Q&A with Joan Wade, owner of ATB Wanham Agency

JOAN WADE: “Our role is really to make banking work for people. Not everyone’s needs or circumstances are the same, so it’s our job to listen and to help them.” // Photo by Lynn Connell

On December 7, ATB Wanham Agency celebrates the 80th year of its founding, and the community is invited to an afternoon tea and coffee to mark the great miletone and look back on those years.

“We look forward to hearing any stories of the community from the past 80 years,” its announcement says.

ATB was created in 1938 when the Social Credit government created a system of financial institutions called Treasury Branches to give Albertans an alternative source of credit. The first branch opened in Rocky Mountain House on September 29.

The Wanham location, ATB’s first agency, opened a couple of months later.

What were some of the fondest memories during the infancy as well as early years of the bank?
I really haven’t heard many stories from the early days. I would love to hear from folks who might have fond memories from years gone by. Perhaps some of those stories will come out as we mark this anniversary.

Barb Shannon works at the ATB Wanham Agency when Joan Wade is away. // Photo by Lynn Connell

How has the bank grown with the community over the years? Has your catchment area expanded from what it was 80 years ago?
The agency has been a fabric of our community, serving multi-generations of local families. There isn’t necessarily a catchment area. Anyone in the surrounding area is welcome to come to us for financial services. I’ve been operating the agency for 20 years so, for me, it is so rewarding to help my customers through stages of their lives – buying their first homes, having kids, saving up for vacations, planning for retirement.

What are some of the lessons learned as the bank becomes part of the community life in Wanham and area?
I think we’ve learned that our customers are very loyal and appreciative. They don’t hesitate to tell us that they are grateful they can bank right in Wanham. ATB’s agencies are very unique in that way. People in communities of our size elsewhere in Canada do not have an option like this. They would have to travel to larger communities for banking. I think it’s really special that we can be here for our customers.

As you reflect on 80 years, what do you see is the bank’s role as the community charts its economic course forward?
Our role is really to make banking work for people. Not everyone’s needs or circumstances are the same, so it’s our job to listen and to help them. ATB has a strongly defined purpose of creating happiness for our customers and looking out for the greater good of Albertans. We want to be “more than a bank” to people in Wanham.

Looking ahead, what are customers looking for in a 21st century bank?
We know customers want us to keep on top of the latest technology. They are looking for smart and simple ways to get their banking done whether that be here in the agency or digitally.
They want a bank who will listen to them and who is loyal to them. That’s what we’ve been for eight decades now and we are looking forward to many more.