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Front Page » Top Stories » Gibraltar Bank Establishes Permanent Presence In Aspen Co

Gibraltar Bank Establishes Permanent Presence In Aspen Co

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Written by on January 14, 2010

By Zachary S. Fagenson
Although it’s been doing business in Aspen for more than 10 years, Gibraltar Private Bank & Trust just hired its first banker permanently based in the Colorado mountaintop market and hopes to grow its business through its clients who spend time there.

Gibraltar named Aaron Pearlman, most recently Aspen president for American National Bank, its private banking and lending specialist in the market.

The move comes naturally, said Chairman and CEO Steven D. Hayworth. Gibraltar has offices throughout South Florida as well as in New York City and Key Largo.

"Somewhere between 40% and 50% of the folks who own property in Aspen own property in Southeast Florida and New York," Mr. Hayworth said.

About 7% to 10% of the bank’s clients have some tie to Aspen and 5% of the bank’s loans are secured by Aspen real estate, he added.

And because Gibraltar is a national savings association and regulated by the federal Office of Thrift Supervision, it faced few regulatory challenges to formalize its business in Colorado.

"Savings [and loan] associations don’t have the limits that out-of-state or national banks" have, said Tony Clair, applications manager for the Colorado Division of Banking. "They are at liberty really to go nationally just about anywhere."

Gibraltar offers residential and commercial lending, private banking and wealth management services to professionals, corporate executives, entrepreneurs, affluent retirees and some businesses.

Mr. Pearlman is to be a jack-of-all-trades for Gibraltar in Aspen.

"He has some trust experience," Mr. Hayworth said, "some asset management experience as a wealth manager and he’s got commercial and residential lending experience."

His focus, however, will be on using existing clients as a link to new opportunities with affluent Rocky Mountain residents.

The bank hosts a party every summer in Aspen that draws 175 to 250 people, Mr. Hayworth said. While many are Gibraltar clients, they bring along friends who are potential clients.

And the best way to bring them in, Mr. Hayworth said, is as mortgage customers.

"What we find is a majority of our clients, north of 60%, were originally introduced to our company because of a residential mortgage need," he said. "When someone comes to you with a need for a secondary or primary home and they complete their financial statement, it gives you picture of their level of affluence" and that will "give us the opportunity to do additional business with these folks."

Gibraltar’s growth in Aspen may be modeled on its move into Monroe County’s Ocean Reef market.

The Key Largo hideaway is a one-season destination that shares many of the same residents as Aspen, New York City and South Florida.

The bank entered that market with one banker in a 300-square-foot office, Mr. Hayworth said. It later expanded, taking on additional staff and eventually moving into a 3,000-square-foot office "with a golf cart-only drive through."

Mr. Hayworth boasted that Gibraltar has 85% of the deposits in Ocean Reef and hopes, over time, to become a major player in Aspen wealth management.

And the opportunity seems ripe for the picking.

"There’s not another private bank in Aspen, Colorado," he said. "You have the big firms, a couple community banks, but no boutique private bank."

Mr. Hayworth, who founded the bank in 1994, recently regained control after holding company Boston Private Financial Holdings sold it to investors for $93 million in September.

As of Sept. 30, the bank had more than $1.5 billion in assets and $1.19 billion in deposits.