In Kansas City, Missouri, the name Kemper is a pretty big deal. The family patriarch, W.T. Kemper, jump-started what’s known now as UMB Financial Corp. ($33 billion in assets under management) way back during World War I. Then there’s Kansas City’s Kemper Arena and the Kemper Foundation, plus the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. This morning a representative of the fourth generation of Kempers—Mariner Kemper, UMB Financial’s CEO and chairman—turned up in Dallas at the Crescent Hotel, explaining how UMB Bank plans to open a brick-and-mortar loan-production office in bank-rich Dallas.
The Kansas City-based outfit doesn’t aim to blanket DFW with retail branches, but to open maybe just five or six locations in all. Its Texas headquarters office will be in a roughly 5,000-square-foot space, likely somewhere in Uptown or the Arts District. The bank will focus on lending to “middle-market” companies here, Kemper said, as well as on private banking services. Over time, he added, it could also acquire some local community banks, like it did when it went into Colorado.
So, we asked him, what’s with the unusual name; was his father, R. Crosby Kemper Jr., some kind of a seaman or something? Mariner (as in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Kemper said) actually was the maiden name of his great-great aunt, Eliza Mariner. But when he was a kid, he couldn’t stand the name. He wanted to be known instead as Arnold, after a character on one of his favorite TV shows. Nowadays, Mariner added, he’s okay with it because of its distinctiveness. Might even come in handy, if you’re trying to stand out in an competitive banking market led by guys with names like Norm, Kevin and Ralph.