Strunk heading north to referee state’s banking industry

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One of Colorado Springs’ own will be refereeing the state’s banking industry.

The Department of Regulatory Agencies appointed Steve Strunk, president of Kirkpatrick Bank in Colorado Springs, as Colorado’s new banking commissioner, beginning April 12. It has been more than a year since Colorado has had a banking commissioner.

“You only get an opportunity like that once in a lifetime — there are only 50 commissioners (nationwide),” Strunk said.

Strunk, 59, plans to visit all 107 state-chartered banks and trust companies over the next 12 months and restore surprise examinations.

Strunk began thinking about the financial world a lot sooner than most of us; as a teenager, he invested grocery-store wages in the stock market.

After graduating from the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania and the Southwestern Graduate School of Banking at Southern Methodist University, he landed in Texas, smack dab in the middle of banks and oil country.

Steve Strunk will be the new Colorado banking commissioner.

Steve Strunk will be the new Colorado banking commissioner.

In 36 years of banking experience, he has been a trust officer, internal examiner, commercial banker and credit risk administrator. Among other accomplishments, he facilitated the turnaround of a $3.6 billion bank holding company in New Mexico in the 1990s.

During his tenure as commissioner, he said he intends to emphasize several themes.

First and foremost, he’ll remind banks doing business in Colorado that having a state charter and federal deposit insurance is not a right — it’s an economic privilege.

Secondly, insider abuse, self-dealing and deception by bankers or boards of directors will not be tolerated.

Thirdly, he plans to do what he can to ensure the health of Colorado banks so that sources of capital are available to companies as the economy rebounds.

“The best thing I can do for banks is offer constructive criticism — to help them work through difficult economic times and be in a healthier position to make new loans,” Strunk said. “And the best thing I can do for the public is to allow banks that are well-managed to create new loans.”

“I have a lot of experience that can help the people of Colorado,” Strunk said. “And I appreciate this opportunity, which allows me to take all of my diverse banking experience and apply it at a global level.”

When Strunk commutes to his new office digs in downtown Denver, the view from the Light Rail won’t be of Pikes Peak, but it’s still the same game.

“Every day when I come to work, I come to play in the Super Bowl of banking,” Strunk said. “Now it will be from the head referee’s perspective — it’s just a different position within the stadium.”

Rebecca Tonn can be reached at or 719-329-5205.