Bankers' Bank of Wisconsin is expanding its business by offering services to community banks in Iowa.

The $90 million-asset Bankers' Bank will market government investment and municipal bond services, as well as audit and examination services to independent banks in the state.

The move comes as the number of banks in Wisconsin shrank to 441 as of March 31, from 524 in 1988, according to Sheshunoff Information Services Inc., Austin, Tex.

"We are a growing bank in a shrinking market," said Helge S. Christensen, president and director of the Madison, Wis-based institution. "At some point that line is going to intersect; we will be a shrinking bank in a shrinking market."

Paving the Way

Mr. Christensen said Iowa has a market with about 300 independent banks. He has tried to pave the way into the state by meeting with bankers and Iowa's banking commissioner.

"There is interest," he said. "No one has signed up for our services yet. Anytime someone from out of state comes in there are going to be those initial concerns."

He said the bank is also eyeing northern Illinois and Michigan's upper peninsula for future expansion. And it may start offering services to savings banks.

"We have the earnings base and the capital base where we can seriously look at expanding our resources," he said.

Bankers' Bank earned $450,000 for the first six months of the year. It has $7.5 million in total capital. With a staff of 52 employees, Bankers' Bank competes with much larger regional banks for correspondent banking business. It is putting together two sizable loan syndications, which close this month.

Over the last three months it rounded up 65 community banks that have put up $13 million for an office building in Madison. Bankers' Bank will underwrite and service the loan in conjunction with the lead bank. The bank also assembled 35 banks to lend $15 million for a Wal-Mart discount store and Sam's Club.

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