FlatIrons Bank and AMG National Trust Bank have made it onto an exclusive national list.

The two banks in Boulder are some of the safest in the nation, based on the Texas ratio — a formula developed by a financial whiz at RBC Capital Markets in Houston to detect potential bank failures.

The ratio gained notoriety after being used to correctly predict several failures in the 1980s recession in Texas. It still is used by many in the industry to give an informal look at the health of banks.

But the formula also can be used to show the banks that are the farthest from failure.

It is calculated with data that banks must file quarterly with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the federal bank regulator.

With so many banks failing across the nation in recent years, it’s refreshing to think about the Texas ratio as a plus, rather than as a minus.

Less than 1 percent of all banks left in the nation had a perfect Texas ratio score, based on call report information filed with the FDIC for the first quarter of 2012. Just 349 banks are on the latest list, out of 7,300 banks across the United States. The national list was published online on the MSN Money media website in mid-July.

Recent regional bank failures include Louisville-based FirsTier Bank, which was closed by the Colorado Division of Banking on Jan. 28.

FirsTier was closed in advance of a regulatory filing due Jan. 31 that was expected to show that the bank was insolvent. In general, failure seems to have been precipitated by commercial real-estate debt problems. Federal regulators moved in to package up the bank’s remaining assets and sell them off.

In Greeley, New Frontier Bank closed in April 2009, also an apparent victim of bad commercial real-estate loans.

FlatIrons Bank president Kyle Heckman said he is mighty proud of the Texas ratio’s “safest bank” list honor.

“We’re pleased to be on the list, and it strikes me as consistent with how we run our bank,” Heckman said. “We’re pleased to not deal with problem assets at a time when a lot of banks are.”

The FDIC is not as excited about the list. Spokesman Greg Hernandez would say only that anyone is free to look up call-report information to see how a bank is doing. It’s available publicly online at fdic.gov.

The FDIC also has its own confidential troubled-bank list, Hernandez said. But the regulatory agency does not comment on the banks on that list, or on any open and operating bank in the nation, he added.

Seven other Colorado banks also made the Texas ratio’s safest-banks list — two in Denver, two in Centennial, one in Greeley, one in Burlington and one in Walsh.


Get a green loan

If you have plans to remodel your home in Boulder County to something that’s more energy efficient, there’s some new cash available to help.

You can get up to $25,000 in a loan for any and all energy-efficiency projects through the new Elevations Credit Union program.

Those loans — with interest rates around 3 percent — are fueled by a federal $25 million Department of Energy initiative.

If you want to add solar panels to your home or business, insulation, insulated windows and the like, Elevations may be able to help. The loans are part of Boulder’s EnergySmart energy-efficiency program.

While the program was just announced to Elevations members about three weeks ago, more than 20 loan applications already are in the works. A formal announcement is expected on Wednesday, Aug. 8.

“It’s a much anticipated program. Elevations energy loans are here to stay, and our lending capacity is fine,” said Dennis Paul, assistant vice president at Elevations.

The EnergySmart program is expected to cover up to 90 percent of any potential default losses, while Elevations would be responsible for the remaining 10 percent.

Default rates are typically very low on energy-efficiency programs, possibly because people are saving money on energy costs once they make improvements. Payback periods are expected to vary from three to 10 years, depending on client needs and credit ratings.

Paul expects the loan program to be great for both the community and the credit union.

“If people see the value of the program … wouldn’t it be great if it can outlast the rebates?” Paul asked rhetorically. “If we get a good head of steam, that would be ideal.”

Beth Potter can be reached at 303-630-1944 or email bpotter@bcbr.com.