Commercial lender bullish on Boulder market

Commercial lending from banks in the region is picking up.

So says Charles Holmes, a 30-year bank veteran in the Boulder market and head honcho of Centennial Bank’s Boulder office at 2500 Broadway.

Since opening a little more than a year ago, the Boulder bank branch has made $36 million in loans in the local market and now has more than $7 million in deposits. That’s ahead of where the bank projected it would be just 15 months after opening.

Holmes continues to be bullish on the Boulder-area commercial real estate market. He says he has watched local trends long enough to know what the market will support in terms of lease rates that might seem high to bankers in Minneapolis, Chicago or even downtown Denver.

“They don’t quite get the market. We accept that and move on,” Holmes said.

Centennial’s sweet spot is lending to customers who need $500,000 to $5 million — an estimated 80 percent of the companies in Boulder, Holmes said.

So far, the bank has raised about 20 percent of its capital from the community, Holmes said, a good thing for any bank.

Centennial Bank’s Denver-based parent holding company CIC Bancshares Inc. merged with Edwards-based Millennium Bancorp Inc. in August, giving the combined operation about $400 million in assets and nine branches. Centennial Bank is the name on all of the banks.

A ‘fractional CFO’

If you’re a small but rapidly growing company looking for funds or having just received funds in that just-mentioned “sweet spot,” you might not have enough work to hire a full-time chief financial officer.

But if your company has about $5 million in financing, you likely need a controller or other financial person who can account for where the money is going.

That’s where Chris Schwalbach’s firm, AVL Growth Partners, comes in. Schwalbach is a founder and managing partner of the firm, which has offices in Louisville and in Minneapolis.

AVL wants to offer you a “fractional CFO” – a person who can do work for your company when you need it and go to work for someone else when you don’t. That person can do accounting services, controller services or other financial services, depending on your company needs.

Schwalbach knows his market. Using the “fractional CFO” strategy, AVL has experienced 200 percent growth in revenue year over year, and has grown from seven members in 2012 to 18 now.

Several of AVL’s startup customers are companies that have graduated from the Boulder TechStars business incubator program and have successfully raised venture capital.

When the companies start scrambling to keep up with their finances, Schwalbach is there to help. Schwalbach compares his “fractional CFO” plan to how most companies use lawyers – only large companies hire full-time, in-house legal help.

“We keep reading things about the ‘shared economy,’ ‘shared office space’ and ‘shared servers,’ but this hasn’t been done very efficiently in the accounting arena,” Schwalbach said.

Some of the companies AVL works with read like a Who’s Who in the local startup world, including Mocavo Inc., a Boulder company that makes genealogy-database software, Flixmaster Inc., a Boulder company that makes software to help users work on interactive videos, and Graphicly Inc., a Boulder company that makes software so users can share comic books online and on mobile devices. Some other customers include Workwell Occupational Medicine in Longmont, Simple Energy LLC in Boulder, JustRight Surgical LLC in Boulder, and VMO Systems Inc. in Boulder.

Help for older adults

A new financial resource tool, Money Smart for Older Adults, is offered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The free training program directed at people age 62 and older. The goal is to make folks aware of potential financial exploitation, to help them plan for secure financial futures and to help them make informed financial decisions.

It makes sense that as more seniors are targeted in financial scams, there’s a way to educate them.

“Each year millions of senior citizens are targeted for financial exploitation,” Martin J. Gruenberg, chairman of the FDIC, said in a press statement. “This program will provide a new resource to help older adults avoid being victims of this type of elder abuse.”

The training information is available online at the FDIC website at

For a printed copy of some of the material, go to the CFPB website and download the material at

Beth Potter can be reached at 303-630-1944 or

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