As a member of First National Bank Alaska's Trust Department for more than four years, Mark Stearns learned early on to take a slow-and-steady approach to helping customers meet long-term investment goals.
As a lifelong fan of the Chicago Bears, he wraps his finance philosophy in a football analogy.
"First National is like the team that every play moves the ball four or five yards," Stearns said. "We consistently make first downs and score touchdowns. We're not going to necessarily throw the Hail Mary pass."
"But give us the chance to put our hands on the ball and we'll move you along."
Independent analysts have consistently ranked First National one of the nation's safest and strongest banks.
Stearns' banking experience goes back more than 20 years. He earned a bachelor's degree in public law from Northern Illinois University and continued his professional studies at Cannon Financial Institutes' Personal Trust School.
His work in the bank's Trust Department revolves around a variety of investment management services - retirement plans, trusts, individual investment accounts, estate probate and conservatorships. Other services provided by the Trust Department include invested escrows, will and trust safekeeping and custodial accounts.
Regardless of the specific service a customer is looking for, Stearns said his professional role is one he relishes.
"I help cement relationships," he said.
It's common for Stearns to work with families - parents looking to invest for their children's futures or plan for retirement. Loved ones leave behind inheritances and life-long investments for the benefit of others.
Many relationships last through multiple generations.
Unlike some banking services, working with Trust customers can be extremely emotional.
"You may be settling someone's estate and you become a trusted advisor to those family members in the process," Stearns said. "You have a real opportunity to build strong customer relationships. You often become a point person and help lead them where they want to go."
Stearns' love for Alaska and for his work at the bank has steadily grown through the years. He enjoys spending time with family, including his parents who moved to the state from Illinois after they retired. A fan of canoeing, kayaking and fishing, Stearns delights in getting to Wrangell to bask in the great outdoors with his brother's family.
It didn't take long to learn how much people in this state believe in helping one another," Stearns said. "It's an honor and privilege to work for a bank filled with those same like-minded Alaskans."
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