Finance

Executive Perspectives: Norm Bagwell

How natural disasters helped prepare the Bank of Texas CEO for COVID-19.

Norm Bagwell is chairman and CEO of Bank of Texas, which he has led since 2008. He also serves as executive president of parent company BOK Financial, a top 25 U.S.-based financial institution, and is responsible for overseeing the company’s regional banks.

Did your business continuity plan work, or were there surprises? 

“We benefitted from our experience with hurricanes, floods, and tornados. The situation has played out at different speeds across our eight states, with some markets operating under more severe parameters and other markets not feeling the impact as quickly. As an essential business, we must stay open for business to serve our clients, and our plans have delivered to this point. The pleasant surprise has been how well we were equipped to quickly move 80-90 percent of our sales, service, and client support workforce to work from home. This transitioned rapidly and smoothly. Business as usual if there is such a thing in this environment.”

What are the short-term ramifications for the banking and finance industry? 

“The immediate challenge for the banking industry is to implement and support the CARE Act and other government initiatives. Banks will be one of the vehicles the Small Business Administration will use to deliver stimulus and recovery dollars. There are far more questions than answers at this point. We estimate that 80 percent of our clients will be eligible for one of the SBA programs. And, to put this in context, the SBA is being asked to facilitate volumes that may be 100x anything it has ever attempted. You can see the system stress coming as we all work to implement.”

Have you found silver linings in these difficult times? 

“Culture pays big dividends in times like these. There will be great lessons learned when we look back, but the thing that stands out to me is the resiliency of our people. I am so proud of how our employees have addressed the myriad of challenges. The teamwork, commitment, and agility, coupled with the care for each other, our clients, and our company, has been truly inspirational. We have a long way to go, but our people are making the difference.”

 

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