Commerce State Bank's Fazio is Banker of the Year
Commerce State Bank CEO recognized for his book on financial literacy

 By Colleen Jurkiewicz - Special to the News Graphic

Oct. 19, 2017

Commerce State Bank CEO Joe Fazio is pictured in front of the Cedarburg branch that opened in December 2014. The main branch is in West Bend.
File photo

CEDARBURG — Cedarburg resident Joe Fazio has received some national recognition this month – the chairman and CEO of the West Bend-based Commerce State Bank, which also operates a Cedarburg location, was named by the Independent Community Bankers of America as its 2017 national Community Banker of the Year.

Fazio said that he was surprised and humbled by the award.

“I know they have a big pool to draw from, so it’s very cool and humbling,” he said. “It’s nice to be recognized, but then you go – gee, what am I doing that’s different from anybody else? But it’s great.”

As a result of being named the Community Banker of the Year, Fazio will be flown to Las Vegas for the ICBA’s 2018 Banking LIVE national convention in March.

The award, now in its fourth year, draws nominations from banking professionals and customers as well as community leaders all over the country.

ICBA chairman Scott Heitkamp, president and CEO of ValueBank Texas in Corpus Christi, Texas, described Fazio as “a dedicated, driven leader and compassionate and conscientious citizen” who is set apart by his contributions to the greater community.

In addition to serving as the president of the Greater Cedarburg Foundation, Fazio serves as a board member for the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago, was a Wisconsin Bankers Association board member, has testified before the state Assembly Committee for Financial Institutions, and has traveled to Washington to advocate community bank-friendly policies. He is also a former Cedarburg alderman and has lived in the community for 25 years with his wife, Lisa. The couple belong to St. Francis Borgia Parish and are the parents of three grown children and proud grandparents of one baby boy.

The Commerce State Bank employee who nominated Fazio for the ICBA award noted that his “passion for explaining money matters begins with the belief that we need to stop talking about financial literacy” and instead

focus on educating consumers about how to make their money work for them.

It’s a passion that resulted in his latest project, a self-published book titled “This might be a dumb question but ... How Does Money Work?” He co-wrote the book over the course of three years with Jack Henke of Cedarburg’s Henke and Associates and released it this summer.

“I want to help people understand how money works,” said Fazio.

In the book, Fazio uses analogies and comparisons to illustrate the concepts of how “money makes money, and money costs money” – and how they can ensure that theirs is the money that makes money.

Fazio describes credit and debit cards as “the power tools of money.”

“They’re really efficient at spending your money. Just like if you’re going to use a handsaw to cut a board, the worst thing that can happen if you slip is a stitch or two. If you use a power tool, you cut your arm off,” he said.

“People really want to understand money,” he continued. “I think you turn people off if you tell them they need to be ‘financially literate.’ That sounds really complicated – like they’ve got to take a course and take exams. What you really want to understand is money.”