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How well does your banker understand your business?

San Diego's business environment is a community composed of small businesses. We lack for large, multimillion-dollar company corporate headquarters, unlike cities such as Los Angeles, New York, Dallas or even Cleveland. Our businesses, while diverse in nature, generally fall below $50 million in sales volume, with a large number in the $5 million to $20 million range.

San Diego's small-business entrepreneurs have banking and finance needs radically different from larger corporate entities. These unique needs usually require the small-business owner or executive to find a banker who fulfills the role of trusted adviser and partner.

Unfortunately, due to the predominance of large, out-of-county banks servicing the San Diego marketplace, bankers who will devote the time and energy to understand the customer's business goals and objectives are hard to find. Less than 10 percent of San Diego's banking services are provided by local community bankers -- the types of bankers typically associated with providing personalized service and customized solutions.

Recognizing this gap in the marketplace, a small group of well-capitalized independent bankers and investors established 1st Pacific Bank of California in November 2000, with two offices and $11.5 million in assets. Now approaching its seventh year anniversary, 1st Pacific has grown to over $420 million in assets and seven office locations throughout the county. In the process, the bank has become San Diego's leading, publicly traded and locally headquartered business bank.

Fully engaged employees key to 1st Pacific Bank's success

How could a small community bank have grown so quickly? The answer can be found in a culture that focuses on making 1st Pacific a "great place to work." It begins with getting the right people -- bankers and operational staff who are experienced and respected in their field -- and giving them the tools to succeed.

But it is much more than that. Giving these employees a clearly articulated mission and set of values encourages them to personalize and execute. This process of internalization empowers 1st Pacific Bank employees and makes them passionate about what they do.

Passion for their work at 1st Pacific translates into creating a customer experience that inspires loyalty and devotion. It is not just about getting the checking account "right," it is about working hand-in-hand with business owners and executives, understanding their goals, challenges and needs, and then developing a set of banking and financial solutions that will give them the greatest opportunity to prosper.

1st Pacific bankers become trusted advisers

Bankers like Micki Mellby in East County, David Walters in Solana Beach and C.W. Southwick, who runs the bank's commercial real estate division, generate one customer referral after the next because of what they provide: a partnership relationship based on trust and delivering value.

For example, a contractor needed a fixed-rate term loan to purchase more trucks. Processing a loan would have fulfilled the request. However, by asking questions that led to a discussion, additional solutions were discovered. The customer's busy schedule places great demands on his time. His 1st Pacific banker arranged direct deposit and online banking, enabling him to check accounts at any time. A review of the customer's accounts also revealed he would benefit from a cash management program that automatically places funds into an interest-bearing account. Although the customer only requested a loan, his 1st Pacific banker provided additional solutions he hadn't considered that have contributed to his business' growth.

A great business bank

Let us help you deliver significant results for your business. At 1st Pacific Bank of California, our goal is to be a great business bank for San Diego County. Our people have created a relationship culture using perceptive listening and active responses to create significant results for our customers.

1st Pacific Bank is a true local bank: publicly traded and headquartered and managed in San Diego. With seven San Diego County offices and over $420 million in assets, we have the lending and depository resources to take care of most San Diego businesses. To learn more about 1st Pacific Bank, call (858) 875-2000 or visit www.1stpacbank.com.

Submitted by Tony DiVita, senior vice president of 1st Pacific Bank of California

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