Welch sees opportunities among banking challenges

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Gregory Welch has spent 19 years in the banking industry.

Gregory Welch has spent 19 years in the banking industry.

Gregory Welch intended to earn a degree in psychology, but during his sophomore year in college he was in an economics class and a “light bulb came on.”

The appeal of economics — “a social science, combined with math, which is a lot of black and white, not as gray as psychology” — was enough for him to fall in love and switch majors. Besides, he was able to indulge his psyche with involvement in Theatreworks.

Now he “wears many different hats” and volunteers extensively in the community. But if Welch had to do it all over again, he would be an elementary school teacher giving children “basic skills they need to achieve and succeed for the rest of their lives.”

Welch took time recently to talk with CSBJ about himself and his organization.

Organization: UMB Bank Colorado N.A.

Position: Vice president/commercial lending

Hometown: Colorado Springs

How long have you lived in Colorado Springs: My whole life.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs; graduate of the Graduate School of Banking at the University of Colorado.

A few words about your company: UMB Financial Corp. is a multi-bank holding company headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., offering complete banking, asset management, health spending solutions and related financial services to both individual and business customers nationwide. Its banking subsidiaries own and operate 135 banking centers throughout Missouri, Illinois, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Arizona.

One of the things that I am most proud of at UMB is that we did not participate in the TARP funding. Philosophically, I believe that it is a misuse of taxpayers’ money. I do not believe that taxpayers’ money should be used to further private enterprises.

Recent accomplishments: Working with several others in the Fountain Valley, I helped to pass a mill levy override for Fountain Fort Carson School District 8. It was great to see the residents of the City of Fountain get behind and support the needs of the district and to help ensure that the children in Fountain and Fort Cason continue to get the best education possible.

Biggest career break/accomplishment: Completing the Graduate School of Banking program helped me to understand the industry as a whole, and working at UMB Bank has really allowed me to apply a lot of the things I learned during that three-year program.

The toughest part of your job: Convincing folks that in these tough economic times, opportunities do exist for the right customers and that UMB is there to help fund those opportunities.

Someone you admire: My father. Growing up, he instilled in my brothers and me the values of family, religion and giving back to the community. Most importantly, in the business world, our father taught us that a man is only as good as his word.

About your family: I enjoy riding motorcycles with my three older brothers who live here.

Something else you’d like to accomplish: Last year, I helped lead a successful Partners Campaign for the Pikes Peak YMCA. I would like to be able to accomplish that same feat again this year. The Pikes Peak YMCA is a great nonprofit organization that helps thousands of people in the Pikes Peak region every year.

How your business will change during the next decade: The banking industry will face both opportunities and challenges that we have not yet faced in our industry; coupled along with stricter regulations as the government takes on more ownership. Although technology will continue to advance, which will allow greater access for customers to their accounts and services, I believe that the old fashion method of relationship banking, and knowing who your banker is, will still play a big role in the future.

What book are you currently reading? “Then Ara said to Joe: The Best Notre Dame Football Stories Ever Told.”

What is the one thing you would change about Colorado Springs? Nothing. I think that Colorado Springs is a great city.