Gary DeFrange



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Ashley Burt must be ready for anything as president of a small community bank.

“I can be working on interest rate risk and then have to change a light bulb,” said Burt, who is a director on the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s Denver Branch Board.

The Gunnison Bank and Trust Co. in Gunnison, Colo., is in a mountain valley, high in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. The remoteness of Gunnison, and its tourism economy, keeps the bank’s customer base from changing or growing rapidly.

“We have to be a lot of different things to this base,” Burt said. “We have always specialized in commercial lending, but as needs have changed, so have we.”

Burt’s level of customer contact is high.

“That is one of the reasons to bank with a smaller community bank. You can sit down with a decision maker,” he said. “It is also one of the reasons that working at a small bank is rewarding. You become a sounding board, and really get to know your customers and their business.”

Good customer service and a willingness to change is what it takes to be successful in today’s banking environment, Burt said.

He plans to use his 19 years of community banking experience and his experience as an entrepreneur, which includes small business and owning and operating a private school with his wife Jackie, to help him provide the Federal Reserve feedback and direction.

Because of consolidation in the banking industry—due to repercussions of the recession— interaction among financial institutions and other industries has lessened, Burt said. Becoming a director provides him better opportunities for interaction, along with having direct interaction with the Federal Reserve System.

Burt has always been fascinated with the Federal Reserve—from its complex public-private structure to its effect on the cyclical nature of employment and inflation.

His perspective about the Federal Reserve transformed, however, when he was invited to the 2008 grand opening of the Kansas City Fed’s new building. He took a tour with then Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Kansas City Fed President Tom Hoenig.

“It was an exceptional experience, and I was exposed to the Fed in a different way,” he said. “I could see and feel the sincerity and engagement of the employees that made up this institution. It is an institution that I am proud to be a part of.”