By Julie Ann Madden
It was March 5, 1973, when the high school girl completed her first day of work at First National Bank in Akron, which is now known as Security National Bank.
Back then, banking was done with paper, pens, adding machines and typewriters, said current Marketing President Connie Blake.
On Jan. 8, 1980, Blake was appointed assistant cashier — the first of many promotions as she’s climbed the financial career ladder.
“We had a big machine that looked like a huge calculator with pockets (on the sides),” said Blake, explaining we would get paper reports from it to see what someone’s balance was, then we’d process those checks each night.
According to Akron’s quasquicentennial book, “Our Life: 1982-2007,” in January 1981, the Security National Corporation of Sioux City purchased the bank, which continued operations as First National Bank of Akron. Then in November of 1982, First National Bank purchased the Akron Savings Bank. The merger was completed June 17, 1983.
Banking began evolving with the Burroughs L-5000 machine, which contained magnetic strips with customers’ accounts and retained each account’s last balance, said Blake. “We still had to go into each account and post each debit and credit.”
“We dual posted at that time,” she said, explaining dual posting was how you verified if you balanced or not.
“Interest accrual on loans was calculated manually,” said Blake. “Everything was hand-typed with a typewriter.”
Banking officials had blank forms and typed everything on the forms, she said.
Next, came the Burroughs L-9000, where everything was read through the magnetic strips and the encoding on the bottom of checks.
Banking procedures have become more automated and electronic, said Blake, adding when they added teller machines, employees could balance with the machine. “Before that, you just had an adding machine, your beginning and ending balances, cash-ins and cash-outs.”
In April 1982, Blake was promoted to cashier. This was also the summer bank officials held a grand opening to introduce their new “Security 24-Hour Banking machine, now known as an Automated Teller Machine (ATM).
In June 1990, Blake was promoted to bank vice-president.
In March 1991, bank officials introduced “Wild West” accounts for children, a program that is still operating today at Akron-Westfield Community School. Its name was changed to Westerner National Bank in September 1998 and is open to children, Grades 1-6.
In August 1996, bank officials introduced the SNAP service providing automated banking information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by phone.
In May 2000, Blake became a licensed real estate agent, working under a Northwest Realty broker.
In November 2000, she was named “Outstanding Woman in Banking” for the State of Iowa.
In April 2001, bank officials began offering “free checking,” where customers were not charged fees for this type of account.
In October 2002, First National Bank began offering internet banking and bill pay services.
In May 2004, the new drive-up facility with drive-up ATM opened.
In March 2009, Blake was featured in the “Farm News” publication and also spoke to farm women participating in Plymouth County Extension’s “Annie’s Project,” a program teaching farm management skills.
In September 2009, Blake was named First National Bank president.
On April 26, 2010, First National Bank was merged into the Security National Corporation, resulting in the bank’s name being changed to Security National Bank of Akron. Blake’s duties didn’t change but her title became Marketing President of Security National Bank of Akron.
“Things have really changed (over the last 40 years),” said Blake. “Now we’re online. When people bring in a deposit, it’s posted live and it hits their account immediately. It’s the same as when they cash a check. Their account shows ‘pending’ but the amounts are immediately added or subtracted from their accounts.”
“Everything is done on the computer now,” she said, explaining all loan applications can be made online. “We’re extremely automated. If the computers are down, we’re down. Unfortunately.”
“We can still work offline at the teller line and make transactions such as cash checks,” said Blake, “and we can recover the last day’s business in the event we have a disaster.”
An advantage of being a Security National Bank branch office is customers can go to bank offices in Sioux City and Dakota Dunes, S.D., if Akron is down.
“It makes it pretty convenient,” she said, adding Sioux City customers can also come to the Akron bank.
Just this past month, Akron customers learned they can download a computer “app” application that will allow them to do all their banking from their Smart cell phones.
“People can check their account balances, transfer funds, make loan payments and retrieve their accounts’ activities,” said Blake.
“I’m sure there have been an awful lot more changes (over the years) but I take it for granted because we work with it every day,” she said.
“There’s still an immense focus on customer service,” she said, “because regardless of how much automation you have — if you don’t have good customer service and wonderful, great employees on your front line and throughout the bank, then nobody’s going to want to do business with you.”
“I think that’s one thing at Security – Akron; we have outstanding employees very focused on serving customers’ needs and doing it in a sincerely polite manner and also being concerned with the confidentiality.”
“I think we’ll continue to become even more automated,” said Blake. “People are going to be able to do more things without coming in to the bank. That’s just going to continue.”
“I think that’s wonderful for some people but it also concerns me — losing that personal contact with your customers,” she said. “That’s part of the job I enjoy immensely.”
“It’s working with people — helping them make their dreams come true and helping them with their personal finances or business finances,” said Blake. “I learn from them as well as anything because you’re not out there on a daily basis involved with the operations.”
“People coming in to see you really helps,” she said, “because you’re able to be more attuned to what they are doing.”
“It’s really hard to envision what potentially is coming down the road,” said Blake as she looks back on her 40 years in banking.
Security National Corporation officials are hosting an open house this Friday in honor of her 40 years of service. See ad below.