Bank CEO weighs in on local economy, business evolution
As a third-generation bank leader, Jack Hopkins has his finger on the proverbial pulse both of the area business community as well as what it takes to successfully transition through generations of family leadership.
The president and CEO of CorTrust Bank has led the company since 2004, when he succeeded his father, Boyd Hopkins. The bank has 26 locations in South Dakota and Minnesota.
We caught up with Hopkins to get the view from his CEO’s seat as one year wraps up and another prepares to begin.
How do you assess 2018, both in terms of the performance of the Sioux Falls-area economy as well as CorTrust Bank?
The Sioux Falls area continues to grow and is doing extremely well. However, the reduced income of our farmers is having an impact on those companies that have a majority of their sales tied directly to the agricultural markets.
It’s increasingly rare to find a multigenerational family bank. What do you credit for your success and longevity?
Planning. It takes time and a thought-out process of how you train and prepare the next generation as well as work through the family and financial dynamics of any family business.
What are your expectations for the Sioux Falls-area economy in 2019, based on what you’re observing and hearing in the business community?
I think we will have another good year. Unemployment is extremely low, and we continue to attract new and exciting business to our community. Sioux Falls has so much to offer in great jobs and employers as well as quality of life. We are now the size in our metropolitan statistical area that we are on the radar of a lot of companies looking to expand.
CorTrust also recently announced entering its fourth generation as your daughter McKinzie joined as a vice president to help grow the Twin Cities market. What are some strategies that you’re employing as you look toward the future as a family business?
As with anyone looking to transition a business to a next generation, I think it is imperative that the next generation work outside the family business for a period of time; I think at least four to five years. McKinzie went on to law school after graduating from college and worked for Deloitte in the Twin Cities for almost six years, leaving there as a manager. The outside experience is a must. She is now working with a great group of employees in our organization, learning the few things that she didn’t know before she came back to the banking environment. We have had all our children work in the bank in high school and college to understand the front line and back office areas of the bank. Now, we are working on the management side of the education.
What else do you see on the horizon for the bank? What are some of your priorities for 2019 and beyond?
We will continue to try to grow and expand our business. There is some truth to the saying that you must grow or die. Our priorities are still the same as they have always been: To take care of our customers first and to also take care of our employees, who are our most valuable asset.
Your family has been a strong supporter of other family businesses. The annual Boyd Hopkins Sr. Excellence in Family Business Award given by the Prairie Family Business Association is just one recurring example of it. What advice do you have for other families looking to follow a similar path to success as CorTrust?
Communicate with your children early and make them work elsewhere before they decide to come back to the family business. Work with good estate tax attorneys and accountants to make sure it is possible to pass on the family business. Working in a family business can be challenging but also very rewarding.