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By RITA DUCKWORTH
    Chad Stafko comes from a banking family. He grew up in Mulkeytown, in Franklin County, where his mom worked as a loan officer at the local bank. That was his first introduction to the banking industry.
    While pursuing his undergraduate degree at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, he knew fairly early on he wanted to work in the financial industry. He graduated with a degree in finance in 1996 and received his MBA in 1997.
p16 StafkoStafko    After college, he worked as a financial analyst for Arthur Anderson before leaving to take a job closer to home as a money market financial analyst at Union Planters Bank in Belleville in 1999. Shortly thereafter, he was promoted to vice president and portfolio manager.
    He was there for 17 years before Regions Bank bought the bank and he left to take a position at a financial planning firm, where he stayed for nearly two years before moving to Associated Bank in Fairview Heights in 2017 to fill a newly-created position as wealth advisor and financial planner.
    “It fits me perfectly,” he said
    He added: “I like the banking industry.” He credits a former associate while at Regions Bank for encouraging him. He enjoys working with people and helping them manage their money. “It’s pretty gratifying.”
    In this industry, you definitely see the impact that you have on a person’s life. Money is the source of a lot of angst for people. You need to be a good listener and be empathetic about the issues that people face.
    In his day-to-day role at Associated Bank, he serves as the point of contact for prospective clients and works closely with current clients to meet their financial needs, whether it be financial planning, investments, trusts, estates, taxes or insurance. He also works with companies in setting up and monitoring their 401(k) plans and with pensions, endowments and foundations on their investments.
    “I like getting to know people and what drives them,” he said. “I try to dig in and find out what makes them tick.”
    He loves working with Associated Bank and enjoys the people there. Headquartered in Wisconsin, the bank has seven branches throughout the Metro East region.
    There’s a collaborative, supportive environment where people tend to look after each other and have the opportunity to bring colleagues in that they feel would be a good match. It’s the exceptional “white gloves” customer service that resonates with clients and is driving the bank’s growth
    The bank believes in reaching out to the community. Not everybody comes from the same background or circumstances, so it’s important to reach out and help people who need a little bit of help.
    “I enjoy being here,” he said.
    He lives in Freeburg with his wife and two sons.