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Community Spotlight

Ciera Bank offers a variety of tools, tidbits and answers to serve not only your financial needs, but also satisfy your curiosity. Check back with us often. We’re improving all the time.

Sister Cities names Powell 2020 Campaign Chair

January 15, 2020

Fort Worth Sister Cities International is today launching the public campaign of the Members Circle of Giving and has announced Charlie Powell, President of Ciera Bank, as the 2020 Campaign Chair.

The Members Circle of Giving is a network of individuals, organizations, corporations and community leaders committed to expanding international
relationships for peace and prosperity at home and abroad. Lead donors to this year’s campaign will be recognized at the Mayor’s International Dinner & Global Awards on Nov. 12.

“Due to the generosity of corporate and individual donors, $196,000 has already been pledged and Sister Cities is well on its way to meeting its $325,000 goal,” said Charlie Powell, 2020 Campaign Chair.

This early support comes from Visit Fort Worth, as a Platinum member; Texas Health Resources and Rae & Mike Hyatt as Premier members; and BNSF Railway, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson LLP as Global members. Presidential members include Bank of Texas, Ciera Bank, Cook Children’s Healthcare System, Greg Jackson Law, Hillwood, Hilde & Helmut Horchler and Mary Palko.

100% of the Sister Cities’ board of directors are members and invite the community to join them in making Fort Worth a more culturally diverse city.
“Our business is people-to-people relationships, youth and adults alike. We do it well and want to do even more to benefit Fort Worth,” said Veronica Chavez Law, Board Chairwoman

Funding and in-kind support from the City of Fort Worth (4% of Sister Cities’ budget) plays a key role in its mission, but most work is made possible through public support like that received through the Members Circle of Giving.

Funding Professionals to present six with awards

September 15, 2018

The Association of Fundraising Professionals Fort Worth Metro Chapter will honor Karen and Larry Anfin as its 2018 Distinguished Philanthropists, one of six awards to be presented as its 38th annual National Philanthropy Day awards luncheon Nov. 15 at the Cendera Center.

The luncheon recognizes individuals and organizations for their contributions to charities and causes in the greater Fort Worth community.

"National Philanthropy Day highlights the contributions of philanthropy to our world, and this year's honorees represent a proud local tradition of giving, volunteering and civic engagement," Pat Miller, president of the chapter's board of directors, said in a news release.

Ciera Bank President Charlie Powell, who with his son, James, received the 2016 award for Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser, will emcee the awards luncheon. It is scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 15 at the Cendera Center, 3600 Benbrook Highway in Fort Worth.

1988-2018 How Banking Has Changed in 30 Years

(Q&A with Charlie Powell)

Charlie Powell, president and CEO of Ciera Bank, has been a banker in Fort Worth for just over 30 years. The Fort Worth Business Press asked him to reflect on changes in the banking industry since he began his career.

How long have you been a banker in Tarrant County?
I’ve been a banker in Tarrant County for just over 30 years, so my timeline pretty well matches that of the Fort Worth Business Press. I began my career and advanced to become president/CEO at Bank of North Texas under the leadership of the board, which included Dee J. Kelly. My career path included working at Bank of Commerce until it sold to Frost Bank in 1999. Then I was fortunate to become market president of Bank of Texas until the opportunity to join Ciera Bank arose three years ago, where I now serve as president and CEO.

Tell us about banking in the 1980s
In the 1980s, customers could only confirm their checking account balance by visiting the bank, where they actually spoke with a human teller. Today you can perform a multitude of services including access to your accounts, sending or transferring funds or paying bills while enjoying lunch or during a coffee break. Mobile banking allows 24/7 service rather than what used to be known as “banker’s hours” from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

Back then, banks depended on loans and checking accounts to anchor relationships with customers. Customers actually received their [cancelled] checks and deposit slips with their monthly statement, whereas scanned copies are part of their statements today.

Online banking initially gained popularity in the late 1980s, but computer access was terribly slow due to the limitations of dial-up connections. Today, online banking combines with mobile banking to replace visits to the brick-and-mortar banks. I believe continued technology will only enhance these services for the consumer in the future.

What are some of the technologies you recall from the ‘80s and through today?
People may not know that banks and new-car dealerships, along with the government, were among the first major adopters of fax machines. This now primitive technology allowed us to expedite approvals so new-car buyers could quickly complete their purchases and drive their cars home. I recall watching the installation of ATMs back in the ‘80s and wondering if customers would ever utilize them and forego the personal touch of tellers. Most customers still preferred to walk into the bank lobby or talk with a person at the drive-through window.

Debit cards arrived in the ‘80s, representing the next advancement. Further technology was a combination: remote capture, and banking apps, which allow customers to make mobile deposits from any location. You can now utilize technology that allows your thumbprint on your smartphone to access your account. The next generation will most likely tie your access to a scan of your eyeball. Oh yes, and ATMs now outnumber bank branches nationwide by almost five to one!

How has the banking landscape changed?
Branch banking came to Texas in 1987, when national bank holding companies acquired existing Texas banks and opened additional locations throughout the state. Another major change is the lower number of employees within a bank because technological advancements have increased operational efficiencies. Now, with banking apps and mobile banking, we’re seeing a great number of banks operate with fewer employees and smaller spaces. Digital technology continues to change much of the customer-banker relationship.

The other major change has been the increase in the layers of regulatory oversight procedures. This adds significantly to the administrative behind-the scenes costs that banks incur in serving customers in today’s regulatory environment.

Despite the changes in the bank landscape and technology, what is still the same about banking?
Two elements will never change. First, to be successful, bankers must take care of all their customers’ needs. At the end of the day, if a banker fails to respond to you in a timely manner, you will not remain that bank’s customer for very long. Customers expect, demand and should receive exceptional service. That means timely returned phone calls and emails. Second, banking will always revolve around relationships with the customer and their variety of needs, whether it be lending, trust services or investments. We still operate by the same basic principles: We are here for one reason – to provide convenience and accessibility and to take care of our customers’ needs.

Where is banking going in the future?
Banking offers a career of opportunity. While the industry was male-dominated when I started in the ‘80s, banking has provided a very welcome environment for women to pursue careers and advancement. Women today are in powerful leadership roles across the entire financial services sector. 

In addition, the dynamic sustained growth in North Texas opens doors in the financial services industry for both entry-level prospects seeking a career and experienced bankers. Ultimately, the most successful bankers will develop valuable relationships with their customers and remain integrally involved in support of their communities. Bankers should never forget to express sincere appreciation to customers for choosing them as their financial partner.

Ciera Bank moves ahead with Branch redevelopment

April 1, 2015

Ciera Bank plans to demolish its Fort Worth branch at 1501 Summit Ave, near downtown and build a three-story, mixed-use building.

The conceptual plans, which include Ciera's offices, second and third-floor residential units, and a drive-through and are subject to change, surfaced on Fort Worth's Downtown Designs Review Board agenda for Thursday.

Ciera and predecessor banks have held the prominent site on top of the hill overlooking Interstate 30 for many years.

Ciera is asking the Review Board for waivers from streetscape, building edge, and street grid standards.

Those waiver requests, among other factors, are based on preliminary plans that have the building turned on the site, not facing Summit; and the existence of the drive-through. Traditional drive-throughs aren't allowed.

The bank's top officer, Charlie Powell, said he could not comment heading into the Thursday hearing.

Ciera Bank, under its previous name First Graham Bancorp Inc., surfaced in Fort Worth in 2013, when it merged its three banks, First National Bank in Graham and First Security Bank in Flower Mound, into one entity called Ciera Bank.

First Graham entered Fort Worth when it acquired Surety Bank in 2008, then changed its name to West Side Bank & Trust Co.

Ciera Bank, based in Graham, is a longtime family-owned community bank formed in 1889. Ciera Bank has eight offices across North Texas and, as of the end of 2014, had total assets of $493.9 million.

Charlie Powell to Lead Ciera Bank’s Fort Worth Expansion

March 13, 2015

Charlie Powell, a well-known and respected banker in Tarrant County, has spent the last 15 years as local leader for Bank of
Texas. But as of March 2, Powell’s business cards changed, now reading a new, less familiar name: Ciera Bank.

“At this stage of my life and career, Ciera Bank is providing an opportunity for me to help an independent family-owned
organization build a major presence in the Fort Worth and North Texas market,” he said. “This new position energizes me with the
return to hands-on banking.”

Ciera Bank, under its previous moniker First Graham Bancorp Inc., emerged in Fort Worth in 2013, when it merged its three banks, First
National Bank in Graham and First Security Bank in Flower Mound, into one entity called Ciera Bank. At the same time it converted from
a federal to a state-chartered institution.

First Graham first entered the Fort Worth market when it acquired Surety Bank in 2008, then changing its name to West Side Bank &
Trust Co. By whatever name, the bank has had a prominent location, at the top of the hill on Summit Avenue, at the intersection with
Interstate-30 for many years. Ciera Bank is a longtime family-owned community bank formed in 1889. Ciera Bank has eight offices
across North Texas and, as of the end of 2014, had total assets of $493.9 million.

The bank doesn’t plan to remain unfamiliar in this area for long. Fort Worth will be a key area for the bank that focused on commercial
real estate, commercial loans, oil and gas and ranching, according to Powell and Ciera Bank officials.

“They’re really thinking forward,” said Powell. “They see Fort Worth as being the true focal point for their organization. We will definitely
focus on growing our profile in the Fort Worth area. With Ciera Bank’s $500 million asset base, we are capable of providing
services to any company or person seeking financial resources.”

Powell said other additions will be made to the Fort Worth Ciera team shortly.

“We’ll be building a strong team here,” he said. Though they have yet to detail their plans, Cierea Bank officials said they plan to build their Fort Worth presence with Powell as a key part of their strategy.

“We are extremely pleased to attract such an experienced banker with the passion for customers and community service that Charlie has,” said Chuck Rosenbrough, chairman of Ciera. “He brings over 30 years of local banking experience and leadership to our organization.”

Aside from his 30 years in banking, Powell and his family have been known for their community service.

Serving on a variety of different boards, Powell currently serves as vice chairman of the John Peter Smith Hospital and Healthcare Network. In the past, he and his wife, Beverly Volkman Powell, have co-chaired the American Heart Association Heart Ball. Powell and his son, James, led the 2014 United Way of Tarrant County campaign, the first father-son duo to do so.

Powell had been president and chief operating officer of the Fort Worth Region of Bank of Texas for 15 years. He said there was no rancor involved in leaving that position, just an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.

“I’ve very proud of my years at Bank of Texas,” he said. “It was a hard decision.”

Ciera Bank uses toaster as branding opportunity

September 7, 2019

"Those of us who have been around a couple of decades or more may recall that it was not unusual for a bank to give customers a new toaster for opening a new account. We always felt that day and age was recognized for banks knowing their customers on a very personal level, so we have brought back that offer," said Ciera Bank CEO Charlie Powell.

Remember the days when banks gave away toasters to customers opening a new bank account?

Passé? Not at Ciera Bank which has added a high-tech twist to the tradition.

Ciera designed a promotional account offering customers who open new personal accounts a low-tech and a high-tech gift, with the low-tech (analog) toaster and the high-tech (digital) Amazon Echo personal assistant.

The toaster is also a branding opportunity - literally.

"Each time the toaster is used, the toast pops up with the Ciera Bank logo branded onto the bread," he said.

The offer combining the blast-from-the-past toaster and the Echo digital personal assistant has generated positive comments, according to Powell.

"We began the offer with the opening of the Alexan Summit's downtown luxury apartments since they are our neighbors across Summit Avenue. We are expanding our 'Best of the old and the new offer' to all our new customers," he said.

Sharla Chambers Joins Ciera Bank

November 16, 2018

Sharla Chambers has joined Ciera Bank in Fort Worth as a senior vice president and chief operating officer, where she will oversee the accounting, finance, information technology, marketing and human resource functions. She previously was chief financial officer and chief operating officer in the Farm Credit System. She earned a bachelor's degree in accounting and an MBA from Baylor University. She is a certified public accountant with experience in public and corporate accounting as well as retirement plan administration and compliance.

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