MINNEAPOLIS — Larry Ness, chairman and CEO of First Dakota National Bank of Yankton, has been named 2018 Banker of the Year by NorthWestern Financial Review magazine.
Bell Bank partners with NorthWestern Financial Review as program sponsor to honor the 72-year-old banker. Ness started working at First Dakota National Bank when it was on the verge of failing and turned it into one of the nation’s leading agricultural lenders and one of South Dakota’s leading financial institutions.
“As chairman and CEO, Ness is reaping the rewards of a lifetime of work,” says NorthWestern Financial Review publisher Tom Bengtson. “Ness shares many leadership traits with previous Banker of the Year selections, including having a knack for innovation, aggressively recruiting talent, recognizing opportunities in tough times, being engaged in helping the community, and gratitude.
“In nearly 35 years at First Dakota, he has hired the right people, strung together a series of savvy acquisitions, built a culture of decisiveness and fun by leading and delegating, brought his three sons into the bank, built the nation’s 38th largest ag loan portfolio, won the respect of his community by giving back time and treasure, and encouraged employees, customers and students to make the most of what they have.”
Prior to landing the presidency at First Dakota National Bank in 1983, Ness worked four years as an examiner at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and he worked as a banker in Mitchell for seven years and in Volga for two years.
Rob Stephenson, who joined First Dakota National Bank in 1996 and became its president in 2010, said Ness, “regularly provides the inspiration needed for things to happen in the Yankton community.” Stephenson cited the Yankton United Way and Yankton Area Progressive Growth fund drives as examples.
Ness is the magazine’s 30th Banker of the Year selection. His is only the third selection from the state of South Dakota.