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The World’s Greatest Banker

Frank Brock, President, First Bank of Troy, Idaho

July 22, 2014 By Denny Hatch
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This is the era of bad-ass bankers and banks "too big to fail." For example:

• In 2013: Eight international banks were fined $2.3 billion in a global LIBOR-rigging scandal.

•In 2014: Wall Street banks and their foreign competitors were assessed fines of $100 billion as settlements in the financial crisis of 2008. Among them: JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs.

This is roughly the entire GDP of Monaco.

An Extraordinary Email
What triggered this column was the message from a reader who came across a story I wrote 10 years ago about the world's greatest banker. She, too, knew this bank and had some fascinating new information about him. Here goes:

Bob Hemmings is one of the great men of direct marketing. Now in his 90s and proprietor of the Hemmings IV Direct agency in Pasadena, Calif., Hemmings is dapper, intense, powerfully built, immediately recognizable with his Adolph Menjou mustache and bone crusher of a handshake.

In his younger days, an employer of Hemmings was Frank Brock, president of the First Bank of Troy, Idaho. Troy's population in 1960 was 514; Brock's bank had 6,000 active accounts—12 times as many people who lived in the town. He had customers in 45 states, and around the world as far away as Pago Pago, American Samoa.

What was Brock's secret?

Hemmings recalled that Brock knew precisely what business he was in. "I am in the financial services business to help provide finances for my customers—from the cradle to the grave," he said.

Brock once made a loan to a man who had robbed the bank five years before. He was caught and served three years in prison. Brock said: "He has learned his lesson. I don't hold past mistakes against him. He is a much more stable individual now."

According to Hemmings, Frank Brock knew practically all of his customers by their first names; whenever a good loan customer ran into financial difficulty, the bank carried him—without dunning notices or pilling up interest charges—until he was back on his feet.

 

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