Editor's note: This story has been updated to report that Aaron Bastian represents the fourth generation of the Bastian family to take a leadership role at Fidelity Bank. An earlier version was incorrect.
When Clark Bastian was named president of Fidelity Bank in March 1989, he had a month’s notice from his father that he would be taking on oversight of the daily operations of the then-$469 million bank that employed 153 people and operated eight local branches.
Things are a little different for his son, Aaron Bastian, who has had two years and one month to prepare for his new role at the $1.7 billion bank that employs 450 and operates 23 locations in Wichita, Oklahoma City and Kansas City.
Aaron Bastian, 33, assumes the bank’s presidency following the retirement in May of John Laisle. Laisle worked at Fidelity for nearly 19 years, the past 10 as president.
Bastian said he feels as prepared as he can be for the job, and his long-term goal is to continue to grow the bank.
“I think you will see Fidelity focus on the things that we’re already great at, and be even better,” he said. “We’re very good in … the way that we work with our employees. We’re very good with our customers as well. And whether it’s a home mortgage loan or commercial real estate or commercial business loan, we’re really just seeking to do more of what we already do, very well.”
Clark Bastian, Fidelity’s chairman and CEO, said the transition plan included professional development courses as well as work on the bank’s budget and, more recently, its strategic planning. He said he sat in as an observer on a management retreat last August that was run for the first time by Aaron.
“It was just fun as a father to sit there and watch the dynamics working really well with my son leading the discussions,” he said. “It made me feel really blessed.”
Aaron Bastian has worked for the family bank since 2007, but in Oklahoma City, where it operates Oklahoma Fidelity Bank.
He started there as a commercial loan officer and was most recently president of Oklahoma Fidelity.
Before joining Fidelity, Aaron Bastian went to work in 2004 as a commercial lender at IBC Bank in Oklahoma City, where he eventually managed a $30 million loan portfolio.
The plan was for him to work for someone other than Fidelity for at least five years, Clark Bastian said, “where he wasn’t in the shadow of the family.”
“And that worked really well until we expanded into Oklahoma City,” Clark Bastian said.
Aaron Bastian said the five-year plan became two years after he found himself competing against Oklahoma Fidelity on a commercial loan deal.
“I said, ‘Alright, this is just too uncomfortable,’” Aaron Bastian said. “It was just too close.”
He said his father never pressured him to join the family business. While he was attending the University of Wisconsin, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business and finance, he interned for a commercial real estate company and at investment bank Merrill Lynch. “It was good, but it wasn’t great,” he said of those experiences.
He followed up those internships with one at a bank in Oklahoma City, at which point “I knew that this was a really great fit for me,” he said.
“I’ve always had an interest in it,” Aaron Bastian said. “I think part of (the interest) is growing up around it and you discuss things at the kitchen table at night over dinner. My mother was a math and art double major at Wichita State. So it’s a left brain, right brain thing going on. And really, banking is that way … it’s a people and customer service role but it’s also a very analytical role. I like to thing I got some of that magic passed down from her.”