How can we help? Call us at 360-455-1569 or email

3 Tips to be a Good 'Follower' in the Loan Department

I had a conversation with Philip Van Hooser this week. Phil is a resource to corporations on leadership and customer service, and has spoken to 2,800 audiences in 800 organizations in the United States and abroad. The guy knows leadership. And he is on the Board of Directors of Farmers Bank & Trust Company, a community bank in Princeton, Kentucky that was founded in 1899.

Phil got me thinking about ‘Followership‘.  I have just taken up sea kayaking and Followership was one of the modules in our training.

Here is what I learned. See how this might apply to the circumstances you find yourself in, especially if your loan department is stressed and stretched right now:

Everyone is responsible to the best of their abilities

  • In preparation for a sea kayaking trip with any potential risk (crossing, rough conditions, challenging weather) every paddler should
    • Compute the tides and currents for the trip
    • Check the weather starting four days out and daily up until the morning of the trip
    • Be sure they have all of their ‘essentials’ for rescuing themselves and others
  • We expect the leader to do it, but we have to add our knowledge to theirs.This is an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ environment and an amazing opportunity for all lenders to learn from the challenges we face.

Stay with the group 

  • While it is true that when you are first in lending you may not have great paddling skills, it is your responsibility to do your best to stay with the group
  • In rough seas, staying close means you can get or give help much more quickly
  • Stay in closer communications than usual with your mentor lender

Speak up and ask questions

  • The leaders cannot be everywhere and see everything
  • They are counting on you to speak up
    • “I don’t understand this credit.”
    • “These financial statements don’t look right to me.”
    • “I do not understand what I am supposed to do.”
    • “I do not know how to assess whether this borrower will be okay if we just extend the line of credit.”
    • “I can’t keep up.”

We are certainly in rough waters. In fact, the experienced lenders in your bank or credit union and even the Chief Lending Officer has not been here before.

If you are a ‘follower’, what other tips do you have to be a good follower right now?
If you are a ‘leader’, what would you suggest?

About the Author
Linda Keith CPA is an expert in credit risk readiness and credit analysis. She trains banks and credit unions throughout the United States, both in-house and in open-enrollment sessions, on Tax Return and Financial Statement Analysis. She is in the trenches with lenders, analysts and underwriters helping them say "yes" to good loans. Creator of the Tax Return Analysis Virtual Classroom at, she speaks at banking associations on risk management, lending and director finance topics.