80.3 F
San Fernando
Tuesday, Oct 4, 2022
-Advertisement-

The Top 25: Bankers Who Think Outside the Box

Roberto Barragan Chairman and CEO Pacoima Development Federal Credit Union If not for the lack of an automated teller machine in the northeast San Fernando Valley, the Pacoima Development Federal Credit Union might never exist. Credit Union Chairman and CEO Roberto Barragan asked himself why that was and then decided to do something about it. “I had to go to San Fernando or Panorama City to find an ATM,” Barragan said. The Pacoima credit union now has two locations with $2.2 million in deposits and 500 members. The credit union opened in 2005 following a long approval process. “He was very persistent and he achieved his goal and he deserves a lot of credit for that,” said Mel Kohn, a member of the credit union’s board of directors about Barragan. In getting the credit union off the ground, Barragan raised the money, assisted in writing a business plan and went to partners such as Citibank and Wells Fargo and then-Los Angeles City Councilman Alex Padilla to come up with the initial capital. He initially considered opening a bank in Pacoima but the start-up costs and initial deposit requirement was lower for a credit union, Barragan said. Opening a credit union was recognition by Barragan that financial service programs are important to low-income areas by showing those on the fringes the importance of savings and good credit, said Raul Bocanegra, a member of the credit union’s board of directors. “He’s not just a community builder, he is a community banker,” Bocanegra said of Barragan. Before the opening of the credit union and a Wells Fargo branch in 2003, residents of the Pacoima area were primarily served by check cashing and payday loan businesses. “The credit union provided a vehicle that made sense for the community,” Kohn added. The success of the credit union attracted the attention of larger banks. There is talk that WaMu is looking to open a branch in that part of the Valley, Bocanegra said. Barragan is also the president of the Valley Economic Development Center, a not-for-profit offering a variety of loan programs for established businesses and start-ups. In 2006, the organization did about $3 million in revolving loan funding with funds that it gets from other banks. Barragan also serves on the board of directors of California United Bank, a position that Barragan calls a learning experience and which can help in running the credit union. “Understanding how you make money as a bank helps me push the credit union in the same direction,” Barragan said. Barragan has over 17 years experience in managing not-for-profit organizations and is a nationally recognized expert on loan funds and microlending. Prior to the VEDC, he worked for economic and community development organizations in Berkeley and San Francisco. —Mark R. Madler Craig Bittner Senior Vice President US Bank Craig Bittner of US Bank handles small business loans for real estate in Los Angeles County to the tune of big business margins. Since December of 1993, Bittner has been responsible for a portfolio encompassing over $532 million in loans a feat which has earned him consistent billing as US Bank’s top salesperson since 1994. Accruing invaluable first-hand experience in the world of commercial real estate before initiating his career with US Bank nine-years worth, in fact Bittner is armed with an insider’s understanding of what his commercial real estate clients need and expect from him, as one of the industry’s premier lenders, “(He’s) really, really knowledgeable about SBA. (He) understands how deals have to get done” remarked Stacy Vierheilig-Fraser, of commercial real estate firm Charles Dunn & Company, who has worked with Bittner many times before. As a well-seasoned veteran of the real estate world, Bittner’s knowledge of the transaction and escrow processes and the pressure inherent in ever-pressing deadlines, has helped him to cultivate successful business partnerships with real estate players, some of which have spanned over the last 13 years, “I’m really confident when he works the deal. . .he’s a closer” said Vierheilig-Fraser, of Bittner’s expertise and understanding of the commercial real estate market. As far as leadership is concerned, Bittner likes to equip his team members with the right tools for the job. “(I) try to give them as much time and the tools to use to streamline the process” said Bittner. “(I) try to mold them into our program. . . we have very supportive upper-management” remarked Bittner. Bittner’s skill-set and real estate background have afforded him a unique edge in making and closing those critical deals, or as Bittner describes it, “The ability as a lender to put together difficult deals.” Difficult deals is one way to phrase it. But ever-changing industry horizons require adaptability; something that is old-hat for a person of Bittner’s caliber and range. Recognizing the need to expand his client base in the face of shifting industry trajectories, Bittner made the necessary moves in order to evolve with rather than respond to, such diverse and shifting marketplace conditions. “As competition increased in SBA and commercial real estate, we adjusted our client base to include mom-and-pop businesses, accountants, attorneys, loan brokers” said Bittner. “we needed to develop a larger client base. . .” remarked Bittner. (Photo not available) —Ryan C. DeSales Troy Bosch Market Executive for Business Banking for the San Fernando Valley Bank of America Serving the greater San Fernando Valley area for the past six years, Bank of America’s Troy Bosch is an 18-year company veteran. Operating out of Bank of America’s Encino location, Bosch is hard at work in his official capacity as market executive for business banking. While operating as Bank of America’s small business market manager a position he held from 2001 through 2004 Bosch earned honors as the No. 1 SBA Lender for the 2002, 2003, and 2004 years respectively. Titles aside, it’s safe to say that Bosch knows a thing or two about making business happen through successful lending practices. Currently charged with leading a team of bankers in delivering credit and cash management solutions for companies whose annual sales land between the $2 million and $20 million dollar brackets, Bosch has increased business credit productivity by a margin of 35 percent year-over-year. With current duties including representing not only the greater San Fernando Valley, but the LA Market presidency as well, Bosch is an able financial helmsman. Bosch’s take on leadership is straight forward. Self-described as a hands-on type of leader, Bosch stresses the importance of developing authentic, not just profitable, relationships with his customers. “The key is (I’m) very hands-on. I have a genuine interest in clients,” Bosch elaborated. “My goal is not to be just a banker; but a trusted advisor,” said Bosch of his approach and his goal to create lasting relationships with his diverse client base. Recognizing the unique needs of every business and putting a face to the name so to speak — is integral to Bosch’s continuing success. “Every business is unique . . . (and) has different concerns and needs. I like to customize solutions to be as unique as our clients.” he said. Bosch references an approach to business which emphasizes the importance of understanding those that he serves as a lender, whether a start-up company or a multinational corporation. Bosch strives to provide the same level of attention and service to each. “I want to bank clients through every growth stage. . .from mom and pop, to public,” said Bosch. “With our breadth of products and personal touch. . .every business client has a personal contact, all the way up. . . “. Bosch presently oversees a cadre of approximately 20 Business Banking Client Managers. Each manager is charged with around 125-175 individual clients, which constitutes around 3,000 business banking customers under Bosch’s guidance. Ray Boyadjian Senior Vice President, Western Division Group Manager Comerica Bank Ray Boyadjian can sum up what he has learned in his 30-year-plus banking career in three basic tenets: set a strategy, find the right people to implement it, and stay focused on making sure that strategy gets done. Boyadjian, senior vice president and western division group manager in the Sherman Oaks office of Comerica Bank, leads by example. There is nothing he asks of his staff that he himself will not do or has not done. “It always starts with me,” Boyadjian said. Attorney Lee Alpert met Boyadjian while both served on the board of a Valley not-for-profit organization and saw first hand Boyadjian’s style of being candid, a willingness to listen and even modify his opinion when given new information and how he analyzed transactions and issues coming before the board. It is that style that has caused Alpert to refer clients to Boyadjian for their banking needs. As a lawyer the last thing I want to do is make a referral and then hear back that the client was ignored or mistreated, Alpert said. “I know they will be taken care of,” Alpert said. Boyadjian joined Comerica in November 2004 after spending most of his professional career at City National Bank. The Middle Market Lending Group he oversees draws from companies in the San Fernando, Santa Clarita and Simi valleys with revenues between $10 million and $500 million. The Middle Market Lending Group saw a 40 percent growth in the first six months of 2007. Boyadjian contributed to that growth by setting an aggressive policy to not be happy with the bank’s goal and instead go beyond it. The USC graduate does that by hiring the right people; staff members open to coaching and who will push themselves to the next level and reach new milestones. As the person doing the hiring for the group, Boyadjian said he looks for people with not only the technical skills to provide financial solutions for the clients but also with the right chemistry, attitude and personality to blend in with the rest of the team. Having employees who are good marketers, with street smarts and who inspire others, contributes to a positive work environment, Boyadjian said. “If you have positive energy and positive thinking it will spread like fire, which is great,” he said. Boyadjian conveys how he wants the staff to achieve higher goals by sharing his experiences of maintaining discipline, networking and making cold calls to drum up new business. Business banking is such a competitive industry that one needs to constantly keep new clients coming through the pipeline. To rely, say, on five deals invites trouble if none of them come through, Boyadjian said. “You cannot stand still because all of a sudden your situation looks good as an individual or as a unit or even as a bank,” Boyadjian said. Mark R. Madler Alan Buckle Regional Manager Alliance Bank The biggest role that Alan Buckle has at Alliance Bank is growing its business. He’s a big success at this. As senior vice president and regional manager, Buckle opened Alliance’s regional center in Burbank and recently oversaw the opening of a seventh office, in West Los Angeles. The bank’s approach of giving personal attention to its corporate and individual clients has paid off, Buckle said. “We don’t have the structure that major banks have because we don’t need it and we recognize that clients don’t want process they want action,” Buckle said. Buckle joined Alliance three years ago following a career with Bank of the West. At the time Buckle joined the bank, Alliance had $360 million in assets. Today the bank has $1 billion in assets and includes contractors, restaurant chains, a car dealership, and media and entertainment companies as clients. His role in growing the business is to work with Alliance’s relationship managers to meet new clients, with underwriters to structure credit, and to provide cash management needs. “It’s a pretty hands-on approach,” Buckle said. Kelly Saunders saw that approach first hand as director of operations for LINC Housing Corp. in Long Beach which received a line of credit from Alliance. Buckle understood enough about their business of building low-income housing that he could go back and explain it to other Alliance executives, Saunders said. Buckle visited the company on several occasions to meet with her, the controller and the president to understand the mission of the company, Saunders said. “We didn’t get that from a larger bank,” Saunders said. “I got several phone calls and mounds of paperwork and was passed from department to department.” While admitting that it may be a trite expression, Buckle said that those working at Alliance are relationship bankers. Once the bank gets a client they don’t tend to leave and appreciate the attention and differentiation that a smaller business bank can provide, Buckle said. But a smaller bank also means taking on roles of an entire department at a larger financial institution. Take for instance the opening of the regional center in Burbank. Buckle was involved in all aspects of the project from finding a building, an architect, a contractor, negotiating a lease, hiring staff and getting the office open. In hiring the staff of 13, Buckle wanted experienced bankers he wouldn’t need to watch over. After a banker is hired it’s his job to back them up and assist them, Buckle said. “If I have to hold somebody’s hand, I’ve hired the wrong person,” Buckle added. Suzanne Chadwick Regional Manager for the Wealth Management Division in Ventura County Santa Barbara Bank & Trust Suzanne Chadwick launched the first branch of Santa Barbara Bank & Trust in Ventura County at a most fortuitous time. In 1995, First Interstate Bank had just acquired the Bank of A. Levy Chadwick’s former employer leaving the colleagues with whom she’d bonded during her 21- year career there free to join her at SBBT. “I was able to put together such a great team of people who had been displaced, and that was a big part of our success,” Chadwick recalled of opening the branch as Regional Manager. Within months, Chadwick launched two more branches of SBBT in Ventura County, growing the number of deposits in that region to $700 million. At present, there are 12 branches there, and the total loans generated totaled $62 million in small business and consumer loans last year. Edward Birch, chairman of the board for Pacific Capital Bank Corp, the holding company for SBBT, said that Chadwick’s extensive background in banking she made her debut in the industry three decades ago is largely responsible for her success. “She’s been a longtime banker. This is not a person who just learned the nature of the game.” Chadwick credits her familiarity with the area, a byproduct of her longtime work at the Bank of A. Levy, with her ability to grow SBBT so rapidly in Ventura County. “I knew the market,” she said. Moreover, she had friends, in addition to business associates, there. “It comes down, for me, to relationships. People bank with people they know. People won’t come to you and talk to you about their financial needs if they don’t trust you.” The esteem Chadwick has in the community directly clashes with the public’s perception of bankers as professionals who are more comfortable with figures than with people, Birch said. Not only is Chadwick “a very solid and good banker,” she also has “great people skills,” an asset at a community bank such as SBBT. Chadwick consistently endeavors to motivate employees to make their relationship with the bank’s clientele a priority as well. The result has been that, year after year, SBBT’s Ventura County branches receive a rating of four out of five in customer satisfaction, according to Chadwick, who believes that the clients’ high rate of contentment directly relates to how content employees are. To ensure that the staff maintains a high level of productivity, management has monthly meetings with them, including one-on-one sessions. Chadwick also strives to recognize employees when they perform well and to strategize when performance needs to be improved. “It’s not a punitive thing. It’s where you help people to see how they might have done something different to get better results.” A dozen years after launching the first SBBT branch in Ventura County, Chadwick has taken on a new role with the bank Senior Vice President Regional Manager for the Wealth Management Division in Ventura County. In this new capacity, Chadwick gets to partner and collaborate with colleagues more than she has been. It’s a refreshing change for Chadwick, but she admitted that she was asked to step into the position. “Every time I’ve been asked to do something, it’s always been a challenge,” she said, “but I’m enjoying it.” Nadra Kareem James Cline Regional Vice President and Manager of San Fernando Valley Banking Center East West Bank East West Bank may have roots in the Chinese community, but James Cline never focuses on scoring clients from any one ethnic group. “The San Fernando Valley is a very diverse community, and Jim has done a really good job across communities,” said Steven Munter, East West Bank’s executive vice president and director of commercial banking. Cline, regional vice president and manager of the bank’s San Fernando Valley Banking Center, has reached out to the Persian community, the mainstream U.S. market and the Latino community, he said. “We serve the entire community of the San Fernando Valley, and we’re committed to having our bank service available to the wider community,” he said. The bank’s clientele isn’t the only area in which Cline has a broad scope. “He looks at large businesses but is very involved in driving business with small and medium companies, moving up and down the business scale,” Munter said. That’s because, after Cline made his financial industry debut in 1980, landing positions with companies such as Australia and New Zealand Banking Group and the Industrial Bank of Japan, he was mostly responsible for forming relationships with large corporations. “It taught me the importance of service and bringing total solutions to the largest companies,” he said. Years later, when he switched gears and worked in the government lending group of City National Bank, Cline learned how to underwrite for, what he calls, “the smallest companies.” He considers it the smartest move of his career. “Now I can handle all aspects of banking from the marketing and credit side,” he said. “Because of my strong credit background, I understand what good opportunities are. I try not to waste time on things that won’t be productive and approvable and doable.” Cline’s experiences with companies of all sizes, not to mention the six years he worked as an independent business consultant, likely contributed to him totally transforming the unit he oversees at East West Bank. When he took the reins almost five years ago, the unit had no loans. Today, it has more than $100 million in loans, with deposits in excess of $65 million. “My philosophy my entire life has been to do what is necessary to get a good deal,” Cline said. “If somebody says, ‘no,’ you don’t say, ‘okay, goodbye,’ you say, ‘why’ to find out if there’s a workaround. If there’s not enough equity, can you put more equity in?” Cline tells customers not to ask him to make a handful of exceptions for them, but, if they just need one and are strong in other areas, “then we can try to get a deal,” he said. He also makes it a point to return phone calls and e-mails the same day they come in. “It’s not unusual for me to give customers a call at 8 or 9 at night,” he admitted. “They appreciate that I’m working that hard for them.” Gilbert Dalmau President and CEO Americas United Bank The first primarily Hispanic-owned bank to open in California in more than 30 years is doing very well since opening its doors in November, according to Americas United Bank President and CEO, Gil Dalmau. “We opened in November but we really didn’t start doing business until probably late February, so the numbers are very deceiving,” said Dalmau. At the end of the first quarter of 2007, AUB reported that assets had grown to more than $45 million and deposits were at $18.1 million. No data was available for loans. The bank did show a net loss in the quarter of $857,000, a number that Dalmau said was expected due to start-up costs. A Cuban immigrant and banking industry veteran with 25 years experience in the greater Los Angeles market, Dalmau had some unique qualifications to head the start-up. “I had been approached by some investors who wanted me to be the CEO of a new Hispanic bank,” said Dalmau. At the time, he was completing his fifth year as president of the Southern California region of First Bank. Dalmau thought about the offer, but decided it was time to stop working for other people. He knew he was a rare commodity. “There are very few people with my qualifications to start a Hispanic bank,” said Dalmau. “There just aren’t that many people who would be able to satisfy the regulators.” He said his years at First Bank gave him the experience and contacts he needed to make the leap. “I grew the Southern California operations from $1 billion to $2 billion in assets and net operating income went from about $25 million to a run rate of $80 million,” Dalmau reported. He also created many different lending groups, most notably a de novo Hispanic banking group, and was responsible for integrating three different acquisitions in those five years. “Being president of that operation, that’s what allowed me to be approvable by the regulators to be president of a startup bank,” said Dalmau. Raising the start-up capital was the first project. “We raised a little less than $29 million which was just above the $22 million we were shooting for,” Dalmau said. “We didn’t go out and raise much more money than we needed. You can damage some relationships when you start sending some money back.” That level of capitalization is even more impressive when you learn that the minimum investment was $10,000 and that only one investor owns more than 5 percent of the shares. “Our business model was to get the Hispanic business community to have a vested interest in the bank,” Dalmau explained. “We wanted a diverse shareholder base.” Dalmau says Chairman Manuel Ramon and he had already established many banking relationships over the years with Hispanic businessmen, “so when we went to some of those guys to be our founders, they were excited and joined up with us.” “Getting Manuel Ramon to be chairman was certainly my best accomplishment,” adds Dalmau. According to Joe Arco, senior vice president and manager of business banking, who led the First Bank Hispanic banking group that Dalmau started, “We formed a group of about 30 organizers, most of them owners of Hispanic businesses probably some of the largest ones here in Southern California.” AUB ended up with 50 shareholders, of whom at least 60 percent are Hispanic, said Arco. The bank’s client businesses will be as diverse as the shareholders. “We’re really going across the board in the Hispanic business community,” said Dalmau. “There is a large amount of Hispanic-owned businesses in the food processing and food service industry so that obviously is a target. But really there is no specific industry we’re going after.” Dalmau plans to give those businesses the bank does not have any plans to offer retail banking the highest level of service, regardless of their size. There will be no branches in the classical sense of the word. “Take our office,” Dalmau said. “It’s on the 11th floor of a Class A office building (in Glendale). It has a real private banking feel.” But in general, Dalmau said, “we go to the customer, the customer doesn’t come to us.” The bank offers a remote deposit capture product, courier services, armored carrier services and also has personal bankers that will go to the customer and take care of their needs. “We are trying to make it where our customers don’t even have to come to the bank,” said Dalmau. In the future, AUB plans to open additional locations, “not branches, but let’s call them business banking centers,” said Dalmau. “The idea would be to have one east of Los Angeles, one in Orange County, one in the South Bay and one in the (San Fernando) Valley. This approach reflects Dalmau’s personality. “I’m a people person,” said Dalmau. “I love meeting people the fun part is going out and meeting all these different companies and seeing how all kinds of things are built.” Arco agrees with Dalmau’s self-assessment, adding, “Gil is very knowledgeable of the business. He has a great sense for the marketplace for when to take risk and when not to take risk.” “Normally someone is either very good at marketing or very good at making credit decisions, but (Gil) has a really good grasp of both. He’s not a politician,” he said. According to Arco, the region Dalmau was responsible for at First Bank was the company’s leading region in terms of profitability and growth. “He’s probably taken the biggest risk of anybody to come here, so that gives us comfort that he’s here for the long run.” Linda Coburn Tamara Gurney Mission Valley Bank When Tamara Gurney led the effort to open Mission Valley Bank, she not only identified an opportunity few others in the banking community saw, she chose what turned out to be an ideal, if unlikely location. The Sun Valley bank, now six years old, has proven to be a jewel in the community banking sector thanks, in part, to its location in an underserved portion of the Northeast San Fernando Valley. Gurney, who was instrumental in organizing the bank, knew first hand of the potential of the location from her years at American Pacific Bank. Following its acquisition, that bank’s headquarters were relocated, leaving a void for a community-based bank that Gurney moved quickly to fill. Gurney raised $6 million to open the bank in July, 2001. Mission Valley was operating in the black within nine months, and it recovered its startup losses inside of two-and-a-half years, despite the timing of its opening in the midst of the recession that followed the events of 9/11. Since then Gurney has continued to move quickly to expand the bank’s footprint. As of the first quarter of 2007, Mission Valley Bank’s assets grew 18 percent to more than $183 million; its deposits rose 14 percent to $144.8 million; and its net loans grew more than 27 percent to $142.7 million, as compared with the same quarter last year. The accomplishment is even more noteworthy when you consider that Gurney, now a 30-year banking industry veteran, had no real plans to stay in banking when she began. “I ended up enjoying what I was doing and never left,” she said. Gurney’s more recent efforts have included opening a branch in Valencia and adding a specialized lending unit, which, under the guidance of Vladimir Victorio, has helped the bank to make significant strides in SBA-backed lending and in its overall loan portfolio growth. This year, the bank’s sixth anniversary, saw year-over-year growth above 35 percent on an annualized basis. “She’s highly intelligent, a wealth of knowledge and she’s willing to mentor and develop you in whatever path you want to take in the bank,” said Linda Rousseau, senior vice president at Mission Valley, of Gurney’s leadership. Gurney, in turn, demurs to her staff when asked what has helped the bank to succeed. “I’m only as good as the people I have on the team,” she said. “I don’t know if I do anything different from other bankers, other than hire the best people and give them the tools they need to have them do their best. It’s my job to facilitate them being successful if they need tools or an objective opinion,” she said. “I manage by walking around and seeing what I can do to help them achieve high results.” Rossana Woo James D. Hicken President and CEO Bank of Santa Clarita James D. Hicken was one of the driving forces behind the opening of the Santa Clarita Valley’s only community-based bank in October 2004 and he hasn’t looked back. Looking forward is more his style. In 2003, Hicken worked for Union Bank which had recently acquired Valencia Bank. Hicken was responsible for middle market and large corporate accounts in a new commercial banking office in the Santa Clarita Valley. But shortly thereafter, Union Bank decided to close the Santa Clarita office and move its operations to Woodland Hills. Hicken decided the time was right to create what he calls, “a very solid community bank with an emphasis on business.” So far, so good. In their initial offering, Hicken and his team set out to raise $10 million and ended up with more than the $13,750,000 which was the maximum they could keep. So Hicken wasn’t surprised when their second offering in 2005 easily raised an additional $8.3 million which helped fund the opening of the new Canyon Country branch. There are no plans for a tertiary offering, Hicken said. “We think we have a really nice sweet spot at our current level,” he said. For the first quarter of 2007, ending March 31, Bank of Santa Clarita had assets of $118.4 million, a 9.1 percent increase as compared to 2006 year end. The bank generated $10.5 million in net new loans in the first quarter, an increase of 12.2 percent over the previous year end. Deposits also increased, by 11.4 percent to $98.1 million. Interest income increased 72.1 percent from the first quarter of 2006. The bank had a net loss of $210,000 for the quarter which was slightly higher than the previous year. According to Hicken, the loss was attributed to costs associated with opening the new Canyon Country branch in February. He also said the increase in loans necessitated an increase in the required loan loss reserve. “Almost half of our losses are related to that reserve,” Hicken said. “As the bank grows, that loan loss reserve will have less of an impact.” The bank’s stock (OTCBB:BSC) has done well. “When we opened, we went out at $10 per share. Within 90 days the price was up to $28 a share, so there was a lot of hype out there,” Hicken said. “The stock settled out about $22 a share in 2005 and then we did a 5/4 split,” he continued. BSC is now trading at about two times book value which Hicken said is right where they should be. “Against other banks we are doing real well,” he said. Their success, according to Hicken, is due to their focus on the local community. “We are the only community bank headquartered and owned in the Santa Clarita valley,” Hicken stated. “Our headquarters is here, our executive staff and the majority of our shareholders are here.” “Our appreciation and understanding of the local economy and real estate has put us in a position to better support what’s going on here with our lending activities,” Hicken said. Bank of Santa Clarita currently has two branches. “One is located next to our headquarters in Santa Clarita and we just opened our Valley Center Drive branch in Canyon Country.” Hicken said. “We would like to have a footprint of about five branches in the (Santa Clarita) Valley.” he said. Hicken said that technology will also play a part in how customers interact with the bank. “We’re moving more into a cyberspace concept for banking,” he said. “We are redoing our Web site from the ground floor.” Although there are a lot of regulatory hurdles to leap relating to internet banking, Hicken said that BSC is “allocating significant resources to technology.” One good thing about small banks, Hicken said, is that they are able to adapt to new technologies more quickly than the big banks, “The big banks have ‘legacy systems’ but as a small bank we can go out and bring in the best of best, literally overnight, and it’s transparent to the customer.” Finding and retaining good people is another key to the start-up’s success. “You’ve got banks started by boards and banks started by bankers,” said Hicken, who places BSC in the latter category. That has given the management team the ability to recruit and retain talented people who, for the most part, live in the Santa Clarita Valley. The bank currently has 30 employees, with a large number of management positions being held by women. Of the 12 board members, two are women; one of the top three executives is female; and of the 14 corporate officers, 10 are women. According to Elizabeth Hopp, BSC senior vice president and regional manager, that’s directly attributable to Hicken. “Jim is extremely fair-minded and he respects ability and intelligence regardless of gender,” she said. “I feel more appreciated working for him than I ever have before in my life.” Hopp continued, “Jim has a very collaborative management style. He gets the people together who need to have input and listens to them. It’s a great place to work.” The management team is “doing a fabulous job,” said Hopp. “We’ve got an extremely sound loan portfolio and a great base of customer relationships and I think that is the foundation for growth that we need to have.” They’re in it for the long haul, according to Hicken. “When we started Bank of Santa Clarita, this was a long-term venture,” said Hicken. “We’re not a bank that’s going to be a flash in the pan. We’re not going to sell in five to seven years.” “We expect to have a long and exciting history in the Santa Clarita Valley.” George Hill Senior Vice President, Senior Relationship Manager City National Bank As a young lad right out of college, George Hill knew he wanted to work in finance but wasn’t exactly sure what to do. So he visited downtown Los Angeles, stood outside on the streets and looked up at the tall buildings. Those buildings happened to be banks. “I figured it would be a good start, to take off from there and figure out what I wanted to do elsewhere,” he said. Now, with 29 years of banking under his belt, Hill works as the senior vice president and senior relationship manager at City National Bank. As it turned out, banking was exactly what he wanted to do. “I did very well in banking. I progressed up the ladder very quickly and just had a knack for it,” he said. Hill started working in the San Fernando Valley in 1994 where he recalls having a small-sized portfolio. To this day, his portfolio has grown to $135 million. Within the last several years, from May 2001 to May 2007, Hill’s loan portfolio increased 123 percent. In terms of deposit size, the month of May 2007 saw collected deposits grow to an average of $192 million from $151 million in the year of June 2006 to May 2007. Hill credits his success to his diversity and background, believing that those are what put him above other bankers in the industry. “So many bankers have gone through training programs,” he said. “But they are basically lenders.” In his background, Hill was involved in the loan review process, worked as an auditor, worked at the credit administration level, the workout group and in special loans. “I’ve had a broad diversity of banking,” Hill said. “That’s what helps me to be able to say (to clients), ‘Well, gee, if we can’t do it that way, we can do it this way.'” Hill believes what makes a great banker is the ability to be a trusted advisor to clients. “With everything being the same product, what differentiates the bankers from each other is our experience, our knowledge and our ability to be that trusted advisor,” he said. “When you are a trusted advisor, what keeps clients there is that relationship that you have garnered for so many years.” Joanne Lew, CPA and chief financial officer at Cal-Am Properties, Inc., has gotten to know Hill as her company’s relationship banker in the 11 years she has been employed there. “He’s always going out of his way to make the client the most important person,” Lew said. “He’s always looking out for his clients to best serve his clients. If there’s something we might not know about, he’s proactive about the products and services out there.” “When you have that added value, that basic commodity we have, green money, becomes enhanced,” he said. “As a result of this, it kind of steam-rolls, like a snowball rolling down a mountain. People will refer you to businesses because of your stability and knowledge.” Being a trusted advisor also helps Hill to grow his business unit. “My book of business has grown not from me knocking on doors, but rather as a result of very appreciative clients who value the relationship that we have,” he said. Those valued clients then refer Hill to others looking for that type of banking relationship and “the snowball continues to grow.” Jason Horstman Senior Vice President, National Banking Division Bank of the West During his 14-year career in the financial industry, Jason Horstman has not only worked for banks but also for an engineering firm. “I worked in the treasury department of a multinational corporation, working with banks from a corporation’s perspective,” said the senior vice president of Bank of the West’s National Banking Division in Sherman Oaks. “That’s experience some of my fellow bankers haven’t had.” Serving as treasury manager for San Francisco-based Bechtel Corp., which entailed managing liabilities and bank relationships, proved valuable to Horstman when he began his career at Bank of the West as a regional vice president of relationship management almost five years ago. Because he’s had dual roles in the industry, Horstman knew instinctively that the relationships he strived to form with middle market companies wouldn’t solely focus on loans. Instead, he said, “it’s a broad array of financial products, financial reporting responsibilities, managing a small team. We’re very active in the relationships with our customers.” That may be an understatement. Over the past handful of years, Horstman estimates that he has sourced 14 new major commercial banking relationships with companies in excess of $50 million in annual revenue. He’s also grown relationship revenue by 246 percent, the achievement earning him Bank of the West’s Relationship Manager of the Year for three years running. Dennis Fors, senior vice president and manager of Bank of the West’s Greater Los Angeles National Banking Division, said that Horstman has established credibility and trust among clients, in part, because he listens intently to them. “He’s very attentive to making sure their needs are met. He’s a strong advocate for his clients. He rolls up his sleeves and understands what the client needs and how the bank can deliver and meet those needs.” Trying to devise solutions for both existing and prospective clients that the competition has yet to create is a particular passion of his. “That’s really what gets me up and charged and excited about the day,” he said. Horstman has a reputation for making contact with potential clients years before he has the chance to serve them officially. “We’re talking to companies where an opportunity may not come around for two to three years down the road,” he said. Fors has seen such outreach yield results. “Early on he’s planted a lot of seeds in terms of contact out here, and now he’s harvested some of those seeds.” Throughout his career, Horstman has learned to manage multiple priorities, he said. His goal for the future is to grow the Sherman Oaks office twofold. “We’re roughly right around a little above $100 million. I would like to double its size based on revenue and to double loans outstanding and the overall profitability.” Nadra Kareem John O. Johnson Managing Director The Spartan Group LLC Ask most investment bankers why they do what they do and they will likely tell you that they love the deal. Ask John O. Johnson and his answer will be, “We do it because we like the clients we work with.” The difference is evident in the types of transactions that The Spartan Group handles, which are more varied than many other investment banks, but not in the end result. Last year, Glendale-based The Spartan Group LLC closed 10 deals totaling somewhere in the neighborhood of $700 to $800 million dollars with an average transaction size in the $50 million to $100 million range, and by mid-2007 the firm had closed another four transactions with a combined value of about $250 million. When Johnson founded the boutique investment bank in 2002, his objective was to assist emerging growth and middle market companies, not just to structure sales or engineer mergers, but to help them find financial and strategic solutions, whatever they may turn out to be. “There are a number of firms that just do sell-side M & A.; If all you’ve got is a hammer, everything looks like a nail,” Johnson said. “We’re not biased by that. We try to find the optimal solution. If a client wants to recapitalize and take out a note, that’s what we’ll provide. If we think the best way to unlock value is to make an acquisition, we’ll help you to do that and integrate that as part of your solution.” Johnson launched the firm after more than 20 years in investment banking, starting his career engineering leveraged buyouts and moving to positions as managing director and co-head of the middle market investment banking office of Banc of America Securities in L.A. and a member of the middle market investment banking team of BankAmerica Robertson Stephens (later named NationsBanc Montgomery Securities). What attracted him was the skill set required no two transactions were alike, and each one needed a fresh approach. “Each one was like a puzzle you had to figure out,” he said of his days handling leveraged buyouts. “That to me was what was interesting.” He moved to the advisory side and later found his own niche working directly with individual owners, CEOs and board members of mid-sized companies with a technology bent. “One of the things that differentiates a growth company banker from a large-cap banker is it’s a banker that likes to develop a hands-on personal relationship with decision makers,” Johnson said. That personal approach is precisely what gets the results Johnson achieves, others say. “What he’s best at is understanding what your client’s wants are and running through walls to get it,” said Doug Gonsalves, a former Spartan partner who now is managing director for software, Internet and business services at SVB Alliant, the investment banking group sister to SVB Silicon Valley Bank. “Everyone says this business shouldn’t be personal, but I think with John it is personal. He cares. He’s invested in his deals and his clients like that.” Among its transactions last year, Spartan took on work with Scientific Technologies Inc., a sensors and automation equipment manufacturer with a market cap of $35 million and sold the company for $113 million. It helped raise $69 million in an initial public offering for General Finance Corp., helped an Australian client with a $102 million purchase of an equipment rental company and worked with Montecito Pictures to raise financing for 10 films. Johnson and his firm often develop long-term relationships with their clients, getting repeat business into the bargain. But ultimately, Johnson’s choice of assignment is not about the specific deal. “We don’t take on assignments if we don’t think the client will be interesting,” Johnson said. “We’re not doing it for the paycheck. We don’t have to do this if we don’t want to. We’re doing it for the challenge.” –Shelly Garcia C.G. Kum First California Bank Notice to struggling banks in Southern California if you’re looking for an exit strategy, talk to C. G. Kum, president and CEO of First California Bank. Even though he just finalized the merger of National Mercantile Bancorp and FCB Bancorp in March, creating a bank with more than $1 billion in assets, Kum is on the lookout for what he describes as “profitable, creative acquisition opportunities.” It’s just one element of his three-pronged growth strategy. “We think there are tremendous growth opportunities in Southern California particularly in the L.A. basin but also down to San Diego and into the Inland Empire,” said Kum. “My personal growth strategy involves developing de novo branches (new offices), recruiting employees that will enable us to open new offices in new markets and also looking for profitable, creative acquisition opportunities.” This is basically a perpetuation of the tactics he applied at FCB’s predecessor, Camarillo Community Bank, which Kum became president of in September 1999. Thomas E. Anthony, executive vice president and head of commercial banking, joined Kum’s management team in October 1999. “In less than eight years, our assets have grown tenfold to $1 billion and it’s C. G.’s vision of growth that has made that happen,” said Anthony. “And the ride’s not over.” One of the components of that growth was the acquisition of Irvine-based South Coast Commercial Bank in September 2005. That bank had $145 million in assets. This gave FCB a presence in Orange County but then, “we had this big void between Ventura County and Orange County,” said Kum. That led them to search out opportunities to fill that gap and they came across National Mercantile, based in Century City, which owned Mercantile National Bank and South Bay Bank. “Over a period of time, we developed a mutual interest and we thought that this merger made a lot of sense,” said Kum. He explained that both organizations were similar in size and scope and shared the same level of commitment to service. The combined entity now has 12 branches as well as loan production offices in Sherman Oaks and Beverly Hills. At the end of the first quarter of 2007, outstanding loans were $722 million and deposits were $771 million. A bonus in the transaction was that because Mercantile and South Bay no longer needed their charters, Kum was able to sell them, netting about $2.4 million pre-tax. “That’s a bit of a unique situation,” said Kum. One of the reasons both banks were considering a merger, Kum said, is that, “In this day and age, the Southern California banking market is very polarized, with very large, high-end national banks on one end of the spectrum and specialized, smaller banks up to about $300-400 million on the other end, many of them startups.” The merger gave them the perfect vehicle to fill the void in the $1 billion to $10 billion, mid-tier category. FCB will continue to pursue as its target market lower- and middle-size businesses which Kum defines as between $75 million and $100 million in annual sales. One of the initial challenges once the merger was completed was the data processing conversion. “We had targeted about 120 days to complete that process and it ended up only taking 90 days to complete,” said Kum. “We are very pleased with that. Now we are all operating under one data processing platform.” Kum said the most important thing right now is to make sure that the clients are taken care of. But they are also focusing internally on cultural integration and related matters. “There really aren’t a whole lot of major differences between our two organizations,” Kum said. But even though they may be minor, there are some differences, so Kum is focusing on what he calls the service culture issue. “Typically, when we talk about service, it’s always about taking care of the clients,” he said, “but here, it’s also about how we take care of each other internally.” Linda Coburn Marcia Lansdon Senior Vice President, Division Executive of the Greater Los Angeles – Nevada Area Washington Mutual At 19, her main goal was to become a full-time mother. Little did Marcia Lansdon know that about 30 years from then, she would be a leader in the banking industry. Washington Mutual has not been the same ever since Lansdon joined its team. From 1996 to 1998, she played a critical role on the bank’s California Integration team when it first moved into the state and she herself moved here where she first held a regional manager position. Lansdon is familiar with the challenges of moving up the corporate ladder. Although she first started as a bank teller many years ago, she has been Washington Mutual’s Senior Vice President and Division Executive for the past seven years. Lansdon has held virtually every position in a financial center at the bank. With all her corporate experience, she is now considered to be an effective Division Executive, due to her excellent combination of field, operational and project experience, sales management talent, and personnel skills. Within the last three years Lansdon has opened 23 stores, grown households the bank serves by 136,410, and oversees $28.5 billion in deposits. Her area encompasses 276 stores and 3,588 employees, with 14 regional managers reporting to her. Over the last two years her division has been number one in the nation at Washington Mutual in percentage achieved for goals in checking, consumer lending, mortgage lending and investments. “She is a visionary leader,” said Paula Quintana, Regional Manager for Washington Mutual. “She looks at things from a global perspective,” Quintana added. According to her, Lansdon is very tactical and strategic in her thinking. “She is a tremendous administrator.” Quintana, who has worked with Lansdon for 10 years, believes that what makes Lansdon a top banker and an excellent leader is her experience, knowledge, personality and ability to bring people together. “It’s not about me,” Lansdon said. “It’s about having a well-balanced team”. She prides herself in being able to build strong organizational teams. Oscar G. De Leon E. Wayne Lewis Executive Vice President and Chief Credit Officer First Private Bank & Trust He is considered extremely professional and very knowledgeable about what he does. He believes it is important to have the ability to see opportunities and to be able to execute on those ideas. As the Executive Vice President and Chief Credit Officer of First Private Bank & Trust, Lewis has contributed greatly to the bank’s growth. When he joined the management team in 1998 back when the bank was known as Bank of Granada Hills, assets were at $77 million and now they have grown to $555 million, according to Lewis. Loans were at $33 million and now they have reached $453 million, he said. Additionally, then, the bank’s net worth was at $8 million and now they are at $89 million, Lewis added. Lewis said that Bank of Granada Hills was primarily a commercial real estate lender. First Private Bank & Trust has added construction lending, SBA loans as a PLP lender, accounts receivable financing, secondary credit sources for commercial real estate, single family mortgage lending, community development lending and services, professional loans and lines of credit, and trust investment services in partnership with Wilshire Associates. He said that form a single office in 1998 they now have five offices plus a new loan production office in Irvine. Lewis added that three years ago, First Private Bank & Trust joined with Boston Private Financial. First Private has been transitioning from a small community bank to more of a regional private bank. The bank is also developing services focusing on the wealth cycle of the small businessman, offering services that affect their business, home and retirement. In attempting to complete that, Lewis helped spearhead First Private Bank & Trust’s new trust department, which handles investments and other retirement issues. According to Lewis, the attempt has been to add additional services that support the individual. Lewis said that by being larger, the bank has hit a mass that allows it to do some things that couldn’t be done 10 years ago. He added that in some ways, First Private Bank & Trust is an entrepreneurial incubator providing solutions rather than credit products. “He (Lewis) is making a great contribution to our overall success,” said Richard Taylor, president and CFO of First Private Bank & Trust. Taylor said that Lewis determines what the customer needs quickly and gives quick responses to customer concerns. Doing so is key success for the industry, he added. Lewis believes that First Private Bank & Trust should be able to approach a billion dollars in the next couple of years. He said that such size would give the bank the opportunity to do things that are more exciting. “Size and mass opens doors,” he said. Vince Liuzzi Senior Vice President, Regional President San Fernando Valley Community Bank Wells Fargo Vince Liuzzi’s career can be traced to a training program at Canoga Park High School 24 years ago on the different functions of a bank. That Security Pacific Bank-sponsored program taught students all about banks: safe deposits, tellers, loans, etc. “It’s actually a public school success story,” Liuzzi said. “Here was an opportunity that I was given that I would not have even thought about, had it not been the exposure in high school.” These days Liuzzi’s work at Wells Fargo in the San Fernando Valley Community Bank division as regional president has him focusing on retail financial services something he’s been doing his entire banking career. “I don’t know if I would say I was an expert in retail financial services, but I hire lots of experts to manage my customers,” he said. Since taking over the Valley division in December 2002, it’s hard for Liuzzi to say how many businesses he has directed to his bank. “I just connect people,” he said. “My community work’s main opportunity is to connect people with the best bankers in the valley.” However, based on FDIC data, Liuzzi’s bank has been growing in share. “In 2004 we were in fourth share position and third share position in 2005. Now we are close to second share position,” he said. In terms of growth, the total number of deposits in Liuzzi’s 51 banking stores in the Valley has grown from $5.45 billion in 2005 to $5.68 billion as of May 2007. Liuzzi has also opened several branches in the last month including North Hollywood and Van Nuys and has also done a lot of work at branches on Ventura Boulevard. Working with his team, Liuzzi found the property for both the North Hollywood and Van Nuys branches and cut the deal for both. One of the things Liuzzi feels is most important about growing his business unit is the ability to match the right banker to meet customer needs. Liuzzi believes what sets his division above all others in the industry are his highly engaged team members as defined by the Gallup Organization Q12 Survey, which measures employee engagement. Lefky Mansi, Ventura Corridor Market community bank president and co-worker of Liuzzi, credits Liuzzi’s relationships with his employees for the high employee engagement. “That does not come by chance we work on it by getting the employees involved in what they do everyday, providing the tools they need and working with their career aspirations, making sure they are comfortable with their environments,” she said. Even though Liuzzi is in charge of 1,021 people in the San Fernando, Santa Clarita, Valencia, Malibu and Pacific Palisades regions, he cares about every one of his direct reports and every person in his office. “He gives opportunity to new talent. He would take a chance on a new employee, even people who are not fully ready,” Mansi said. “He’ll mentor them to get to the next level.” “My team is the most engaged in the entire company,” Liuzzi said. “I think it’s really making connections directly to the team members, finding out what motivates them, learning their likes and dislikes, promoting people and giving them career opportunities, making sure people know what they are expected to do, and recognition we are really big in recognition of a banker’s performance.” What also puts the San Fernando Valley Community Bank above other local banks is the quality of leadership. “I think that in leadership you need to gain results through people. The strength of our company and our branch helps us sell and serve with confidence,” he said. “I would say that the strength of our brand and business model is staying true to our vision and values.” Rossana Woo Grace Mayo President and CEO Telesis Community Credit Union Grace Mayo, president and CEO of Telesis Community Credit Union, is described as a very successful individual who does the absolute right thing. “The reason I am there (at Telesis) 9 years is because I love working with her,” said Hadar Dvir, who has worked with Mayo for 16 years. She added that Mayo has the best of intentions and makes her decisions with the community and membership in mind. Mayo started her career at the early age of 17, at a small credit union company. She joined Telesis in 1986. Although she was young, she already had an idea of where her career was going to take her. “I was one of the lucky ones,” Mayo said. “I really recognized that I was going to have my profession in this industry.” When Mayo joined Telesis, she said she fell in love with the industry, because of its cooperative nature. “We believe people helping people is the right mission,” she said. “And that is Telesis’ mission.” Today, Telesis’ assets are over $600 million and services over 43,000 members with 10 branches. According to Mayo, the credit union’s growth averages 10 percent a year. Mayo believes that her diligence in carrying out Telesis’ mission has been crucial to the success of the credit union. “We try to listen to their (members/clients) needs to maintain our competitiveness,” Mayo said. “I’ve empowered our team to understand what it means to provide services, so members and clients can continue to grow and make financial decisions.” Dvir sees Mayo as a role model to all business individuals. “She (Mayo) models those high standards,” she said. Dvir added that Mayo is a great leader, because she keeps the community as a top priority. Mayo obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management from University of Phoenix, her Graduate Degree in Financial Management from UCLA, her Certification in Commercial Lending from the University of Louisiana and has attended the Executive Development Program from Stanford University School of Business. In addition, Mayo is a national speaker on various credit union topics for state leagues, credit unions and all major national trade association groups. When she is not at work, Mayo enjoys playing golf. She loves to ride motorcycles and enjoys hiking very much. Mayo also enjoys spending time with her husband and her three daughters. “Being a parent is like being a CEO,” Mayo said. “As a parent and CEO I believe you need to lead by practice.” She said she has a passion for the cooperative model and understands that it is all about relationship building. Mayo added that at the end of the day, it is all about understanding the member and client. She hopes to have a positive impact. Oscar G. De Leon Carl Raggio Western Commercial Bank In getting Western Commercial Bank off the ground a little more than a year ago, President and CEO Carl Raggio took a conservative approach to raising capital. Well, he is a banker, after all. “My game plan was to take a small chunk (of capital) and create a profit center quickly,” said Raggio. “I feel very strongly that it’s important to show investors you’re making a profit and then take the next steps to growth.” That meant setting a target of $13.8 million for the initial stock offering and, when that amount was raised, said Raggio, “We stopped and opened the bank.” That was March 2006. At the end of the first quarter of 2007, the bank reported total assets of $53 million, with loans of $43 million and deposits of $42 million. The stock is trading at just under two times book value, according to Raggio. “Not too bad for a little better than a one-year-old bank,” he said. “We’re growing fast compared to our peer group of banks that are between one and two years old.” Chief Financial Officer Tommy Woo said that WCB should be in the black by the end of this year and is right on track to meet the $150 million in total assets target that Raggio set for the bank to reach after three years in operation. “So far, we are ahead of what we told our shareholders,” said Woo. Many of those shareholders are members of the real estate community that WCB considers its primary clientele. “We focus more on the real estate market,” said Raggio. “We are still a general business bank, so we do all kinds of industrial and commercial business lines of credit, but we probably put our flag in the ground more prominently as a real estate lending bank.” “A lot of our constituency and our shareholders are tied to that market,” he continued, which is why the original business plan specifically targeted commercial real estate investors, brokers and developers. Raggio wanted them to participate in the stock offering and they did. He’s also capitalizing on the expertise of his staff. “Most of my staff is very familiar and comfortable with underwriting in the real estate market,” he said. Raggio said his 15 years of working with troubled banks have led him to work with some really good people. “They are people my shareholder base and client base are very pleased to see,” he said. “So that’s a key strength.” But it’s not just about experience, it’s also about connections. Raggio says he wants to help clients grow their business, “and that doesn’t mean that we’re just providing financing tools to do that.” He and his people have what he describes as “deep rolodex files.” “For our business clients, that makes a big difference that they don’t just call their banker about the balance in their account today they know their banker is going to call them about opportunities,” Raggio said. That also ties in with Raggio’s philosophy about being an independent, community bank, with the emphasis on community. He just accepted an invitation from Bill Jennings, dean of the Business and Economics School at California State University, Northridge, to serve on an advisory board that Jennings is forming. Raggio is a real CSUN booster, even though he didn’t attend the school himself. “I just think it’s a neat school,” he said. “It’s sort of understated, although it’s hard to say that a university with just under 35,000 students can be understated, but when I see the quality of kids that come out, I think they do a tremendous job.” It’s not just about business, either. He has also been a big supporter of CSUN’s arts programs. Student artwork hangs on the bank’s walls and is rotated every 90 days. “I think we should do our best in the community to keep their name (CSUN) in the marketplace,” said Raggio. It’s sort of how he feels about the San Fernando Valley, as well. “The San Fernando Valley is a giant market and I’m not even embellishing using that word,” he said. “We have between 60,000 and 70,000 businesses that call this their headquarters. The Valley itself has a population of more than 1.8 million.” As far as Raggio is concerned, that means there is still plenty of growth opportunity for banks in the region. “We’ve contracted from between 10 and 15 independent banks down to just five now,” he said. “I still think it’s a very big market.” David I. Rainer President and CEO California United Bank Encino-based California United Bank, under the direction of President and CEO David I. Rainer, has opened three branches since starting operations just two years ago, in May 2005. What do you expect from a bank that raised more than $60 million, nearly twice as much money as planned, in its initial offering? At the time, Rainer said, “it was, to our knowledge, the largest initial offering of a start-up bank in California history.” The bank’s secondary offering, completed just five months ago, was equally successful, raising more than the $20 million target amount. At the end of the bank’s seventh quarter in operation, assets were up to $200 million, with loans of $120 million and deposits of $138 million. “I think that is pretty strong evidence that there is a great demand for what we’re offering to businesses in the greater Los Angeles area,” said Rainer. It’s also pretty strong evidence that Rainer has that something extra that distinguishes a successful chief executive. “A significant number of employees, including myself, have worked for him before,” said Emily Hamilton, senior vice president and director of human resources. “We all left very significant positions and took personal and financial risks because we would follow this man into a ditch.” As Emily noted, you just don’t find that kind of loyalty engendered in corporate America very often. “It’s a huge testimony to David,” she said. “I think that’s a huge reason we’re so successful because of the talent he has been able to recruit.” Aside from the high quality of the management team, what differentiates CUB from the big banks, according to Rainer, is a high level of service to small- and medium-sized businesses. “We’re focused on the ‘sweet spot,’ the part of the market that is not getting the kind of service and attention they desire at a large bank,” he said. As an example, Rainer talked about a new customer the bank just signed up. “It is a business that’s doing about $12 million per year and has several million dollars in outstanding credit with a big bank and they needed a $25,000 increase on one of their lines (of credit).” The big bank told the client that a decision on that was going to need to be made in Utah and it would probably take two or three weeks, said Rainer. “That’s kind of what we’ve run into on a constant basis here,” he said. But he recognizes that customers still expect the sophisticated products and services of a big bank. So, Rainier said, “we’ve developed products and services that allow us to compete with big banks from a product/technical standpoint but in a much more hands-on, high-touch manner.” Remote deposit is one of those high-tech services. A new buzz-word in the industry, remote deposit allows customers to scan their checks at their place of business and then electronically make their deposit, right from their desks. “We developed that two years ago,” Rainer said. “We were one of the first small banks to offer that product to our customers.” That kind of technology also allows the bank to attract companies that might not be close to a branch. “It’s been very popular,” Rainer said. “We actually got to a point where we didn’t have enough scanners in stock.” Another way CUB differentiates itself from the big banks is by not focusing on any particular business niche. “Los Angeles is really diversified in terms of business,” said Rainer. “I believe our economy is the largest in the world in terms of small- and mid-sized businesses and our portfolio really reflects that diversification.” The bank’s clients run the gamut of wholesalers, service companies, some light manufacturing, real estate related businesses and professional corporations. “I would say our loans are divided between commercial businesses, private banking and commercial real estate,” Rainer said. “It’s really spread around those three areas.” And with that secondary offering, CUB is going to keep growing. “The capital offers us the ability to keep going at a pretty quick pace into some new geographic areas,” Rainer said. In two years, they have opened their headquarters location in Encino, a second branch in West L.A. and a newly opened Santa Clarita branch. Another location is definitely part of the plan in the near future. Rainer wouldn’t give too much away, but said it would fall within a 40-mile radius of Encino and explorations of the Westlake and Thousand Oaks area in particular are currently underway. Linda Coburn Daniel Rogerson Citibank Vice President of Relationship Management for the South San Fernando Valley If Daniel Rogerson has a niche, it’s navigating through the varied departments of a financial institution as huge as Citibank to expand business. The bank’s Vice President of Relationship Management for the South San Fernando Valley, Rogerson has ranked first in asset production among all Commercial Business Group relationship managers in North America for the past three years. Moreover, he’s led the nation in business lending for the past two years, meeting his goal by 600 percent in 2005. The competition was $12 million behind him. Since launching his career with Citibank 11 years ago, Rogerson has consistently been among the top three in the field. “He’s really good with working with all the different departments. He has an ability to interact with people and to quietly motivate folks to get them to do what you need them to do,” Kurt Tisdale, Citibank’s National Director of Staffing and Recruiting for the U.S. Business Banking Group, said of his former employee. Rogerson’s knack for collaborating with and adapting to various departments can be attributed to the fact that he faced a series of changes after leaving Nations Bank in Washington, D.C., and moving West in 1996. “I started on the retail side and transitioned into the business banking division and worked my way up,” he said. His focus shifted from the Westside to the Valley. “I built up a lot of referrals. The Valley is the best area to work. It has the highest concentration of small-to-medium sized businesses virtually in the whole country.” The transition from retail to business bank ing wasn’t the only one Rogerson made during that period. Two years after starting at Glendale Federal, the bank merged with California Federal. Then, Citibank acquired Cal Fed. The latter merger required some adapting. “There were a lot of people involved, and a lot of changes for an organization that big.” Rogerson said. Rogerson recently endured another transition when departments inside of Citibank merged. He’s especially excited about the changes this merger will bring. “Our department is moving up market a little bit because of this merger,” he explained. Accordingly, he must generate anywhere from $5 to $100 million in business lending this year. As of May, he’d generated $35 million. In 2006, he generated about $40 million, exceeding that year’s goal of $6 million. He booked total footings of almost $40 million. The competition was about $8 million behind him. To adapt to the transition, Rogerson has “inherited a portfolio of existing clients. I’m able to depend on those relationships and let them know I’m in a new playing field, and a lot of my CPAs are dealing with larger, more sophisticated companies, and I’m going to personally take care of them.” Because he’s been in the Valley for so long, Rogerson said that he’s been able to build up a network of brokers and CPAs, as well as internal referrals. “It’s great for me to be out in the field, looking for deals, taking the time to mentor our branch people and give them ideas of what we look for and how to bring that business in.” Rogerson has been able to build trust with clients and others by letting them know upfront what’s going to be a challenge. “A fast no is better than a long, drawn out no,” he said. “Overall, it’s really about communication with the borrowers, the customers, letting them know realistically what’s going to happen and communicating with our internal people who are helping us.” Steve Soelberg Senior Vice President and Real Estate Department Manager First Commerce Bank It has been 40 years since he started his career in banking and today he continues to provide outstanding customer service and help people achieve their goals at First Commerce Bank. Over the past seven years, First Commerce Bank has had a 25 percent annual growth rate. When Steve Soelberg started, total assets were $62 million and now they are at $280 million. Although Soelberg does not take full credit for the bank’s growth, he believes that he and his team have contributed significantly to the bank’s real estate business. “There are a lot of talented people here who make this happen,” Soelberg said. Soelberg believes that one of his biggest contributions to the bank is his experience and loyalty. “I’ve (worked) in the good times and the bad times,” he said. As First Commerce Bank Senior Vice President and Real Estate Department manager, Soelberg enjoys helping people accomplish their goals. “When we give loans we help people,” he said. “I do commercial real estate loans and also construction loans. In construction loans you get to see something built. We give the funds in order to create it. That creates a sense of accomplishment,” Soelberg said. “I’ve known him for about 30 years,” said Rickey Gelb of Gelb Enterprises. Gelb described Soelberg as a deal maker. “He gets a lot of business because of his reputation,” Gelb said. “He tells the truth so that nothing changes at the end or there are no last-minute surprises.” Soelberg is proud to say that his team knows almost everybody who borrows money at First Commerce. “You can’t say that about most other banks with more turnover,” he said. “He is one of the finest real estate lenders I have come across in my 40 years of banking,” said Gary Nudell, executive vice president of First Commerce Bank. Nudell added that Soelberg has a distinguished career of helping local entrepreneurs and businesspeople by financing their business and investment properties. “He has contributed to the success of countless San Fernando Valley entrepreneurs,” Nudell said. Outside business life, Soelberg enjoys going with his wife to their San Luis Obispo home for the weekends. He has two children and three grand children. He enjoys live productions, especially musicals. “My three favorite musicals are My Fair Lady, Hello Dolly and South Pacific,” he said. At 63, Soelberg says he enjoys what he does. “I’d like to retire soon, but we’ll see how it goes,” he said. Karim Teymourtache Regional Manager of the San Fernando Valley Corporate Banking Group, the Westside Corporate Banking Group and the National Fund Finance Platform Union Bank of California A few years after Karim Teymourtache joined Union Bank of California, he generated bottom line growth of 50 percent. But he didn’t stop there. Teymourtache followed that success up with 32 percent growth in the following year, and another 30 percent in the next year, all the while overseeing year-to-year asset growth of 30 percent. How did he do it? “It’s a very competitive industry, and you just need to be better than the competition every day,” Teymourtache said. “We’ve got to earn the business of clients consistently through added value and superior service.” His division’s consistent growth faltered somewhat last year logging just a 6 percent rise a performance Teymourtache attributes to the sale of seven of his group’s largest clients. But Teymourtache’s resolve and his abilities are more than enough to overcome the short term challenges, say those who know him. “His unit has been extremely successful for all the (six) years he’s been with me,” said Bita Ardalan, who manages the Los Angeles Commercial Banking Group for Union Bank. “He’s responsible for sourcing and closing. His group has been adding meaningfully to the success of my entire division.” With his self-proclaimed wiring for sales, Teymourtache also serves as regional manager of the Westside Corporate Banking Group and the National Fund Finance Platform for Union Bank. Despite having proven strengths, Teymourtache said that the banking profession gives him plenty of challenges because it continues to evolve. He began his career in 1989 with Bank of America, joining Union Bank in 2000. Today’s banker “has to be able to combine analytical skills and interpersonal skills,” Teymourtache said. By growing relationships with referral sources and having a consistent presence in the marketplace among clients and potential clients alike Teymourtache has edged out the competition. “He’s got outstanding people skills,” Ardalan said. “He’s extremely creative and resourceful. He just connects with people really well, and that’s really good for business.” Within his department, Teymourtache has implemented one-on-one meetings with client managers and created a top 50 prospective client list. What motivates him each day is that he enjoys his work. During an evening out, it’s not unusual for him to find himself creating solutions for clients. “I want to continue to excel and continue to learn and become a better banker while maintaining a balance between the job and my personal life,” he said. Nadra Kareem Paul Whitney Senior Vice President, Regional Manager Warner Center Regional Commercial Banking Office, Wells Fargo As a 32-year veteran of Wells Fargo, Paul Whitney is no stranger to the banking needs of the San Fernando Valley. Whitney has used his skills as senior vice president and manager of the Warner Center Regional Commercial Banking Office a branch he helped to open while still a loan team manager since 1986. Currently overseeing a business portfolio comprised of over $1 billion in credit commitments from a diverse clientele, Whitney has served Wells Fargo in locales from Beverly Hills to Northern California. The tenets of Whitney’s business philosophy reside in thoroughly understanding his customers’ objectives and aligning himself to meet those needs. Citing a host of key skills, chief among which are adapting to changing market climates, remaining consistent and striving to maintain a low turnover rate among personnel; Whitney employs his experience to successfully guide a contingent of 21 team members, providing financial services throughout three counties, “(I) believe in collaborative management. My primary responsibility is to hire good people and get out of their way. . let them do what they do best”, said Whitney of his management style. Whitney’s approach capitalizes on a unique aspect of his company’s management structure; specifically, a belief in maintaining a “decentralized authority,” which allows a seasoned industry expert like Whitney to do what he does best business. “Decentralized authority allows individual branches to make decisions to meet customer needs.” Whitney further cites a “forthright” approach in dealing with customers as integral to his success. This upfront approach ensures avoiding unwanted “surprises” down the road and helps to build lasting and successful business relationships.” “I want to be predictable for customers. . . viewed as someone who can be depended on,” he said. While the dominance of the Valley’s aerospace and general manufacturing industries has long been eclipsed by emergent small businesses rising from the wake of downsizing initiatives which drove larger companies elsewhere or out of business Whitney knows a thing or two about anticipating such evolving financial landscapes, “don’t play catch-up with customers; anticipate meeting the changing needs of customers.” And to this end, Whitney has; growing his portfolio by 15 percent for the 2005 and 2006 years respectively. Dubbed the “granddaddy of commercial banking” a moniker provided courtesy of Wells Fargo colleague John Sehrer Whitney continues to push Wells to the forefront in 2007. The importance of meeting the changing needs of customers, but also anticipating and adapting to shifting business and financial climates, are critical in Whitney’s mind. Whitney also cites the importance of bringing the necessary technology to manage the assets of all levels of business, in looking towards the future of the lending industry. Whitney’s success within his industry has earned him titles other than senior vice president and regional manager. “(He’s) an institution,” quips John Roberts of Fleet Capital. Ryan C. DeSales Paul Wylie Founder and CEO Metrocities Mortgage With more than 20 years of banking experience to his credit, Paul Wylie knows a thing or two about what makes a great banker. Consistent execution of the important details, a passion to excel, dedication and the ability to inspire others to set high goals and to strive to achieve them are some of the essentials. Working as the CEO of Metrocities Mortgage, Wylie has been able to grow his business, which he also founded, in two main ways. First is the joint venture program he started in 1993. “The key factor in our joint venture program has allowed us to grow consistently over the years,” he said. “It’s where we affiliate ourselves at the point of sale with strategic partners such as real estate companies, builders, banks, credit unions, business managers and accountancy firms.” The second way Wylie has been able to grow his business is having a group of high- caliber loan officers that source businesses for relationships with real estate professionals, attorneys, accountants, business managers and financial planners. Relationship-based lender Metrocities has obtained approximately 200 joint ventures, and within the last year closed about $5.7 billion worth of loans. Wylie, along with two other partners, founded Metrocities in 1990. “I was working as a loan officer at another institution and was dissatisfied with the working environment. I explored working for other institutions and did not find one suitable or healthy for me,” he said. “At that point I decided to form my own company.” Wylie still works with one of those partners today. Leading industry director Patrick Stone had Metrocities as a client when he worked at Fidelity National Financial as President and Chief Operating Officer. Stone got to know Wylie when he joined Wylie’s board of directors. “I can only speak as a friend and director,” Stone said. “He’s probably the most genuine person in the world. He treats people with respect. He’s a very, very good human being.” Wylie first got into mortgage banking when he purchased and sold a few residential properties. Then he started working as a residential loan officer. “I was more attracted to the financing side,” he said. Metrocities has won many awards including the “Most Innovative Mortgage Company” award in 2005 through the Inman Innovator Awards Competition as well as two customer service awards. The mortgage company also has a group that focuses on the emerging markets, called Metro America, that provides unique financing to Latino borrowers. Stone, who is an investor in Metrocities and continues to sit on the board, said of Wylie, “If I were to characterize Paul, he has tremendous emotional maturity. He never swears, never yells and never treats people with anything other than respect.” Rossana Woo

-Advertisement-

Featured Articles

-Advertisement-
-Advertisement-

Related Articles

-Advertisement-
-Advertisement-