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    Bank of San Francisco: A Decade of Supporting San Francisco Values


    combined 5.19_Page_11_Image_0004combined 5.19_Page_11_Image_0003San Francisco Small Business Week is May 21–28. As presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders has said, “Small business is the driving force of America’s economy … The backbone of a healthy economy is made up of small businesses on the ‘Main Streets’ of America, not giant corporations on Wall Street.” If you look at such successful small businesses in the Bay Area and elsewhere, you will find that they usually have at least this in common: a supportive bank providing innovative and flexible solutions to problems at nearly every turn.

    It is a fact that no one really wants to talk about because just the word “bank” can conjure up thoughts of corporate greed, the 2007–2008 financial crisis, and more. Good, supportive banking, however, is behind nearly every successful business. This can hold true whether the earner is a mom and pop store around the corner, or your favorite food truck. Here at the San Francisco Bay Times, members of our team rely upon both credit unions and trusted banks.

    As we began to consider small businesses to profile for Small Business Week, we noticed that many use locally-owned Bank of San Francisco, which launched in 2005. We therefore thought telling this bank’s story might help to lift the veil off of what can be a mysterious and frequently challenging aspect to starting and properly maintaining a small business. Some of the bank’s practices—such as tech know how and community engagement—could apply to many other small businesses as well.

    Bank of San Francisco was the first bank to open in the city in over 18 years. When the bank launched, its employees became its largest shareholder group, with the average investment per employee being approximately $85 thousand. The bank’s Directors are the second largest shareholder group, and several are both members and supporters of the LGBT community. The third largest shareholders are the bank’s Advisory Council members and clients. All of the shareholders are part of the Bay Area community that the bank serves, and remarkably, no shareholder has a controlling interest. Bank of San Francisco is therefore a local bank owned by the local community.

    Bank of San Francisco is additionally known for being tech savvy, responsive, and modern. In starting the bank, the founding team’s vision was to provide high-touch, personalized banking solutions delivered with nimbleness and accountability. “Our initial market niche was serving Bay Area-based companies and non-profits, as well as entrepreneurs, professionals and families who valued a hands-on approach from their banking relationships,” Bank of San Francisco CEO Ed Obuchowski told the San Francisco Bay Times. “Ten years later, that’s still our focus.”

    Building on a Decade of Community Investment

    Bank of San Francisco’s employees, directors and advisory council members reflect the Bay Area community’s diversity in terms of gender, income, demographics and sexual orientation. Many told us that they take pride in offering personal service provided by a highly experienced team of bankers who built their careers in the Bay Area and understand the challenges that growing businesses and nonprofits face. Combining a solutions-focused team with powerful, proven technology has allowed them to become a valued partner in helping their clients grow.

    Bank of San Francisco wants to be the Bay Area’s “bank of choice” for small-to mid-sized businesses and nonprofits, as well as individuals and families who value personalized service complemented by the convenience of technology. Time and again we heard that their bankers are creative, nimble and competitive when addressing clients’ needs. They deliver exceptional service and take the long-term view in their approach to every client relationship.

    We live and work in a dynamic community. Did you know that when compared to national economies, the Bay Area ranks 19th in the world with a gross domestic product (GDP) of $535 billion? Our region is a leader in global technology and in several key indicators of regional, global and national competitiveness. These can be challenging times, though, making the bank’s presence all the more important when attempting to chart a successful course.

    Services Offered

    Bank of San Francisco offers a complete array of loan, depository, online banking and treasury management products to serve its clients’ banking needs. Business clients include manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and service providers.

    As a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Preferred Lender, Bank of San Francisco has a lot of experience helping entrepreneurs purchase and grow their businesses, and has developed deep expertise in multiple industry niches that range from dental, veterinary and other healthcare practices, to law firms and other professional service providers, non-profits, and general contractors.

    The bank’s relationship managers know how to get the job done. They are committed to helping clients with tailored and flexible solutions to meet their needs. They go above and beyond. “We’re an integral part of the Bay Area community and are proud to serve it,” Vice Chair of the Board and LGBT community leader Roberta Achtenberg said. “Our clients and their growth are the focus of what we do. We develop long-lasting, meaningful relationships with our clients, and they know and appreciate that.”

    Supporting the Community via Three Pillars

    The bank has enjoyed 10 years of success by concentrating on three growth pillars: creating a robust technology platform that provides financial services to its clients faster, building a core of outstanding bankers that develop creative, effective solutions to the financial needs of clients, and maintaining a laser focus on supporting the Bay Area community and nurturing its growth. They believe that doing well means doing good.

    Embracing Technology

    By continuing to invest in Bank of San Francisco’s technology platform, the bank is able to attract new clients and better serve existing ones. Last year, the bank became completely paperless for all client-facing functions. Account documentation, deposit transactions, loan files and credit files are scanned and stored electronically. This initiative both improved efficiency and demonstrated the bank’s commitment to reducing the environmental impact of its operations. Added to its convenient app, online bill pay, and worldwide ATM network with full fee rebate, the bank can be everywhere clients need it to be.

    Dedicated Bankers

    Its bankers are members of the community and are invested in serving our neighborhood businesses and individuals. Bank of San Francisco has become the employer of choice for creative, talented bankers with experience in the markets the bank serves. This experience, combined with a broad range of solutions, allows the bankers to work through even the most complex banking issues with clients. While other banks are consolidating, Bank of San Francisco is hiring “best in class” individuals and teams of bankers, who can further help the community prosper.

    Community Engagement

    In addition to serving the community through its bankers and services, the bank has created deep local ties at the board, management and staff levels. The bank’s management team are strong believers in giving back to the communities they serve and encourage employees to serve as volunteers and board members of organizations of their choice. The bank is proud to support employees spending two half-day workdays each year volunteering at a bank-sponsored nonprofit event.

    Bank of San Francisco’s president and 70 percent of the bank’s leadership team are women and people of color. The staff is enormously diverse and brimming with energy. The board is 30 percent women, all of whom are active in the LGBT community.

    Bank of San Francisco is therefore truly a community bank, representing the best of San Francisco values. For more information, please visit: