Financial Education

Coffee Talk Q1 2021

Welcome to spring in Montana.  Spring, and Easter for Christians, both represent rebirth and new growth. In this spirit, let me first visit about what I see for the remainder of 2021. Then, let’s do an in-depth look back on the strange year of 2020. 

Stockman is as strong as ever and has been recognized nationally for its solid balance sheet, sound practices and focused management. We have the best team, across the board, in our 68-year history. Likewise, Montana continues to shine with our unity, work ethic and unique way of life. This has attracted many new people to our great state who are looking for our lifestyle, both in the form of vacationing and moving here permanently. While there are still hurdles ahead, Montana is moving forward and, for that, we are excited and grateful. 

Looking back over the past year, there’s no doubt our strength and resiliency were significantly challenged. But, as they say, all challenges have a silver lining. For me, that silver lining is a new perspective. At Stockman, we knew our customers and communities would need the services and support we provide more than ever before. We would just have to find new ways to connect and deliver those services. What did we do?

We embraced change. To ensure the safety of our employees and customers, we closed our bank lobbies intermittently during 2020. We sent more than half of our workforce home, to work remotely.  Yet, with flexibility and a dedicated team of employees, we remained open for business and continued to meet the financial needs of our customers, using appointments, our drive-ups, and online and mobile banking. We didn’t miss a beat! Our branch lobbies are once again open, but we continue to serve customers through whatever channel is best for them.

We recognized commitment. We have always known our employees are our most valuable asset and key to the financial success of our customers and our company. Their commitment to our customers was clearly evident over the past year as they stepped up to deliver service in new ways. Many took on new responsibilities or filled in for those who were home taking care of at-risk family members or children attending school from the kitchen table.

We offered a helping hand. To support those experiencing hardships, we temporarily waived or reduced some of our minimum balance requirements and account fees. We also made loan modifications for customers to reduce stress and help avoid negative impacts to their credit. At the same time, we continued to help people open the doors to their first home or refinance their existing mortgage by making over $1 Billion in new home loans across Montana.

We helped keep businesses open. Small businesses, particularly restaurants, bars, motels and others in the hospitality industry, continue the battle to keep their doors open. When the first round of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) launched last year, our bankers literally worked around the clock securing approved PPP loans to help our small businesses keep their workers on the payroll.

  • First round of PPP (2020):  We originated 3,278 PPP loans and advanced nearly $312 million in PPP loans to Montana businesses. 
  • Second round of PPP (2021):  As of March 22, 2021, we have originated 2,780 PPP loans. This represents approximately $126 million in loan balances and 1,622 of these loans have been made to first-time borrowers.

During 2020, we also helped our business customers receive $14.5 million of assistance through the Montana Board of Investments (MBOI) Loan Deferment Program and $6.5 million in principal grants through the MBOI Working Capital Program.

We welcomed growth. It is our mission to serve all Montanans from all walks of life. It doesn’t matter whether they have thousands of dollars or just a few, or run a large ag operation, or own a small, main street business. We welcomed many new customers during the year. Some came to us looking for a true Montana community bank, some because of our active involvement in PPP programs, and some due to Montana’s growing work-from-home environment that helped fuel a robust real estate market. Others from across our nation gained a greater appreciation for our unique lifestyle, and now are new neighbors and new customers. Similarly, our Stockman team also continues to grow as we add new positions to ensure we provide you with everything you need to conveniently bank with us when, where and how you want.

We learned much over the past year. We learned we can be flexible and adapt on a moment’s notice.  We learned we could serve you in new and different ways without compromising excellence. We learned that dedication, empathy, integrity and compassion are values that will always be important as we help each other navigate life’s challenges. Lessons learned and new perspectives; we’ve been on quite a journey together. We are honored and grateful to be a part of your life and your community. We are here for you, whenever you need us.

Spring is here, promising longer days and new beginnings. So, let’s keep moving forward. We can do it!

- Bill