First Western Trust, founded in 2002 as a private bank for Western wealth management clients, has a branded network of boutique private trust bank offices across Colorado, Arizona, Wyoming, and California. During the COVID-19 pandemic, First Western Trust provided high-touch service and tailored solutions for existing and new clients, helping them navigate an unprecedented crisis.
Offering a Helping Hand
Following the CARES Act in March, the Small Business Administration offered the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to help businesses retain employees through a loan program.
Dan Thompson, state and regional president of Arizona and California, explained, “First Western realized very early that PPP loans were going to be an important resource for our clients as well as for other businesses in need.”
As a certified SBA lender, First Western (MyFW.com) worked with its resources to immediately set up and test a workflow to handle what they expected was going to be a large volume of applications.
“The volume of applications exceeded our projections,” Thompson explains. “Our associates often worked 12- to 16-hour days because we knew how important PPP funds were to help business owners and their employees.”
First Western was able to fund the first approved loan on April 12, well ahead of larger banks.
The First Western Trust Difference
Thompson credits the program’s success on the bank’s ability to approach each application as a unique opportunity to help individual clients.
“We took the time to listen, to understand their needs, and to provide the help and support they needed to complete the application process quickly and with the right information necessary for submission to the SBA,” he says. “This level of attention and open communication goes a long way in maintaining great relationships with our clients.”
Clients feel this difference. According to Danny S., president of a Phoenix-based business, “Consistency is important in good times and in bad. When the pandemic started [First Western] was there to immediately do what they could for us. I cannot emphasize how important it is to be a name and not a number with the bank you do business with and rely on. First Western has given me and my employees peace of mind.”
In Arizona alone, First Western Trust has helped 200 local businesses and their employees. According to Thompson, they have successfully processed more than $55 million in Arizona PPP loans, which they estimate has supported approximately 5,000 local jobs during the pandemic.
Looking to the Future
Thompson explains that the future depends on a trusted relationship.
“We provide advice and support not only for the PPP loans but with services that help customers manage and forecast cash flows, so they can be strategic in decisions related to cash management and working capital needs. We are working with each of them to ensure they have access to all available options to help them find the best balance to keep their families safe while also supporting their staff and their business.”
Local business owner Tom L. commented, “Having a partner I could instill my trust in was deeply touching for me. Navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic has been emotionally challenging on so many levels. First Western Trust was able to help me successfully navigate troubled waters and come out stronger on the other side.”
“At the end of the day, we believe that it matters where you bank,” explains Thompson. “We believe our clients understand and share in our vision and our commitment to our communities. When we support our communities, and when we delight our clients with solid solutions, a great experience, and amazing support, we are delivering on those commitments.”