One on One: Bettis at the helm of Academy Bank

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oneonone-tony-bettisTony Bettis might be Academy Bank’s new Colorado Springs market senior vice president, but he’s not new to the market.

He joined Academy Bank’s holding company, Dickinson Financial Corp., in 1994.

He transferred to Colorado Springs in 2003 to work in the company’s national real estate lending group.

Academy Bank ran afoul of federal regulators a few years ago because of the number of troubled loans it carried, but Bettis has been part of the team leading a turnaround for the bank, one of the largest locally owned banks with $297 million in assets and $230 million in deposits.

Bettis took some time this week to talk with the Business Journal.

How long have you been working in the Colorado Springs market, and what did you do before assuming your current position?

In August of 2003, I transferred from DFC’s corporate offices to Colorado Springs in an effort to expand the bank’s existing commercial lending program. As I was already actively involved in the market it was an easy transition for me.

Prior to assuming my current position, I spearheaded our Colorado Springs troubled asset department.

How have you been working to reinvigorate Academy Bank after regulatory warnings a couple years ago?

Initially, the focus was on reduction of non-performing assets and cleaning up the balance sheet from the real estate downturn. Over the last several years the bank has made substantial improvement in this area and today is one of the most highly capitalized banks in the nation. We have now turned our attention to growth and leveraging our strong capital base.

Based on the success of our troubled assets reduction, in mid-2012 the bank began to reach out to highly successful local businesses in an effort to expand the commercial loan portfolio. The bank’s goal is to align itself with those individuals who successfully navigated the economic turbulence of the last several years and help them grow and expand their businesses.

In early 2013, we added Stephen Smith to the Colorado Springs lending team. Stephen has spent the last 10 years working in Colorado Springs and is highly respected for his lending experience and customer service. Additionally, the bank recently opened its newest branch in downtown Denver and has added two seasoned Denver lenders to the staff.

Academy Bank is a full-service commercial and retail bank with 52 locations throughout Colorado. In order to take advantage of the positive traction in the residential market, the bank recently expanded its residential lending staff and offers a full array of products and services.

How do you think the banking industry will change during the next decade and what changes do you foresee in the Colorado Springs market?

Consolidation will be the watchword as banking continues to evolve. It will be driven by the costs associated with regulatory compliance. There will be a need for greater efficiency that is typically found in larger institutions. Academy Bank, as part of a much larger organization, is able to take advantage of its size to offset the ever-increasing costs associated with compliance issues while maintaining its focus on excellent customer service.

Our staff enjoys knowing our customers by name and we hope to continue to grow, but not at the expense of knowing our customers.

What do you like most about Colorado Springs? What would you most like to change about the city?

My family and I vacationed in Colorado for years prior to my transfer in 2003. We love the climate and being able to enjoy all things outdoors (camping, golf, and hiking). Other great things about Colorado Springs are the people, strong education system and sense of community centered on our military personnel. Really, there are entirely too many good things to mention in the space of this article.

One of the major issues for Colorado Springs is governance. Job growth, a revitalized downtown and overall quality of life is largely determined by how the city is managed.

I have long been troubled by the fact that our City Council is comprised of part-time members. Running a city of our size is not a part-time job. I would like to see Council members be full-time elected officials who have no other duties except making informed, well-thought-out decisions.

Additionally, I would like to see a Colorado Springs Utilities board with full-time members who have the proper experience and time to manage an organization of its size.