Doing His Homework

Kent A. Nelson | Brighton Bank | Salt Lake City

Preparation and training help Kent Nelson serve his customers best

By Beth Mattson-Teig

At Salt Lake City-based Brighton Bank, Kent Nelson wears a lot of different hats. In addition to serving as a senior vice president and branch manager at the Center City location, he plays a pivotal role in the bank’s lending program.

Nelson, who attributes much of his lending success to the teamwork of his colleagues, is in charge of hiring and training loan officers for the $170 million-asset community bank. He also serves on the senior loan committee, provides input on the bank’s loan policy and is responsible for approving appraisals being used for the bank’s real estate loans.

On top of that, Nelson, 62, is in the trenches working as a lender. In fact, he is the bank’s top producer. For example, he originated 48 percent of the bank’s total loan production in 2012.

One of the comments he has often heard from customers throughout his 32 years in the business is that he asks a lot more questions than other bankers. “He is probably one of the most thorough lenders that I have ever dealt with,” says Brighton Bank President Robert Bowen. “He works hard to make sure that he understands a customer and understands a customer’s business.”

For example, Nelson has been very involved in generating commercial real estate loans. A few years ago, he decided to sharpen his skills in that area by pursuing additional training. He obtained his Certified Commercial Investment Member designation in 2007. Awarded by the CCIM Institute, the professional designation is rare among community bankers. It recognizes practicing experts in the commercial and investment real estate industry in areas such as brokerage, asset management and investment.

“I felt like whatever niche I wanted to pursue, I needed to be prepared to visit with that particular type of client and make sure that when I met with them that I could talk the talk and walk the walk,” he says.

That philosophy had paid off. Several years ago when the conversion of apartments to condominiums was very popular, Nelson made a targeted effort to understand the sector to garner new business. He put together several projects that turned out to be quite profitable for the bank, and he understood the market well enough to move out of it before the recent real estate downturn, notes Bowen.

More recently, Nelson has started working with several local residential builders that have come out of the downturn with strong balance sheets and are ready to start developing again. “He is very good at finding niches and finding areas that are going to be viable in the marketplace and attacking those,” Bowen explains.

Beth Mattson-Teig is a writer in Delano, Minn.