Category Archives: Employees

Leon Woods selected as Junior Achievement of SoCal Volunteer of the Year!

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(From l to r): Eric Carlson, JA Director of Development; Denise Palafox, Executive Assistant to the President; Leon Woods; Hasani Johnson, JA Finance Park Program Manager; Kat Delgado Kirkwood, JA Interim President & CEO

We are pleased to announce that Junior Achievement of Southern California selected Leon Woods, VP and portfolio manager in our L.A Region, as its 2017 Volunteer of the Year!  It is because of dedicated volunteers like Leon that Junior Achievement is able to fulfill its mission to help students understand the importance of managing their money, planning for their future, and becoming active leaders in their future careers and communities.

Last year, we wrote on our blog about the many volunteers from our bank who participated with 120 high school juniors and seniors of Lennox Academy as they made their way through Junior Achievement’s Finance Park program. With their “adult for a day” duties, we helped the students learn about the world of personal finance through simulation exercises involving financial concepts like banking, budgets, careers, credit, debt, interest rates, income, investments and taxes.

When Leon was honored at Junior Achievement of SoCal‘s Annual Meeting, the organization’s leadership noted Leon’s exceptional ability to engage with the kids at Finance Park and help them understand the empowering opportunity they had to learn about personal and business financial skills.

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(from l to r): Hasani Johnson, JA Finance Park Program Manager; Leon Woods; Monique Johnson, JA Board Member & Education Chairperson

“I feel like it’s a homerun,” says Leon, “if I get through to these kids so they can also extend what they’ve learned to their peers, their siblings and maybe even their parents.”

Congratulations, Leon, for your dedication in motivating and empowering young people to learn how to develop and own their economic success.

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Grandpoint Bank Promotes Karen McGuire to Executive Vice President

karen-mcguireCongratulations to Karen McGuire, manager of Grandpoint’s Construction Lending Department, who just earned a well-deserved promotion to Executive Vice President.

Karen is responsible for helping Grandpoint Bank and our divisions, Bank of Tucson, Regents Bank and The Biltmore Bank of Arizona, expand our construction lending loan portfolio. She is based at Grandpoint’s Irvine office and oversees a seasoned and talented construction lending staff. Her duties include analyzing and underwriting all of the bank’s construction loan requests. This includes evaluating both standard and complex construction loan transactions, interfacing with clients, handling the construction loan disbursements once a loan is approved and visiting project sites.

According to Karen, currently, the demand for construction lending for multifamily properties is especially strong throughout the nation. In the markets that Grandpoint Bank and our divisions serve, Karen says the strongest demand is coming from Los Angeles and the Portland, Oregon/ Vancouver, Washington market. Karen’s team is also currently seeing a lot of lending activity and demand from the hospitality and single family real estate sectors in many of the bank’s existing markets.

Karen’s best advice for would-be loan applicants? If you’re looking for construction financing, start the loan application process sooner rather than later.  Assuming your loan application is complete, the approval process can be as short as 60 days, but compiling a complete loan application can take longer than many people anticipate due to the additional amounts of information and analysis required.

Your local relationship manager, along with Karen and her staff, will work with you to help you understand what is needed and what to include in your application. You’ll also benefit from the incredible depth of experience our loan underwriters have and can contribute to your construction project and process. You can depend on our team to bring a sophisticated understanding to your objectives and the business of construction.

“My team and I don’t consider our work done once a loan is approved,” says Karen. “Someone from our construction lending team will go to the building site once every two to three months so that we continue to understand not only the project but also our clients’ needs and achievements.”

Karen counts the AC Hotel Tucson by Marriott (currently under construction) as one of her most notable construction loans to date. Though it was a complex project, involving two different loans and some required environmental remediation, the loan was ultimately closed based in large part on the entire team’s “can-do” attitude. The 136-room hotel with 5,000-square-feet of ground floor retail will soon give new life to the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Broadway in downtown Tucson.

“We are very fortunate to have Karen and her staff, all of whom have considerable previous experience in complex structured financing,” said Mark Phillips, Executive Vice President & Chief Credit Officer of Grandpoint Capital. “When Karen started with us, we had one construction loan on the books. Now we’re making construction loans in three states, with loans amounts up to $40 million and greater.”

For more information about construction loans, please contact your local banking office, your relationship manager or Karen McGuire at 949-483-8388.

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Aida Baboudjian Celebrates 30 Years with Grandpoint

baboudjian_aidaWe have quite a milestone to celebrate this month. Grandpoint Bank relationship manager and vice president Aida Baboudjian is celebrating her 30-year anniversary with us!

She is a motivated and dedicated professional who believes in pushing herself to be the best commercial lender and information source for her clients. She always demonstrates great respect for her clients and co-workers.

Her first interview, in 1986 with our predecessor bank, Gilmore Bank, lasted about 45 minutes, with 40 of those minutes spent discussing Armenian food. There was obviously an immediate connection, and she has proven to be part of our recipe for success over the span of three decades.

Interacting with a diverse array of clients and co-workers is something Aida cites as a driving factor for why she has remained with our bank for 30 years, since joining as a credit checker. Originally from Armenia, she has put her tri-lingual skills to work (she also speaks Russian), especially with the Russian business community near our office on Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles’ Mid-Wilshire community, where Aida works.

With the iconic Farmers Market nearby, Aida also works with an array of shop and restaurant owners from the market. “I love the cultural diversity that surrounds me,” says Aida. “My clients and coworkers have come from so many different places.”

Aida originally came to the U.S. after meeting her husband while attending State Engineering University of Armenia, where she earned a master’s degree in Engineering.

She thought her first job state-side would be in computer programming, which she studied at the Computer Learning Center in Los Angeles. A friend turned her onto a job opening at a bank instead. The rest is history, and Aida says, “I never looked back.”

The secret to finding a place you are content to work for 30 years? Aida feels like she’s an important part of the Grandpoint organization and that has made a tremendous difference to her.

“My boss and the management team here really care about me and trust me,” she said. “I always feel comfortable approaching anyone at our bank with my questions and ideas.”

She also appreciates the challenges she’s able to tackle for her clients. “Sometimes the challenge helps you to focus and get things done,” she said.

Happy 30th anniversary, Aida!

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Introducing Our New Multifamily Lending Division

kim-karen-croppedWe’re happy to announce that we have expanded our service offerings once again.

Multifamily properties represent an important part of the housing market, especially as cities become denser and land constrained. Grandpoint Bank and its divisions, Bank of Tucson, Regents Bank and The Biltmore Bank of Arizona, now has a multifamily lending division, managed by Senior Vice President Karen Kim.

According to Karen, 2016 is expected to be another good year for the multifamily sector due to favorable demographic trends and economic growth, based on the Multifamily Outlook study completed by Freddie Mac.

“Demographically, the strong multifamily market is further bolstered by Millennials and empty nesters, who are increasingly choosing multifamily over single-family residences in many cities,” Karen says.

Karen’s multifamily lending team is comprised of experts in multifamily lending who have previously worked at institutions that have produced a large volume of multifamily portfolios for the past two decades or more.

Multifamily property owners and investors can access three-, five- and on a very limited basis, seven-year hybrid loans from our bank, as well as a six-month ARM loans. Qualifying properties include five or more units in Class A or B buildings, with Class C-type properties considered on a deal-by-deal basis. As portfolio lenders — meaning most of these loans remain with our bank — we have more control over our products and pricing, which is a huge advantage.

We’re working with a network of seasoned mortgage brokers throughout the markets we serve to educate them about how Grandpoint Bank and its divisions can help their clients finance or refinance properties up to approximately $15 million in loan value. Karen and her team are currently cultivating additional mortgage broker relationships in Greater Los Angeles area, San Diego County, Ventura County, Orange County, Portland, Vancouver, WA, Greater Phoenix area and Tucson.

Please contact Karen to inquire about becoming an approved broker with Grandpoint Bank.  You can also ask her to connect you to an approved broker already working with Grandpoint Bank.

Karen H. Kim, SVP, Multi-Family Lending Manager kkim@grandpointbank.com or (213) 542-2727.

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Our Senior Vice President Jan Marantz Celebrates 23 Years!

marantz_janWe are very excited to share that our Corporate Secretary Jan Marantz has just earned a promotion to senior vice president and is celebrating her 23rd anniversary with our bank. While Grandpoint was built from a number of predecessor banks, we have a remarkable number of people who have been part of our team throughout our evolution … for 20 years or more!

This kind of dedication and longevity deserves some attention. We’d like to let you know a bit about why we think Jan is such a valuable asset to Grandpoint Bank and its customers.

When Jan first came on board in 1993, it was as the administrative assistant to the president of First Commerce Bank (then Brentwood Bank of California).  She was referred by Debbie Marsten, with whom she had worked at a different bank in the 1980s.

In the beginning, it was challenging for Jan. She worked for two different presidents in short order before Jack Feldman, now a Grandpoint Bank director, joined as president and eventually brought in an experienced team that turned things around for the better.

“It was then that I knew I was here to stay,” Jan said. “I was motivated to learn as much as I could from this seasoned team of bankers.  From that point on, I’ve enjoyed coming to work every day.”

After Grandpoint acquired First Commerce Bank, Debbie, who co-founded Grandpoint and is COO, quickly recruited Jan for the position of Corporate Secretary of the Bank and the holding company, Grandpoint Capital, Inc.

“Debbie was just as I remembered her: authentic, intelligent and a great manager with the utmost integrity,” Jan said.

While she appreciates the opportunities to constantly expand her knowledge base, it’s interacting with her Grandpoint colleagues that Jan looks forward to the most each day.

“Our personalities are so diverse, but somehow it feels right,” she said. “We all work well together, respect each other and share a sense of humor.”

Jan’s job, in a nutshell, is to make sure our board of directors runs like clockwork. She manages the flow of corporate information between the board, shareholders and senior managers, advises on the board’s fiduciary duties and the mandatory procedures that ensure their regulatory compliance, and she is  responsible for managing the board’s timely review of all bank policies. She also participates in our strategic planning process, along with a host of other critical duties.

Over her long career in banking, she’s had the chance to advise and mentor others and was quick to sum up what’s worked for her in her journey up the ranks at Grandpoint Bank in hopes that it may help others.

  • Leave your ego at home. Do whatever assignment is asked of you — no job is too small.
  • Always do your best work.
  • Volunteer for special projects and offer to represent the bank outside of work.
  • Always find the time to help your colleagues.
  • Keep learning. Take work-related seminars and courses whenever you have the chance.

Jan really lives this advice and her work ethic has positioned her as an invaluable member of our team. We would say that we wish we could clone Jan, but someone already did. Fun fact about Jan: she has an identical twin sister.

While we’re glad we’ve been able to provide the kind of team and culture that earns the loyalty of super stars like Jan, her Grandpoint Bank career provided an extra perk you won’t find in our employee manual. Another fun fact: she met her husband while working at our Encino office. He had an office in the same building. We’re happy to report that they’re still going strong 14 years later.

Thank you for your dedication and incredible work, Jan. We’re fortunate to have you on the team.

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CIO John Coleman Recognized by Los Angeles Business Journal

screen-shot-2016-09-16-at-11-21-45-amEarlier this summer, Grandpoint SVP & Chief Information Officer John Coleman was honored as one of a select group of nominees for the Los Angeles Business Journal’s Chief Technology Officer Awards at a dinner in Santa Monica. The nominees were also featured in the Business Journal.

John, who has managed the Bank’s information systems and technology since 2012, was praised for his technical knowledge as well as his ability to foresee emerging trends, balance risk with growth objectives, and communicate effectively with the Bank’s leadership.

“Not only has John done a great job helping us keep pace with new technologies, he’s also played a key role in addressing the evolving risks of cyber crime,” said Loraine White, EVP and Chief Administrative Officer at Grandpoint Bank. “His involvement in numerous IT and cyber security working groups and public-private collaborations has kept us on the forefront of these developing threats and built partnerships that have been very beneficial to our bank and our clients.”

His knowledge and expertise in this area have been especially valuable as the Bank has sought out new ways to help business clients thwart the risk of cyber crime. In June, the Bank announced the availability of a new Client Cyber Crime Insurance policy, offered exclusively to its business clients through Grandpoint Insurance Services, Inc., a non-bank insurance agency affiliate of Grandpoint Bank. The policy helps protect clients against monetary losses to their Grandpoint business accounts as a result of cyber deception and wire transfer fraud.

Given his wealth of knowledge about cyber security, we asked John to share some of his top tips:

  • Understand the basics of information security and apply them
  • Practice password management, which involves using complex passwords that are changed regularly
  • Make sure to keep computers up-to-date with antivirus software and patches
  • Use common sense
  • Once a business starts employing 10 or 20 people, appoint someone to be responsible for the management of the computer and security systems. Policies and procedures should be in place and known to all.
  • Backup information! Many businesses overlook this. Backed up information should be stored somewhere offsite and offline. It should be difficult to get into the backup copies.

John also recommends these sites as good sources of information about cybersecurity threats and best practices:

Additionally, the Department of Homeland Security has designated October as National Cyber Security Awareness month and provided some helpful resources here.↗

John is very active in the business and civic community on the topic of cyber crime. Through his involvement with ISSA↗ (Information Systems Security Association), John not only spoke at one of its events, he also formed relationships with financial and security professionals, including those from the FBI,↗ Los Angeles County District Attorney’s High Tech Crime Department↗ and the Secret Service’s↗ electronic crimes taskforce. The FBI subsequently reached out to John and Grandpoint Bank to help them host a nationwide gathering of their field office representatives at the Grandpoint offices to talk about cyber crime. (John was the only non-government participant invited to attend that day.) The two-day event also included a session for tech companies, financial institutions and other law enforcement regarding the hot topic of business email compromise.

John has also been active with the California Bankers Association’s annual Risk, Cybersecurity and Technology conference↗ by serving on the planning committee, helping to arrange speakers, providing opening remarks for the conference and moderating the Incident Response panel discussion. He also serves on the advisory board and on the executive council of Secure the Village,↗ a nonprofit organization dedicated to cyber security education and awareness for small and mid-sized businesses as well as nonprofits. He has also served as a speaker for one of Secure the Village’s roundtable events.

Well-deserved congratulations on your nomination for top Chief Technology Officer, John! You’re certainly ours!

For more information on the Client Cyber Crime Insurance, visit www.grandpointinsurance.com (California Insurance License #0K82434).

Insurance Products are:
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Insurance Products are offered through Grandpoint Insurance Services, Inc., a non-bank insurance agency affiliate of Grandpoint Bank, and facilitated through LBW Insurance & Financial Services, Inc., an unaffiliated insurance agency.

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↗ Linking to Non-Grandpoint Bank Websites
This icon appears next to every link that directs to a third party website not affiliated with Grandpoint Bank. Please be advised that if you click this link you will be taken to a website hosted by another party, where you will no longer be subject to, or under the protection of, the privacy and security policies of Grandpoint Bank. We recommend that you review and evaluate the privacy and security policies of the site that you are entering. Grandpoint Bank assumes no liability for the content, information, security, policies or transactions provided by these other sites.

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Meet one of our crown jewels: Jewel Marshall

marshall_jewelThis year, we’re spotlighting employees who have been with our bank for 20 years or more. Each one has played an important role in our company’s success, and we would like to honor them by telling you a little more about them and how they have helped not only our company but the countless companies we’re proud to call clients.

Our spotlight is currently shining on Jewel Marshall who just celebrated her 23rd year with Grandpoint Bank and its predecessor banks!

Jewel started as a temp, processing wholesale and retail loans. After she impressed her managers, she was hired on full time. Over the years, she worked her way up to Assistant Vice President and Client Service Officer.

“I really enjoy banking,” she says. “It’s not at all monotonous, because you get involved with the banking side, the operations and many types of client interaction.”

Jewel credits her coworkers and the Grandpoint clients for motivating her to work with the same team for so long. “They really made me want to stay here and do the best job I can do,” she said.

She’s seen many banking newbies come through the door over her 23 years, and she says her best advice to them is you have to earn anything you do, no matter where you are. Don’t just “plug-and-chug,” she says, but take ownership and make it yours.

She found her own success by taking pride in what she does and not only wanting to be successful herself, but wanting it for the bank as well.

Jewel espouses the same philosophy when it comes to her customers’ success.  She also makes a point of knowing them personally.

“We know all our customers and call them by their first names,” she said. “In many cases, I’ve seen their children grow and get married and start their own families.”

Jewel’s affinity for having a schedule and being part of a team means that she’s not considering retiring anytime soon. When that day eventually comes, she says that what she’ll miss most are the long-term friendships she’s created with coworkers and clients over the years.

When asked about her favorite work memories, Jewel says those are office celebrations where she gets to interact with people from departments throughout the bank for birthday parties, anniversaries and even baby showers. She also has fond memories of customer receptions where she’s had a chance to connect and reconnect with many of the people she’s helped over the years.

A self-described “people person” with a welcoming personality, Jewel’s mother used to describe her “as someone who would talk to a wall if she thought it would talk back to her.”

Outside of work, Jewel is likely to spend her time drawing, painting, jigsaw puzzling or traveling. “I’m such a content person that I even sometimes travel alone,” she said.

Knowing Jewel’s warm personality and friendly nature, we have a feeling that she finds new friends wherever she goes. Congratulations to 23 years with our bank, Jewell, and we look forward to many more.

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