Banker takes leap of faith, retires

Filed under: Banking & Finance,Print | Tags:,

Many longtime businessmen and -women struggle with how they might fill their days after the time comes to retire — but not Steve Self.

Self, who stepped down April 4 after nine years as president of BBVA Compass Bank in Colorado Springs, sees retirement as an opportunity.

“I can’t explain the timing,” said the 52-year-old Alabama native. “This is something that my wife and I have been praying about for a long time and talking about for a long time. … It has been on my heart for probably a year and a half.”

For some, 52 may seem young to exit the banking industry, but Self explained this is not a traditional retirement. It is, rather, a transition to something deeper: his faith. He said it’s time for him to shift gears and move toward consulting for churches and nonprofits that could use his sharpened skill set as a financial guru.

Self said he is currently in talks with at least one faith-based area nonprofit about potentially becoming its financial adviser. He has also done some “light consulting” in addition to serving on advisory boards and oversight committees for such organizations.

“This is home — we’re as connected here as we’ve ever been.”
– Steve Self

When considering retirement, Self spoke with other former bankers who have discovered faith-based applications for their financial knowledge.

“It’s more common than you think,” he said. “I started talking to folks, and all of the dots started connecting … and I thought: ‘The only way I’m going to do it is if I do it.’ ”

Self said his retirement from the bank is part of a larger family plan. With his two children grown, he and wife Beth recently moved to a smaller home in Mountain Shadows, which he said will be more manageable at this stage in life.

Though the two love to travel and have completed one major cross-country move, the Selfs are members of nearby Calvary Worship Center and active members of the community. In short, Self said, they’re here to stay.

“This is home — we’re as connected here as we’ve ever been. We had a lot of reasons to stay [in Birmingham], but as a couple we said, ‘Let’s go and see what we can do,’ ” he said, explaining the family’s move to Colorado nine years ago.

“We could have chosen to live anywhere along the Front Range, and we very intentionally chose Colorado Springs,” he said.

Self still can remember receiving his first interoffice email in the early ’80s while working for a small Birmingham bank. Reflecting on how the banking industry has changed in his 34-year career, he marveled over the technological advancements.

“The product is the same, but the method of delivery has changed,” he said.

And while banks no longer serve as centers for social gathering, they have gone the way of most industries in providing more efficient access to personal finance.

“The same thing is going on in our industry,” he said. “The biggest change has been technology.”

Since starting as a bank teller after high school graduation, Self has worked various positions at banks in Alabama, Georgia and Colorado, but said the past 10 years of his career have been the most adaptative.

“I think as an industry, it could lose some of what I call those ‘niceties,’ ” he said. “But I think that overall, it is still a business of commerce and it is a business of people.”

Quasi-retirement won’t be all business for Self.

Aside from globetrotting with his family, Self said that he also will enjoy spending time tinkering with and riding his Victory motorcycle, attending professional football games and playing golf with his buddies.

“This is the beginning of a new chapter for us.”

BBVA Compass was hoping to announce Self’s replacement by the end of this week.