Ted Mossman is a Denver native who has spent the past decade working in Colorado Springs’ financial industry. He is currently a market leader at TBK Bank, having transitioned last month from Colorado Business Bank.
Mossman, who has served in numerous positions in the banking industry, was market president for Vectra Bank, where he also acted as senior vice president and business banking team leader for South Metro Denver. Mossman spoke with the Business Journal this week about his industry’s unique opportunities in the Pikes Peak region and why Colorado Springs is now home.
How did you end up in Colorado Springs?
I came out here in January 2008 when I was working at Vectra Bank to run the market for them and it was right before the recession hit, so it was pretty brutal. It was very challenging — lots of problems to work through and, of course, I’d never seen an economic cycle like that in my career. I had to work though staff reductions and had to fire customers. It was a really hard time. I was only 35 and it was a huge leadership role. Then my counterpart from Pueblo decided he’d had enough and retired so they gave me the Pueblo market and the Colorado Springs market.
It was tough. It wasn’t until about 2010 or 2011 that things started to settle down. We’d worked through the problem loans at that point. Then we had to go out and defend [the Troubled Asset Relief Program] and educate the community on what it was.
And now you’re market leader with TBK Bank?
I’m one month in. … I’ve met with the leadership team and they’ve walked me through our humbler beginnings. Aaron Graft is our CEO and he’s 40 years old — super young, super dynamic, very entrepreneurial. He looks at banking very differently compared to those I’ve worked with over the years — very nontraditional. He doesn’t come from a banking background and his view on the industry is refreshing. …
[TBK] broke into Colorado in 2016 when it bought Colorado East Bank, a community bank that served rural areas and had one loan production office in Colorado Springs, which is where my team is housed right now. … We do an exceptional job serving the builder market in the Springs and have a substantial amount of that market share. This office has been built upon the model of serving that market.
And you’re growing?
The bank has been moving very quickly. What I noticed through the process of learning about our culture and history is that we’ve been buying banks along the Western Slope. TBK bought Bank of Durango this year. We bought First Bancorp of Durango and its subsidiaries in northern New Mexico. … The thing that impressed me the most is the integrating of all the different cultures of the banks we’ve acquired. TBK has a very refined process of integration, which has led them to have a 98 percent retention rate post acquisition. So through acquisitions, we have a presence in Colorado, Texas, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas and New Mexico.
How would you assess the financial industry in Colorado Springs?
The banking market here has been very interesting, of course, and we lagged in the last recovery. It took us some time. Denver rebounded much more quickly than we did. We didn’t see good stuff happening here until ’14, ’15. Honestly, it was still pretty meek here until then. But what I did is really looked at the market’s strengths and took a marketing approach to it. I looked at the opportunities here for us in banking — Department of Defense contractors, some of the manufacturing and technology companies and the Olympic national governing bodies. I’ve paid a lot of attention to those areas since I’ve been here at the different banks I’ve worked for. I think they’re all underserved markets. One of the biggest challenges DoD contractors face is finding a bank that truly understands the DoD contracting process, so I’ve spent a lot of time getting educated on how that works, how we can perfect our security interest in government accounts receivable and their collateral.
One of the biggest challenges that banks face when they go to put together a credit facility is they don’t understand how to perfect that security interest in accounts receivable, so they’re looking at it as an unsecured credit facility even though it’s really secured.
It’s an onerous process. It’s very complicated and you have to do it on each contract, going through the process of protecting your security interest.
We also have had manufacturers struggling but starting to find some success. They’ve had to get creative and really figure out how to compete. Some of them have joint ventures together to pursue opportunities.
That industry is complicated too. In manufacturing you have capital expenditures. Every year you have to spend money to update services, buy new equipment. Most banks don’t understand how to underwrite to that and what the risk truly looks like.
What about the national governing bodies?
I think the NGBs are underserved as well. Mainly because the big banks have all the technology that [the NGBs] need … but big banks struggle because of their service models. Some banks may have reputation challenges and massive turnover all the time so relationships never really get developed.
But often the small and midsized banks that can deliver on the service model fail on the technology side because they haven’t been able to invest in it.
What should the business community know about the financial industry here?
I think what they need to know is that there are bankers out there who are very committed to the community, the business owners and the challenges they’re facing.
I think the good bankers are the ones who will align themselves with the organizations that have the same values. And I think a lot of the businesses here have struggled with finding that true connection. … Bankers are kind of funny because we don’t bill by the hour for advice like attorneys and CPAs, but we really get in and learn a lot about the challenges business owners are facing and we try and be a resource.
If I’m meeting with a business customer having a challenge in a particular area, I’ll try and find someone who can help them with that, whether that be accounting or expansion or maybe they need an architect to help design a new building. Those are the types of things that I do outside the realm of loans and deposits. It’s being a resource for those customers.
Talk about your involvement in the community.
I’ve been pretty involved since Day 1. Early on I was involved with TESSA as the treasurer for a couple years. I helped them with some of their events to raise awareness and money.
I was also involved with the Southern Colorado Economic Forum for a while and I’m now with Junior Achievement. I’ve been with Junior Achievement for eight years and most recently was board chairman for the past two years. I’m super passionate about financial literacy for kids and educating young people on how to better manage their money and support the concept of a free market and work readiness. We want young people to know what to expect in the workforce and give the workforce better people.
We also want to help them understand budgeting, debt, when it’s good to use debt and not good to use debt. We talk about depreciating assets and appreciating assets. Don’t go spend $30,000 on a car if you can avoid it.
A few years back I was asked to join the Better Business Bureau [of Southern Colorado] board. It made sense because their values align with my values — we both want to work with businesses that are honest and want to take care of their customers. I like the BBB and really like [CEO and Executive Director] Jonathan Liebert. I joined the foundation board … and this whole idea of the Colorado Institute for Social Impact evolved. The idea was born during these board meeting and I got to be part of that original process. That was hard. I’m a banker and believe in capitalism, so taking my mind and shifting it to be socially responsible was a foreign concept. It was good because I was able to, when everybody else was on board, able to disrupt it and provide a different perspective, which was really important as it evolved.
When I get in front of customers and talk about my involvement with CI4SI, they get excited and may even want convert their company into that type of business.
Explain your leadership style.
I view myself as a coach. I want to be as supportive as I can for the people who work for me. I want to hire people who are better than me. That’s really what it comes down to. If I have to manage then I’ve hired the wrong person.
Leadership comes down to putting egos aside and focusing on talents. That’s what a coach does when they’re building a team — they’re looking for talented individuals who can do specific things very well.
I think I have a gift identifying talented people and recognizing talented people and maintaining relationships with those folks so, when the opportunity comes, I’ll look to hire them or help someone else who might need that type of person. I kind of look at things unselfishly in that regard.