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Banking companies offer different strategies, results

There are just three publicly traded banking companies based in Oklahoma, but their business models and results are varied.
BY DON MECOY Published: November 13, 2011

With just three members, Oklahoma's publicly traded banking sector is an exclusive group.

Those three companies are among the largest banks in the state.

Oklahoma City-based BancFirst Corp is the parent of BancFirst, the largest state-chartered bank in Oklahoma. Tulsa-based BOK Financial Corp. is the parent company of Bank of Oklahoma, the state's largest bank. The largest subsidiary of Southwest Bancorp is Stillwater National Bank, also among the top 10 largest banks in the Sooner State.

But each has a distinct business model.

“It's almost like they're not in the same industry,” said Gary Simpson, Oklahoma State University finance professor and Oklahoma Bankers Association chair of banking. “Their strategy is so different, and their performance is different.”

BancFirst, which earned the highest Oklahoma Inc. ranking among the three, conducts all of its banking operations within Oklahoma. The company added to its statewide reach with three bank acquisitions in 2010, and closed a fourth in July. It has bought five banks in the past year and a half.

BancFirst operates more branches in more Oklahoma communities than any of its competitors.

The company's strongest category in the Oklahoma Inc. rankings reflected its nearly 10 percent growth in earnings.

BOK Financial is a regional financial power, operating banks in eight states. Its majority shareholder, George Kaiser, is Oklahoma's wealthiest resident.

BOK Financial was the largest commercial bank in the country that rejected federal funds in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse. Despite its broad footprint, much of BOK Financial's strength comes from its Oklahoma roots.

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