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John M. McKenna

President & CEO, Tompkins Bank of Castile

Years in current role: 8

What do you enjoy most about your role?

First, I’m passionate about our mission and purpose as a community bank. I truly enjoy knowing that what we do and what I do every day helps consumers and business owners accomplish their goals, overcome obstacles and live better lives every day. Second, I relish the diversity of the work. One day working on strategic plans and budgets, the next coaching a leader in our organization, the next talking to a customer and finally meeting prospects and telling our story. All that happens, sometimes in a single day. It never gets old!

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve dealt with over the past year?

I’m sure we’re not alone when I say that the biggest challenge has been fatigue related to the pandemic. Our team has been amazing in their energy and enthusiasm throughout the pandemic to find ways to help our customers, whether it was with loan payment relief, PPP loans, taking advantage of other government support, or simply adapting to other challenges posed. But it has gone on for a long time and it’s hard to see any end in sight.

What do you see as the biggest changes in the banking and finance industry in the next 3-5 years?

The biggest change I see coming began many years ago, but has been accelerating with the pandemic giving it another push — the adoption and utilization of digital channels within banking. While many consumers and businesses use digital channels, both mobile and online, the penetration is such that many still don’t. That will continue to progress. And they’ll be able to accomplish more and more through those channels. Historically viewing balances and initiating payments have been the principal use, but increasingly customers will be able to do more including opening new accounts, applying for loans and much more.

What is the No. 1 tip you would give to people or companies about planning their finances amid uncertain times?

Plan, plan and plan some more. There’s no substitute for taking time to set objectives, make plans to achieve them, consider the future and obstacles or adverse scenarios that may arise and then ensure that your plans are resilient. We encourage that kind of thinking with our consumer clients and require it with the commercial clients. It’s a good life lesson — work toward the best outcome but also plan for the worst. Being prepared can make even the more difficult scenarios much less difficult and only a temporary setback on the road to success.

What community organizations do you support as a volunteer and why?

I support many including The Al Sigl Community of Agencies, Wilmot Cancer Institute, Communis Investment Fund of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester, the Center for Governmental Research (CGR), and the Golisano Autism Center. They all hold an important connection to me personally and have important impacts on supporting the community. I feel truly fortunate in life and believe that, as such, I have a responsibility to give back with my time, talents and financial resources.

This profile is part of Rochester Business Journal's Power 30 Banking & Finance list for 2021. Information used in this profile was sourced from the honoree. View the full list at


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