Mark A. Zaback
Jonah Bank of Wyoming operates on similar principles encapsulated in “Cowboy Ethics,” a book that is based on the Code of the West. Mark Zaback, president and CEO, said the bank created its own code in an effort to enhance its mission of building a better Wyoming.
The Code of the West was never written. Authorities, however, know it existed and every cowboy knew it.
It puts hard work, integrity and trust above the bottom line—principles that the book’s author, Jim Owen, said the business world, especially Wall Street, lacks. He wrote “Cowboy Ethics” after 35 years as a successful businessman because he was dismayed by the country’s epidemic of corporate scandals and social discord. Like Jonah Bank, the State of Wyoming adopted the Ten Principles of Cowboy Ethics as its official state code in 2010.
Jonah Bank’s two major shareholders and its employees also embraced the bank’s code, Zaback said, which has helped the bank become a vital part of the Casper and Cheyenne communities.
“It’s truly not about making money for investors,” said Zaback, a director on the Kansas City Fed’s Denver Branch Board. “We make decisions that may not seem right for the bank in the short term, but they’re the right decisions that work for the bank in the long term.”
It’s about working hard, building trust and following through on commitments.
Although he spends a lot of time in meetings and making sure the bank operates efficiently and effectively—“At a small bank you wear a lot of hats; I wear a lot of hats”— Zaback works toward making sure the bank and its branches are a part of the community not just in the community.
A connection to community is what Zaback wants to provide the Kansas City Fed’s Denver Branch.
“As a community bank, what you’re dealing with—your customers, your business transactions—is important,” he said. And what the Fed deals with—monetary policy and economic assessments—is just as important. That’s why Zaback makes sure he provides information that is timely and an accurate reflection of what’s happening not only in Casper and Cheyenne, but also in the state of Wyoming.
“We bring in current information, not just the numbers, but a grassroots-level perspective,” he said.