Editor’s note: BizWest is launching One on One, a series of Q&A sessions with key decision-makers in the Boulder Valley and Northern Colorado. Interviews are conducted in person, by phone or via email. This first interview was conducted by BizWest editor and co-publisher Chris Wood via email with Shawn Osthoff, president of Fort Collins-based Bank of Colorado.
QUESTION: How would you describe the competitive landscape in Northern Colorado for financial institutions?
ANSWER: Northern Colorado, like most of the Front Range, is highly competitive. All of the big banks are represented, and we have fewer community banks to choose from. We believe this is a competitive advantage for Bank of Colorado and other community banks who offer personalized service and flexibility.
QUESTION: What role do you think Bank of Colorado plays, in terms of market position, industries targeted, etc.? How do you differentiate your bank from others?
ANSWER: We are a community bank, and we really focus on small business, agriculture and consumer lending and banking. We continue to grow our market share in most of the communities in which we serve and hope to continue to do so. Our community banking model allows for local decision-making, which is good for the customer and the communities that we serve. We have worked hard to build a reputation of a community-minded, customer-focused bank and believe that our customers appreciate this approach. While we have branches across the state of Colorado, we are the largest state-chartered bank, headquartered in Northern Colorado.
QUESTION: What is driving the proliferation of banks entering the market?
ANSWER: The Front Range of Colorado is very attractive right now for many reasons. Unemployment is under 3 percent, construction activity is strong, and we have one of the strongest economies in the country, not to mention our population growth. This is all attractive to banks, and I think you will see more acquisition activity by out-of-state buyers for banks.
QUESTION: Federal regulators are looking at various ways to ease restrictions imposed by Dodd-Frank. What are the key changes that you would like to see that would improve your ability to operate and lend money?
ANSWER: The Independent Community Bankers Association (ICBA) supports the Community Lending Enhancement and Regulatory Relief Act ( The CLEAR Relief Act, H.R 2133), which has several provisions to reduce the regulatory burden imposed by Dodd-Frank. The idea is that small community banks, with assets less than $50 billion, should not be held to same regulatory standards as the big banks. Some of the key components of the act included granting automatic “qualified mortgage” status for mortgages held in the portfolio of banks with assets under $50 billion, cutting the red tape on small-business lending, raising the CFPB exam threshold and granting a waiver on the TRID waiting period for banks with assets under $50 billion.
QUESTION: Do you worry that the Colorado Front Range is becoming over-banked?
ANSWER: Actually, there are fewer banks today than we had 10 years ago due to consolidation in the industry. However, the competition is stronger than ever. The good news is that businesses are expanding, the population is growing and there is significant new construction along the Front Range, resulting in strong loan demand for banks in Colorado. The market will usually correct any saturation or deficiency in the market, so I am not concerned about Colorado or the Front Range being overbanked.
QUESTION: What metrics do you look at to plan for future growth, in terms of economic and demographic trends?
ANSWER: We try not to get ahead of ourselves and really focus on our customers and communities we serve. We are continually looking at opportunities to expand by acquisition or by adding branches. It is really more of an art than a science, as every community is different and we just try to find places where we think it would be a good fit for Bank of Colorado. We opened three new branches in 2016 and recently closed on AmFirst Bank (as of July 1) with branches in the Denver Tech Center and Longmont. The new branches helped us to fill in holes in markets along the Front Range to provide more convenience for our customers and growth for the bank. The acquisition of AmFirst Bank expanded our presence in Denver and Longmont.