Workforce a top concern for northern Colorado bankers – Loveland Reporter-Herald


WINDSOR – The lack of available workers is one of the biggest concerns for northern Colorado bankers who join BizWest CEOs roundtable on banking on Tuesday, with the issue affecting not only their customers but the banks themselves. themselves.

Participants also highlighted consumer banking habits, the role of banks in helping businesses take advantage of the paycheck protection program, government regulations and concerns about the future of the economy.

The rally took place at the headquarters of the BBB of Northern Colorado in Windsor.

John Berkhausen, chairman of Adams Bank & Trust’s commercial bank, said “labor availability” is a major concern. The point was echoed by Chris Chippindale, senior vice president of northern operations at Ent Credit Union.

Shawn Osthoff, chairman of the Bank of Colorado, said his hotel and restaurant clients have always struggled to hire people “to serve, cook, run the restaurant,” and those jobs of course cannot. not be done at home.

Michele Bolkovatz, vice president of public relations at Blue Federal Credit Union, noted that employees engage in “self-reflection, thinking about what’s important: is working 15 hours a day or take less work and do what’s important to me. “

This applies both to customers and to the financial institutions themselves.

“Happy employees make members (of credit unions) happy,” Bolkavatz said, noting that Blue had advertised for a position with the company and “we got an application.”

Some, she said, “don’t want to work, and those who work have good jobs.”

Some of this work can be done remotely as well, with Fort Collins and Boulder recently making the Top 20 Most Desirable Remote Workplaces in the United States.

Berkhausen said that “the demand for labor is greater than the unemployment rate”.

Although some argue that the removal of enhanced federal unemployment benefits “hasn’t changed jobs,” he said, he “yesterday spoke to three business owners who are hiring now that the benefits have expired “, and even the recovery spreads have not slowed down. these companies down.

Bryan Guest, chairman of the Northern Colorado Group for Great Western Bank, said adequate salary and benefits are key to retention, especially in an industry like banking where competition for the workforce is high.

“I have employees in Arizona who work for us in northern Colorado,” he said. “How do you pay properly so you don’t lose them to someone else in this room?” ” He asked.

One of the trends in the pandemic has been the rise of remote working, but it is not a viable long-term strategy for banks or their customers, Chippindale said.

“The distance will stifle creativity,” he said, and “you have to bring people together. We can be productive at home, but that’s not all.

Osthoff noted that productivity is a big concern with a remote workforce.

“Some companies have tried remote labor, but find it’s not as productive,” he said. “Small businesses will have people coming back; for large offices, this is more of a concern.

Consumption habits

The COVID-19 pandemic has also accelerated changes in consumer banking services, such as the promotion of mobile banking.

“We have effectively kicked our customers out of the bank for a year and a half,” said Mark Brase, president of Points West Community Bank.

And they got used to it, others agreed.

“Lock down your branches and don’t let anyone in, and customers learn to bank differently,” Guest said. “We never have to go to the bank to get something again.”

PNC Bank Colorado regional chairman Ryan Beiser said digital transactions traditionally grew at around 1% per quarter before 2020. After COVID, “we accelerated five years on that percentage,” he said .

The flip side was not bad.

“Mobile deposits have increased dramatically,” said Charlie Pepin, director of commercial banking at First National Bank of Omaha, which operates under the FNBO name. “In the summer, we didn’t see this drop.

But there are times when clients want to enter, personally, a physical location and speak directly to another living human being or if there is a problem, participants said.

Beiser said, “Brick and mortar is always important: when you have a problem, you have to find someone. “

He added in a follow-up email that PNC entered the state with a focus on digital. But “while two-thirds of our customers use out-of-branch channels… they always want to know there’s a branch nearby” when they need to talk, often about something wrong.

PNC calls them “solution centers” and in addition to answering “just wanna know” type questions – and at more difficult times, pressing concerns – they also provide quite ironically and interestingly “one-on-one demonstrations”. PNC’s digital banking options ”. .

The question is, Guest said, “How do we do business differently? “

Brase said, “Now it’s back to community banking. “

Economic recovery

Roundtable participants highlighted the key role banks play in promoting economic recovery, including helping clients navigate the federal paycheck protection program. The program has boosted financial results during the pandemic and continues to help.

Osthoff said that “it was gratifying to be able to come in and help” people and that the program was especially a boon for borrowers in the hotel and restaurant business.

Nicole Staudinger, president of northern Colorado at First Bank, said the program has helped “record lending by leveraging funds.” Customers saw opportunities for expansion (and) interest rates were low.

Brase noted that Points West’s PPP lending volume has generated positive results for the bank.

Banks and credit unions have also played a key role in relief programs, Bolkovatz noting that the Blue Federal Credit Union has organized a $ 500,000 fund to help struggling nonprofits. Some clients have even donated personal stimulus checks to the program, she noted.

“The community itself did this,” she said.

Osthoff said that while the pandemic has been costly for many companies, others are coming back stronger.

“We hate that we lost businesses during the pandemic, but those who survived come back stronger,” said Osthoff.

As for the banks, he said, “we’re all very liquid, with a low loan-to-deposit ratio, all in the same boat, chasing yield. If you pay something on a deposit, it is too much.

The loans haven’t gone as badly as it was thought at the start of the lockdowns, and the banks “have the best credit quality we’ve ever had,” he said.

Staudinger noted the strength of the real estate market, including commercial and residential properties. This has helped allay concerns about potential problems when federal moratoria on some residential foreclosures expire.

“We don’t see any delinquency either,” she said. Home values ​​are positive “and there is so much liquidity in the market looking for places to invest.”

Homeowners who might have problems with their mortgages have many options other than foreclosure, she noted.

Although commercial real estate sectors such as industrial and warehouse / distribution remain strong, questions remain about other sectors. Remote working trends raise questions about the future of the office market, and some retail businesses have struggled during the pandemic.

Regulatory concerns

Bankers have expressed concern about new federal regulations on financial institutions, including potentially changing reporting requirements.

Osthoff mentioned “Section 1071” of Dodd-Frank – the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. The section amended the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974 to require institutions to collect and report new customer data.

Final rules being drafted on this issue could lead to “requiring banks to report substantial information about small businesses and individuals,” Osthoff said.

A critical period

Participants said the next 60 to 90 days are critical to the economy, including unemployment, inflation, supply chains and the direction of federal support if the economy goes bad.

Pepin said: “There is a big ‘but’ there as to what’s to come. That could change quickly. Will the government be there to help?

Sponsors at the CEO Roundtable included Owen Ronk, Plante Moran; Darin Atteberry, Elevations Credit Union; and Ashley Cawthorn, Berg Hill Greenleaf Ruscitti LLP.

© BizWest Media LLC

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