The World’s Greatest Banker

Frank Brock, President, First Bank of Troy, Idaho

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.”

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at dennyhatch.com.

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Comments
  • Max

    I have worked with financial institutions nationwide. Never found one like the Bank of Troy. Shame.

  • Reg Doherty

    “We are interested in others when they are interested in us.”
    — Publius Syrus (42 BC)
    — Maxim 16

  • Peter Rosenwald

    Wonderful story and oh, so true.

    It is an antidote to all the bank horror stories which are common today. (I have a couple but you and your readers don’t have hours to hear them.).

    What’s CRM? It’s what Frank Brock did naturally. It’s not technology: that’s like having sex. It’s caring: that’s like making love. He obviously knew the difference.

  • Etoain Shrdlu

    Dan Rattiner, the founder of Dan’s Papers in the fashionable Long Island Hamptons tells the story of how he started his enterprise in the resort area as a four page weekly. After a year, he wanted to expand to eight pages. But the printer wanted $2,500up front for the press run, and Dan didn’t have it. So he went to see the president of a bank in Bridgehampton, who loaned him the money on a handshake. it was a ‘”character loan,” said the bank president, who explained that he thought the ambitious twenty-something publisher had good character and would therefore repay. He did. More than a half century later, Dan’s Papers are thicker than the local Hamptons telephone book, Dan is a very well-to-do man, and the banker must be rolling in his grave watching what’s going on in the banking business.