WINDSOR – The labor shortage has been cited as one of the top concerns for northern Colorado bankers joining BizWest’s CEO Roundtable on Banking on Tuesday, with the problem affecting not just their customers but the banks themselves.
Attendees also highlighted consumer banking habits, banks’ role in helping businesses take advantage of the paycheck protection program, government regulations, and concerns about the future economy.
The meeting took place at the BBB of Northern Colorado in Windsor.
John Berkhausen, president of commercial banking at Adams Bank & Trust, said “labor availability” is a major concern. This point was endorsed by Chris Chippindale, Senior Vice President, Northern Operations at Ent Credit Union.
Shawn Osthoff, president of the Bank of Colorado, said his hospitality and hospitality customers are still struggling to hire people to “serve, cook, run the restaurant,” and of course not be able to do these jobs from home – even if they can do well is an idea. “
Michele Bolkovatz, vice president of public relations at Blue Federal Credit Union, noted that employees “are self-reflective and consider what is important: Is it to work 15 hours a day or less and do what I do important is? ”
This applies to both customers and the financial institutions themselves.
“Satisfied employees make you happy [credit union] Members, ”said Bolkavatz, noting that Blue had applied for a position with a company and“ we received an application ”.
Some, she said, “don’t want to work, and those who do work have good jobs.”
Some of these jobs can also be done remotely, with Fort Collins and Boulder recently including a top 20 list of the most desirable remote workplaces in the US
Berkhausen said the demand for labor is higher than the unemployment rate.
Although some argue that the removal of federal extended unemployment benefits “didn’t change employment,” he said, he “spoke to three business owners yesterday who are hiring now after benefits have expired,” and even slowed the resumption of loopholes don’t get this company down.
Bryan Guest, Northern Colorado Group President of Great Western Bank, said adequate pay and benefits are critical to employee retention, especially in an industry like banking where competition for labor is fierce
“I have associates in Arizona who work for us in northern Colorado,” he said. “How do we pay appropriately so as not to lose them to someone else in this room?” He asked.
One trend of the pandemic has been the rise in remote working, but that’s 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 doesn’t tell the whole story. “
Osthoff found that productivity is a huge concern with a remote workforce.
“Some companies have tried remote workers but see it is not as productive,” he said. “Small businesses will have people again; for larger offices it is more of a problem. “
The COVID-19 pandemic has also accelerated changes in consumer banking, such as promoting mobile banking.
“We’ve effectively kicked our clients out of the bank for the past 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 will learn how to do banking differently,” said Guest. “We never have to go back into the bank to get anything” again.
PNC Bank’s regional president in Colorado, Ryan Beiser, said digital transactions traditionally grew about 1% per quarter prior to 2020. After COVID, “we sped up that percentage by five years,” he said.
The downside of that wasn’t bad.
“Mobile deposits have grown significantly,” said Charlie Pepin, commercial banking manager for First National Bank of Omaha, which acts as the FNBO. “We didn’t see this decline in the summer.”
But there are times when customers come to a physical location in person and want to speak directly to another living person, or when there is a problem, participants said.
Beiser said: “Wall and mortar are still important: when you have a problem, you have to find someone.”
In a follow-up email, he added that PNC had entered the state with an emphasis on digital. But “while two-thirds of our customers use channels outside of the branch, they still want to know that there is a branch nearby” when they need to talk, often about something that is going wrong.
PNC calls them “solution centers” and, in addition to answering questions that just want to know – and pressing concerns in difficult times – ironically and interestingly, they also offer “one-on-one demonstrations of PNC’s digital banking options.”
The question is, said Guest, “How do we do business differently?”
Brase said, “Now it’s back to community banking.”
Round table participants highlighted the key role banks played in fueling economic recovery, including helping clients navigate the state’s paycheck protection program. The program has increased profits during the pandemic and continues to help.
Osthoff said it was “rewarding to be able to help people,” and that the program is a blessing especially for hospitality and restaurant borrowers.
Nicole Staudinger, president of Northern Colorado at First Bank, said the program contributed to “record lending and fundraising.” Customers saw opportunities for expansion [and] Interest rates were low. “
Brase found that Points West’s PPP loan volume produced positive results for the bank.
Banks and credit unions also played key roles in relief programs, with Bolkovatz noting that the Blue Federal Credit Union organized a $ 500,000 fund to help ailing nonprofits. Some clients even donated personal stimulus checks to the program, she noted.
“The community did that itself,” she says.
Osthoff said that while the pandemic has been costly for many companies, others are coming back stronger.
“We hate that we lost companies to the pandemic, but those who survived come back stronger,” said Osthoff.
As for banks, he said, “We are all very liquid, have low credit volumes, are all in the same boat, chasing returns. If you pay something with a down payment, it’s too much. “
Loans weren’t as bad as assumed when the lockdown began, and banks “have the best credit quality we’ve ever had,” he said.
Staudinger pointed to the strength of the real estate market, which includes both commercial and residential properties. This has helped allay concerns about potential problems if federal moratoriums on certain residential foreclosures expire.
“We don’t see any failures either,” she said. Property values are positive, “and there is so much liquidity in the market looking for investment opportunities.”
Homeowners who might get into trouble with their mortgages have numerous options in addition to foreclosure, she noted.
Although commercial real estate sectors such as industrial and warehouse / distribution remain strong, questions remain about a few other sectors. Remote working trends raise questions about the future of the office market and certain retail companies struggled during the pandemic.
Bankers expressed concern about new federal regulations for financial institutions, including possible changes in 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 in 1974 to require institutions to collect and report new data on customers.
The final rulings on this issue could result in “banks being required to report material information about small businesses and individuals,” said Osthoff.
A critical time
Participants said the next 60 to 90 days are critical to the economy, including unemployment, inflation, supply chains, and the direction of government support when the economy goes wrong.
Pepin said, “There is a big ‘but’ about what’s coming. It could change quickly. Will the government be there to help? “
The CEO Roundtable sponsors included Owen Ronk, Plante Moran; Therein Atteberry, Elevations Credit Union; and Ashley Cawthorn, Berg Hill Greenleaf Ruscitti LLP.
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