By DENNIS GRUBAUGH
Paul Abert’s financial acumen is grounded in the advice he’s received from a litany of experts, a veritable Who’s Who of local banking. It served him well. Today, he is Madison County community president of Town and Country Bank.
And his family roots go deep across Edwardsville, making him a familiar face to many, many people.
“It’s amazing to see how the city’s evolved,” he said. “Seeing that kind of growth, having the family ties, having involvement with the different good causes that are there, it just made sense to try to be a banker in this town.”
Abert, an Edwardsville native, graduated high school in 1984, just a year after he began his bank career while a co-operative education student.
He interviewed with the old Edwardsville National Bank and got a job in the mailroom.
“Anything they didn’t want to do is what I got to do,” he laughed, “whether it was cleaning up the lot or running errands.”
From EHS, Abert went on to get an undergraduate degree, a Bachelor of Science in Business with a specialization in finance. That was in 1988, just about the time that Mark Twain Bank bought Edwardsville National Bank.
He worked with Mark Twain’s deposit and loan operations and got into what he called a good, yearlong training program.
He left the bank in March of 1990, following one of his early mentors, John Fruit, who went to Landmark Bank in Glen Carbon. Abert worked as a junior loan officer at the bank’s various area locations just as the surge of bank buyouts during that era was picking up. Landmark became Magna Bank, which was ultimately bought out by Union Planters Bank.
He got his MBA in 1993 from SIUE and stayed with Union Planters until leaving to go to the Bank of Edwardsville in 2001.
“I was fortunate in my career to work there with the likes of Bob Wetzel, one of the best community bankers ever. I also worked for Tom Holloway, another great one. Then, I left Bank of Edwardsville to join First Clover Leaf Bank at the end of 2011.”
He considers himself lucky to have worked at First Clover Leaf with Dennis Terry, “another good community banker.”
He stayed there for about six years, until after First Mid Bank & Trust bought out Clover Leaf.
And that’s when Town and Country Bank came calling, offering the community banker role that he sought.
“That’s how I grew up in banking, that’s what I knew. In 2018, I joined Town and Country. I credit another banker, Bart Solon, who brought me to Town and Country Bank.” Solon is a board member of Town and Country.
“Throughout my career I learned not only from my dad and my uncles and my grandfather, but I learned from these tremendous bankers,” he said.
All of them taught him the value of giving back to the community. He joined Rotary along the way and got involved in many other charitable causes, which has earned him plaudits as a civic leader. Two years ago, he won the Albert Cassens Award given for volunteerism by the Edwardsville-Glen Carbon Chamber of Commerce.
“You don’t do it for the recognition, but getting recognized is super rewarding,” he said. “Certainly knowing Albert Cassens, it meant a lot to me.”
Abert and his wife Darla have two grown children, Nathan (married to Paige) and Mallory, who was named after his late grandfather Hays Mallory, the longtime Edwardsville Township supervisor, who was his mother Myrna’s father. The paternal side of his family also involved names very familiar to people in Edwardsville, including the Vallino and Abert families.
His boyhood was spent in the Montclaire area, what he calls “the perfect neighborhood to grow up in. Life was simpler then. You could ride your bike everywhere and stay out ’til dark.”
As a youngster, he learned about responsibility and respect and it translated to his career.
“(As a banker) I’m kind of a ‘slow-and-steady-wins-the-race kind of guy. I like the fact that I’ll be there, you can count on me. You’ll see me, I’m responsive. I try not to be a flash-in-the-pan sales guy. I want you to have confidence in me.”
The bank is committed to local control and local input, which he said are important to him.
Town and Country Bank’s Edwardsville location at 10 Terra Verde was originally constructed as The Edge Bank, which was a subsidiary of Premier Bank. Town and County purchased Premier Bank in 2016.
Abert said the time since he arrived has been spent “working to create our identity by being present, by being engaged, and by being thankful for the relationships we have and working to develop more as we go.”
He added: “I was taught that early on and have done my best to live up to that in a 30-some year career. I can’t thank enough those who had confidence in me to give me a shot.”
This article originally appeared in our November print edition. To find the entire issue, click on the Current Edition link at ibjonline.com