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BofI Federal Bank: Delivering personal service

Riddle me this: What bank is the second largest bank headquartered in San Diego, has great customer service, yet only one branch location? And what bank has no ATMs, yet offers its customers fee-free access to every ATM in the United States?

The answer to both questions is BofI Federal Bank, operating from its new headquarters (including its one physical branch) in San Diego's Golden Triangle area.

BofI Federal Bank is a publicly traded (NASDAQ: BOFI) diversified financial services company, with $2.4 billion in assets, focused on providing the highest value products to its customers without sacrificing personal customer service. BofI provides personalized customer service through its consumer and business bankers who are available through its call center, email, and through its branch location. BofI focuses on best-in-class electronic delivery of banking services, such as mobile and desktop remote deposit capture, in order to make its customers' experience the most convenient possible.

"Because BofI doesn't incur the significantly higher fixed operating costs inherent in operating a branch-based distribution system, it's able to provide a better value to its customers and still focus on customer service," according to Kristi Procopio, Senior Vice President and Chief Deposit Officer of BofI.

Procopio said, "The Bank's cost efficiency allows it to offer significantly lower fees and higher interest rates on business and consumer deposit products. At a time when many banks are raising fees on checking accounts, BofI recently announced that it has eliminated overdraft fees on its otherwise fee-free Rewards Checking product." Additionally, in general, BofI can reduce fees on business deposit accounts by between 30-40 percent.

As a diversified financial institution, BofI offers a full range of consumer and business banking deposit products, jumbo single-family mortgage loans up to $10 million dollars in loan amount, conforming mortgage loans through its relationship with Costco and other affinity groups, apartment loans, and financing for real estate investors purchasing distress property and mortgage notes.

"The Bank recently enhanced its focus on homeowners associations and trust and escrow accounts in its Business Banking division with several key hires," said Procopio.

According to Bruce Onbirbak, BofI's Vice President of Business Banking, the BofI difference comes from the flexibility to get quick solutions to complex questions, customized products, and a high level of customer service. Looking at BofI from the perspective of a 20-year veteran of the banking industry, "One of the things we do well is to think creatively about customer needs and their service requirements," said Onbirbak. "The relationship managers we have assigned to each account own that relationship. It's a personal, one-on-one relationship, as opposed to dealing with any number of personnel."

The BofI team at work. Photo by Tony Lovitt

Of course, some customers still like the idea of having a branch closer to their home or work, but the cost of having that branch continues to rise and the advances in electronic banking have significantly reduced the need to visit a branch as evidenced by falling traffic in bank branches nationwide.

"We're starting to change that paradigm because people are tired of paying too much for services they can get for less elsewhere and, at the same time, not being treated as an individual by big banks. They're not competitive anymore. We offer a product that is simply better – lower fees, better rate, and great service," said Robert Hasler, BofI's Director of Business Development, Specialty Deposits. "Why should you deposit a check at a branch when you can get a remote deposit capture machine from us and deposit checks from the convenience of your own office? And, perform all your banking functions from a desktop, cell phone, or tablet device."

"I went to a (business banking) conference and they were talking about the future of banking," said Procopio. "We are the future. Customers want value. I believe our products are the best value in the industry and we're (constantly) perfecting our customer service and delivery."

BofI Federal Bank isn't a riddle. It's the new reality in the banking industry.

4350 La Jolla Village Drive, Suite 140 | San Diego, CA 92122 | Phone 877-247-8002 | fax 858-350-0443 | www.bofifederalbank.com

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Tony Lovitt is a freelance writer based in La Jolla. He can be contacted at tlovitt@san.rr.com.

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