LIBERTY — Drive through most metropolitan communities and there is a mix of small, medium and larger businesses. No matter where those businesses started, most of them probably had to begin with creating a solid business plan with information about the various fees required to start up a business including loans.
Rickey Pierce, a commercial loan officer at Clay County Savings Bank, 1178 W. Kansas St., Liberty, has been in the banking industry for 17 years, five at his current job.
Pierce received his associate’s degree from Kansas City, Kansas Community College and his bachelor’s from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He’s held management roles in the rental business, which included contract negotiations, a skill he said helps him today.“I have been working since I was 17 years old,” he said. “I have continued improving my skills with banking and finance classes, learning underwriting and more. As a commercial loan officer, I deal with various types of loans. I spend time gathering data and really getting down to understanding what the individual in front of me wants to accomplish. It’s relationship building.”
What would surprise people most to learn about your job?
“It’s one of the jobs that is constantly changing,” Pierce said. “It’s not the same each day. I may be working with someone on a cattle or agricultural loan to a tech business. It’s about doing research. Once I was looking at a loan for a person who wanted to offer cremation services. I had to do the research on the equipment needed. Another time, I was looking at people offering fresh-in, fresh-out prepackaged meals attached to a poultry plant. I learned how the operation really works. It’s about knowing the who, why and what we are lending for. It’s not just the customer, but the community network that is impacted too.”
What is the most rewarding aspect of your position or this field in particular?
“I really like helping people out,” he said. “I may be the one to explain that right now it’s a ‘No’ for that loan, but I will offer help on how that person or couple or team can improve their plans and come back in the near future. That’s what true community banking is.”
Would 10-year-old you be surprised that you are in this field or position?
“As a young child, I would see myself in a striped tie sitting in a building office,” he said. “I was never sure what the business would be, but I knew that much. If I’m having a tough day, I remember when I was a kid imagining where I would be.”
Outside of the workplace, when you meet somebody new, what tips you off that someone is another banker?
“Oftentimes, I can tell when people go more in-depth into a subject,” Pierce said. “My wife looks at me and asks if I am always thinking like a banker. People can figure that I’m in finance. I’m always thinking about how to make things better.”
What’s the most common question you get asked about what you do?
“The most common question is ‘Where are the rates at today?’” he said. “The other big question is ‘What does it take to get a loan?’ That’s when I invite people to sit down and talk.”
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
“Some customers come in with a packet of information that encompasses the whole picture of their finances,” he explained. “Others may bring me half of what I need. Then they have to provide data annually. It requires a lot to put a deal together. It’s what the bank needs. The second related challenge is communication. That is everything. You have to be as present as possible, listen well and be quiet to make sure you are hearing everything from that customer.”
What advice would you give someone who is starting a job similar to yours?
“My advice is to learn how to communicate,” Pierce said. “Be courteous, take the required courses and keep on learning.”