Kemper is especially focused on increasing the range of services that UMB offers -- with the addition of health-care card processing, a small insurance agency, and the expansion of its fund-management business, into back-office services for hedge funds. Kemper also sees big breaks ahead for UMB's trust services business, which can provide escrow, custody and underwriting services to public infrastructure projects over the coming years.

"We believe in the coming years we're going to have a government-led economy, and we think that the corporate trust business is going to give us a leg up," says Kemper.

Despite all the expansion, Kemper is staying close to home - a value passed down from his grandfather, R. Crosby Kemper, who often told Kemper's father, R. Crosby Jr., to "row close to shore." In other words, never lose sight of the sand when wading out into a sea of risk.

"The Street, the investor population, believed that we ... could leverage our earnings streams more, if we had taken the same risks as the rest of the industry," says Kemper. "I'm thrilled to be able to stand up and say: Those strategies worked for us! We didn't erase 20 years of earnings by taking three years of risks."

-- Written by Lauren Tara LaCapra in New York.

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