First, how have you and the Colorado team been doing this past year as you’ve worked from home and shifted the way you do business?
I am so proud of the way our team has adjusted and adapted this past year. In all honesty, it hasn’t been easy on any of us, but we have found ways to keep our culture intact and be there for each other during the past 12 months. It’s important to me that our team remembers why they joined UMB in the first place, which is our culture, our collaborative spirit and our philosophy to always do the right thing.
To keep that front and center, we’ve done things like 5K fundraisers to give back to other organizations like Veterans Expeditions‡, sent COVID-19 care packages to our associates, joined virtual workouts together, and had socially distanced outdoor happy hours. For me, it’s about making sure that our team feels supported, both personally and professionally, while we are all at home and away from our normal interactions with friends, family and loved ones.
What is the business sentiment right now in Colorado and among your customers?
A lot of our clients had to make really hard decisions last year, particularly during the first part of the year, which included cutting costs, downsizing operations or pivoting their business operations to meet the demands of our country at that time.
Today, a lot of our customers are looking at 2021 with optimism now that we have a COVID-19 vaccine, a new administration and some clear direction about the future. There are still questions about how quickly vaccines can be deployed, when employees can return to the office and when social or business events will return, but we are getting closer to having answers. That clarity will help a lot of industries move forward, especially those that were impacted the most by the pandemic such as the hospitality, retail, oil and gas, and municipality sectors.
For most companies, they really just want to bring people back, help provide for their employees and their families, and contribute to the economy. Any decision they make is with those goals in mind.
As we look ahead to 2021 and see some light at the end of the tunnel, what kind of conversations are you having with customers about their future?
It’s interesting, some of the biggest and most important conversations we are having with customers and prospects are about treasury management, corporate cards and integrated payable solutions. These topics have taken the lead in our discussions because customers can add value by increasing efficiencies with integrated payables, add benefits through purchasing card programs and streamline their account payables and receivables through treasury management platforms.
Our bankers are also advising clients to maintain a healthy balance between a strong balance sheet, solid cash position to weather any potential economic downturn in the coming months and continuing to invest in capital expenditures that support the business moving forward. Entrepreneurs have proven time and time again that when they succeed, hire employees and expand operations, our entire economy performs better. At UMB, we want to support these activities in our business community.
Are there any trends or conversations you are hearing specific to the Colorado market?
This story has been talked about a lot, but the influx of people coming to Colorado from California has impacted our region tremendously. The implications of this migration have been felt across the board, from an increase in talent and business opportunities to an uptick in mergers and acquisition (M&A) activity. There has also been an impact on the local housing market.
I would say the biggest impact we are seeing from a lending perspective with this migration is the increase in M&A activity. There is a lot of dry powder, or capital, being deployed in Colorado, and private equity firms are being aggressive right now. In addition, there are a lot of second, third or fourth generation companies in the market that are ready to sell or determine their succession plan. We are working with companies on both sides of the M&A process by leveraging our outside partnerships and helping them bring the right people to the table, including institutional and wealth management through UMB, valuation experts, CPAs, law firms, insurance agencies and others.
Okay, now for some personal updates! What are you listening to, watching or doing in your spare time these days?
I am riding my bike a lot when there isn’t snow on the ground and getting some running in with my son. And when I can’t get outside, I’ve been doing some binge watching…like everyone else in the world. We’ve watched Game of Thrones, The Sopranos and Blind Spot recently.
What are you most looking forward to in the year ahead?
There are so many great restaurants, sports and activities in Denver that I miss. I can’t wait to go to a Rockies game on a Friday afternoon with the team or my family and enjoy the downtown atmosphere.
I also miss the sports and school scene with my three kids. One son is heading to college soon and is really involved with track and cross country, another son is involved with multiple clubs in high school and my daughter plays volleyball. I miss going to their games, school activities, watching them play and then being there to celebrate with them after. Those are the things as a parent that you remember and want to be there for.
From a work perspective, I’m looking forward to the team being back in the office together. I miss the natural conversations that come from that environment, like updates on the family, weekend activities or just finding out how they are doing at the end of a day or week. That’s the stuff that is really missing during this time, and I am counting down the days for its return.
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