From the second-floor conference room window of Two Rivers Bank & Trust’s Ingersoll Avenue branch, Shane Zimmerman can see some nearby competition, among them a branch of his former employer, Wells Fargo, and a newcomer to Iowa, Chase, which will soon locate a branch just to the west of Two Rivers. But Zimmerman says having big banks as neighbors isn’t a problem — in fact, it emphasizes the difference that Two Rivers offers as a community bank. 

Two Rivers Bank & Trust’s board appointed Zimmerman as the bank’s new president and CEO in October 2020. For the seven years before that, Zimmerman was senior vice president, area business manager and commercial banking leader for Wells Fargo in Iowa. 

He has more than 25 years of banking experience, with focused expertise in commercial banking and business development. A graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, Zimmerman has an MBA from Drake University. 

Based in Burlington, Two Rivers’ branches operate in 11 Iowa cities, including Des Moines, Ankeny and West Des Moines. The bank’s earnings were a record $9.29 million in 2020, up 32% from 2019, and last December, Two Rivers for the first time exceeded $1 billion in assets. The bank is a wholly owned subsidiary of Two Rivers Financial Group, a publicly traded stock company.

 

What attracted you to move from Wells Fargo for this position? 

When I was in college and started in banking, [Wells Fargo] was Norwest at the time and I started off as a teller. I saw how the bank operated, and there was a bank president and I thought to myself, ‘You know, one day, that’d be pretty cool to be the bank president.’ Of course in an organization like Wells Fargo, that’s not likely going to happen with 260,000 people, and one person running the show. But I was reminded that that was a dream I had. And at this point in my career where I still have 15-plus years to go, I thought to myself, now’s the time to see if it’s a possibility. I’ve known of Two Rivers and known some of the people that work at Two Rivers and they’ve always done a very nice job with customers. The stars aligned — they had a need and I was open to the opportunity and after looking at it, my strengths really aligned with the organization’s values. Coming from a large organization to a relatively small community bank that’s very community-minded, it’s been refreshing. 


What would you say your strengths are, and how do they complement Two Rivers? 

Some of my organic strengths are really around strategic thinking, collaboration, really looking at the context of our current environment and where we want to go and how we’re going to get there. It’s quite common for me to get a group of people together to brainstorm an idea or brainstorm a problem and really to get collective views so that we can have consensus on the best possible solution. You know, I’m not the brightest person in the room — my job is to put the brightest people in the room.


Shortly after you joined Two Rivers the bank reached the milestone of $1 billion in assets for the first time. Does that change Two Rivers’ game plan at all? 

You know, 2020 was a challenging year in so many ways to serve customers when there was so much uncertainty in the marketplace with COVID and the economic impacts. And although I was only with Two Rivers a very short time at the end of 2020, I was very impressed with how well they did to serve customers. We hit a number of milestones in 2020, record earnings being one, and it was a strategic goal for us to get to $1 billion in assets. That’s an important milestone for any bank’s growth strategy. It’s important for us not only to hit that but then to continue to serve customers in the best possible way to help fuel that growth. … We are committed to growing organically, meaning serving our communities that we’re already in, and to make sure our communities and customers are well taken care of. We do in addition have specific growth goals that could include acquisitions like what we did in Keokuk — branch or whole-bank acquisitions. 


How do you see your leadership role with Two Rivers? 

I really see that leadership as — and maybe it’s a bit overused term — the servant leader. I’m here to work for everybody else in this company. How can I make your life easier, help [you] be successful? I give you the tools to be successful to help our customers, and when our customers succeed, then we’re going to succeed. I really think that engaged loyal team members lead to happy customers. As an organization, especially in banking nowadays, we talk about loyal customers. I really see it as our bank needs to be loyal to our customers. Customers deserve loyalty from the organizations or providers that they use, and I really think that’s a differentiator for us in the future. When you look at customers and what they need from a financial institution, we really believe in high touch, and high technology. 


What are some of the significant technological changes? 

Our website was redone in June to become more informative, more transactional, with the ability to actually conduct business. At that same time, we launched the ability for personal accounts to be opened online from end to end. We also added last year a residential mortgage online application solution. That would be very similar to some of the big online banks. And these are all things that are happening right here in Central Iowa or in Iowa with a community bank. There is more product development in the works; I can’t share a lot of details other than it would be more in the commercial banking space to give customers more options. 


How would you describe the present mix of Two Rivers’ share of commercial banking business as compared with personal banking? Is the bank moving more toward commercial banking as a bigger piece of the pie? 

Two Rivers is kind of a tale of two banks. In our legacy market in southeast Iowa, we have tremendous market share across the board. In markets like Iowa City and Des Moines, it’s much more a commercial bank, with commercial and residential loans. But we are investing in growing our retail banking/consumer banking in Central Iowa. That’s a strategic move for us to grow our residential mortgage and to grow commercial and industrial banking in Central Iowa. That’s the growth opportunity here. We do have a tremendous wealth management business in our legacy markets, but not in Des Moines, and that’s a priority down the road. … The story, I think, for banking in Central Iowa is [all the institutions are] here and everybody wants the same thing. I think our differentiation is personal touch and speed, and the investment in technology to complement the personal touch and speed. 


Now that you’re leading a smaller community bank, do you see your civic involvement changing? 

That’s a really good question. I joined the board of the Iowa Bankers Mortgage Corp. — we’re a large provider of loans through them, and Wells Fargo doesn’t do that; they sell their own loans. So that’s new. Some things that haven’t changed: I serve on the Youth Emergency Services & Shelter board. That organization merged recently with Youth Homes of MidAmerica, and now it’s called Ellipsis. So I serve on the board of the new organization. I’m covering a lot of markets — I’m here in Des Moines but also in other parts of our footprint, so I get requests to serve on local organizations’ boards. Some of them are good fits, and others, we have people that would probably do a better job than I would. 


What have you been reading lately? 

I’m not a big reader, but I read “The Culture Code” [by Daniel Coyle] recently. Going into a new culture of a new organization from one that I knew so well, I wanted to get some perspective and read that book. It’s a really good read. I spend a lot of time in the car, so I actually listen to a fair amount of podcasts, too.