Loans originated by BOK Financial soared 40% last year, the bank announced in their annual shareholders meeting in Dallas on Tuesday. This compares to 27% growth from the competition, shareholders were told.

The bank posted a first quarter earnings of $88 million, or $1.28 per share, representing a 7% increase in earnings over the 4th quarter and a 5% increase year over year.

"Recognizing challenges other mortgage lenders have experienced the past few years, and heightened regulatory scrutiny, the quality control staff was quadrupled," said Stan Lybarger, president and CEO of BOK Financial.  

He expanded saying, "To minimize volume loss with the inevitable decline in refinance activity, BOK hired loan originators tied primarily to the home purchase market. A correspondent channel was also created to purchase loan originated by high quality smaller financial institutions."

In result, BOK Mortgage reaped a $62.5 million profit after tax net income in 2012, significantly up from a loss of $1.7 million in 2007, the company announced.

Meanwhile, over the past five years, the bank’s mortgage servicing climbed 2 1/2 times to $13.4 billion and loan production escalated to 3 1/2 times to $4 billion. Also, the bank nearly doubled the amount of employees to 650.

"2012 was a near perfect year with a combination of strong growth in recurring earnings, combined with significant non-recurring earnings from a variety of sources," Lybarger explained.

He added, "This year will be much more challenging. Low interest rates and intense competition are further eroding margins. Slow economic growth and high unemployment are continuing. Increased regulation is ballooning compliance costs."

Despite the potential challenges, BOK Financial (BOKF) posted an increase in earnings  and has come a long way from 2006 when the mortgage unit was under-performing.