With a career that spans nearly 37 years, Vice President of Consumer Lending Janis Crutchfield is one of Bank of St. Francisville’s longest and most beloved employees. Customers know her as a go-to loan officer whose thoughtful guidance has helped them realize some of life’s most important dreams. She’s also a familiar face around town, where she greets lifelong friends and strangers alike with her warm smile and easy manner.
We sat down with Janis to discuss her experience working in the banking industry for nearly four decades, what she loves most about her job, and what advice she would give her 25-year-old self.
Tell us about how your banking career began.
I started with Bank of St. Francisville in 1979 as a teller, and I worked in that position for a few months before I became a customer service representative. After a couple of years, I got into loans, and I’ve remained there ever since. Except for two-and-a-half years when my family moved to Chicago, I’ve been with Bank of St. Francisville all that time.
What do you like best about your job?
Definitely the people. Seeing that what I do makes a difference in people’s lives, in a very personal way, is the absolute best part of my job.
You’ve done a lot in the community over your career. What are some of your favorite projects?
We had a “bank at school” program at Bains Elementary that gave the kids an understanding of all sorts of banking tasks, like how to make deposits and the importance of saving. I really enjoyed it. We also did a great “welcome to the real world” program at West Feliciana Middle School, and have done financial literacy workshops at West Feliciana High. I love working with young people.
Thirty-six years is a long time to work in banking. What have you seen change?
A lot! Unfortunately, we see more credit card debt because it’s just such a prevalent part of people’s lives. It’s so easy to get in over your head on your credit cards, so that’s a big focus of the business today—helping people avoid it or deal with it. COVID has brought another level of change. For example, we're using more online services such as online consumer loan applications, and working remotely as needed.
As a seasoned bank professional, what tips do you have for anyone who wants to go into the banking industry?
Be open, ready for change, and always be willing to learn something new. Banking today looks nothing like it did 30 years ago. It’s so highly regulated and you really have to be informed to guide customers to the right products. Also, technology will continue to evolve as customers use online and mobile banking more. BSF is proud to have been an early adapter when it comes to banking technology.
Do you have a lot of repeat customers?
Absolutely. As a consumer lender, I help customers with all kinds of loans. I see lots of folks who might want to explore a home improvement loan, auto loan, or loan consolidation. We might see them again in a few years when they want to buy a boat, or finish another home improvement project.
What have you, as an informed consumer, practiced in your personal life to help build financial stability?
I’ve really made sure not to have a lot of credit card debt. Seeing what it can do is scary.
Talk to your 25-year-old self. What would you tell her to do differently financially?
Learn how to save at an early age. If you get in the habit of saving early in your life, it becomes second nature, and you have the benefit of compounded interest!
What’s a typical work day look like for you?
Usually, I’m working with customers who have appointments and many others who might drop in. I like to be as available as possible. In pre-pandemic times, I would be out in the community reading with my first grade reading buddy through the Reader Leader program. With Covid, the schools have suspended the Reader Leader program. I’m hoping that will start up again.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I spend time with my family. I have four children and ten grandchildren.
Looking back on your career, what stands out most?
You know, the bank just celebrated its 40th anniversary, and I had so much fun planning a celebration in our lobby after hours. I don’t think there are many projects or places in St. Francisville that the bank has not touched. We are the community bank and we want to see our hometown flourish. That’s what I think of most when I think about my career here.