Correspondent Banker Dedicated to Small-Town Banks

Helping small towns thrive is one of the things Denise Bunbury likes most about her job.

Based in Madison, Wis., Denise works as a Bell Bank SVP/correspondent banking business development officer, working with senior lenders, bank presidents and chief financial officers in Wisconsin and Illinois on how Bell can help their banks succeed.

“Community banks are really the heart of any community,” she notes. “They do more than deposits and loans; they are giving back to their communities. They have community rooms, community events. Because so many are in smaller towns, that bank may be the only social hub for a lot of the residents. It keeps those communities going.”

Travel is a big part of Denise’s job. When traveling, she likes to support the locally owned cafés, shops and other businesses she encounters.

“It’s those small places that have built those communities,” she said. “I’d rather the money stay directly there. It’s being reinvested back into the community. I also get to meet a lot of really interesting people.”

Denise has worked in banking for more than 30 years, starting in commercial lending. Prior to joining Bell in 2016, she worked as a commercial lending correspondent officer for a correspondent bank.

What drew you to Bell?

The philosophy of family-owned, family-run business values and giving back to the community.

What do you do as a correspondent banking business development officer?

I talk to banks – senior lenders, bank presidents, chief financial offers – about Bell, tell the story, and ask for participation loans. We buy participation loans and sell loans that Bell has originated in its portfolio. We also offer bank holding company loans for acquisitions or liquidity purposes.

How did you get into correspondent banking?

I kind of fell into it. I’ve been in banking since 1984. I was in commercial lending, for a community bank that was acquired by a public bank, and always wanted to stay with a community bank. A correspondent bank contacted me, and their customers are strictly community banks, so I found my niche.

What are the greatest rewards of your position?

I like feeling that I am making a difference, whether it’s with community banks I’ve forged relationships with or any new relationships I form.

What difference can you make for community banks?

I can help their customers who may be going through expansions or maybe they have a customer who has grown so big that they think a community bank can’t take care of them any longer. That’s where we come in and help, so the customer doesn’t leave that community bank. Keeping those customers, the banks can remain in their communities and not worry about larger customers leaving and depleting their deposits. We can also assist at the bank holding company level with loans to fund an acquisition or expansion.

What do you like about traveling so much for your job?

I like meeting all the people, hearing their stories, and I also get to see so much of the area. People are awfully friendly and very warm and receptive.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

I like to spend time with friends and family. I have a grown daughter who lives in the Twin Cities who I try to visit a lot. I also enjoy cooking, quilting and playing with my dog, Harley.

What is your work philosophy?

I’ve always given more than 110% to anything I put my mind to. I’ve always tried to do my best with dignity and integrity, and build credibility, so people know they can count on me. I also work hard and try to make a positive impact.

I’m an obnoxiously happy person. I try to make the best of any situation. Everybody has a bad day now and then, but I try to find the best in everything.