Using FDIC data for 2020, we calculated a lender score out of 100 for each community bank. The score combines the average of the bank’s percentile rank for lending concentration and for loan growth over the past year in each lending category. We then adjusted each score for loan charge offs in each category at certain percentile thresholds.

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How First Western Bank weathered 2020

Success in agricultural lending depends on many factors, and one of them—the weather—cannot be controlled by the farmer or their community banker. In 2020, the weather was good for the farmers and ranchers who count on First Western Bank & Trust for credit, and in turn, it was a strong year for the community bank.

First Western Bank & Trust

Minot, N.D.
Asset size: $1.85 billion
Ag lender score: 76.44
Rank in category: 17

“We had some timely rainfall, so we ended up having some very good yields in our area,” says Tom Larson, senior vice president, commercial and agricultural lending. “And with the increase of some prices and the government support payments, it ended up being a good year overall.”

The successful farm yields of 2020 were a pleasant change from the previous few years, says Larson, whose customers include cattle ranchers and wheat, soybean, corn and canola farmers. In 2018, crop prices were lower. In 2019, excessive rain fell during the harvest, which reduced quality of the crops and created problems for farmers getting their crops in.

In 2020, in contrast, farmers and ranchers in some other parts of the world had reduced inventory, which pumped up crop prices overall.

“And then there were some very good government support payments in 2020, some from the COVID stimulus and some from tariff relief,” Larson says.

First Western Bank & Trust team
First Western Bank & Trust’s lending team regularly visits clients’ businesses, farms and ranches, where they gain insights about how they operate.

The community bank way

But there’s more to First Western Bank & Trust’s success than just good yields and good weather.

“[Our lenders] have worked with our borrowers through many peaks and valleys. The borrowers know we will present them with a solution that works for everyone.”
—Brenda Foster, First Western Bank & Trust

“It’s all about building the relationships with the customers,” says president and CEO Brenda Foster. “[Larson] has been in the industry for many years. He and our other lenders have worked with our borrowers through many peaks and valleys. The borrowers know we will present them with a solution that works for everyone.”

Regular visits to farms and ranches help the lending team understand their clients’ businesses and their needs, Larson says. On the customers’ end, those visits help farmers and ranchers feel at ease working with the community bank.

“Sometimes, they feel more comfortable being on their own turf than always coming into our office,” Larson says. “And then when they do come in to talk about a specific piece of equipment or parcel land that they need, we know what they’re talking about, because we’ve seen it.”

Foster also credits the bank’s board of directors—several are local business owners—for being understanding when a borrower hits a rough patch and can’t make payments as anticipated. They observe the same conditions as local farmers and ranchers, so they know what’s going on and allow Foster and her team to continue working with the borrower.

A prominent indicator of First Western Bank & Trust’s ag customer relationships can be found at the entrance to its headquarters in Minot, N.D. There, you can find a collection of local ranchers’ brands imprinted in stone.

“Most of the brands were placed there by farmers in our area starting when the bank was founded in 1964,” Foster says. “They connected them to the bank. They really gave them a sense of ownership. When they came in with family or their children, they would show them the brand.”

Agriculture: Less than $500M in assets
RankBank NameCityStateAg Lender
1Chambers State Bank ChambersNE96.36
2The Union Bank BeulahND96.35
3Community State BankColonNE96.28
4Nebraska State BankOshkoshNE96.07
5State Bank of ScotiaScotiaNE95.25
6Riverstone BankTalmageNE95.07
8State Bank of TauntonTauntonMN94.54
9First Community Bank of the Heartland, Inc.ClintonKY94.35
10The State Bank of EastonEastonMN94.13
11Anchor State Bank AnchorIL93.29
12AllNations Bank CalumetOK93.27
13Security State Bank of Wanamingo WanamingoMN93.26
14Buckley State BankBuckleyIL92.86
15Community State Bank of CantonCantonOK92.56
16The Jefferson Bank Greenville MS92.51
17Farmers National Bank of Griggsville GriggsvilleIL92.36
18First Capital Bank QuanahTX92.31
19The First National Bank of Hereford HerefordTX92.19
20State Bank of Table RockTable Rock NE92.1
Agriculture: $500 million to $1 billion in assets
RankBank NameCityStateAg Lender
1Points West Community Bank WindsorCO92.91
2First Bank of Berne BerneIN90.87
3Profinium, Inc. TrumanMN90.79
4United Prairie Bank Mountain Lake MN90.65
5The First National Bank of Carmi CarmiIL90.06
6Legacy National Bank SpringdaleAR89.89
7BTC BankBethanyMO88.88
8Diamond BankMurfreesboroAR88.84
9Border Bank FargoND88.34
10Wheatland Bank SpokaneWA88.24
11The First State BankLouiseTX88.16
12BCUSB Bank CrescoIA87.59
13Forward BankMarshfieldWI86.87
14Legence BankEldoradoIL85.73
15CCB Community Bank AndalusiaAL85.59
16Bank of Eastern OregonHeppnerOR/td> 85.53
17Independence Bank HavreMT84.87
18Midwest BankMonmouthIL84.63
19Elkhorn Valley Bank & Trust NorfolkNE84.32
20Dakota Community Bank & Trust, National Association HebronND84.11
Agriculture: More than $1 billion in assets
RankBank NameCityStateAg Lender
1United Bank of IowaIda GroveIA85.58
2The First National Bank In Sioux FallsSioux Falls SD82.46
3Dieterich Bank, N.A.EffinghamIL82.10
4Opportunity Bank of Montana HelenaMT81.71
5Bank of SpringfieldSpringfieldIL81.26
6Oak Valley Community Bank OakdaleCA80.97
7American Bank & TrustWessington SpringsSD80.41
8First State BankMendotaIL80.01
9American Bank CenterDickinsonND79.65
10Southern Bancorp BankLittle RockAR79.22
11OakStar BankSpringfieldMO79.21
12State Bank of Cross PlainsCross PlainsWI78.43
14Heartland Bank and Trust Co.BloomingtonIL77.99
15Dacotah BankAberdeenSD76.89
16Live Oak Banking Co.WilmingtonNC76.48
17First Western Bank & TrustMinotND76.44
18The Bank of Missouri PerryvilleMO76.18
19Central BankStorm Lake IA76.02
20Pinnacle Bank CodyWY75.66
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Austin Capital Bank finds success in unlikely places

Austin Capital Bank team
Austin Capital Bank’s team includes (from left to right) fintech marketing director Alejandra Rodriguez; branch manager Vanessa Smith; CEO and founder Erik Beguin; mortgage loan officer Vicente Galvan; and fintech product owner Crystal Huang. Photo by Dennis Burnett

Austin Capital Bank’s strength comes from the fact that it’s a nontraditional bank—and that its founder and CEO, Erik Beguin, is a nontraditional banker. Beguin likens himself to a brand manager and the community bank to a fintech.

Austin Capital Bank

Austin, Texas
Asset size: $262 million
Consumer lender score: 99.30
Rank in category: 1

“When I go to banking conferences, I feel like the odd duck out,” says Beguin, whose background is in brand and product management, including a short stint branding antiperspirant at Procter & Gamble. “A lot of community banks are running the same business model, but I read the OCC [Office of the Comptroller of the Currency] list of permissible bank activities, and I figure out which ones no one else is doing and do those.”

Austin Capital Bank’s innovative character is evident on its website. There, the community bank prominently features its financial technology services, including various consumer fintech products. The bank describes itself as “like ridesharing for banking” because as an organization it’s technology-enabled and community-driven.

That clear focus on technology and innovation, plus the strength of its mortgage business, are the reasons 2020 was a successful year for Austin Capital Bank, Beguin says.

“I’m passionate about the community bank model. The reason I started the bank is that a community bank is one of the only entities that multiplies the wealth in the community it serves.”
—Erik Beguin, Austin Capital Bank

“We’re really a digital-first bank, so 2020 lent itself nicely to us,” he says. “And we have a mortgage division, and 2020 was a banner year for that.”

Austin Capital Bank wasn’t always on the list of successful banks. When Beguin and a partner launched the community bank in 2006—right before the Great Recession—they hired other people to run it. But the bank’s first two years were so rough that Beguin took the reins himself.

“When I took over in Q1 of 2008, we were the worst-performing bank in the state of Texas,” he says, “but I was too stubborn to let us fail.”

Taking the reins

Soon after taking charge, Beguin decided to stop traditional consumer and mortgage lending and focus on other markets, such as lending to investors.

“Lending to investors in Austin from 2008 to 2014 was fantastic,” he recalls. “Since I’m not a banker, I created products for people who didn’t fit the typical bank customer model. The success of those years got us over the hump and created a stable platform that has allowed us to build the technology platform and add the mortgage division.”

Austin Capital Bank's Erik Beguin
Founder and CEO Erik Beguin and a partner launched Austin Capital Bank in 2006.

The community bank launched its mortgage division in 2018 and now has 14 loan production offices around the country. Its proprietary Trident technology platform, which Beguin may license to other banks in the future, allows Austin Capital Bank to offer financial services securely online.

Despite saying he’s not a banker, Beguin has served on various bank advisory boards, such as the Federal Reserve’s Community Depository Institutions Advisory Council and the CFPB’s Community Bank Advisory Council.

“I’m passionate about the community bank model,” he says. “The reason I started the bank is that a community bank is one of the only entities that multiplies the wealth in the community it serves.”

Consumer/Mortgage: Less than $500M in assets
RankBank NameCityStateConsumer Lender
1Austin Capital Bank SSB AustinTX99.3
2Paramount BankSaint Louis MO99.2
3The National Iron BankSalisburyCT97.21
4First Federal Bank, A FSB TuscaloosaAL97.19
5Second Federal Savings and Loan Association of Philadelphia PhiladelphiaPA97.1
6Fidelity BankWest Des Moines IA96.13
7Liberty Bank, Inc.Salt Lake City UT95.79
8First State BankElmore City OK95.68
9Citizens Federal Savings and Loan AssociationBellefontaineOH94.63
10Gateway Bank, F.S.B.OaklandCA94.25
11The First National Bank of GilbertGilbertMN93.88
12The Miners National Bank of Eveleth EvelethMN93.32
13Allied First Bank, sbOswegoIL93.16
14Schuyler Savings BankKearnyNJ93.1
15Willamette Valley BankSalemOR92.69
16Systematic Savings BankSpringfieldMO92.66
17The City National Bank of Colorado CityColorado City TX92.61
18Citizens Guaranty BankIrvineKY92.35
19Community SavingsCaldwellOH92.24
20Citizens Bank of Morgantown, Inc. MorgantownWV92.23
Consumer/Mortgage: $300 million to $1 billion in assets
RankBank NameCityStateConsumer Lender
1Georgia Banking Company Sandy SpringsGA97.87
2Apex BankCamdenTN97.03
3One American BankSioux Falls SD96.54
4First Community Bank of TennesseeShelbyvilleTN96.37
5Lead BankLee’s SummitMO95.77
6William Penn Bank (MHC) BristolPA95.63
7Evolve Bank & Trust MemphisTN94.93
8Magnolia Bank, Inc. HodgenvilleKY94.33
9University Bank Ann Arbor MI94.17
11Community First BankWalhallaSC92.07
12Bank of England EnglandAR91.78
13Presidential Bank, FSBBethesdaMD91.32
14Fidelity BankMetairieLA91.18
15Cross County Savings Bank Middle VillageNY89.66
17The Dart BankMasonMI89.41
18Mechanics BankMansfieldOH89.23
19Partners BankSanfordME87.53
20First Central Savings BankGlen CoveNY87.36
Consumer/Mortgage: More than $1 billion in assets
RankBank NameCityStateConsumer Lender
1Gateway First BankJenksOK97.19
2Northpointe BankGrand RapidsMI96.88
3MidFirst BankOklahoma CityOK96.51
4Metro City Bank DoravilleGA94.59
51st Security Bank of WashingtonMountlake TerraceWA92.01
6Bluestone BankRaynhamMA91.73
7Martha’s Vineyard Savings BankEdgartownMA91.27
8Leader Bank, National AssociationArlingtonMA90.52
9Plains Commerce BankHovenSD89.73
10First Savings BankJeffersonvilleIN89.21
11Cornerstone BankSouthbridgeMA89.07
12Southern First Bank /td> GreenvilleSC88.74
13BNC National BankGlendaleAZ88.52
14Evergreen Bank GroupOak BrookIL87.75
15Meridian BankMalvernPA87.43
16The Lyons National Bank GenevaNY87.30
17Blue Ridge Bank, National AssociationLurayVA87.26
18First Premier Bank Sioux Falls SD86.77
19Think Mutual BankRochesterMN86.70
20Chelsea Groton Bank NorwichCT86.55
Bank of San Francisco execs
CEO Ed Obuchowski and president Wendy Ross of the Bank of San Francisco are veterans of the Bay Area banking industry.
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Showing community banking’s true colors

COVID-19 challenged community banks, but when they rose to that challenge, they showed why their model is different. Wendy Ross, president of Bank of San Francisco, says the pandemic showed the positive difference a community bank can make.

Bank of San Francisco

San Francisco
Asset size: $276 million
Commercial lender score: 94.61
Rank in category: 8

“We felt we owed it to our clients and the community to be as active in the PPP [Paycheck Protection Program] as possible,” Ross says. “For several weeks, we took no weekends off, and I was getting emails at 2 or 3 in the morning. I think that intense period really brought home the meaning of community banking.”

That effort by Ross and other Bank of San Francisco staff powered the bank to “an extraordinary level of growth” last year, Ross says. Among the clients served by the community bank’s PPP lending was a restaurant owner who had failed to get a PPP loan from her—now former—much larger bank, Ross says.

“We found that a lot of the larger banks were slower than we were getting themselves ready to do these PPP loans,” she says. “In the first round of lending in March, the funding ran out and there was this sense of panic. This client realized that her relationship manager at Bank of San Francisco had worked through the night to get her loan done, and when she got it, she cried.”

Winning new business

The bank’s success at securing PPP money for its clients—mostly small to mid-sized businesses and nonprofits in the greater Bay Area—not only generated revenue but also resulted in a number of new permanent clients for the bank, Ross says. Many were referred by current clients.

“Typically, our new clients come to us through referrals, and they’re typically not getting the level of service they deserve through their existing banks,” Ross says. “The PPP gave us some wonderful opportunities with clients whose existing banks weren’t there when they needed them. They heard about us, saw us perform and now are moving their entire relationships to us.”

Lending at Bank of San Francisco is a team effort, Ross says. Relationship managers initiate loans, and underwriters handle the credit work behind the scenes. A commercial banking associate also gets involved in most business customer relationships. And it’s not uncommon for borrowers to meet senior management.

During the pandemic, the community bank’s relationship managers regularly connected with clients over the phone or virtually to see how they were doing. They reviewed their portfolios with senior management quarterly, often giving updates client by client, Ross says.

“I think our clients really appreciated the fact that they were hearing from their banker regularly, and not in an adversarial way,” Ross says. “Everyone was working collaboratively to get through this period. All in all, it’s been heartening to see how our clients plowed through this period.”

The Bank of San Francisco’s work to help local businesses survive 2020 made true its slogan: “With You When It Matters.”

“Boy, did last year really bring that slogan home,” Ross says. “We are entrepreneurs serving entrepreneurs. And we have an undying commitment to our community.”

Commercial: Less than $500M in assets
RankBank NameCityStateConsumer Lender
1Canyon Community Bank, National Association TucsonAZ98.83/td>
2FinWise BankMurrayUT98.54
3VisionBankSt. Louis ParkMN98.14
5Metro Phoenix BankPhoenixAZ97.38
6Flagship BankClearwaterFL97.20
7Capitol National BankLansingMI96.51
8The Mint National BankKingwoodTX96.44
9One World BankDallasTX96.29
10Farmers & Stockmens BankClaytonNM96.29
11CapTex Bank, National AssociationTrentonTX96.17
12Quaint Oak Bank SouthamptonPA96.07
13Maple BankChamplinMN95.76
14West Valley National BankGoodyearAZ95.53
15Spring Bank BronxNY95.21
16Tioga Franklin Savings Bank PhiladelphiaPA95.08
17Barwick Banking Co. BarwickGA95.07
18Georgia Primary BankAtlantaGA94.84
19Blue Sky BankPawhuskaOK94.82
20M1 BankMacks CreekMO94.38
Commercial: $500 million to $1 billion in assets
RankBank NameCityStateConsumer Lender
1First Bank of the Lake Osage Beach MO99.88
2The First National Bank of OttawaCharlottesvilleIL98.48
3Cogent Bank Orange City FL97.66
4Old Dominion National Bank Charlottesville VA96.75
5Oxford BankOxfordMI96.71
6The Freedom Bank of VirginiaFairfaxVA95.64
7Hiawatha National BankHager CityWI95.17
8Bank of San FranciscoSan FranciscoCA94.61
9Pilot BankTampaFL94.30
10Village BankMidlothian VA94.07
11First Utah BankSalt Lake CityUT93.77
12Timberline BankGrand JunctionCO93.77
13Summit State BankSanta Rosa CA93.40
14First Citrus Bank TampaFL93.14
15Commencement BankTacomaWA93.00
16Oregon Pacific Banking Co.FlorenceOR92.66
17Bank of IdahoIdaho FallsID92.54
18Regent BankTulsaOK91.58
19People’s Bank of CommerceMedfordOR91.33
20Vinings BankSmyrnaGA91.27
Commercial: More than $1 billion in assets
RankBank NameCityStateConsumer Lender
1Cross River BankFort LeeNJ99.86
2Quontic BankNew YorkNY99.30
3First Home Bank St. Petersburg FL98.52
4Live Oak Banking Co.WilmingtonNC98.33
5Congressional BankChevy Chase MD97.94
6Wallis BankWallisTX97.92
7Santa Cruz County BankSanta CruzCA97.91
8Coastal Community BankEverettWA97.35
9Cache Valley BankLoganUT95.25
10Waterford Bank, N.A.ToledoOH94.53
11Citizens BankElizabethtonTN94.47
12Riverview BankMarysvillePA94.46
13Sandy Spring BankOlneyMD94.17
14One Community BankOregonWI93.39
15Central BankStorm LakeIA92.75
16CFG Community BankBaltimoreMD92.53
17The State BankFentonMI92.36
18Valley Republic BankBakersfieldCA91.53
19b1BANKBaton Rouge LA91.45
20Blue Ridge Bank, National AssociationLurayVA91.40