Harris H. Simmons, Chairman, President and CEO of Zions Bancorporation, named National EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ 2013 Financial Services Award winner
Simmons honored for establishing Zions as one of the largest bank holding companies in the western United States
Salt Lake City, Utah, November 16, 2013 — Harris H. Simmons, Chairman, President and CEO of Zions Bancorporation, has been named the National EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ 2013 Financial Services Award winner.
The EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Award is the country’s most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs. The award encourages entrepreneurial activity and recognizes leaders and visionaries who demonstrate innovation, financial success and personal commitment as they create and build world-class businesses.
Simmons was recognized for creating market-centric banks with strong local leadership teams capable of being ultra-responsive to customer needs. He was honored at the Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards gala, the culminating event of the EY Strategic Growth Forum® in Palm Springs, Calif. The Forum is the nation’s premier gathering of high-growth, market-leading companies. Awards were given in 10 additional categories.
The EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Award winners were selected by an independent panel of judges and from more than 250 regional award recipients.
“We are pleased to honor Harris H. Simmons with this esteemed award,” said Bryan Pearce, EY Americas Director, Entrepreneur Of The Year. “Through plenty of hard work, Simmons has led a decades old institution through periods of heavy consolidation to become the preeminent institution it is today. Simmons understands the importance of his industry as a service-oriented industry and offering local businesses more than just a credit line, but a chance to grow.”
Deep roots of success
It was his father who taught Simmons early on that banking is a service business. It was the day a local bookstore went up in flames. The senior Simmons saw the news story and called the owner to offer help with a line of credit. The bank traces its roots to 1873, when Brigham Young founded Zion’s Savings Bank and Trust Company. The institution then merged with other banks to create Zions First National Bank in 1957, and Simmons’ father assembled an investor group that acquired a majority interest in the bank in 1960.
Simmons joined Zions on a low rung, filing canceled checks when he was 16 years old. He went on to earn a degree in Economics from the University of Utah and an MBA from Harvard University, where he wrote case studies on the banking industry.
He returned to Zions when the CFO offered him a position as Vice President of Finance with plans to groom him for the CFO post. Simmons effectively functioned as CFO until he was officially named so in 1981, allowing him to work alongside his father for many years. Nearly 30 years and 50 acquisitions later, Zions is now one of the largest bank holding companies in the western United States, operating eight subsidiary banks in 10 states.
Taking the lead
Simmons led the business through the tumultuous 1980s as local banks disappeared from the landscape and became part of national organizations. However, Simmons saw an opportunity, steering Zions through years of consolidation by targeting banks in some of the nation’s most attractive markets with the goal of creating market-centric banks with strong local leadership teams capable of being ultra-responsive to customer needs. Zions provides centralized back office services and risk management oversight.
Each bank now has its own charter and board of directors, and they are all tasked with building a great bank in their local markets. The business and community leaders know who’s running the place, which Simmons says is community banking at its best.
Above and beyond in an ever-changing environment
Zions was not immune to the financial crisis of 2008 that roiled the banking industry. But in response, Simmons led his teams to review their portfolios to see which accounts were salvageable and focus on dramatically strengthening the company’s capital reserves.
In recent years, Simmons has focused on adapting his organization to the requirements of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which is pushing larger banks toward standardization and centralization. The institution is spending a lot of resources strengthening, which Simmons says hasn’t been pleasant, but some of the best learning takes place during times of uncertainty.
National Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013 Financial Services finalists
In addition to Simmons, the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Financial Services finalists in the US were: Robert Carr, Chairman, CEO, Heartland Payment Systems, based in Princeton, N.J.; Renaud Laplanche, Founder and CEO, Lending Club, based in San Francisco, Calif.; and Annette Catino, CEO, QualCare Inc., based in Piscataway, N.J.
National Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013 Overall Award winner
Hamid Moghadam of Prologis was named the National EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013 Overall Award winner.
Video and photos
To view photos of all of the Entrepreneur Of The Year winners, please visit www.ey.com/us/eoy.
Founded and produced by EY, the Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards are nationally sponsored in the United States by SAP America and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
About EY Entrepreneur Of The Year
EY Entrepreneur Of The Year is the world’s most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs. The unique award makes a difference through the way it encourages entrepreneurial activity among those with potential and recognizes the contribution of people who inspire others with their vision, leadership and achievement. As the first and only truly global award of its kind, Entrepreneur Of The Year celebrates those who are building and leading successful, growing and dynamic businesses, recognizing them through regional, national and global awards programs in more than 150 cities in over 60 countries.
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