Strategic Growth Bancorp quickly living up to its name
Reporter- Albuquerque Business First
When Strategic Growth Bancorp Inc. of El Paso entered the New Mexico banking market in early 2012, it said it was poised to become a $2.5 billion to $3.5 billion community banking platform in the Southwest, with particular emphasis on New Mexico.
Eighteen months later, it’s almost there.
Through acquisitions, Strategic Growth now has $2 billion in assets and is working to become a force in the Interstate 25 corridor from Las Cruces to Denver.
Strategic Growth started out in 2011 by buying Capital Bank SSB in El Paso, which now has $261 million in assets. In January 2012, it bought Bank of the Rio Grande in Las Cruces with $135 million in assets. Just recently, it closed on the purchase of First National Bank of Santa Fe, with $779 million in assets, and in 2012 it took control of Mile High Banks in the Denver area with $822 million in assets.
Those four banks will work together to offer businesses larger loans than they might have been able to get from other banks, and services that large national banks provide, like treasury management, said Ken McCormick, CEO of Strategic Growth’s New Mexico operations.
Those big-bank services will come with community bank-style relationships and loan decisions made locally, McCormick added.
“We have a unified capital strength and we envision the banks working together to transact larger volume [loans] and offer unified systems products,” McCormick said. “We will have overlapping management and let each bank maintain its identity and brand.”
First National Bank of Santa Fe will be headed by current CEO Greg Ellena and McCormick, who will act as co-CEOs, McCormick said.
Longtime New Mexico banker Michelle Coons will be president of First National Bank of Santa Fe and Bank of the Rio Grande.
Jerry Walker, president of the Independent Community Bankers Association of New Mexico, said he welcomed Strategic Growth’s investment in New Mexico.
“We are glad to welcome these folks to New Mexico, and glad to see them investing in our state. Let’s rock and roll,” Walker said.
New Mexico banking consultant Joe Badal said that New Mexico will benefit from Strategic Growth’s presence and acquisitions.
“What we now have is a banking organization that has enough critical mass to be able to made a difference in the state,” Badal said. “Unlike your large national banking organizations, these guys are committed to our geography.
“The other thing I’m pumped about is that First National Bank of Santa Fe is maybe the only community bank in new Mexico that has a wealth management, investment and trust departments. By broadening their footprints they will be able to expand those departments outside their traditional market territory of Los Alamos, Santa Fe and Albuquerque.
“With growth in those areas they can also grow expertise, which is good for the state. They will have a broader footprint and decisions will be made locally instead of in San Francisco or Charlotte.”
First National Bank of Santa Fe
We [bankers and businesses] have all been severely tested in the past five years, and it’s about time that people have a reason to invest in New Mexico. This [SGB’s acquisition of First National Bank of Santa Fe] is a real commitment to the state and a real commitment to Albuquerque.
First National Bank of Santa Fe, Bank of the Rio Grande
We will have the opportunity to bring the bank to our clients. One of the advantages we have is that loan decisions will be made locally. I just talked with a local client who was concerned that there aren’t many local loan decisions made in New Mexico. This is really important to New Mexicans.
First National Bank of Santa Fe
Our business banking division will have the ability to approach clients with larger amounts [for loans], with more tools and with an increased ability to meet their needs. We are big enough to be very impactful and small enough to be personal. This is a real commitment to the Rio Grande Valley as a great place to do business. Decisions will be made locally.