One hundred fifty years ago, on July 5, 1873, Zion’s Savings Bank and Trust Company was incorporated under the laws of the Utah Territory with a capital stock of $200,000. Four days earlier, Brigham Young had called together a group of twelve of the leading citizens of the Salt Lake Valley to discuss the organization of a savings bank. It would open for its first day of business on October 1, 1873.
At the time — two-and-a-half decades after the first company of pioneers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints entered the Salt Lake Valley in 1847 — farms and rudimentary businesses had been established, a few banks were operating, more pioneers were arriving, and families were dispersing across the territory. Because a financial crisis was spreading in the Eastern U.S., Young felt it more important than ever to encourage his people to save money and prepare for the future.
During the July 5 meeting, the bank’s first directors were elected: George A. Smith, Daniel H. Wells, George Q. Cannon, H.B. Clawson, Thomas Williams, T. G. Webber, Joseph A. Young, Joseph F. Smith, John W. Young, John T. Caine, and David McKenzie. H.B. Clawson was appointed treasurer pro tempore. Four thousand shares were subscribed to by 23 individuals.
In a subsequent article in the Deseret News, Young is quoted as saying, “This institution is a cooperative one and we think it is likely to meet with favor.” He stressed the value of saving money:
“The interest allowed is at the rate of ten per cent, per annum, compounded semi-annually…
It will be found of considerable advantage to those who wish to save money for the emigration of their friends, as the interest is large and sums as low as $1.00 will be received, which, if continually added to, will soon reach a considerable amount, and the depositors will hardly miss the money.”
Zion’s Savings Bank and Trust Company, the name eventually shortened to Zions Bank, would go on to serve the financial needs of businesses and individuals across the Intermountain West for 150 years —– and counting.
“Over the course of Zions Bank’s 150 years in business, we have remained true to our founding, creating value for depositors, the community, and shareholders,” says Zions Bank President and CEO Scott Anderson, who has served in his position since 1997. “This year, we’ve reaffirmed our commitment to cultivating a landscape of opportunity and growth on our Main Streets and neighborhood lanes by outlining our Five Commitments to Create Value for the next 150 years.”
Zions’ financial assistance helped in the initiation of such industrial firms as Bingham Copper Company (Kennecott Copper); Salt Lake and Los Angeles Railroad Company (Union Pacific); Big Cottonwood Power Company (Rocky Mountain Power); and Salt Lake Gas Company (Dominion Energy).
In 1960, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sold majority control of Zions First National Bank to Keystone Insurance and Investment Company, which later became Zions Bancorporation.
Today, Zions Bank has grown to operate 121 full-service branches and nearly 200 ATMs throughout Utah, Idaho and in Jackson, Wyoming. The bank provide jobs for 1,528 employees. It reported $13.9 billion in average loans and $20.9 billion in average deposits, as of March 31, 2023.
Zions Bank is a division of Zions Bancorporation, N.A., a $90-billion-in-assets bank which operates under local management teams and unique brand identities through nearly 416 branches offices across 11 Western states — Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. The company is a national leader in U. S. Small Business Administration lending and is included in the S&P 500 and NASDAQ Financial 100 indices. Additional information is available at www.zionsbank.com.