Teofla Rich began her banking career low on the totem pole, and learned quickly to take it upon herself to gain more responsibility.
Rich is a senior vice president and head of private banking for Torrey Pines Bank.
She is part of the senior management team, which consists of the bank’s five senior managers, the president, the CEO, chief credit officer and the head of its real estate department. She also started the bank’s women’s banking group.
“If you want to be somewhere and do something, you need to take control of your destiny,” Rich said.
She went to Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) while studying economics at San Diego State University and started the bank’s lending training program after graduating.
After four years, she realized commercial lending was the place to be, and she called the head of training to request a transfer.
“I think that lesson was a good one because from there on, I realized that if you do want to do something, you can’t wait for it to be handed to you on a silver platter," Rich said. "You have to go out and get it.”
What started out as a career to put food on the table turned into a 30-year stint with Bank of America, before Rich decided to retire. She spent her last 15 years at BofA in private banking.
“I think everyone gets to a point in their career when you recognize that perhaps you need to do something different — that you get comfortable in doing something and that perhaps the best thing for me as a professional would be to try something different and new and continue to challenge myself,” Rich said.
Rich joined Torrey Pines Bank in 2003, six months after the bank started and three weeks after her retirement from BOA.
“It’s the best move I ever made. I have come to appreciate the values and philosophy of our bank, and it aligns very well with what I hold in value, and that’s integrity, passion, a commitment to our clients,” Rich said. “I have always hoped that integrity motivates everything I do — and passion. I think it’s so important to have a value of honesty in what you do, how you deal with people, how you deal with your team members. … If you have a passion for something, you do the best you can and results speak for itself.”
Torrey Pines Bank has grown its footprint from San Diego to Los Angeles and the Bay Area.
“The banking industry has been very volatile, and I would say that we’ve maintained our posture of exercising good judgment in the relationships we’ve had with our clients, and how we extend credit and manage our resources,” Rich said.
The bank is relationship-oriented, which Rich said has helped it to achieve stability in terms of what it does and how it does it.
“Where a lot of banks did a lot of things they probably shouldn’t have and got into a lot of trouble, we have maintained an excellent track record and good credit quality, support for our clients, and we’re very consultative in nature," Rich said. "We use that in building relationships. We’ve been able to grow during these tough times, which is an anomaly. It’s something to be proud of — some other banks didn’t make it, and we’ve continued to grow.”