Discipline and Common Sense

John D. Zimmer
John D. Zimmer

By John D. Zimmer

At HNB National Bank, common-sense banking and remaining disciplined are very key to our success. We see the competitive side and aggressiveness of so many competitors get out of hand, and we have not followed down that path, which generally has a negative long-term consequence. We stay disciplined in pricing our loans and deposits. A strong interest rate margin is almost always present in a high-performing bank.

Our senior management team and our employees are like family. We treat the bank just like we own it, and it is ours. We have an awesome group of people who truly want to see the bank do well because they will do well. We have a saying that our staff bleeds green, which is our corporate color. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people who take their profession seriously is a key to any bank reaching high performance.

HNB National Bank
Hannibal, Mo.
ROAA in 2015: 2.30 percent
Assets: $396 million
Retail locations: 13
Employees: 130
Founded: 1888
Website: www.hnbbanks.com

We are a $396 million-asset community bank with 13 branches. You don’t see many banks of this size with this many branches. This causes us to really focus on our expenses and maintain a strong efficiency ratio at 51 percent. We set out about four years ago to look at every area of our bank and to negotiate better deals with vendors and cut the waste. It is amazing how these things can get out of hand if not closely monitored. I personally sign every expense check and review every bill weekly, and we have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars by doing this. It is a new culture that has taken hold throughout the organization. We feel it is very important to be good corporate citizens and give back to the communities that support us.

A major challenge for our bank, like all banks, is excessive regulation and keeping up with the technology to deliver the services our customers want. We have been committed to taking care of our customers, and investing in technology has been a key part of that. Whatever the generation we are targeting, we have to be able to deliver, and we are committed to do that. In the end, it is still people who make community banks what they are today. Any bank president or management team will only be as good as those they surround themselves with.

We feel good about what we are doing, and because of our results, this is our sixth year in a row of making ICBA’s top-performing list of community banks.


John D. Zimmer is president and CEO of HNB National Bank. He has 25 years of experience as a community banker.