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Home / New MidWestOne CEO Chip Reeves says bank will open Cedar Rapids office in 2023
IOWA CITY — MidWestOne, a bank founded in 1934 in Iowa City, will open its first Cedar Rapids branch in 2023, its new leader said.
“We’re the largest bank in Iowa, but we have not had a physical brick-and-mortar presence in Cedar Rapids,” said Chip Reeves, who became MidwestOne’s chief executive officer Nov. 1. “That will change in the first quarter of 2023.”
Reeves, 55, talked with The Gazette about his connection with former CEO Charlie Funk, the role of a community bank and the ways the industry is evolving.
Q: You were CEO of Beach Bancorp Inc., based in Florida, and before that worked in the Pacific Northwest. Iowa has no mountains or oceans. What drew you here?
A: “It’s really a return to Midwestern roots and values. I grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and went to Miami of Ohio. My wife, Michelle, grew up in the northern suburbs of Chicago and also went to Miami. I worked 22 years with Fifth Third Bank, which is primarily based in the Midwest.”
Q: With longtime MidWestOne CEO Charlie Funk’s August bike accident and rehabilitation, have you had a chance to talk with him?
A: “I first spoke with Charlie about 2 1/2 years ago and we both enjoyed the dialogue even that long ago. We reconnected in March or April as Charlie announced his intentions to retire. Over these last two months, I’ve been able to spend some quality time with him. He’s been an outstanding mentor and board member.”
Q: You have some other things in common, right?
A: “Charlie is a tall individual who played basketball in college. I’m 6’7’’ and played basketball at Miami of Ohio. Charlie’s legal name is Charles. My legal name is Charles. My middle initial is actually ‘N’; so is Charlie’s. I spent five years in southwest Florida, in Naples, and I actually worked in the same building that MidWestOne is in there.”
Q: What structures or cultures did Funk put in place at MidWestOne Bank that made you want to lead the organization?
A: “Two things that I think are Charlie Funk’s legacy. One, it’s a legacy of growth. When Charlie first became CEO of what was, at that time, Iowa State Bank, it was probably only $300 or $400 million in size. Today, MidWestOne, across five states, is worth $6.5 billion. The other is the culture and the values and our operating principles.”
Q: The movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” is popular this time of year. The Baileys were a banking family deeply integrated in the community and its needs. How much of being a bank CEO today is about being active in the community?
A: “It’s critical. It’s what separates us as a community bank. My wife and I have lived by those values throughout our lives. You’ll see me being extremely involved in the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids Corridor and community. I have meetings later this week and next week with the United Way of Johnson County, with the school district here in Iowa City. I’ll be looking to become part of the Iowa Banker’s Association and many of our team members are incredibly intertwined with the community.”
Q: For a while, it seemed like there were bank branches on every corner. Has that changed with more mobile banking?
A: “Why you are seeing less branches today is because the customer has chosen how they desire to interact with us for their normal daily banking. The transactions pieces have gone digital. That’s why we as an industry and we at MidWestOne have invested so much in our digital online experiences.
“What that also means is when a customer is visiting us in our branches or offices, we have to be great bankers because most of that now is around specific events, advice or solutions. We spend an incredible amount of time in education and training of our bankers and I think we have the best in the market.”
Q: Cryptocurrency is viewed by some as an alternative to traditional banks. To what degree have traditional banking institutions interacted with crypto and is there any intersection?
A: “If you look out to 2030 and 2040, digital currency will almost replace real currency. However, the speculation of crypto or Bitcoin, etc., I’ve always looked at that as a little bit of a Ponzi scheme. But the digital currency, the payment systems that are coming from blockchain are absolutely here to stay. I believe we’ll ultimately see the Federal Reserve begin to step into the space and create a federal digital currency.”
Q: We’d love to hear about your family.
A: “I love to brag about my family. We have four children. They are boy, girl, girl, boy: 26, 24, 22 and then we took 10 years off and have a boy who is 13 years old and will be relocating here to Iowa City with my wife, Michelle.”
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