About Us

Our History

We got our start as a small business, a small bank in a small town, in 1927. Our founder, A. C. Brown had a simple formula for success, “Take care of the customer!”  It’s a promise we’ve kept for over 85 years and one we intend to stick to. 


The Early Years

In 1927, A. C. Brown founds Security State Bank of Hannaford with $25,000 in assets.  He purchases a stone building and furnishings for $4,000.  

W. O. “Bill” Brown joined A. C. and two other employees in 1948.  Sons John and Mark join Bill in 1974 and 1975, respectively.

On its 50th anniversary in 1977, the bank held $9.5 million in assets.

Together We’re Strong

Banks in Wimbledon (1979) and New Rockford (1991) are acquired.  In 1991, the three banks merge to become Security State Bank of North Dakota and Mark Brown becomes President.

A bank in Carrington is purchased and a charter to open a branch in Cooperstown is obtained on the same day in 1993.  A branch in Jamestown is opened in 1995.  A bank branch opens in Valley City in 1998.


On its 75th anniversary in 2000, Security State Bank of North Dakota celebrates with 100 employees and $160 million in assets.  

The Brown family expanded ownership to employees through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan in 2002. In 2003, Mark becomes CEO and Tom Watson becomes President.

In 2006, a bank with branches in Walker and Hackensack is acquired.

Bank Forward’s Big Year

In 2007, Security State Bank of North Dakota changes its name to Bank Forward.

Bank branches in Grand Forks and Bemidji are opened.  

Three insurance agencies are acquired:  IPS Incorporated in Bemidji, FPM Insurance Agency, Inc. with offices in Fargo and Grand Forks, and Insure Forward with offices in Hannaford, New Rockford, Cooperstown, Carrington, Jamestown and Valley City.  They consolidate as Insure Forward in 2008.

Moving Forward

In 2008, Tax Forward is established with the acquisition of Rene and Associates in Jamestown.  In 2009, a Tax Forward office opens in Fargo.

In October 2012, a loan production office and Invest Forward open in Crookston. In 2013, Harildstad Tax and Bookkeeping, Carrington, a tax firm, and an investment firm, Sundquist and Associates, Bagley, were acquired.

Today, with over 230 employees and almost $500 million in assets, Bank Forward still operates with the same basic principles we learned from A. C. Brown:  

  • Take good care of the customer.
  • Our success comes from the prosperity of our customers and our communities.  
  • Demonstrate smart banking decisions based on sound banking principles.
  • Hire and be thankful for a good staff.


We serve 15 communities and their trade areas in North Dakota and Minnesota.  Our highest priority is the prosperity of our customers and our communities.  

That means not only providing our customers with the best in banking, insurance, tax and investment services, it also means that we are dedicated to helping our communities “fast forward” to the goals they strive to achieve.  As an institution, we support many organizations and projects in our region with products, services and assistance.  

Many of our employees are committed to serving as volunteers for local organizations that benefit our communities as well. 

A recent cause supported by Bank Forward  is Forward Foundation. Forward Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 2012. It is a separate entity from Bank Forward.  The mission of Forward Foundation is to support children in our communities who are experiencing a life threatening health crisis by providing financial assistance to eliminate financial obstacles in order to radically transform the financial future of the children and their families.  

What makes the Forward Foundation different? The Forward Foundation serves Bank Forward communities exclusively. One hundred percent of the funds go to the children that the Forward Foundation serves. 

Many similar charities help a large number of recipients with smaller assistance; Forward Foundation helps a smaller number of recipients with more significant assistance. Their goal is to make a big impact…not just to “help” with medical bills but to wipe them out. 


Our Mission

We believe in the commitment to seek out and provide financial and insurance solutions for tomorrow, not just for today. In doing so, we help our customers, employees and the community "fast forward" to the goals they strive to achieve in life.

Our Commitment to You

You have financial goals.  They’re based on something important:  the life you want to live or the business you want to build.  This is why the first thing we do is get to know you—not your account balances or investment assets—YOU.  We want to know about you—who you are, what’s important to you and how you define success.  These are things that shape your financial needs, now and in the future. Then, we craft a plan to help you meet them.

A sound financial plan includes more than just banking, so we offer an integrated, comprehensive suite of banking, insurance, investment and tax solutions.

Our Commitment to Our Employees

To better serve you, we offer a wide variety of products and services to meet your needs.  Just as importantly, we provide ongoing education and benefits that build our employees’ skill sets. In 2000, ownership was expanded to employees through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan. With our ESOP, each employee shareholder is committed to your success and the success of our organization.

 bank-large We place the prosperity of our customers and our communities as our highest priority.  From a full lineup of products for personal banking to sophisticated cash management tools for the largest of corporations, we offer everything you need to simplify the financial side of your life.
 insure-large Our agents have the consultative expertise and experience to formulate a well-designed risk management plan for you.  As an independent insurance agency with over 50 agents and nine locations, Insure Forward can provide you with coverages from some of the best underwriting companies at very competitive prices. 
 tax-large Tax Forward is more than just a simple tax-preparation service.  We offer a wide variety of tax and accounting solutions that can be customized to fit your needs.
 invest-large Our financial advisors at Invest Forward are well versed in helping you map a strategy for today and tomorrow, with a practical, solutions-based approach to minimize inefficiencies in your portfolio and manage your risk.


Our Board of Directors

Mark Brown, CEO Tory Hart
Tom Watson, President Steve Steinborn
Bill Baumgartner Lois Bednar, Secretary


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