MBA CEO Max Cook

Mentorships have been the cornerstone in Max Cook’s banking career.

The relationships Max has established through mentorships has defined his nearly 32-year career at the Missouri Bankers Association. Max is just the sixth individual to lead MBA, which was founded in 1891 for one purpose — advocacy. Advocacy has been Max’s career as he has championed the vital role banks have in strengthening economic prosperity for their customers and communities.

As Max and his wife, Cindy, embark on the new journey that retirement brings, MBA and its member banks want to honor the dedication of Max and Cindy to the banking community for the past three decades. The Max & Cindy Cook Endowment for Advocacy and Leadership Training seeks to ensure young bankers in Missouri have opportunities to develop their careers through mentorships and provide opportunities to advocate for their customers and communities with elected officials in Washington, D.C.

Early in his career at the Oklahoma Bankers Association, Max told his mentor, OBA President Bob Harris, that his goal was to be sitting in Bob’s chair in 10 years. Bob smiled and told Max, “I hope you can.”

That was in 1981. A decade later, Max would have that opportunity. Various roles at both OBA and the Texas Bankers Association led Max to the Missouri Bankers Association in 1991. It was at MBA that Max found his opportunity to lead a state banking association.

With a knowledgeable staff in place at MBA, Max set out to make MBA one of the premier banking associations in the nation. Building on the experience of MBA’s staff and the relationships he and Cindy developed with bankers throughout the state, Max created a culture focused on ensuring that Missouri banks had the tools and resources to promote financial services to their customers. Essential to fostering this culture was continuing the mission of MBA’s founders — advocacy.

“The primary purpose of our association is advocacy, and we can’t lose sight of that,” Max says. “To be effective at our core mission, we need to be actively engaged with elected officials.”

That engagement is crucial in today’s world, and bankers must actively share the messages of their customers to lawmakers and regulators at both the state and national levels. The next generation of leaders in MBA member banks have a key role to ensure those messages are heard. They must have opportunities to advocate on behalf of the customers they serve, ensuring that Missouri’s congressional delegation knows and understands how the decisions they make on Capitol Hill affect the families and businesses in Missouri.

“The managers, directors and vice presidents in our banks — any individuals who hold positions leading to more responsibilities — are the key to continuing MBA’s future advocacy endeavors,” Max says, “and they must be given every opportunity to make their voices heard."

“Advocacy is the reason MBA exists,” Max notes. “It’s why we are here for our banks.”

Banking has been at the center of Max and Cindy’s entire adult lives. It is through banking that they have developed lifelong friendships with bankers across Missouri and the nation. Their hope is that The Max and Cindy Cook Endowment for Advocacy and Leadership Training provides opportunities for future generations of bank leaders to grow in their careers and carry out the mission of the banking community and MBA. As Max has shared throughout his career — we are here for you.