Written by The Business Journal Staff
Fresno First Bank
Executive Vice President/CFO
What We Do: We believe businesses and individuals want the “hands-on, know your customer” approach, especially when it comes to their money. We’ve made it our mission to provide a full range of banking services differentiated by an ability to tailor and adjust services quickly to meet needs and opportunities unique to this area.
Education: B.S. business administration from Fresno State, 1981, BAI Bank Management Program, Duke University
Family: Wife Jacquie, Daughter Ashley, Son Thomas
How did you first get involved in the banking industry, Steve?
After graduating from Fresno State I was fortunate to land a job with Guarantee Savings & Loan in a small, emerging department called Corporate Systems. It was at a time when the financial services industry was deregulating and the use of computers to automate processes and provide information was exploding in the financial services industry. The experience was phenomenal.
Locally the banking industry has done very well recently. What would you attribute that to, Steve?
I think the local banks are well run and for the most part fairly conservative in their approach to business. The Valley banks that have had the greatest issues have generally had loan portfolios with greater concentrations in areas such as real estate and construction-related industries that have been the hardest hit economically.
What innovations do you see coming in the community banking industry, Steve?
I think the evolution of wireless communications and customer’s desire for more and more convenience will continue to drive new delivery channels. That customer interface will be what most people see and perceive as innovations. Behind the scenes there is still plenty of room for additional automation and efficiency in our own operations and new software innovations will play a big part.
The banking industry as a whole endured some turbulent times during the recession. What do you think was the most stress point or event during that period, Steve?
Globally the liquidity crisis in 2008 was clearly the flash point. I don’t think most people realize how close to a global meltdown the financial system came. We were impacted, but not in a catastrophic way.
What did your bank do to weather the recession, Steve?
We opened for business in December 2005. As a result we were really still very young and were not loaded full of assets that suffered the most in the recession. From that standpoint we were lucky. By 2008 it was apparent where the greatest weaknesses were and we began to pare back our exposure in those areas and shift our focus towards areas less impacted. We still consider any loan, and there are good customers even in industries that have economically been hit hard. But we are mindful to remain diversified and avoid concentrations.
What are some of your most memorable experiences during your time at Fresno First Bank, Steve?
Working with a great team of people is the most memorable. In terms of milestones, the bank was losing significant money when I first arrived and going from a loss to sustainable profits was a big corporate achievement for our whole team. Implementing open book management is also very memorable.
What was your first job growing up and what did you learn from it, Steve?
My first real job was a as courier for Scott Escrow Company picking up and delivering documents all over town. Dependability, punctuality and avoiding tickets were all skills I learned there.
What do you like to do for fun in your spare time, Steve?
I’m a sports nut. If I’m not participating I’m watching. I’m also a big fan of food and a cool beverage.