Conferences & Education

Annual Conference for Bank Presidents, 
Senior Officers & Directors

March 23-27, 2013
Grand Hyatt Kauai, Hawaii



2013 Innovative Community Banks of the Year Awards

Western Independent Bankers is pleased to announce the Second Annual Innovative Community Banks of the Year Award Program. Together with our co-sponsor BDO, we present the awards at our Annual Conference for Bank Presidents, Senior Officers & Directors in Hawaii. The award is designed to honor the creative and innovative achievements of a community bank in one of three categories.

Congratulations to all the winners and finalists! Winners are noted below and were announced March 24, at the Awards Ceremony.

<$250 million in Assets

Fortune Bank | Cloud Solution for Infrastructure - WINNER

When Fortune Bank was faced with an aging infrastructure and a desire for increased resiliency and mobility, the bank looked at all potential options including rebuilding what they currently have. But rather than continue to host their critical server infrastructure in their bank locations, they decided to move their applications and data to a community cloud solution. The web-enabled solution allowed for all employees to securely access all of their approved bank applications via a custom web portal, allowing for all applications and data to cut its dependency on the local infrastructure. With this private network connectivity in place, the bank has the ability to easily and quickly add additional branch locations without the need to plan for or purchase additional server hardware. The platform was officially launched in summer 2012 and already the bank has been able to decommission 95% of the local server infrastructure and has realized the benefits of centralized data, secure application access from anywhere and system resiliency that was too cost prohibitive for the bank to build internally.

<$250 million in Assets

Sutter Community Bank, CA | Senior Financial Security Seminar

Sutter Community Bank wanted to make certain that it was positioned as a leader in community protection and community caring, an important aspect of the bank's work. They decided to partner with their local District Attorney and Police Department to offer a free event that helped to protect and serve the financial security needs of the senior population. The seminar touched upon such subjects as detecting and avoiding mail/phone fraud, information on identity theft and how to identify and report someone who has been a victim of financial crime. Attended by over 40 seniors, the staff was also educated on how to detect and manage issues of fraud, leading them to service their customers in additional caring and protective way.

<$250 million in Assets

Thurston First Bank, WA | Financing for Local Non-Profit

A local museum had envisioned a project based on a model that used the concept of a children's museum as the focal point for the city's redevelopment. They saw the opportunity to create a low impact economic engine to promote tourism and city tax revenue. So they embarked on an $18m project in a public/private partnership that would result in a new children's museum. Fundraising efforts left them with a $5m need in order to complete the project as well as release major foundation pledges that had been committed. Thurston First Bank stepped in and was able to use its knowledge of the USDA guarantee program to structure a low-risk loan to the bank and allow the project to launch. The government program was designed to enhance rural development and the bank new they could utilize it to create a catalyst for the city's redevelopment efforts. The reputation of the bank has grown and the connection to their target market (young professionals) has strengthened. 

$250 million-$1 Billion in Assets

Bank of American Fork, UT | Incentive Program for Associates in Relationship Banking

In mid-2012, Bank of American Fork launched a new incentive program for associates called CRAVE (Creating Additional Value for Everyone). The team wanted a way to change behavior within the bank to support associates in more relationship-building activities. The system was created to support cross-selling and adding value for everyone, with 13 different categories of activities that were incentivized. A pool of incentive funds was set up and at the end of the year, were distributed to associates according to the points they earned. There were a range of activities that were rewarded, anywhere from an associate participating in a bank-sponsored personal financial education program to walking in a community parade with the bank float. One of the heavily-weighted categories rewarded associates in product knowledge learning which in turn kept them feeling comfortable talking to others about products and services the bank offers. Almost two-thirds of the associates participated and there was a clear change in behavior as they became more comfortable participating in activities, developing their personal financial wellness and spreading the word about bank products and services.

$250 million-$1 Billion in Assets

Simplicity Bank, CA | Biometric Fingerprint Reader System - WINNER

Simplicity Bank deployed a company-wide biometric system in 2012 for all desktops and laptops to accomplish three objectives: enhancement of their security posture, reduction of helpdesk calls and simplification of the end-user experience. In deploying the system, the bank looked at current IT policy and procedure and used the project as a catalyst to increase security by changing the way passwords were handled. The biometric system automatically generates active directory passwords using strength of the bank's choosing. It automatically populates fields and then requires the user to press their finger on the reader, rendering no password that is ever visible to the user. The system has helped to reduce helpdesk calls, especially in cases where the end user has forgotten their username or password. The system has made a positive impact both on the bottom line in expenditure savings but also showcasing Simplicity Bank as a leader in bank technology. The bank additionally extended the system to their core host and other financial platforms and continues to seek ways to use it to improve the customer experience.

$250 million-$1 Billion in Assets

Sunwest Bank, CA | Customer Risk & Review Assessment

In 2012, Sunwest Bank took the customer risk review process paperless with a cross-channel risk review worksheet. Their worksheet provides relationship managers with a consolidated snapshot of each customer's payment activity including deposits, loans and ACH. It provides all the details an analyst needs to understand and determine if the customer's activity is "in line" which is then automatically aggregated and displayed. The bank subsequently eliminated having to manually update a spreadsheet by retrieving data for reports. The data is automatically integrated and presented to the analysts. In addition, the bank added the ability for an approval workflow so risk exposure adjustments could be made. The person doing the analysis can make a suggestion on adjusting an exposure limit which is then presented in a workflow system that allows for approval. The system uses an application accessed over a corporate intranet with security controls, so only authorized personnel has access to that data. The bank has realized a tremendous amount of operational efficiency and accuracy. They also have eliminated the operational burden typically associated with growing the ACH origination side of the bank.

$1 Billion+ in Assets

Bank of the Sierra, CA | Compliance Platform

Since 2011 the Bank of the Sierra had determined that a modernization of their compliance and risk management areas were needed to improve efficiency and better position the bank for the growing regulatory changes. The 2012 initiative led to a deployment of a compliance platform to allow the bank to create efficiencies by shifting tasks that were formerly required via email, onto a single, cloud-based platform that automated the activities. The project intended to reduce the cost/effort to perform tasks, increase the visibility and accountability around those tasks and reduce the risk of the tasks not being performed. In less than one year, the bank has automated over 150 tasks that had previously been performed manually. In addition, the platform has helped to solidify and document the bank's regulatory compliance and performance programs. It has empowered the employees to answer their own compliance questions, at a time when regulatory expectations and burdens are increasing. With such great success, the bank has extended the project to include an SBA loan component.

$1 Billion+ in Assets

HomeStreet Bank, WA | IPO Recapitalization of Troubled Institution - WINNER

With the 2008-2009 recession, HomeStreet Bank was deeply impacted by the downturn to a concentration in residential construction lending. With a Cease & Desist order in place and a Texas Ratio of over 200%, the bank looked for an innovative way to recapitalize the bank while remaining independent. They recruited Mark Mason as their new CEO who in turn developed a multi-faceted plan to position the bank to complete an IPO-driven recapitalization. They set forth to aggressively reduce problem assets and improve credit quality while putting new credit administration policies and procedures in place, improving the quality of deposits and working its way back to profitability. The IPO was a risky proposition that could only be achieved by building credibility with the regulators in order to be granted sufficient time to reduce problem assets prior to raising capital. By the beginning of 2012, bank stock prices nationally had increased substantially, and the bank had achieved three consecutive quarters of positive earnings and substantial profitability. It closed the IPO, ultimately yielding gross proceeds of $96m and net proceeds of $88.7m. It proved to be the second best performing IPO of the 147 IPOs in the US in 2012, gaining a 132% in share value between the IPO closing and the end of the year. Other benefits included improved earnings, a decrease in NPA from 16.2% to 2.2%, a 104% increase in new jobs and a repaired regulatory status.

$1 Billion+ in Assets

Washington Trust Bank, WA | Cloud Solution for Disaster Recovery

Washington Trust Bank has always tried to stay ahead by being an early adopter of new technologies. When the opportunity arose to look more closely the bank's disaster recovery plans, the Amazon Web Services cloud option was first-of-mind. As a large financial institution, the bank spends a significant amount of money on its IT infrastructure and staffing to run critical systems. To ensure that all systems are always available, they had been using tape systems and remote backup servers. This took precious time and capital to operate, yet did not provide the reliability needed for their customers. By switching to Amazon's Web Services they were able to improve their reliability, speed their time to recovery, lower staffing burden and reduce overall costs. To Washington Trust Bank, the solution held the key hallmarks of innovation by being better, faster and cheaper. The bank celebrated its achievement with the crowning glory of being asked to showcase at the recent Amazon Web Services Show alongside such businesses as NASA.

Awards Committee

Michael Soza, Partner, BDO, Chair

Zaid Akhter, Business Development Director, Computer Services Inc.

John Biestman, VP & Director of Business Development, Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle

Steve Brown, President & CEO, Pacific Coast Bankers' Bank

Andy Greenawalt, CEO & Founder, Continuity Control

Krista Gulbransen, VP, Marketing & Membership, WIB

Michael Hinshaw, President & CEO, MCorp Consulting

Dennis Long, President & CEO, Bank of the Pacific, WA

Bryan Luke, EVP, Hawaii National Bank

JP Nicols, CEO, Clientific

Ruth Razook, President & Founder, RLR Management

Jeff Rigsby, President & CEO, CB Resource, Inc.

Nancy Sheppard, President & CEO, WIB

Kathleen Smythe, PhD, Managing Director, Investment Banking, Sandler O'Neill + Partners