Kerr battling to keep banking more personal than technical

Jack Kerr says no amount of technical education can train someone to be a banker.
Jack Kerr says no amount of technical education can train someone to be a banker.

After repairing and tuning – pianos, that is – his way through graduate school, banking was the “furthest thing” from Jack Kerr’s mind.

Perhaps something in the insurance industry. Anything except the steel mills of Indiana. But when his wife’s uncle mentioned a job opening at a bank, it turned into a career. And banking involves much more than underwriting a person’s ability to repay, Kerr said. It’s character that matters.

“No amount of technical education trains you to be a banker,” he said. “If you think it’s 90 percent technical and 10 percent interpersonal – it’s just the opposite. You’re lending to people, not things.”

Kerr recently took time to tell CSBJ about himself and his organization.

Organization: First Commercial Bank Colorado

Position: Market president

Hometown: Hammond, Ind.

How long have you lived in Colorado Springs: 23 years

Education: Bachelor’s degree in business administration from Grace College, Winona Lake, Ind.; master’s degree in management from Ball State University, Muncie, Ind.

A few words about your company: First Commercial Bank is a 13-year operation that originated as a community bank in Edmond/northern Oklahoma City. We have six branches in the Oklahoma City area.

The Colorado Springs branch was the second to open in Colorado; a branch in Lone Tree opened last year.

Our lending expertise includes real estate, owner occupied business, residential development and medical lending.

Recent accomplishments: Got my wife to completely organize her quilting/sewing room.

Biggest career break: Walking off the street into Gar Annelar’s office at United Bank during 1986 and asking for a job. He said yes.

This gave me an opportunity to work with many of the best and most talented bankers in the region. Most of those people have become long-term friends and senior executives in the El Paso County financial community.

The toughest part of your job: Management, paperwork and financial regulations.

Someone you admire: My mother. She raised my two older sisters after the Great Depression. They were musically trained and received college degrees, which was not the norm for that time.

From a professional standpoint, I enjoy watching Tiger Woods play golf. He brings focus, intensity, commitment and enjoyment to perfecting his craft.

About your family: I’ve been married for 33 years. My wife and I have two children, a 30-year-old daughter and a 28-year-old son.

Something else you’d like to accomplish: Keeping the government out of my pocketbook for the next four years.

How your business will change during the next decade: I believe there will be more nationalized regulations, fewer local banks and less personalized service.

Mortgage lending has become more systemized and technical. I hope commercial lending will remain more “art” than “science” by virtue of its diversity, complexity, and individual assessment and feel for the borrower and the project.

What book are you currently reading? Og Mandino, Vince Flynn, and some real old Robert Ludlum.

What is the one thing you would change about Colorado Springs? Focus on a commitment to the downtown core – arts/ entertainment, shopping, housing and recreation. We need to create a sense of community, utilizing the Springs’ history, culture and attractions.