FirstBank streamlines, consolidates its 25 charters

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FirstBank Holding Co. has consolidated its 25 charters, forming a single charter, simply called FirstBank.

The bank is based in Lakewood, Colo., and has 10 branches in Colorado Springs.

Customer accounts, checks and statements will remain the same, as will all branches and ATM sites.

But the change will definitely have an impact on the bank’s operations.

One of the main reasons for consolidation was greater efficiency. With one charter, FirstBank’s capital is held centrally, which means fewer inter-charter regulatory issues.

Prior to consolidation, the bank had to shift capital among its numerous charters whenever capital levels dropped too low, and such transactions are heavily regulated.

FirstBank is the second-largest bank in the state, by deposits. The bank has $10.4 billion in assets, with a healthy 12.49 percent Tier 1 capital ratio.

It also has few bad loans on its balance sheet. Its ratio of nonperforming loans-to-capital, at 7.1 percent, is well below the unhealthy level of 20 percent or higher.

Money Museum to open in Denver

The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City has made extensive renovations to its Denver branch, adding a museum and conference center. The 7,000-square-foot Money Museum and conference center will open in January.

The Federal Reserve branch is in downtown Denver on the 16th Street pedestrian mall, several blocks away from the U.S. Mint. Federal Reserve officials expect a high volume of visitors at the museum.

The museum will have interactive exhibits that explain a safe and sound banking system and how monetary policy provides for a stable economy.

Highlights of the museum will include historical currency and how to detect counterfeit notes.

The museum will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The Denver Branch is one of three branches of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, providing services to financial institutions in Colorado, Wyoming and northern New Mexico.

Small-business index uptick

This quarter’s Wells Fargo Small Business Index survey showed a sharp uptick in optimism. The index rose 24 points, negative 28 to negative 4. Small-business owners anticipate better revenue, cash flow and capital spending over the next 12 months.

Here are a few key takeaways:

Business owners are more optimistic now than at any time since April 2009.

They are still concerned, however, about access to credit. More than 40 percent of respondents said it will be difficult to obtain credit in the next 12 months.

Eighteen percent of small business owners surveyed expect the number of jobs at their companies to increase over the next 12 months, up from 13 percent in the third quarter.

About one-quarter of business owners feel it will be “somewhat” or “very easy” to obtain credit over the next 12 months — a 5 percent improvement over last quarter.

Consumers increase savings

A Market Rates Insight analysis showed that since the start of the recession in October 2007, U.S. consumers added $1 trillion dollars to their savings. Deposits in domestic branches of FDIC-insured institutions reached an all-time high of $7.74 trillion in October.

About 92 percent, or $923 billion, of the increase in deposits is attributable to increases in disposable personal income, which is personal income after taxes, during the same time period.

Disposable income simultaneously reached an all-time high of $11.48 trillion in October — an increase of $923 billion over October 2007, according to data from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Colorado banks on CRA exam list

Only two banks in Colorado — Colorado East Bank & Trust in Lamar and Summit Bank & Trust in Broomfield — are on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.’s list of institutions scheduled for a Community Reinvestment Act, or CRA, examination during the first quarter next year.

These are routine examinations. According to FDIC regulations, an institution with $250 million or less in assets and a CRA rating of “satisfactory,” can only be subject to a CRA examination no more than once every 48 months, unless there is “reasonable cause.”

Institutions of the same size with an “outstanding” rating are subject to a CRA examination no more than once every 60 months.

The goal of the Community Reinvestment Act, enacted in 1977, was to encourage insured banks and thrifts to help meet the credit needs of their communities, including low- and moderate-income neighborhoods.

Rebecca Tonn can be reached at rebecca.tonn@csbj.com or 719-329-5229. Friend her on Facebook.