Emily Girsch, Lincoln Savings Bank | Most Powerful Women: Next

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Chief financial officer

Innovation is part of Emily Girsch's daily routine.

That's why the chief financial officer at Lincoln Savings Bank in Cedar Falls, Iowa, spends a lot of time thinking about the need to modernize bank regulations for the digital age.

"Sometimes the rules need to change with the times," said Girsch.

One of her responsibilities at Lincoln Savings is locking in new fintech partnerships. The $1.3 billion-asset bank has added 1.5 million customers in five years through the partnerships it has with fintechs like Square, Acorns, MoneyLion and Qapital.

Lincoln Savings gets a deposit boost from these partnerships by being the bank of record for accounts opened on their mobile apps.

Girsch is one of 15 women selected for our inaugural Next list. (This extension of our Most Powerful Women in Banking program is meant to highlight high-achieving women in the leadership pipeline who are age 40 and under.)

Besides her work on the fintech partnerships, Girsch also oversaw a major capital-raising effort last year — which was necessary because of fast loan growth. Loans increased more than 18% in 2017 and nearly 12% last year, to $987 million at Dec. 31, Girsch said.

The bank initially closed its private common stock offering with $15 million.

But after Girsch learned of interest from two institutional investors in California, she pursued deals with both.

"Emily has a strong presence, in the boardroom, mentoring others and serving in the community." — Erik Skovgard, president and CEO

She ended up raising $30 million — a feat President and Chief Executive Erik Skovgard said will enable Lincoln Savings "to continue to prosper and grow well into the future."

A total of 90 investors participated, including the two institutional investors, Castle Creek Capital and EJF Capital.

Girsch plans to stay in community banking for the rest of her career. After joining Lincoln Savings in 2002 from an accounting firm, Girsch, 40, moved up the ranks to the C-suite in just four years. She has been the CFO since her mid-20s.

Nominating executive: Erik Skovgard, president and CEO of Lincoln Savings

What he says: “Emily has a strong presence, in the boardroom, mentoring others and serving in the community," Skovgard wrote in nominating Girsch for the Next list. Skovgard added that he would not be surprised to see her in the top role someday, especially since she already has a good relationship with every board member. "The board respects and trusts her as a CFO and knows she would be a right fit for a future CEO,” he said.

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