Serving on boards of directors and volunteering for dozens of nonprofit entities since his arrival in Colorado Springs 31 years ago, Tom Naughton remains humble about everything he does, saying, “We’re here to serve people.” He has worked for U.S. Bank 29 of those 31 years and is now regional president, overseeing operations in 15 branches in Southern Colorado. He and his wife of 37 years, Ann, have four grown children. Naughton spent time with the Business Journal this week sharing his views on banking and business.
When and why did you move to Colorado Springs?
My wife and I moved to Colorado Springs in 1984 because we felt it would be a wonderful place to raise our family, offer a great quality of life and provide job opportunities. Now, 31 years later, we’ve been fortunate to realize our dreams.
How did you get started in banking?
Not many think of banking as a career when they’re growing up, but I was drawn to it because it allowed me to use my finance degree to work with people and business owners in one of their most important needs: their financial well-being. I did an internship the summer before my senior year in college with the largest bank in my home state of Iowa. After I graduated from the University of Denver, I moved back to my hometown of Des Moines. The bank I worked for, now Wells Fargo, had a structured management trainee program where we were trained in all areas of the bank — retail and commercial banking, trust, investments, operations. It was a great experience.
Tell us about U.S. Bank.
U.S. Bank is the fifth largest commercial bank in the country with $416 billion in assets operating in 25 states. We offer products and services through four major lines: consumer and small business banking; wholesale banking and commercial real estate; payment services and wealth management; and securities services. Locally, we trace our roots to the Exchange National Bank in 1888; now we serve customers from 15 branches in Southern Colorado.
What is its regional market share?
In the recent FDIC Deposit Market Share Report of June 30, we ranked third in total deposits of the 38 commercial banks in the local [El Paso County] market, an 11.36 percent market share.
What was your biggest challenge?
A defining time came in late 1999 and early 2000. Within four-and-a-half months, both my parents passed away, I took a management position at U.S. Bank after having left the field for two years and our family moved into a new home. The stress-meter was a little buried in overload, but with the support of Ann and family, along with lessons I’d learned from my parents and others, I persevered.
What are the secrets to your success?
I’ve had great role models and mentors. My father has been my biggest role model. He was an inventor and successful business owner. I’ve also learned tremendously from my father-in-law, a banking executive and community leader. A parochial education instilled discipline and hard work, and in my career, I’ve worked in different disciplines to broaden my perspectives and knowledge. I will forever be grateful. Our employees and community leaders I interact with are fantastic and make my job fulfilling.
What advice would you give other businesses?
Economic conditions have improved from the depths of one of this country’s greatest recessions, but now, it’s a new normal. The regulatory environment has placed heightened standards for the financial service industry, which will affect how banks and others in this sector do business with individuals and businesses. Lenders take into account where you have been historically, but they also want to know your plans and projections for the future. Are they well-thought-out and believable, given the demands presented today with managing your operations and your people?
What is trending in banking?
Mobile banking continues to increase in popularity. Consumers have also demanded changes at the retail point of sale, with increased security like the EMV [chip] technology. The focus is on security and authentication, as people migrate away from online banking to use their smartphones. We’ll no doubt see more industry consolidation and right-sizing of branches. We’ll also have growth in the consumer area with consumers getting steady in their spending patterns and more C&I [consumer and industrial] growth; a sign of an improving economy. Small businesses will also continue to grow, with increased strength in lending to small businesses.
What are your views about the Fed raising interest rates?
This rate environment is historically uncharacteristic. We’ve been operating in an abnormally low-rate environment for so long, it’s established a new normal. Rates have been flat since 2008. Rising rates reflect a healthy economy. An increase in the Fed rate will signal our economy is heading in a positive direction. We hope that comes yet in 2015.