Member Benefits: Meeting you where you are

Many community banks join ICBA after a conversation with a membership relationship officer. These six individuals tour the country to meet with community bankers like you in order to maximize your membership and better your balance sheet.

By Eric Best

Some describe them as ambassadors, consultants or even connectors in the community banking industry. How about all of the above?

ICBA’s six member relationship officers (MROs), also known as calling officers, connect ICBA member banks with solutions of all kinds, from ICBA Bancard’s debit, credit and merchant processing solutions to ICBA Securities’ investment products. The MROs’ ultimate goal is to make sure community banks get the maximum benefit out of their membership.

“We’re sort of bringing the whole quiver of arrows that ICBA has and trying to see where we might be able to assist banks to better enhance their efficiency, better enhance their operations, better enhance their structure—you name it,” says Loughlin Cleary, MRO for the Northeast region.

MROs live and work in their respective regions. They typically bring several years of regional experience with banking solutions and the community banking industry to their work, which means they may already be familiar faces to the members they serve. “We live in our territory, so we know the bankers in our territories and we know our communities,” says Tim Daly, who represents the Great Lakes region.

Their work comes down to boosting membership and connecting member banks with “vetted and valued” banking solutions from ICBA and dozens of its subsidiary companies and other corporate partners, Cleary says.

The unique discounts can add up. MROs know ICBA’s membership offering inside and out, from free social media monitoring to online education classes for community bank staff that they can take advantage of anytime, anywhere. And when a community banker has a question about a new solution, an upcoming trend or a cutting-edge challenge, Brandy Smallbrock, MRO for the Northwest, says they can find them an answer—or at least an expert at ICBA who can.

“There is nothing community bankers can’t call us about and ask a question about.”
—Brandy Smallbrock, ICBA

“As things change rapidly in the banking industry, our banks are needing us more and more for assistance,” she says. “Whether it’s anything that’s happening within their bank, they should just always think of ICBA as their partner. There is nothing community bankers can’t call us about and ask a question about, whether it’s a product or solution or an issue, that we don’t know about.”

“We laugh at their weddings. We cry at their funerals. And banking is a lot like that. Banking is a very close-knit industry.”
—Chip Lynch, ICBA

Ultimately, the MROs say their work resembles what community bankers do every day: make relationships, build trust and forge connections. Southwest MRO Chip Lynch says of community bankers: “We laugh at their weddings. We cry at their funerals. And banking is a lot like that. Banking is a very close-knit industry.”


David Moore

Southeast (AL, DC, FL, GA, MD, MS, NC, SC, TN and VA)

With more than 17 years under his belt at ICBA, David Moore is the longest-serving member relationship officer.

Before that, Moore spent another two decades working with community banks and other financial institutions of all sizes at The John H. Harland Co., headquartered in Atlanta, where Moore is originally from. His experiences left him wanting to do two things: work from home and work for community banks. “ICBA allowed me to do both,” he says.

For Moore, being an MRO has been “a real honor and privilege.” “Most people don’t look at their job that way, but [community banks] really are special businesses and special people,” he says.

Beyond working with community banks, Moore plays golf and works with plants and landscaping. The self-described family man spends time with his wife, their grown child and two grandchildren.

Asked about the best parts of the job, Moore talks about jumping in his car, coffee in hand. “I try to get to the town where the bank is located early so I can browse around and get a sense of the community,” he says. “The idea of freedom, of hitting the road and getting out early, is always appealing to me.”

Local knowledge

Blueberry Plantation Inn & Country Club
Alma, Ga.
David Moore has never played the golf course at Blueberry Plantation, but it hasn’t stopped him from meeting ICBA members there over the years. “Here’s a piece of trivia: Georgia is one of the blueberry capitals of the U.S.,” he says. “Most people think of peaches or peanuts, but blueberries are a significant crop.”

Chip Lynch

Southwest (AR, AZ, LA, NM, OK and TX)

Chip Lynch is a self-described “banking nerd.” The lifelong Texan says he likes to tinker like his father, an engineer, but instead of science, Lynch would rather learn the ins and outs of a community bank. “I have that engineering mindset, but I don’t like physics and calculus,” he says. “Going through a balance sheet to see how it works is a whole lot more fun.”

Lynch got a degree in finance and found his way into the banking industry through a connection at a local community bank in his hometown of New Boston, Texas. “A community banker got me into this business,” he says.

Prior to his 13 years as a member relationship officer with ICBA, Lynch worked in retail banking as a construction and commercial lender, and then as a director of marketing and membership for the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas.

Beyond the banking industry, Lynch is an avid bicyclist and hopes to complete an Ironman triathlon someday. He raises cattle at a small ranch operation just south of Dallas. “It lets us wear cowboy boots and feel like we deserve them,” he says.

Local knowledge

H&H Car Wash
El Paso, Texas
Choosing where to eat isn’t easy in the Southwest, which, according to Chip Lynch, has the country’s best food. The H&H Car Wash diner in downtown El Paso was good enough for Julia Child, who once visited. “People always talk about the food almost everywhere I go,” Lynch says. “In the South, if it’s not food, it’s football.”

Sean Murphy

Midwest (CO, IA, KS, MI, MO, NE and WI)

Sean Murphy is the most recent recruit to the MRO team. “I’m what you call a newbie,” he says.

Murphy, who represents the Midwest region between Michigan and Colorado, started the position roughly six months ago after spending more than 20 years in the fintech and banking solutions world.

He grew up in Green Bay, Wis., but has lived in Cedarburg, a city of 11,000 near Milwaukee, for nearly two decades. Murphy hasn’t forgotten his Green Bay roots, though. He cheers for the Packers and often attends games as a season ticket holder. He also enjoys hunting, golfing and spending time with his family—his wife and their two kids. His daughter recently started college in Iowa.

Murphy spent last fall’s convention season traveling across his region, in some cases extending his stay in various cities to meet with community bankers. He says he and the other MROs can be a resource for members because they bring previous finance sector experience—in his case, fintech—and connect with so many community banks.

“I can get the quote-unquote ‘pulse of the community banking scene,’” he says.

Local knowledge

Iowa 80
Walcott, Iowa
Thanks to his job and a daughter who goes to college there, Sean Murphy spends a lot of time driving through the Hawkeye State. It’s how he discovered Iowa 80, the world’s biggest truck stop. “You can’t miss it. It’s kind of in the middle of nowhere,” he says.

Tim Daly

Great Lakes (IL, IN, KY, OH, PA and WV)

Tim Daly, an ICBA MRO for going on four years, has lived his whole life in Valparaiso, Ind., which he jokingly refers to as “Vale of Paradise.”

“I made it a whole block and a half,” he says. “My brother, who’s my mailman, lives in the house that I grew up in. It’s a perfect little town. We’re an hour from Chicago, so I can go there for a ball game or live music.”

Daly put in one job application after college, more than 20 years ago. He’s been in the banking and banking solutions industries ever since.

He’s planted deep roots in his local community, too. Daly has served on Valparaiso’s City Council, the Valparaiso Park Board and the Porter County Museum Foundation. He and his wife’s two young children keep busy thanks to sports, choir, robotics, and after-school language classes and other activities.

Daly says he takes pride in his work because he gets to help community bankers help communities of all kinds. “You learn a lot from people, their ways of life,” he says. “One day I may be in an Amish community and the next day I could be in Chicago.”

Local knowledge

Wrigley Field
Luckily for Tim Daly, a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, the team’s home is only about an hour’s drive from his home in Valparaiso, Ind. In his free time, Daly coaches youth sports.

Brandy Smallbrock

Northwest (AK, CA, HI, ID, MN, MT, ND, NV, OR, SD, UT, WA and WY)

Community banking is a family affair for Brandy Smallbrock.

She’s spent more than five years with ICBA, including the past year and a half as a member relationship officer representing a swath of the country stretching from California to her resident state of Minnesota, plus Alaska and Hawaii. Before Smallbrock joined the association, she met her husband—a community banker—while working for a bank.

Outside the banking world, Smallbrock keeps busy volunteering with her church, a school planning committee and a local nonprofit. She and her husband frequently ferry their three children—eighth-, ninth- and 10th-graders—to sporting events near the St. Cloud, Minn., area where they live. Whether it’s dance competitions, baseball games or even bass fishing tournaments, Smallbrock says there’s always some activity going on. They like to relax in true Minnesota fashion. “We love spending time on the lake,” she says.

With such a large region to cover, Smallbrock is on the road constantly. Occasionally, a community bank trip will take her near her hometown of Crosby, N.D., on the border near Montana and Canada.

“I’ve been to 18 different states [in 2018]. It’s crazy,” she says.

Local knowledge

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport
When you have both Alaska and Hawaii in your region, getting friendly with airports around the country isn’t a choice. Brandy Smallbrock favors hubs in Salt Lake City; Portland, Ore.; and Sacramento, Calif., but MSP is among her favorites. “It’s busy but never out of control,” she says. “It actually feels like my office.”

Loughlin Cleary

Northeast (CT, DE, MA, ME, NH, NJ, NY, RI and VT)

Loughlin Cleary is well prepared to run around New England for ICBA. The MRO and his wife have both run several marathons.

Cleary likes to keep active, whether it’s a weekly ice hockey game, a home improvement project or a round of golf in Duxbury, a coastal community near Boston, where his family is based. The town is known for its oysters and for the Powder Point Bridge, once the world’s oldest and longest wooden bridge. Cleary and his family—they have three boys between 3 and 7—also spend time boating, fishing and going to the beach.

“I spend my days having conversations with folks trying to help them solve problems.”
—Loughlin Cleary, ICBA

Cleary has worked with community banks for about 20 years, including almost three as an MRO. Before ICBA, he worked at the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston for nearly 17 years. His favorite part of the job? Helping community banks thrive. “I spend my days having conversations with folks trying to help them solve problems,” he says.

Local knowledge

Acela Express Train
New York
Getting around the Northeast sometimes calls for a train ride. For Loughlin Cleary, the best one is the Acela Express Train between Boston and New York. “Taking the train, you get to work and see the world go by,” he says.

Eric Best is deputy editor of Independent Banker.