The Andersons: A Banking Legacy Through the Generations

By Sara Jane Richter

If you have had the pleasure of working with any member of John V. Anderson’s extended family, you have had the opportunity to learn from the best in the banking business. Right here in Central Oklahoma, the Anderson family has provided nearly eight decades of knowledge and competency regarding banking and investments, and the family is well-prepared to continue using its expertise long into the future.

At least four generations of Andersons have impacted banking, beginning with John V. Anderson. In 1947, he started in the banking business by working at Liberty Hall, Oklahoma. After his duty to the nation by serving in the US Navy during World War II. His employment at Liberty lasted until 1972, when he had the opportunity to purchase the bank in Crescent, Oklahoma. Patriarch John V. still comes to work daily even though he is 97 years old and in his 77th year in the business.

Fifty-two years later, after establishing the brand, the Farmers and Merchants Bank now has eight locations besides the Crescent institution: Kingfisher, Piedmont, plus two branches in Guthrie, Edmond, and Yukon. In 1979, John V’s son, John T., joined the team. The eldest, Anderson, serves as chairman of the board emeritus, and John T. is the president and CEO. Some of John T’s children and grandchildren now work in F&M branches to carry on the legacy begun by John V.

The family takes pride in the integrity and honesty they practice in all of the branches. John T. says that the most important service that a bank offers is its customer service, as it draws and maintains depositors, which is becoming increasingly difficult in modern times.

Much of that difficulty started in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic made people hesitate to make many public appearances and interact with others. The Andersons believed that employees should be in the bank daily; after all, banking is a people business.  Therefore, armed with protective measures of sanitizer and face masks, banking employees continued their friendly, face-to-face, and caring behavior. The Andersons all agreed they are proud of their employees who believed that appearing daily let communities know that a bank was permanent and continually prepared to help folks with their banking and business needs. Of course, during this unique national experience, lobby traffic declined while drive-thru traffic and online banking increased. Banking regulation inspections were also conducted via Zoom meetings and conference calls. Convenience impacted the daily life of banking institutions positively and negatively.

Through the years, the Andersons have had to cope with downturns in the industry, especially in the 1980s when the oil and gas industry, real estate, and farming took significant economic hits. Any economic change naturally greatly affects banking, bankers, and bank regulations, usually about one every ten years. Banking regulations have lately become more difficult and numerous. For example, when the eldest Anderson began banking, there were five bank policies; now, there are thirty- seven. There have been other threats too, as the two Guthrie banks have been robbed.

Obviously, all bankers must pay constant attention to trends and techniques employed by their leaders. For the Andersons they remain current in the industry by sitting on various national and state banking boards and committees dealing with the industry or consumers. The Andersons eagerly support their employees who wish to attend graduate school to prepare them for the future, as well as Farmers and Merchants Bank.

Our nation faces difficult financial times, and the Andersons recognize that fact and prepare for changes on the horizon, but primarily, they concern themselves with customer relationships. They believe that if a business stays with what it knows best, the future will take care of itself. A banker must be ready to change policies and adapt to and adopt new regulations to stay current and vital. The Andersons don’t want to create a big banking conglomerate but will continue to operate as a rural community bank and do a pretty good job at that. They feel competent in that niche. Their participation in the banking world, on boards and committees, and with people also gives them added value and knowledge, but nothing can take the place of 77 years of banking experience. Future Andersons who join the team will have a wealth of banking experience to tap.

Farmers and Merchants banks are here to stay for the long term. Customers can rely on the Anderson family and banking employees to continue to do a superlative job and contribute to their communities through supporting schools, local clubs, and community drives. The Andersons take pride in being a part of communities and want to make them better places to live. They take advantage of the opportunities to purchase additional branches, employ dedicated professionals, and serve their communities and customers with the same perks as Chase Bank. Big-city banking with a small-town touch sums up the Anderson family and its impact on banking in Central Oklahoma.