Like a solider that never leaves a comrade behind, Alice Hensen couldn't abandon Bank of Sun Prairie in Wisconsin in its time of need as the financial crisis hit.
Hensen, the president of the $314 million-asset bank, had planned on ending her more than four decades in banking by retiring several years ago but ended up postponing that because "there was no way I was leaving the bank during that time," she says. She felt that she needed to stay and help guide the bank through that difficult period that included its first ever loss.
Now that the bank and the industry are back on more solid footing, Hensen has planned to step down at yearend to get new talent into the bank, she says.
"While I will miss the bank dearly, I think it is good to get some new blood and energy," Hensen says. "I think I owe that to the bank."
Hensen, 68, began her banking career with Bank of Sun Prairie 48 years ago when she was 20 years old, working in back-room-proofing transactions. Over the years she experienced almost every department of the bank, something she attributes to her success as president.
"As the leader of the bank you need to work with all of the staff and be available for questions and concerns," Hensen says. "You need to be on top of what is going on in all the departments."
Hensen considers leading the bank through the financial downturn as her greatest accomplishment. The bank lost $5.8 million in 2010, according to data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., but always maintained its dividend. After hunkering down, making changes to policies and learning some lessons about due diligence, the bank returned to profitability the following year.
Bank of Sun Prairie is currently looking at external and internal candidates to replace Hensen. She hopes her successor will be well rounded and energetic, love community banking and look to stay at the bank for the long haul.
"I hope the bank continues to grow and meet the needs of the customers," Hensen says. "I hope the bank keeps moving forward as it has been but maybe at a faster pace. With the great recession behind us, we could experience more growth now."