Why a Dedicated Correspondent Team Matters

5/10/2023 8:00:00 AM

Correspondent Banking
Bell Bank is one of the only banks that has a dedicated correspondent department specializing in correspondent lending, credit, 401(k) plans, trust services and insurance. With some correspondent lenders, getting favorable rates and terms depends on whether you use other services they might offer, like safekeeping, secondary market mortgages and credit cards. Bell has an entire correspondent team focused solely on credit, so you get what you need without the pressure to purchase something you don’t.

Here’s what you can expect, from start to finish:

First Steps

The first people you will meet when working with our correspondent banking department are our business development officers. They meet with your senior management and lenders to discuss loan opportunities and explain Bell’s company philosophy and services. We sometimes describe it as rather like a courting process. We’re building relationships, so you're going to send us some opportunities, and we’re going to send you some feedback. Some prospects may not work out, but eventually we’re going to find where the common ground is, and then we build the relationship together.

Bell’s correspondent officers are:

  • Tom Ishaug, our correspondent banking manager, who covers North Dakota, Minnesota and Colorado
  • Jeff Restad, our correspondent banking business development manager, who also covers parts of North Dakota and Minnesota
  • Todd Holzwarth, who covers North Dakota, South Dakota, northwest Iowa and southwest Minnesota
  • Mary Voss, who covers Iowa and Illinois
  • Denise Bunbury, who covers Wisconsin and Illinois
  • Craig McCandless who covers, Montana, Idaho and Wyoming
  • Tracy Peterson, who covers Arizona
  • Lynn Paulson, our director of agribusiness development, who works with many of our correspondent lending partners on agricultural lending (Read Lynn’s story, or check out his AgViews newsletter.)
  • Jack Alberg, who covers Minnesota
If you partner with us on a bank stock lending arrangement, you’ll likely work with Callie Schlieman, a correspondent lender who is our bank stock lending expert. 

Credit and Underwriting

Once you’ve worked out a deal with your business development officer, your loan or line of credit will go through Casey Whipple, our correspondent banking credit manager, who will assign it to one of our credit officers: Jeremy Lykken, Katie Grant, Melanie Keltgen, Tanner Graham, Travas Knutson or Casey Atkinson.

These are the folks who might contact you for information needed to approve your transaction. Our credit team is responsible for creating presentations and underwriting the loan before it’s presented to a committee or senior management for approval. On more sophisticated credits, this sometimes turns into a collaborative process, where our team works together to help correspondent banks underwrite loans they would not normally originate alone.

If a bank, bank holding company or shareholder wants to raise funds by using the underlying bank or holding company stock as collateral, or if the borrower wants to raise capital to purchase another bank, inject capital into a bank for internal growth, buyout an existing shareholder or just refinance current debt, our credit team completes the necessary analysis and underwriting.  

Closing and Beyond

You maintain ownership of the loan. For any transactions after closing and beyond, you’ll work with Kelly Hegney, our administrative project specialist and/or Jordan McCollum, credit assistant.

In addition to eliminating cross-sales pressure, working with a dedicated correspondent team means a quicker turnaround time, and we don’t compete with our partner banks in their trade areas. We’re not working on a portfolio of loans in your market; we’re specifically working on opportunities from our network of banks. We don’t sub-sell the participations that we buy – we hold everything we buy from a bank in our portfolio.

Our mission is to help other community banks succeed and grow.