MSUB Alumni selected as 2017 40 Under Forty

Phil Nelson

BSBA General Business 2009

vice president, assistant branch manager, Stockman Bank


PhilPhil Nelson, vice president and assistant branch manager for Stockman Bank, says he and other lenders are not boxed in by geography. Although he works at Stockman’s office at 1450 Shiloh Road, Nelson is free to call on customers who do business in other parts of town.


“With branch banking you can pretty much go anywhere you want,” Nelson said. “There’s nothing that says I can’t call on a customer downtown.”


Nelson got his start in banking before he had completed his college degree at Montana State University Billings.


“I started out as a teller, then a teller supervisor. I went on from there and did new accounts.” He moved to Rapid City, S.D., for four years, first as a credit analyst and later as a commercial loan officer. But returning to Montana was always in the back of his mind.


“Our kids were getting a little older, and I started thinking that if I wanted to get back to Montana I’d better do it now,” Nelson said.


He contacted officials from Stockman, and received what he refers to as a "great opportunity" to return to Billings.


In the midst of the dotcom bubble of the 1990s, some industry officials predicted that bank branches would soon become obsolete as customers increasingly turned to online banking. Clicks would replace bricks, they said.


Montana-based Stockman Bank serves as an example of a company that has bucked that trend and has steadily added branches across the state. The firm’s newest branch, being built in Missoula, is scheduled to open late this year.


Bricks and mortar banks make sense in Montana because customers prefer face-to-face meetings with lenders and tellers, Nelson said.


What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job?


The biggest challenge I face is simply not having enough time in the day. Between work, my family and community involvement it seems that there is never enough time to go around. Finding that balance between work life and family life is very important.


What’s the best business advice you have received?


It is not necessarily business advice but a Chinese Proverb I have always liked is – “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”


Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: Sports have always been a big part of my life. Now that my son is discovering his passion, I would love to see the sport of hockey grow in Billings while also providing a place for all of our youth to go and be active. Building a multi-use community center with multiple sheets of ice, indoor swimming, racquet ball, basketball, etc., would be a huge step toward that goal and would provide many different opportunities (hockey and beyond) for the youth of Billings and the surrounding areas.


Outside of work, my biggest passion is: Living life with my family……whether it’s camping, fly-fishing, cheering on the CATS, or being huddled in a frozen hockey rink somewhere in Montana in January.


Which living person do you most admire?


My wife. Simply put, I would not be where I am today without her.


Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job?


Positive feedback from my clients and other professionals in the community is a good measure. When you do things the right way and truly have your client’s best interest at heart you build positive word of mouth and loyalty. Referrals that come from clients & peers show that they trust me to take care of the people they send to Stockman Bank.


What do you consider your greatest achievement?


My smart, funny and kind-hearted children – Natalie & Jack.


I’m happiest when I’m… Trouncing through Rock Creek or watching hockey on the weekends with my family.


Article & photo credits: Billings Gazette

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