Top Company 2015: First Western Trust
Winner and finalists in the Financial Services category
Winner: Financial Services
First Western Trust
Three words from them, about them: Entrepreneurial. Relationship-focused. Fun.
It’s all about family, says First Western Trust CEO Scott Wylie: the people who come through the door, and the people waiting there to help them get what they want most out of life.
“Wealth is the tool to help you live a life that’s rich in experiences, relationships and spirit,” Wylie says. “When we talk about wealth, we talk about a client’s goals for their family and friends, the values they want to pass on and the great memories and experiences they want to have. Then, we design a financial plan that uses their money to fuel these more important goals.”
That approach has fueled impressive growth. The bank opened its doors in 2004 with gross revenues of $1.6 million; in 2014, they were nearly $44 million. Net loans have grown to more than $526 million from $19 million, and an initial $64 million in net assets hit $752.5 million in 2014. The company now has six Colorado locations — five banks and one mortgage office; one Los Angeles location; two in Arizona and two in Wyoming – one bank and one trust office.
First Western works hard to maintain an innovative and friendly culture, starting with the First Western Way Committee, which tasks seven associates with a yearlong mission to foster engagement. A recent key initiative, the intranet-based Idea Box, gives associates the opportunity to submit concepts to improve the company – like an online photo-based directory that helps employees get to know colleagues across all locations. The Kudos program lets associates recognize and reward colleagues who go above and beyond in their jobs, and Annual Awards are given to associates who exemplify the company’s core values.
The secret sauce: “When a client walks in, our associates know them, their families, and their stories. That means the world to our clients, and it also makes us better advisers,” CEO Wylie says.
The largest financial services institution headquartered in Colorado, 26-year-old CoBank has achieved its 15th straight year of profitability and has lent out more than half those profits – $468 million – to customer-owners to invest in growing their businesses. With more than $100 billion in total assets and 850 employees nationwide – 550 in Colorado – this mission-driven lender defines success as living up to its cooperative principle of “concern for community.” Last year, CoBank contributed $7.7 million to nonprofit organizations and $3.9 million in commercial sponsorships.
The IMA Financial Group Inc.
The IMA Financial Group – a diversified financial services company focused on insurance and wealth management solutions – is 100 percent owned by its more than 600 associates in Colorado, Kansas, Michigan, New York and Texas. Making stock ownership broadly available to IMA employees through direct ownership and company-sponsored stock bonus plans keeps the organization fiercely independent and highly motivated, a direct benefit to IMA customers. IMA keeps its associates happy in other ways, too: When the new building was constructed in the heart of Denver’s lower downtown, it built in a fully staffed Starbucks, with free beverages for employees. After a day in its all-jeans office, associates can enjoy their company’s own craft beer, IMA Groundbreaker, at nearby Wynkoop Brewery.