First National Bank & Trust Co. named Bryan Cain its new president and CEO in January 2020. A lifelong Oklahoman from Wewoka, Cain decided to spend most of his 20-plus years in banking helping individuals in his hometown.
“You’re actually able to cultivate their growth through wealth management or through helping them buy their first car or their first home, helping them with an IRA for their retirement,” he said. “And so there’s a whole host of things you can do as a community banker.”
He brings the same outlook to his new position at Citizen Potawatomi Nation.
Car wrecks and snow
Cain’s family raised cattle throughout his childhood, and he participated in the National FFA Organization in high school. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from Oklahoma State University, he worked for a livestock feed company in the mid-1990s.
However, his mind wandered to other potential career paths after a car wreck resulted in a trip to a local bank. While securing a car loan from Security State Bank of Wewoka, Cain’s experience in sales and degree in economics impressed the bank president who offered him a job. At first, Cain declined. Not long afterward, a blizzard forced him to extend a business trip to South Dakota for a week.
“I had a lot of time thinking about what I want to do with my life. And I called (the bank president) from that hotel room and said, ‘Hey, does that offer still stand?’ And he said, ‘Yeah.’ And so I went to work at the bank,” Cain said. “And I always thought that I would do that until I found what I wanted to do, and to be honest, I kind of fell in love with banking.”
He began as a loan officer at Security State Bank of Wewoka in 1997. Cain worked there for nearly 25 years, aside from a brief stint in the early 2000s as president of the First United Bank branch in Durant, Oklahoma. He attended the Graduate School of Banking at Colorado in 2009 and 2010 and became president of Security State Bank in 2013.
He still enjoys connecting with customers today. He believes it makes community banking different from what he calls “big city banking.” Cain’s memory overflows with stories of meeting individuals’ needs and offering them opportunities previously unavailable.
“I have one young man who he started at a very early age. He didn’t have any parental involvement in his life. He basically was on his own by the time he was 16 and helped him get that first car. Now, he’s a small business owner,” Cain said. “He owns a construction company and does construction work all over the country. … You’d like to feel like that you did something to help that young man.”
Cain family ranch
Cain owns land in Seminole County that has been in his family for nearly a century. He lives with his wife, Rita, and their five children, who range in age from 7 to 21.
“We grow a garden, cattle and kids,” he said and laughed.
All of his children help around the farm. He and his oldest son, Tate, took on one of their most compelling ventures seven years ago — beekeeping. They own three hives that sit less than a mile away from their house, visible from the porch.
“I’ve always just kind of been fascinated with them,” he said, in particular, their ability to make a perfectly smooth wax that pairs with the stickiness of honey.
“After you’ve worked with the honey and you’re trying to spin the honey… you get that wax on your hands, and then all you’ve got to do is run it underneath water, and the honey comes off. They’re just amazing,” Cain said. “It’s a real struggle, though, to keep them alive just because of (pesticides).”
A couple of years ago, he also joined the United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency’s CP42 Pollinator Habitat program. The USDA provided the seeds to grow plants that are healthy and attractive to pollinators, including butterflies and bees. Now, milkweed and clover cover 30 acres of Cain’s land and help make their migratory path easier.
Working for CPN
Cain calls working for CPN “the opportunity of a lifetime,” full of new challenges and chances to learn. He admires the Tribe’s diversified economic portfolio, FNB’s attention to customer security and the organization’s focus on the future.
“But the greatest asset is its people,” he said. “We have a great team of people, and I feel fortunate to be working with such a great team of people. I’ve been fortunate to do that, actually throughout my whole career, to work with great bankers. The other thing is that (FNB) is in a great community.”
As CEO, he sets goals for the institution that keep it modern and give First National the ability to compete with other financial establishments in the area. Cain sees the accountability and one-one-one customer service that comes with local ownership as an advantage. In the last decade, communities across the country have returned to neighborhood grocery stores, restaurants and shops. Cain tries to expand that trend into banking.
“I don’t think people take advantage of the opportunity to shop locally when it comes to banking sometimes and what kind of effect it can have in your community,” he said.
That outlook pairs well with FNB’s slogan, “Your bank for life.”
“I know that sounds a little cheesy, but life happens. It really does, you know?” Cain said. “When you need help, you have a relationship with your banker to help you or to start your small business. Nobody’s more invested in the community than a locally-owned bank.”