Tulsa-Based BOK Financial Outlines Growth Methods Behind Its Industry-Leading Performance

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BOK Financial took first place among the nation's 25 largest banks in compound average per-share earnings growth over the last five recession-burdened years - all without accepting a dime of Washington's recovery program funds.

"Through all of this, BOK Financial remained focused and proactive," said President and Chief Executive Stan Lybarger. "While competition retrenched, in many ways we continued to invest and expand. We moved forward with a clear strategy for success, despite the substantial challenges posed by the new regulatory environment and slow economic recovery."

In their annual meeting Tuesday, Lybarger and other leaders of that Tulsa-based financial services company shared some secrets behind BOK Financial's 16-percent earnings growth in 2011 and its 29- percent profit increase in this year's first quarter.

"There are a number of ways BOK Financial differentiated itself during the last several years," said Senior Executive Vice President Steve Bradshaw. "Each and every strategic decision was based on long- term benefits rather than quick reactions or short-term positioning. Some of our actions may have appeared contrarian to those of our competition. While other banks reduced force and delayed projects, we added talent and invested in products and technology."

Recognizing consumer shifts, Bradshaw said, the parent of Bank of Oklahoma adapted new strategies in wealth management, mortgage, consumer banking and business banking.

"Our focus has been to win and retain customers through the quality and breadth of advice we provide - advice that changes in response to customer needs and is not tied to specific product sets or even lines of business," he said. "We believe this strategy sets us apart in the minds of our customers and results in better decisions and results for them individually, corporately, or both."

Bradshaw pointed to an institutional sales team added in Milwaukee in late 2010. From that start the Wisconsin unit now has a 12-person office that Bradshaw said has become one of the company's top producers.

The wealth management team also expanded corporate trust operations in Fort Worth and Austin, Texas, and Lincoln, Neb. Bradshaw said that brought in more than $1 billion in net new assets during the fourth quarter of 2011.

With 20 veteran advisers serving high-net-worth clients, Bradshaw said their expanded sales force helped customers weather market volatility.

"Retail and institutional trade volumes increased at a 17- percent, three-year compound annual growth rate," he said. "Brokerage and trading fees have increased 67 percent since 2007."

Bradshaw said the company's mortgage loan originations outside Oklahoma increased from 44 percent in 2008 to more than 58 percent last year.

"We are capitalizing on visibility and leveraging our branch network," he said. …