craig admired how active the banks were in the community. After graduating from the University of Oklahoma, Craig was exploring career options when he met with someone who ran a community bank in Oklahoma City. She suggested Craig consider working in correspondent banking, something that was relatively new at the time. The relationships he’s developed with community bankers are what has kept him in the field.

“Most of my closest friends are community bankers,” Craig notes.

Craig worked for a correspondent bank in Oklahoma for more than 8 years before moving to Montana and working for a correspondent bank there for nearly 19 years. Throughout his career, he has served community banks in 10 states.

Expanding Correspondent Territory

As a correspondent banking business development officer for Bell Bank, Craig connects with bankers across Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, introducing them to Bell and sharing the story of our company, culture and how we do business.

“I’ve always been familiar with Bell Bank and knew of their great reputation and excellent customer service,” Craig comments. I really took notice of that fact when one of my customers moved their bank stock loan to Bell. That was when I learned firsthand about Bell’s reputation, service and impressive pricing.”

Jeff Restad, Bell’s correspondent banking business development manager, says, “Craig has a great way about him and is a great asset to our team.”

Finding someone like Craig to join the team is part of what led Bell to expanding its correspondent reach into Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, adds Tom Ishaug, Bell’s correspondent banking manager.

“Our team had a chance to work with a fantastic correspondent banker with Craig, and we jumped at the opportunity to bring him to Bell and expand our services in the market,” Tom remarks. “Bell’s team has worked with a handful of banks there, and we were looking for just the right person to head up the market. Craig and our team meshed well immediately.”

In expanding our correspondent banking territory, Bell also looks for parts of the country with an approach to banking similar to ours, Jeff notes.

“Bell’s correspondent team delivers a high level of service,” he comments. “We commit to giving banks an interest level on opportunities within a 24-hour period and approval within 5 business days upon receiving a full packet from our partner bank. Additionally, we have the ability to take a larger bite size than many bankers’ banks can take. And we do not sell any of the loans we purchase from partner banks.”

In addition to helping with loan participations, lending limits, credit concentrations and liquidity, Bell can also provide bank holding company lines, bank acquisition financing and bank investor financing. Additionally, we provide opportunities to purchase loans from our direct portfolio, since we routinely sell loan participations to manage our balance sheet.

Craig and his wife, Holly, live in Billings, Mont., and have 2 children. Outside of work, Craig enjoys spending time with his family, going on occasional fishing trips, live music and watching live sporting events (especially the University of Oklahoma Sooner football team).

To learn more about how Craig can help your community bank, call him at 406-850-3790 or email cmccandless@bell.bank.

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