For banking and finance, local industry was characterized by intense competition, bank-hopping executives, relationship-building, Frank-Dodd Act compliance challenges and, finally, the return of lending.
National spotlight: Pikes Peak National Bank recognized
Robin Roberts took a seat under some bright lights and the video cameras started rolling. Roberts, president of Pikes Peak National Bank, talked about the thing she loves most: community banks’ relationship with small businesses.
Community banks are the focus of an upcoming edition of “In View,” a documentary-style series hosted by talk-show veteran Larry King. The program airs on the Discovery and Bravo channels and covers such topics as education, medicine, technology and business.
The segment is expected to center on how community banks have remained important lenders to small businesses through the economic recovery. Across the state, there are 94 locally owned and operated commercial bank charters, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
Community banks have weathered a rough stretch of years since the financial crisis of 2007-2008. In 2010, a series of banking regulations, known as the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, were rolled out in an effort to keep history from repeating itself.
The combination of additional regulations and a sputtering economy forced community banks to evolve, Roberts said.
“Pre-recession, we were trying to be all things to all people,” Roberts added.
Now, community banks have narrowed their focus to the area of their strengths. Pikes Peak National Bank turned its attention to small businesses, a population the bank thought was underserved.
“We developed a niche with small business — typically those businesses with revenue under $2 million,” Roberts said. “They are not a target customer for larger banks.”
Pikes Peak National Bank sponsors a Saturday KRDO radio show, “Saturday Business Magazine,” with Roberts and co-host Ted Robertson of RCN Group. Local business is all they talk about.
Things are starting to shake up in the small-business world, Roberts said. Already for 2013, she is seeing movement with more small businesses looking to grow. Pikes Peak National Bank has about $10 million in loans in the pipeline — a quarter of the bank’s $36 million loan portfolio, she said.
“These little businesses mean a lot to the community in terms of infrastructure and taxes,” Roberts said.
“For our little bank to have $10 million in the pipeline, means that there are other banks with even more — it’s great for our community.”
Bank battle: Bankers keep market share, each other in sights
With 38 banks clawing for market share, banking competition in El Paso County is fierce, and bankers do whatever it takes to gain an edge.
They steal competition. They restructure rates. They renovate branches, renew relationships and in some cases resist change to gain a reputation of consistency.
And though their battle plans differ, their eyes are always steadily fixed on the competition.
Maybe it’s that Colorado Springs has a transient element to it, said Tom Naughton, U.S. Bank regional president, Southern Colorado region. The chase of new clients is sport among bankers and has attracted out-of-state banks to open branches in El Paso County. Thirty-eight banks in El Paso County are vying for market share, and that does not include the credit unions.
“This market has always been very competitive,” Naughton said. “We know there are a lot of choices for people,” he said. “We individually, and collectively, focus on being a champion for our clients. We think we will win more than our share of business.”
U.S. Bank is holding strong at No. 3 in deposits, making its slice of the market share pie 10.98 percent. But smaller banks in the market shouldn’t be dismissed.
In November, Kirkpatrick Bank, based in Edmond, Okla., made a bold move in the local banking race by recruiting four well-known, long-time bankers — Lisa Rutherford, Jocelyn Wall, Mark Benes and Bill Berenz — away from ANB Bank, No. 5 in the market, whose local headquarters building can be seen across Cascade Avenue from Kirkpatrick’s window.
Kirkpatrick’s Colorado Market President Trent Stafford made no bones about it. He laid out a five-year plan to double Kirkpatrick’s footprint in the El Paso County market. If successful, that would move Kirkpatrick out of the bottom third in market share, where it currently sits. He’s counting on 15 to 16 percent growth each year in a market that is only growing 2 percent a year.
“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see there is a gap there, which means you have to steal business,” Stafford said. “The way you steal business, really, is to hire the talent out of other institutions and move relationships from those institutions — it’s as simple as that.”
Lonnie Parsons, ANB regional president of Southern region, hardly seems fazed by four long-time bankers jumping the ANB ship to Kirkpatrick. The vacancies, he says, allowed him to restructure the team to fit a new culture.
“You think you are universally loved as a banker and when you move, (the clients) will follow,” Parsons said. “Well, that doesn’t happen.”
Parsons left Vectra Bank’s Pueblo office, in August for ANB, whose parent company is Denver-based Strum Financial Group. Under his direction, ANB in Colorado Springs — a bank that captures about 5.45 percent of local deposit market share — has made a dramatic shift in its culture, one that deploys a community-banking model of partnering with clients and making decisions locally.
“We call ourselves a community bank and we believe that is a big responsibility,” Parsons said. “My boss tells me to run this bank like I own it.”
No banker in town talks business without invoking the new banking buzzword — relationships. It’s become so much a part of the banking vernacular that it’s even made its way into duty titles. Ted Mossman just left Vectra Bank, where he’s been market president of Colorado’s Pikes Peak region since February 2008, for a bigger whale, Wells Fargo, where he is the principal relationship manager for business banking in Southern Colorado.
“This is the best time for small businesses, that are doing well, to take advantage of what banks are offering — rates, structure, securing long-term fixed rates . . . the opportunities they have to reinvest are there and banks are willing to do what it takes to earn their business,” Mossman said.
Strategy: Create, plan, protect assets
Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rises and falls akin to ocean waves, even occasionally crashing as breakers. The Nasdaq composite index and Dow Jones industrial average do much the same, although stock markets have been remarkably resilient lately, despite political turmoil.
One characteristic stays certain — investing in one’s future remains necessary, regardless of market vagaries.
Haphazardly buying the hottest stock or bond of the day doesn’t equate with investing or wealth management — it’s analogous to surfing during a hurricane.
A portfolio designed to ride out the storm and provide stability requires selective asset allocation.
Return on investment depends far more on portfolio consistency — allocation to certain types of major asset classes — more so than picking good stocks or hiring good investment managers within quality mutual funds, said Robert Book, executive vice president, Strategic Financial Partners.
Determining the best mixture of those asset classes should include “discussions around timelines, risk tolerances and the types of investment assets available, as well as current and projected economic and market conditions,” Book said.
Above all, “chasing returns” should be avoided. Instead, step back to view the larger picture by determining how much each portfolio needs to achieve as a rate of return in order to accomplish long-term goals, Book said.
While many investors still fixate on investment returns, what one really needs is a comprehensive plan, said Susan Strasbaugh, president, Strasbaugh Financial Advisory.
Regardless of age, plans and goals are part and parcel of managing wealth.
Part of that plan includes lifestyle — present and future. Typically, people increase spending during their 30s and 40s, often disproportionately to their increase in income. Eventually, that habit no longer will be viable.