Coffee Talk Q1 2023

Photo: Cycling for a cause! Fun was had by this group of friends, family and employees at Eagle Mount's 1st annual Cycle to Soar fundraising event in Billings.
"Team Jake" put the pedal to the metal and rocked the ride!

We all know Montana is a special place. How many times have we said that over the last several years? The challenges we have faced continually remind us of how fortunate we are to live in this great state. From COVID and the related shut down, to riots and civil unrest in our country’s largest cities, we counted our blessings to be living here. Now, three larger, publicly traded banks, who primarily operate on the coasts, have failed. So yet again, we recognize the Montana difference.

I cannot speak to the condition of every bank in Montana, but in general, most banks here are strong and typically well managed. I attribute this strength to the character and integrity of our customers… fellow Montanans. In the past, most bank failures were brought about by bad loans which then eroded bank capital. These recent failures were primarily caused by a lack of liquidity, and in one specific case, from investing in volatile crypto currencies. Liquidity became an issue when a relatively small number of depositors, many controlling hundreds of millions and even some with billions of dollars, quickly withdrew their funds almost in unison. These customers are vastly different from the average hardworking Montanan. Furthermore, I am not aware of a bank headquartered in our state investing in cryptocurrency.

The Stockman Difference

At Stockman, our strength is built on a foundation of western values, integrity, and results. We are uniquely focused on Montana, so our customers are from every stage of life and every walk of life, from every corner of our state. This grass roots and diverse customer base is a huge source of strength. Additionally, we do what’s right for the long term. We knew record low interest rates would not last forever and positioned our investments accordingly. We invested in high quality government bonds with about a 22-month average maturity. Many of our competitors bet long on these low rates, with the industry average bond maturity in the 68-month range. Importantly, we are privately owned, setting us apart from most of our competitors. We are not forced to jump on a new banking trend just to please Wall Street, nor are we pressed to distribute out most of our earnings each quarter. In fact, since 1953, we have retained the vast majority of our earnings, reinvesting in our continued growth and the growth of our communities, preparing us for the tough times we all know we will eventually face. The value of being an independent, community bank cannot be overstated!

Enough about all of that. Let me boast about Stockman’s great employees. We are celebrating our 70th anniversary. Our amazing team has taken care of customers through good times and bad, allowing Stockman to serve more of our neighbors each day since 1953. For the second consecutive year, we have been named one of the World’s Best Banks for 2023 by Forbes. We also received a 5-Star rating from Bauer Financial, a recognition we have earned for 57 consecutive quarters since 2009. While we are proud of these big, collective successes, I would like to talk about some of our more personal success as well. Recently, Wayne Nelson, formerly our Billings market president and now Senior Banking Executive, was named Small Business Champion of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). This is just the latest in a long line of SBA awards and recognition received by Stockman and our talented team. Stockman Wealth Management was recognized as Montana’s largest, independent registered advisory firm. We were also named Business of the Year in Miles City, voted the best bank in Billings and Great Falls, best insurance agency in Billings with Reilly Parisot as best insurance agent and recognized as the best mortgage team in Missoula for the fourth straight year. At Stockman, our people are truly our competitive advantage.

While celebrating 70 years, we are looking ahead to the next 70, focused upon the principles and practices that guided our success over the decades. We remain committed to our state and our communities, always finding new ways to deliver our unique brand of banking to our customers across Montana. Thank you for allowing us to serve you!