2020 Change Maker: Ed Wehmer, CEO & Founder of Wintrust

Ed Wehmer founded Wintrust on a strong belief that he could spend more time with his large and growing family, while serving a community he loved, if he built a better bank for Lake Forest, where he and his wife, Dorothy, were raising six young children. He was so successful that the bank grew to eventually become Chicagoland’s largest locally owned financial institution. His kids blossomed into successful adults and grandchildren arrived, too.  

Ed Wehmer.

So, it is no surprise to hear Wehmer say, “One of the upsides of coronavirus is more time with family!” Nor is it surprising that Wintrust quickly rose to the occasion, continuing to effectively serve community—clients, employees, and other local institutions—despite the gauntlet of challenges presented during the past eight months. It started with a response to the pandemic, which quickly secured the safety of Wintrust employees, and required a quick pivot to continue their service for clients virtually. But, Wintrust’s response to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan opportunity was even more impressive.

“Our staff came together to deliver a 10-day turnaround on PPP loans when our clients were depending on those funds to get their employees paid,” he said. “Overall, we lent more than $3.4 billion to assist more than 12,000 local businesses and secured more than 114,000 jobs. It was incredible to see.” 

In an impossibly uncertain time, Wehmer and Wintrust have provided much-needed constancy. “We’ve been just trying to be something reliable for our communities to count on,” Wehmer said. “We’ve been very lucky to be able to provide stability amidst so much uncertainty.”  

Wintrust stayed true to its sponsorship and other nonprofit commitments too.  That’s why his image sat in the White Sox front row behind home plate for the season, even though he’s a life-long North Sider and Cubs fan. Learn more about the many nonprofits Wintrust supports, including Boys Hope Girls Hope, HFS Chicago Scholars, and My Block, My Hood, My City, at better.net/wintrust

Looking to the future, an uneasy task during such uncertain times, Wehmer is optimistic. He’s hopeful for improved dynamics after the election and quick vaccine.  

“If there’s one thing I know for certain, it’s that America is resilient,” he said. “My hope is that we’ll come out of this stronger than ever.”

Ed Wehmer and his family.
Wintrust Bank sponsoring Guaranteed Rate Field.

More From Better: