(Laura Simon) [Order this photo]
Question: How did you become interested in banking and finance?
Answer: Through my parents, Billy Joe and Alice Faye Thompson, and like my five brothers and sisters, I became involved in income-producing real estate at a very early age. With my family we bought, rebuilt and maintained several properties in the Jackson area, and still hold much of it today in a family corporation called Thompson Family Enterprises Inc. It was then that I knew I wanted to be involved in real estate finance. So 32 years ago, Dale Myers, then president of Heritage Savings and Loan and a lifelong friend, gave me an opportunity to begin my career in finance. Since then, Dale, now a community bank director for The Bank of Missouri, and I have laughed that the real reason he hired me was that my dad and our company owed Heritage Savings and Loan so much money he wanted to be sure I had a job.
Q: How has your career evolved over the years to get you to your current position as president at Bank of Missouri?
A: Over time I have had the good fortune to work side by side with some world-class bankers, and it is through these relationships I am where I am, and do what I do. Some of those individuals include Dale Myers, Jay Burchfield, Jim Reinagel, Jeanne Goodman, Danny Essner, Jim Limbaugh, David Crader, Kathy Roth, Beth Ham, Tina Weber, Larry Hall, Kathy Bertrand, Narvol Randol and Moe Sandfort, to mention a few. Twenty-five years ago I wrote in a life's mission statement that "I wanted to work for the benefit of others, and not for personal gain, thereby allowing others to grow and be better managers, employees and leaders." And so through this covenant to myself, I find myself doing what I do because of those I have had the good fortune to have worked with. In short, I am not a smart person, but I love working with smart people.
Q: How is working for a locally owned bank different that a larger banking chain?
A: I realized a long time ago that working for a locally owned bank, such as The Bank of Missouri, that the community is critically important to any success that the bank would realize. It is a hand and glove fit: I want the community where my children and I live to be successful, and if the community is successful, then so will the bank. Included in our bank's mission statement is "we give through our resources and associates to the communities we are honored to serve," and in our core values we say "The Bank of Missouri will never intentionally do anything that goes against the best interest of the communities that we serve." These statements by our bank are a perfect fit to my personal values and so it is why a locally owned bank, who employs associates from the community it serves, makes decisions that will benefit the communities where we, our children and even grandchildren will live.
Q: From what you are seeing at your bank, are there signs the area's economic recovery is moving forward? Can you provide some examples?
A: The good news about our local economy is that the starting point for the recovery was at a much higher place than, say, Naples, Fla., or Las Vegas or Phoenix. Locally, we are so fortunate to have a diverse economy with the likes of higher education centers, hospitals, agriculture and multiple industry sectors. I do believe my fellow bankers would all agree that while there are trailing impacts of the recession that are still with us, there are some good signs of better days getting closer. Like all, I don't like the fuel prices currently, but I do believe that those in our community have greater confidence in the economy. And critical to any recovery is "consumer confidence." Currently the region's schools are all expanding, both hospitals and the university continue to make substantial capital investments to our communities and this is so good for our local economy.
Q: What community groups are you personally involved with, and why are these causes important to you?
A: I am happy to serve the community. Currently I am a commissioner for Cape Girardeau County at the SEMO Regional Port Authority, a board member to the Cape Girardeau County IDA, a trustee at Southeast Missouri Hospital, serve on the Jackson Schools Foundation Board, active in the United Way of Southeast Missouri, member of both the Jackson and Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce, and am the co-chairman of the Friends of Scouting Campaign to mention a few. In doing so, I have often been asked why I am willing to serve. To begin with, my family has always done so, and my hope has always been that if somehow, through some of this service, I make this place we all call home just a little bit better place to live, then my efforts and involvement have been worthwhile.