Minster Bank Community Voices is an audio series that takes you behind the scenes and lets you hear firsthand stories from the people who make our organization great.
This week’s guest is Rhonda Keister, branch manager at our Sidney location.
Q: Tell me a little about your job.
I’ve been here for 17 years. I don’t know if there’s just one best part of my job.
It’s important to me to live and work and volunteer in my community. I like connecting with people to help them with their financial needs and build those relationships – many of which turn into friendships.
I wear many hats in my job as a branch manager, so each day brings a new challenge and rewards. Each day is different – sometimes it’s really busy on the mortgage side. Sometimes you’re meeting with clients all day long.
Q: What are different community initiatives you’ve worked on?
We’ve worked on several things. One of the things Minster Bank offers is a financial literacy program in schools. I help teach children from kindergarten through 12th grade and teach them about spending money, saving money, and the importance of good credit.
We volunteer a lot. Anytime there’s an Alzheimer’s walk or any parades, festivals, we like to engage in those.
I think it’s important to Minster Bank that we support our communities and help make them a better place to live and work. It’s important to me to know that I’m helping make a better community.
Q: What makes Minster Bank a community bank?
I think it’s our values and how we care about our customers. We want to build the kind of relationships that last for generations. I’ve seen customers coming in that I’ve made loans to their parents, and now the children are coming in, so that’s a good feeling that they’re coming back to Minster Bank.
Q: As a mortgage expert, what are your top tips for someone looking to buy their first home?
The first thing I would say would be to save money, as simple as that may sound. We have a lot of savings plans that can help you with saving money.
A down payment can help you with extra costs associated with buying a home.
Good credit history and good credit scores. A lot of interests and fees are determined by your credit score. So typically the higher your credit score, the lower your interest rates. Anything higher than a 680 would be a very good credit score. If you’re in the high 700s, that’s an excellent credit score.
It’s important to set a budget. It’s important to understand how much you can afford and how much your total payment will be. We look at debt ratios – if you look at total monthly obligations, they should not exceed 38 percent of your total gross income.
Q: What do you like to do outside of work?
I really like to do a lot of things. In the summertime I like to golf; I like to boat; I like to waterski – any kind of water sports. I like to cook – still working on that one, though.
I grew up on a farm outside of Sidney and moved to the city about 30 years ago.
Q: What made you want to go into finance and banking?
When I was a little girl and we would go into the bank that I had my savings account, I always thought it was a really cool place. Everyone was really friendly; everyone wore uniforms, and it was a place that I had always desired to work at.
I really enjoy working at Minster Bank because it’s a really family-friendly place to work. I really believe in their values, and it’s just a wonderful place. I feel blessed that I’m able to work and live in the community and volunteer.
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