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What Colorado's Mid-Sized Businesses Should Look for in a Bank

Three attributes a commercial banking partner should possess


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With its jaw-dropping landscape, sociable populace, roaring economy, muted unemployment and diversified marketplace, it should come as no surprise that folks have relocated to this desirable destination – the same one we’re fortunate enough to call home. Indeed, the technology sector gets a lot of the glory for its growth and abundance, while biotech, energy, real estate and other segments are closely followed. But backbone of it all – the banking industry – with compelling new organizational configurations, expansions, mergers and acquisitions has, too, experienced an overall upsurge in the Centennial State.

It’s important to understand that the landscape in commercial banking has changed dramatically in Colorado. New banks have moved in, and some bank headquarters have moved out, changing the meaning of what it means to be a Colorado bank.

When Sunflower Bank moved its headquarters and commercial banking center to Colorado’s capital city in 2017, it was with the focus that products and services should be distinctively tailored to complement the businesses within the community and region. The Denver metro area is home to approximately 80,000 small- and middle-market businesses at the time of the last census and that number is expected to keep growing. Every single one of those businesses is unique, and should be treated that way by their bank.

But striking a balance between big bank resources and the deep roots of a community bank requires a special touch.

Commercial banking is a relationship-driven business that is difficult to commoditize. Our philosophy is that businesses should right-size their bank to their business. If you are a family-owned or mid-sized business, then you should be a with a community bank – one that gets to know you and does not treat you like a number. Banks like Sunflower that have a community bank model backed by capital strength and scale are perfectly positioned to deliver this service to middle-market clients.

Since committing to Denver less than two years ago, Sunflower Bank has grown its local team by nearly 48 percent. Matching a significant scope of services with a commitment to providing a community bank’s personal touch, Sunflower demonstrates the three attributes we believe a commercial banking partner should exemplify for its clients:

  1. LOCAL KNOWLEDGE + STRENGTH

Businesses should be able to sit across from their bankers and credit approvers and look them in the eye. Personalized service makes it easier to tailor solutions to each operation and the people involved.

At Sunflower, dedicated market leaders strive to take care of customers’ banking needs with a broad array of competitive credit and treasury management products and services to effectively support day-to-day functions and long-term aspirations of business clients.

Employees of community banks are also likely members of the community themselves. So, they tend to be better equipped to understand the specific needs of the communities and businesses they serve. Sunflower Bank encourages employees at all levels of the organization to get involved in the community and donate their time to local causes.

  1. LOCAL CREDIT APPROVALS

While national banks rely on centralized credit approvers who focus on the numbers, community banks are more likely to take an in-depth view of a credit request, looking at other factors and bringing in local perspectives to drive decisions – which can be a benefit for business owners.

Throughout the entirety of the Sunflower Bank’s footprint, loans are approved by local teams that take qualitative data into account when reviewing commercial client loan requests, for a more holistic evaluation. The bank has rejected the traditional loan committee process in favor of a locally driven structure designed to both be responsive and ensure that the bank gets to know each client’s business inside and out.

Denver businesses receive an even greater benefit from this model, as Sunflower Bank’s Chief Credit Officer is based locally. Given the number of businesses in Denver Metro, having a chief credit officer located in the market was a high priority for Sunflower.

  1. PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS, QUALITY BANKERS

Whether business leaders are looking for assistance with loan consolidation, refinancing, expansion or acquisition, equipment upgrades, technology investments or other details, it’s vital to find a partner.

A true partner is a bank that is willing to advise and be a partner for the future; but is also willing to have hard conversations. A bank that simplifies and supports, while being real with customers every step of the way. A bank that focuses more on the solution than the product. This is the model that Sunflower follows.

Customers also benefit from a bank that foster teams that are both experienced and warm. Its people should sincerely care about the customers, while still possessing expertise and good reputations in the market. Sunflower is proud to offer community bank customer service with large-bank solutions. When business customers call, a real banking professional – not a call center – answers the phone.

Sunflower Bank’s home-base placement in Denver was no accident, it was a strategic decision made based on the economic environment found here and the potential for helping businesses grow.

As Colorado’s population expands and the pace at which businesses advance only increases, Sunflower is at the center of the action. Through a balancing act of efficiency and deliberateness, innovation and strong core values, the institution’s organizational structure is aligned with our commitment to get to know our customers, making business with Sunflower a win-win-win.


James G. Fullerton is executive vice president, chief commercial and specialty banking officer at Sunflower Bank. Based in Denver, he is responsible for developing and executing Sunflower Bank's commercial banking services. Fullerton has been in banking for more than 35 years. He uses his expertise to support the bank's commercial teams and clients in Colorado and beyond.

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