Banking On a Good Reputation

Money gets a bad rep. And for those in the business of money, it’s sometimes even worse. The currency of the world has been blamed for the cause of wars, crime, divorce, and dishonest practices. It actually has been referred to as the “root of all evil” in modern society. However, it is proven time and again that money, the object, is not actually the problem. In reality, the problem often lies in the ethics with which it is handled. One local Evansville bank has set about proving this principle for the past 178 years — and helping money repair the damage done to its name.

Old National Bank was founded on the banks of the Ohio River in Indiana in 1834. Andrew Jackson was in the second term of his presidency then, and because of his disapproval of the new U.S. National Bank — he believed having a central federal bank would lead to corruption — he centered his campaign on putting an end to the Bank Bill of 1832. Thus, state banks began to pop-up all over the newly formed country.

“Old National was able to play a critical role in providing financial services the new community needed to grow and thrive,” says the bank’s president and CEO Bob Jones. “Originally named Branch Bank at Evansville, Old National was one of 10 branches of the State Bank of Indiana.”

Today, the community banking center on the edge of the river is an asset of Old National Bancorp, the largest financial services holding company headquartered in Indiana with $9.4 billion in assets, ranking among the top 100 banking companies in the U.S.

It is neither its growth nor the bottom line that has most impressed the community and the country at large. Old National was named this year by the Ethisphere Institute as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies for 2012 at an honoree dinner in New York City, as part of the annual Global Ethics Summit, the premier ethics and compliance symposium. Old National was the only bank in the U.S. to receive the award, and one of only five banks in the world to be granted the honor.

“Through in-depth research, Ethisphere reviews nominations from companies in more than 100 countries and 36 industries,” says Dick Dube, Old National’s chief audit executive/ethics officer. “The methodology for the World’s Most Ethical Companies includes reviewing codes of ethics, litigation, looking at activities designed to improve corporate citizenship, and studying nominations from senior executives, industry peers, suppliers, and customers.”

Jones says the company narrows its daily focus to the values of honesty, integrity, customer service, and community outreach. And though the workday often is filled with these ideals, Old National employees do not stop when the clock hits 5 p.m.

“Our employees have been honored nationally for their extraordinary volunteer efforts to solve community problems. This year, they received the Employee Volunteer Program of the Year from VolunteerMatch for having the highest level of volunteer service in the category of small- to medium-sized businesses, more than 18 times the average,” says Jones. “And in 2010, we were humbled to join AT&T, Intel Corp., and Campbell’s Soup Co. as a recipient of the Corporate Engagement Award of Excellence from the Points of Light Institute.”

Old National gifted nearly $3 million in grants and sponsorships in 2011, and clocked close to 77,000 hours of employee volunteer work last year. While Jones stresses community involvement is important to being the kind of business Old National strives to be, it is more importantly helping the city to thrive. “By giving our time, talent, and money, we have the opportunity to improve and sustain the communities we call home — in ways that can’t be accomplished through business products and services,” he says.

Old National fully supports the involvement of its staff in community efforts, and even recognizes their efforts in an internal program called Champions of the Community, where they list the valiant efforts of their everyday heroes on the company’s website — heroes that are greatly appreciated by the community organizations they impact, such as the YMCA in Evansville.

“Old National is a vital asset to our community. They have been very supportive of the YMCA in a variety of capacities, specifically being a key partner in supporting the delivery of the ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens’ program for middle school students in Vanderburgh and Warrick Counties for the past seven years,” says Derrick Stewart, executive director for the YMCA of Southwestern Indiana. “This initiative is a collaborative effort between the YMCA and Youth First, and it serves over 100 kids annually.”

The monetary donations given by Old National are helpful, but it’s the gift of time that makes the most difference. “The greatest impact that Old National has had on the YMCA is through their employees serving as volunteers in programs, events, campaigns, committees, and on our board of directors,” says Stewart. “Through this volunteer service they provide advice and input, support young people and families, and strengthen the impact of the mission of the Y.” Each year, at least 75 employees from all levels at Old National combine to give hundreds of hours of service to the Y.

There is no sign of coming volunteer shortages. As the bank grows, it stands firm in being an example for the community. “Old National continues to pursue opportunities for partnerships,” says Jones. “In September, we successfully integrated Columbus, Ind.-based Indiana Bank & Trust, which allows us to be an active part of a vibrant community and offer our services in a growing market.”

In a market that can be characterized as unstable at best, Jones says the key to Old National’s success comes from an old-fashioned grassroots approach. “The key to the Old National’s history of strength and stability is simple,” he says. “Our associates are dedicated and take pride and ownership in the success of every client and every community they serve.”

Old National Bank’s headquarters is located at 1 Main St. in Downtown Evansville. To learn more about the company, call 812-464-1200 or

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