Scott Armstrong Joins Grandpoint Bank as Senior Vice President/Specialty Deposits Manager

Screen Shot 2017-05-20 at 5.52.06 PMAs a young child, Scott Armstrong started out with a disadvantage.  He was born severely hearing impaired. Tumors on the back of his tympanic membranes prevented him from making sense of spoken language. It wasn’t until he was 4 years old that a doctor identified the cause of his problem and arranged for surgery and subsequent speech therapy. Scott credits his early struggles with language and eventual mastery of the essential skill that eluded him as a gift—a gift that has made him a terrific listener and problem solver.

If his current title of Senior Vice President/Specialty Deposits Manager title wasn’t available, Senior Problem Solver might be a good one for Scott. By focusing on specialty banking clients and asking them about their cash management pain points, Scott has revolutionized operations for many specialty entities throughout Southern California. In case you’re not familiar with the term, specialty banking clients include third party escrow clients, attorneys and M&A firms, title and escrow companies, cities and municipalities, nonprofits, school districts, homeowner associations and property management companies, Real Estate Investment Entities (including tenants in common and Delaware Statutory Trusts), 1031/1035 trust accounts and more.

“Our specialty banking clients are organizations that deal with other organizations’ or individuals’ money,” said Scott. “They act in a fiduciary capacity, holding funds for a period but not owning those funds. It’s often a one-to-many relationship. These deposit-only clients therefore have more complex cash management requirements.”

Scott has always approached the complexities presented by these clients as opportunities.

“When Scott works with an organization, he helps them uncover any pressing challenges that they might be experiencing through the course of business and helps them co-create a plan utilizing a banking or cash management solution to address those challenges, even if that plan includes creating an entirely new Grandpoint Bank service,” said John Nixon, Executive Vice President and Regional Manager at Grandpoint Bank.

This discovery process, says Scott, is what powers his passion for banking.

Scott’s interest in banking started to bloom in high school when he enrolled in a regional occupation program (ROP) banking class. While choosing the class at the time had more to do with a cute girl than it did a career choice, that decision ultimately paved the way to discovering his knack for banking and securing a Bank of America training course and then part-time job during and through college.

He parlayed that experience to serve most recently as Senior Vice President/Specialty Deposits Group Director at Community Bank in Pasadena and as Senior Vice President/Specialty Banking Group Director at CommerceWest Bank in Irvine. Scott has managed loan portfolios worth hundreds of millions of dollars in his past, as well as sizable deposit portfolios.

“One of the things that motivated me to join Grandpoint was the combination of their community bank size that allows for creative solutions and fast decisions along with their impressive financial strength and capacity,” Scott said. “I have always considered myself an outside the box, cutting-edge banker, and in Grandpoint I have found an organization that shares that passion for creativity and flexibility.”

In addition to his work at Grandpoint, Scott serves on the board for Kidsworks, a nonprofit organization serving the educational and life guidance needs of youth in low- to moderate-income areas. He is a member of several industry trade groups, including the Community Associations Institute, Escrow Institute of California, California Apartment Association, Federation of Exchange Accommodators and Building Industry Association of Southern California. Formerly, he served as treasurer for Inland Valley Recovery Services and as a board member for Upland YMCA.

Scott works from our Orange office and resides in Trabuco Canyon, just outside Rancho Santa Margarita, with his wife and five children. In his free time, Scott loves to do just about anything outdoors with his family, including sailing, fishing and camping.

Juggling five kids under 13-years old, board responsibilities and specialty banking clients throughout Southern California relying on him to weave his magic, Scott obviously likes to stay busy in a way that benefits everyone around him.

We are excited to have Scott on our team.

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Grandpoint Bank Hires Duke Sheow as Senior Vice President/Information Security Officer

Sheow Duke Portrait-r 05_2017We’re happy to announce that Duke Sheow has joined our bank as Senior Vice President/ Information Security Officer. Duke works in our downtown Los Angeles office and manages information security, policies and compliance for Grandpoint and its divisions—Bank of Tucson, Regents Bank and The Biltmore Bank of Arizona.

Duke previously served as Chief Credit and Operations Officer at Green Dot Bank in Pasadena and as Senior Vice President/Credit Risk Officer at First Regional Bank in Century City. Notably, he also spent 14 years as an examiner at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) in Los Angeles. His titles at the FDIC included senior information technology examiner and senior safety and soundness examiner.

Duke is focused on ways our bank and our clients can take steps to thwart hackers and criminals. Increased dependency on everything electronic has created a chain of virtual connections based on “trusted” relationships, and hackers will exploit each link until they find the weakest.

“Many businesses have alarms and cameras to protect their physical assets but have not invested in basic, low cost security measures for cyber-crime,” Duke said. According to the National Cybersecurity Alliance, about half of all cyberattacks target small businesses because they are soft and easy targets.

“The threat of viruses, malware, ransomware and social engineering extend beyond our clients, too, and onto our friends, families and social media connections,” Duke said.

Over the past two years, Duke has volunteered his time with the Federal Reserve Board’s faster payments and secure payments taskforces, which organize professionals in banking, retail and regulatory agencies to collectively identify and evaluate faster payment systems in the United States, while also examining the safety of those payment systems.

“Duke’s extensive background in safety and soundness, as well as information security risks, is a great fit for our bank and an advantage for our clients,” said Susan Wahba, executive vice president and chief risk officer at Grandpoint Bank. “We pursue many initiatives to fortify our information security systems and educate our clients about security topics important to their businesses. Hiring Duke further strengthens our leadership in these areas.”

We particularly like the number one reason Duke cited for wanting to join Grandpoint Bank. “What has impressed me the most is the passion I hear in my co-workers’ voices when they talk about the bank and what we do.”

Duke attended the University of California at Riverside and completed the four-year Examiner Commissioning Program. He resides in La Canada with his family.

When he’s not working, Duke shares a love of sports with his three sons. His passion for football, in particular, landed him an appearance on “The Today Show” last year, when an essay he wrote about the sport and family won him free tickets to the Super Bowl.

We’re glad Duke is playing for our team now, drawing from his experience with technology, information security, banking and risk management to oversee our information security program. Welcome, Duke!

For more information about cyber security and steps you can take, visit the security and fraud section of our website.

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FBI: How to Protect Your Computer

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Below are some key steps to protecting your computer from intrusion, as detailed on the Federal Bureau of Investigations’ cybercrime webpage:

Keep Your Firewall Turned On: A firewall helps protect your computer from hackers who might try to gain access to crash it, delete information, or even steal passwords or other sensitive information. Software firewalls are widely recommended for single computers. The software is prepackaged on some operating systems or can be purchased for individual computers. For multiple networked computers, hardware routers typically provide firewall protection.

Install or Update Your Antivirus Software: Antivirus software is designed to prevent malicious software programs from embedding on your computer. If it detects malicious code, like a virus or a worm, it works to disarm or remove it. Viruses can infect computers without users’ knowledge. Most types of antivirus software can be set up to update automatically.

Install or Update Your Antispyware Technology: Spyware is just what it sounds like—software that is surreptitiously installed on your computer to let others peer into your activities on the computer. Some spyware collects information about you without your consent or produces unwanted pop-up ads on your web browser. Some operating systems offer free spyware protection, and inexpensive software is readily available for download on the Internet or at your local computer store. Be wary of ads on the Internet offering downloadable antispyware—in some cases these products may be fake and may actually contain spyware or other malicious code. It’s like buying groceries—shop where you trust.

Keep Your Operating System Up to Date: Computer operating systems are periodically updated to stay in tune with technology requirements and to fix security holes. Be sure to install the updates to ensure your computer has the latest protection.

Be Careful What You Download: Carelessly downloading e-mail attachments can circumvent even the most vigilant anti-virus software. Never open an e-mail attachment from someone you don’t know, and be wary of forwarded attachments from people you do know. They may have unwittingly advanced malicious code.

Turn Off Your Computer: With the growth of high-speed Internet connections, many opt to leave their computers on and ready for action. The downside is that being “always on” renders computers more susceptible. Beyond firewall protection, which is designed to fend off unwanted attacks, turning the computer off effectively severs an attacker’s connection—be it spyware or a botnet that employs your computer’s resources to reach out to other unwitting users.

https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/cyberscreen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-07-51-am

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We’re celebrating 15 consecutive 5-Star ratings from BauerFinancial

march bauerIndependent rating and research firm BauerFinancialscreen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-07-51-am has released its March 2017 bank ratings, giving Grandpoint Bank and its divisions, Bank of Tucson, Regents Bank and The Biltmore Bank of Arizona, a fifteenth consecutive quarterly 5-Star rating for strength, stability and soundness.

Based on December 31, 2016 financial data filed with the government, only banks BauerFinancial considers to be the strongest in the nation earn the 5-Star rating. Four- and five-star banks appear on BauerFinancial’s Recommended Report.

BauerFinancial has rated banks since 1983 and is regarded as “the nation’s bank rating service.” Banks cannot pay to be rated nor opt out of being rated.

Criteria for earning the 5-Star rating include the strength of the institution’s capital ratios, profitability/loss trends, the level of delinquent loans and repossessed assets, the market versus book value of the investment portfolio, regulatory supervisory agreements, the community reinvestment rating (CRA) and liquidity.

Thank you to all our wonderful clients for your business and your trust. We’re a 5-Star bank because we work with 5-Star clients.

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Grandpoint Bank Makes $500,000 Equity Investment in Clearinghouse CDFI

Clearinghouse CDFI

As a community-focused bank, we are committed to helping build strong, stable businesses that create jobs, provide services and support healthy communities. In keeping with that mission, Grandpoint Bank has made a $500,000 equity investment in the Clearinghouse Community Development Financial Institution (Clearinghouse CDFIscreen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-07-51-am). This investment will help Clearinghouse CDFI continue to provide community development lending in underserved communities in Southern California and Arizona.

“CDFI has the expertise and experience to identify critical needs in low-income and distressed communities and to create responsive and innovative solutions that make a real difference in people’s lives,” says Darlene Esquerra, Senior Vice President and Community Development Officer. “This relationship made perfect sense for Grandpoint, since Clearinghouse CDFI offers economic opportunities in so many of the same markets that we serve. Our investment will benefit these communities while supporting our overall community outreach program.”

Grandpoint Bank and 49 other financial institutions are “impact partners” whose investments increase Clearinghouse CDFI’s capacity to continue meeting unmet credit needs. At September 30, 2016, the institution had total assets of $339 million under management.

“We are thrilled to welcome Grandpoint Bank to our list of strong community partners,” said Douglas Bystry, Clearinghouse CDFI President and CEO. “We appreciate their significant investment in Clearinghouse CDFI and their mutual commitment to revitalizing our local communities.”

Over the course of 20 years, Clearinghouse CDFI has funded $1.4 billion in loans for over 1,780 projects, which have created or retained more than 16,000 jobs and benefit over 1.4 million individuals.

“This partnership is exciting, and it is a perfect fit with our bank’s community reinvestment act (CRA) strategy to give back to our communities in ways that are truly meaningful,” says Cynthia Mendoza, Senior Vice President and Compliance & CRA Officer.

Recipients of Clearinghouse CDFI financing include community facilities, affordable housing, commercial real estate, and small businesses. Additionally, Clearinghouse CDFI is one of largest participants in the New Market Tax Credit (NMTC) Program, with over $473 million of NMTC allocation deployed throughout California and Nevada. The NMTC Program helps economically distressed communities attract private capital by providing a Federal tax credit to investors.

Visit the Clearinghouse CDFI website here.screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-07-51-am

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2017 Economic Forecast from Beacon Economics

Recently, our Los Angeles and South Bay offices hosted an annual economic forecast featuring guest speaker Dr. Christopher Thornberg of Beacon Economics.  He shared his 2017 economic forecast with approximately 140 of our clients and guests, taking a look back at past trends and addressing the outlook for the global, national and California economic markets. You can view his presentation by clicking here.screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-07-51-am

Browsing through the presentation will reveal Beacon Economics’ assessment of the economic impacts of the presidential election, the strong points and challenges of our current economy, useful employment and housing information and much more.

Dr. Thornberg is widely considered to be one of the nation’s leading economists. An expert in economic forecasting, regional economics, labor markets, economic policy and real estate analysis, he was one of the earliest and most adamant predictors of the subprime mortgage market crash that began in 2007. Prior to launching Beacon Economics, Dr. Thornberg was a senior economist with UCLA’s Anderson Forecast.

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Roger M. Laverty Named President of Grandpoint Bank

grandpoint_rocky_laverty_993_cropPlease join us in welcoming the new president of Grandpoint Bank, Roger M. “Rocky” Laverty. Rocky, a member of the Bank’s board of directors since its inception in 2010, has a distinguished business career, most recently serving as President and Chief Executive Officer of Farmer Bros. Co. He is also the former President and CEO of Smart & Final, Inc. and Diedrich Coffee, Inc., and he was a founding member and Chairman and CEO of Prime Advantage, Inc.

“Rocky is a remarkable businessman, and we are fortunate to have his leadership in guiding our bank’s growth across all of our markets,” says Don M. Griffith, Chairman and CEO of Grandpoint Capital, Inc., and Grandpoint Bank. “I’ve known Rocky for years, and his business acumen, his ability to identify and cultivate strategic growth opportunities and his track record of building successful businesses will be a tremendous benefit to Grandpoint.”

Rocky will remain on the bank’s board of directors.

“I’ve had the opportunity to be part of the bank’s growth as a member of the board,” says Rocky. “It is now exciting to be on the frontlines, working with an exceptionally talented group of regional executives and their teams. I’m looking forward to contributing the experience I’ve garnered over the course of my career to support the bank’s internal growth and develop new product strategies.”

Rocky is a member of the Board of Trustees for Children’s Bureauscreen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-07-51-am and for the Jean Perkins Scholarship Foundation,screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-07-51-am which provides college scholarships to children of LA County Sheriff Deputies. He also serves on the board of the Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation,screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-07-51-am which provides ocean therapy to wounded warriors and veterans as well as at-risk youth.

Rocky attended Stanford University and Stanford Law School.

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Refinance Your Conventional Business Loan into a SBA 504 Loan

leticia-scearce_biltmore-bankThe SBA Debt Refinance Program is back! Does your small business have a maturing or high-cost conventional loan for real estate, buildings or equipment? The long-term, fixed rate financing available through the SBA Debt Refinance Program can help small businesses that face significant balloon payments, require financial flexibility or want to take cash out from appreciating assets for expansion.

Under the new program, small businesses that refinance into a SBA 504 loan can take advantage of lower rates, fixed for 20 years, to lighten their monthly debt payments, improve cash flow and stabilize operations.

These parameters can help determine whether this program might be a good fit for your business:

  • The debt to be refinanced must be at least two years old.
  • The debt to be refinanced must be current during the last 12 months.
  • Eligible small businesses can obtain up to 90 percent financing for secured debt and qualified business debt.
  • Eligible fixed assets include real estate and equipment.
  • Cash out for operating expenses, including debt consolidation, is limited to 75 percent loan-to-value.
  • Cash out can be used for eligible business expenses (salaries, rent, utilities, inventory).
  • Existing government guaranteed loans are not eligible to be refinanced.
  • The eligible debt being refinanced is for the outstanding principal balance.

Other conditions or qualification requirements may apply. 

For those considering applying for a new loan, we offer a variety of government guaranteed loan products that require less cash investment up front and offer longer loan terms, which can help bridge the gap for businesses that otherwise would not have access to capital.

  • SBA 7(a), 504 and 504 refinance
  • SBA Export Express Export Working Capital International Trade
  • USDA Business & Industry Loans Food Desert Rural Energy for America Program (REAP)
  • Export Import Bank of U.S.

If you would like more information on the SBA 504 Refinance Program or any of our government-guaranteed loan products, please contact Leticia Scearce, Senior Vice President/Government Guaranteed Lending Manager, at lscearce@biltmorebankaz.com or (602) 445-6511.

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Happy 2017!

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This New Year, thank the ancient Babylonians. The idea of observing a special day as the New Year was theirs, as many as 4,000 years ago, and it is considered the oldest of all holidays. Observing the New Year on January 1 is somewhat arbitrary, but the Roman senate first declared this date as the New Year in 153 BC.

The Babylonians were also the first to come up with the idea of New Year’s resolutions. These days, cultures throughout the world have their own New Year’s traditions (and observance dates). While watching the 1,200-pound Waterford Crystal ball drop in New York City is a common tradition in the U.S., the Spanish eat 12 grapes at midnight to encourage 12 happy months in the coming year.

In Britain, when the clock strikes midnight, everyone sings the Scottish song ‘Auld Lang Syne,” which means ‘times gone by’ and was written by Robert Burns in the 1700s. In Italy, people wear red underwear on New Year’s Day to bring good luck.

In Colombia, Cuba and Puerto Rico, families may stuff a large doll, called Mr. Old Year, with memories and clothes from the past year. At midnight, they light him on fire to burn away the bad memories. (May we suggest checking local regulations before you burn an effigy in your yard?)

The Japanese hold Bonenkai or “forget-the-year parties” throughout December to bid farewell to the problems and concerns of the past year and prepare for a new beginning.

Some parts of the Middle East and Asia celebrate Nowruz (or New Day), albeit in spring. Celebrations often include bonfires and egg dying.

If you find yourself celebrating the New Year by using noisemakers and setting off fireworks (again, check the regulations, folks) to celebrate the New Year, you have that in common with people in ancient times, who believed that loud noises would scare off evil spirits and bring good luck.

No matter how you celebrate the New Year, all of us at Grandpoint Bank wish you peace, prosperity and happiness for 2017.

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