hearts

A Valentine’s Message to Our Clients

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This Valentine’s Day, we’d like to take one more opportunity to let our clients and friends know how much they mean to us. We genuinely appreciate you and all of the hard work you do. Regents Bank is proud to be affiliated with so many esteemed companies and individuals. The meaningful, personal relationships we have developed drive us to consistently raise the bar on our offerings and services.

Our clients are not an account number to us. You’re a name, a reputation, a company that’s contributing to the economic engine of our community. Your success inspires us, and we’re excited to support you in your journey.

We have much to love about our clients and friends, and we look forward to a bright future with you.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

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2015Small

Business Tips for the New Year

2015Small

Happy 2015! With the dawning of the New Year, many folks concentrate on getting their business affairs in order. Before we get too much further into the year, we’d like to share a few business tips and highlights of new laws that can help you hone your competitive edge.

Business Tips

  • Review your cyber security. Ensure that your anti-virus software still meets your security needs, and check regularly for software and operating system updates and patches. Other preventive measures include providing firewall security for your Internet connection and encourage or require employees to password protect and use security apps on any of their handheld devices that may contain data pertaining to your business. Be sure to train your employees in all security protocols.
  • Stay up to date on compliance deadlines. Be aware that states periodically change compliance deadlines, forms and fees. Reviewing these details well in advance can help you avoid late fees and loss of good standing. Schedule Outlook or smart phone reminders to stay on top of deadlines.
  • Revisit your business plan. You went through all that trouble to create a great plan to take the business world by storm, so it shouldn’t be left idle….
  • Rev up your professional networking. Even if you’re already a power networker, review your business association memberships and decide which are still relevant to you and how they fit into your budget. Consider whether you should expand your networking circle, and don’t forget to consider conference and convention opportunities for 2015. Get your employees involved too. They’ll benefit from the new connections, continuing education opportunities and the satisfaction of attracting new customers to your business.
  • Reassess your online brand. If you don’t already have a Google Alert set for your company, do it now. Consider adding Google Alerts for the names of your top executives and any branded products or services you provide. Look up your company’s name on search engines to see how quickly your firm pops up. If your online brand is suffering, either from negative reviews, an outdated website or lackluster search engine optimization, don’t wait to address the issues. First impressions are hard to reverse.

New Laws

California has several new laws taking effect in 2015 that may impact California businesses. A few of those include:

  • Mandatory Paid Sick Leave.  Starting July 1, all California employers are required to provide paid sick leave to any employee who works in California for 30 days, at an accrual rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked.
  • Harassment Training. Starting January 1, employers who employ 50 employees or more anywhere are now subject to mandatory sexual harassment prevention training to all California-based supervisors to include the prevention of “abusive conduct.”
  • Unpaid Interns & Volunteers. Starting January 1, unpaid interns and volunteers are now entitled to protection from harassment, discrimination and retaliation.

Additional laws affecting California businesses will take effect this year, so please consult with your attorney and/or human resources professional for more information about all new legislation that may affect your business in 2015.

A new year is full of possibilities. We hope this article is helpful in supporting all the grand plans your firm will implement this year. At Regents Bank, we are proud to be a consultative business partner for our clients as they continue to lead and transform their industries, and we look forward to working with you to make all of your New Year’s possibilities become realities.

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Using News Cycles to Promote Your Business With Social Media

Football fans from coast to coast will soon converge on Phoenix to watch the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots vie in the biggest game of the year. Whether they attend the game or watch from their living rooms, did you know that more than 110 million people are expected to watch this year?

While you may have planned what to serve for your big party, have you thought how to capitalize on this national pastime for your business? Here’s some food for thought.

This bowl game is a great example of a major news cycle event, and tying into major news cycle events can be a great way to promote your business. Almost everyone has heard about the multi-millions of dollars big corporations shell out to air ads during the big game to promote their brands, but many companies and even individuals have made waves in different (and less expensive!) ways. Social media is a great way to promote your company as it is inexpensive and far reaching.

Last year, JC Penney got some attention for their “Tweeting with Mittens” campaign during the big game – playing off of the cold weather in New Jersey. Not nearly as much attention as Kohl’s did, though, by responding to JC Penney’s tweets and referring them to leather texting gloves on the Kohl’s website. Cost to Kohl’s? Nothing beyond paying an employee or social media company to tweet for them.

Let’s take a time-out to review:

  1. Pay attention to what your competitors are doing
  2. Tie in to major news cycle events

Another stand-out last year? The woman in the pantsuit – Hillary Clinton. During the game, she famously tweeted, “It’s so much more fun to watch FOX when it’s someone else being blitzed & sacked!” Displaying a sense of humor and poking a little fun at herself (and perhaps at FOX) was a great way to seem down to earth and approachable. It’s a tough line to walk to gently poke fun at yourself/your brand and promote yourself/your brand at the same time, but done well, it can be marketing gold.

Time-out game review:

  1. Know how others perceive your business
  2. Know how you want others to perceive your business
  3. Look for opportunities to bridge the two

You have a lot of ways to score marketing points for your business, so whether it’s tapping into the Big Game hype or later news cycles, we hope these tips will help you think creatively and make your way to the end zone. Sure, we’ve only given you two plays to review, but you’ve got the ball now. What are you going to do with it? Your fans are rooting for you, and we’re with them!

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How to Choose a Commercial Bank – Start With the Banker

After realizing that Googling for “How to Choose a Commercial Bank,” brings up an article that one of our executives wrote as #3 in the results list, we thought we’d share it with you on our blog. This article↗ originally appeared on the Renaissance Executive Forums↗ website. 

By Stephen Friedman, Executive Vice President & Regional Manager

Stephen Friedman, Senior Vice President

Stephen Friedman, Executive Vice President

Product Based Criteria – Branches, Rates, Terms, Fees

As a commercial banker out in the marketplace peddling my wares, this is a topic that I discuss with business owners on a daily basis. If I am to convince a company to move its business over to my bank, the first thing I need to figure out is what they are looking for. What are the criteria that they will use to make a decision? No business owner wakes up in the morning thinking, “You know what, I am going to change my banking relationship today. I have been with my existing bank long enough and it’s time for a change. I feel like getting raked over the coals through the credit approval process, disclosing every piece of financial data my company and I have generated over the last three years. And I really want to open new checking accounts and have to notify three dozen vendors and clients that they need to direct their electronic debits and credits to a new account.” No, a business owner would generally prefer a root canal over changing banks. Their call to me is usually triggered by one of three things, 1) A credit need that is not being addressed to the company’s satisfaction by the incumbent bank, 2) A negative service event that crossed the company’s pain threshold, or 3) Price shopping.

Over time I have found that the primary reason the company has reached this point with their existing bank is because they used the wrong criteria in selecting their bank in the first place. For businesses that are not heavy users of credit, the initial banking decision was usually based on which of the major banks had the closest branch location, were offering the best deal or already provided personal banking to the company’s owners. For heavy users of credit, the decision generally came down to the most lenient loan terms and/or the lowest pricing. These are product-based decisions in an industry where the products have become commodities. Most business owners view their banks as a place to transact their money in the most efficient, cost effective manner. Currency flows through banks like voice and data travels through telecommunication networks. Any differences between banks with respect to products offered or prices of those products are marginal and will not have a material impact on the user’s success. So if bank selection is based on product differentiation and pricing, you might as well put on the blindfold, get spun around three times and see if you can pin that tail on the donkey.

Bank Financial Strength is a Given

Then what are the right criteria to use in making your banking decision? Let’s take it as a given that you only want to work with banks that are financially strong. While this can take a little digging to uncover, the information is readily available on the FDIC’s website, as well as through different bank rating services like bankrate.com and Bauer. A financially troubled bank, particularly one operating under a regulatory enforcement action, will likely be restricted by the regulators from providing you the commodity like products and services at competitive prices that we discussed earlier. More importantly, the bank will be inwardly focused. Satisfying regulatory concerns will trump satisfying you, the client.

Knowledge Based Criteria – Your Banker is the Differentiator

Once you’ve cleared the financial hurdle and are only focused on financially strong banks, I believe that the most important consideration in choosing a bank is the banker. Not to say that the bank itself is unimportant, it’s just less important than the banker you are working with directly. Since the products themselves are commodities, your banker is the key differentiating factor. And guess what? Your banker is practically free. There is no extra fee or charge levied on your bank statement for banker time and talent devoted to you. It comes with the account. I say practically free, because in most cases, the cost of your banker is the differential between the actual dollar costs to the client from one bank to another, which as I have stated earlier tends to be marginal. The reason for this is that banks that compete on price, if they want to be profitable, have to have a low cost structure. Since the principal cost for a bank is people, that means they must pay their people less, which results in a lower level of competency. This is particularly true when it comes to small to mid-size business banking, which I equate to businesses with less than $40 million in sales. As banks work with companies above this sales threshold, the employee cost declines as a percentage of the company’s profit contribution to the bank, so the bank can afford to pay up for talent. If your bank is doing both, offering the most competitive prices and has the most talented bankers, then be careful. Their economic model is flawed and will likely catch up to you as the client in some way as time goes on.

Keeping the Credit Spigot Open is the Key to Growth

So why is having an experienced, technically competent banker important, and what kind of value should you expect them to bring to your business? Helping to address and resolve issues surrounding finance is where a skilled banker can have the most direct, positive impact on your company. This is particularly relevant for credit-intensive businesses. Small to mid-size businesses often don’t have room in their cost structure for a full time Chief Financial Officer. The CEO/Owner knows the numbers, but generally from a different perspective than the CFO. CEOs intuitively understand return on investment, without the need for detailed spreadsheets and graphs.

They can quote from memory annual sales dating back to the inception of their company and know every expense that the company incurred, but generally are much less focused on the balance sheet and other key financial measurements and analysis. Balance sheet measures like book leverage, tangible net worth, and working capital make up at least half of a bank’s credit decision. However CEOs often don’t have the expertise in-house to track and manage these key ratios, as well as other important financial disciplines like financial planning, payback periods, lease vs. buy, financial risk assessment, financial analysis, shock testing, and peer comparisons. A good banker can help you in all of these areas.

The importance of this financial expertise to your business cannot be overstated. I believe that one of the most important factors in a company’s long term success is continuous access to capital, both debt and equity capital. What determines this is a company’s level of profitability and growth in relation to its level of debt. Bank debt is the cheapest form of capital, therefore the more you can borrow as part of your overall capital requirements, the higher the return on your equity investment in the short term. The flip side is that the more you borrow, the greater the financial risk in your business. Banks wants to get paid back faster than other forms of capital, which increases the fixed cash outflows of your company and therefore raises the sales level required to break even. The bank also has a priority security position in the assets of the company, so if you can’t meet your break even sales level, you are at risk of losing everything. Working with a banker that understands this and advises you accordingly is worth its weight in gold. On the surface, the banker who can get you the most credit with the most lenient terms at the lowest price would seem to be the obvious choice. But it is often the beginning of a company’s demise. Without the financial expertise as to how to appropriately use such a credit facility, it’s like being handed a loaded gun without any firearms training.

Your Banker Can Serve as a Facilitator for Improvement in All Business Disciplines

You can turn to your banker for issues outside of finance as well. Bankers have the advantage of working simultaneously with multiple businesses of different sizes and in most industries. We have access to their leadership and their financial data. We observe best practices across the various disciplines, marketing, sales, production, human resources, and information technology. We get to see what’s worked and what hasn’t. We have access to outside resources who are experts in each of these areas. You should view your banker as a facilitator to help you improve in all facets of your business and to resolve obstacles that stand in your way.

Whether it’s devising a new compensation structure, expanding your product line, or implementing a succession plan, your banker can serve as a resource.

Credibility – You Work So Hard To Build It, But It Can Crumble in a Second

In addition to the consultative role that we can play to help your business to continuously improve, we are your advocate and spokesperson within the bank. Especially when it comes to credit related issues, most often the credit decisions within the bank will be made by bankers that have never met you or stepped foot inside your facilities. They will be basing their decisions on the written and oral analysis as presented by your banker. You need to evaluate whether your banker has the knowledge base, experience, critical thinking skills, presentational skills, and credibility to best tell your story. While in many respects the numbers do speak for themselves, more often than not there are gray areas and complexities that need to be thoroughly analyzed and clearly and persuasively explained. The ultimate decision maker within the bank needs to have all of the relevant information in an understandable format in order to reach the appropriate conclusion. You need to be confident that your banker can accomplish this on your behalf.

A company rarely evolves in a linear fashion. There are peaks and inevitably valleys. A good banker is going to maintain an ongoing dialogue with you and be proactive in addressing small problems before they become big ones. In this same manner, your banker will have similar conversations within the bank, to insure that all key players are informed so that surprises are kept to a minimum. That way your credibility is maintained, as well as your banker’s. Once credibility is damaged it’s hard to repair. Let’s say leverage at your company has been creeping up. Your banker should be questioning why and making you aware as to the level that is going to start making folks within the bank uncomfortable. The goal isn’t to micromanage your business, it’s to provide you with the information that you need as a business owner to make tactical adjustments so that you don’t jeopardize access to bank credit, your cheapest source of capital.

Conclusion – A New Vision of your Bank

I encourage you to think of your bank differently. A bank’s products are commodities, but its people can prove to be an invaluable resource in your company’s success. Once you open an account, your bank’s personnel are now part of your team, for no real added cost. You wouldn’t hire the B team for your business, so don’t settle for it from your bank. Lean on and demand more from your banker. We are in a knowledge based economy. Your banker should offer a separate and distinct set of skills that you can rely upon to help you to make the right strategic decisions in leading your company forward.

And while changing banks can be perceived as being as desirable as a root canal, it’s really not that bad. I would think of it more in terms of your bi-annual dental checkup and cleaning: It’s a little bit of a nuisance, but it sure feels good when you’re done.

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Escondido Giving Campaign

Tis the Season for Giving

Escondido Giving Campaign

Escondido Office – Poster art provided by Layla Acord

This holiday season, Regents Bank hosted a Salvation Army Angel Giving Tree on Display in each of our San Diego County offices to help needy children in our communities experience the joy of the holiday season. Many of these children may otherwise go without gifts or food during the holidays.  Our combined efforts yielded over 20 overflowing boxes of food, toys and clothes. Regents Bank President Steve Sefton sits on the Salvation Army Metropolitan Advisory Board and their Program Committee.

La Jolla Salvation Army Giving Campaign

La Jolla Office

Downtown SD Giving Campaign

Downtown San Diego Office

Holiday drive Vista

Vista Office

Our Vancouver office hosted a food drive for their community and partnered with Clark County Food Bank. Their office also sponsored the 12th annual Youth Partnership Luncheon for the Boys & Girls Club of Southwest Washington.

We’d like to thank all of our employees who helped brighten the holidays for others, and express our admiration and gratitude to all of our clients and friends who contributed to our giving efforts.

As you wrap up your work days and settle in with family and friends for the holidays, we’d like to leave you with these seasonal thoughts:

What a magical time of the year – a month in which so many people and cultures have special days to celebrate.

It’s a time when we decorate our homes, our storefronts and our offices,

A time when we share gifts and traditions,

A time when we reach out to those less fortunate,

A time to gather with friends and family,

And a time when we reflect on the year past and welcome in the one ahead.

As you celebrate the season, all of us at Regents Bank wish you peace, joy and laughter.

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Regents Bank – Top-Rated by BauerFinancial

As a business owner or manager, you face a lot of important decisions, and some of them probably keep you up at night. At Regents Bank, we’re committed to going the extra mile so that your decision about where to bank leaves you worry free.

We’re pleased to be able to reassure you that as a division of Grandpoint Bank, Regents Bank holds a Five-Star superior rating from BauerFinancial, an independent research and rating firm.  This is the highest rating possible, awarded only to banks considered to be the strongest in the nation. What does this mean for you and your business?

BauerFinancial has come to be regarded as “the nation’s bank rating service,” and has been analyzing the performance of banks and credit unions since 1983. Ratings are determined by the bank’s capital ratio (a measure of a bank’s capital) as well as profitability, delinquent loans, charge-offs, liquidity and more.

BauerFinancial’s analyses are made using quarterly financial reports filed with the government by each bank or credit union, with historical comparison for consistency. BauerFinancial is an independent rating service, and its star-rating is assigned based upon a scale of zero to five stars. Banks cannot pay to be rated nor opt out of being rated.

Historically, the top performing institutions in the BauerFinancial rating system maintain strong policies, prudent underwriting and responsible investment; qualities that position a bank well for longevity and reliability.

As a business owner, you want the assurance that your banking partner has all of the qualities on which our top BauerFinancial five-star rating is based: strength, stability and soundness.

As you aspire to be among the best of the best in your industry, so do we. We’re happy to provide a five-star assurance that we are up to the task.

Download our BauerFinancial Highlights Report.

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@Glowimages 02A14QPM.

Happy Thanksgiving

@Glowimages 02A14QPM.

The leaves have turned, the air is crisp and the turkeys are… nervous.

Thanksgiving is upon us, and as you decorate your table, gather your friends and family near and prepare your feast, please know that one of the many things we are thankful for at Regents Bank is the trust and loyalty of our clients. We are honored to serve so many individuals and help support the businesses and professionals who work so hard to power our local economy and our communities.

 We raise our collective glasses to you and your families and wish you the happiest of Thanksgivings.

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Banking for Construction Companies: Regents Bank’s Darla Clark Shares Her Insights

Part of our ongoing series about how specialty banking can help you and your business

Darla Clark, Executive Vice President

Darla Clark, Executive Vice President

Executive Vice President Darla Clark has cultivated banking relationships with many San Diego construction companies during her 13 years with Regents Bank. She offers their leaders her in-depth understanding of the construction industry and tailored advice to maximize their banking experience.

Darla has 25 years of experience working with construction companies and is a member of Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA), which offers continuing education to professionals in this field; as well as WCC, Women’s Construction Coalition, which promotes woman-owned construction companies.

When we asked Darla to share the types of banking challenges she sees facing her construction company clients, she cited the cyclical nature of their industry. She stressed the need for banks to work with these companies, especially during downtimes, to advise them about financial statement strategies that will satisfy bank and bonding requirements. Their accounting systems must be tailored to anticipate the cyclical nature of their industry.

Another challenge that construction companies face is the constant threat of bigger companies coming in from other areas to compete for local bids, especially during lean times. In addition to helping her clients plan for peaks and valleys in their revenues, she is also an active member of pro-business organizations that support local businesses and their interests.

Darla added that a banker serving the construction industry should have solid knowledge about bonding issues facing the industry and ample contacts in the bonding agency sector in order to help clients.

Darla was drawn to the construction industry for several reasons. First, it is an important component of San Diego’s economy and our community. Second, Darla is impressed by the people and their work ethics. She also appreciates how much they look to their banker for resources and financial advice, and always value good service and communication.

Many of her construction clients are seasoned companies that started small and grew.  In many instances, the owner worked his or her way up in the industry before starting the company. She enjoys working within this close-knit community of construction companies and admires the respect they share for each other.

She notes the construction industry has yet to bounce back to pre-recession levels, but that the outlook is steadily improving. We know Darla will do everything she can to help make that happen for Regents Bank’s clients.

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Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 10.14.26 AM

Regents Bank Regional Managers Stephen Friedman and Jon Michael Caffall Promoted to Executive Management

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 10.14.26 AM

When Regents Bank recognizes remarkably talented members of our team, what do we do? We promote them!

Stephen Friedman and Jon Michael Caffall have been going above and beyond for our clients for many years, and both have made a huge impression as members of senior management.

In recognition of their hard work and commitment, Stephen and Jon Michael have been elevated to the position of executive vice president. Both will retain their role as regional manager as well – Stephen for our headquarters office in La Jolla and Jon Michael for our Vista and Escondido offices.

Stephen and Jon Michael have also demonstrated leadership and success in consistently growing our bank. The growth they helped us achieve is a testament to their ability to deliver valuable services and advice to our clients.

As part of the executive team, Stephen and Jon Michael will continue to manage their offices and are responsible for developing, managing and expanding commercial loan and depository relationships for small to mid-sized businesses, as well as varied real estate transactions throughout San Diego County. Stephen joined the bank in 2009 and Jon Michael joined the bank in 2005.

A resident of Carmel Valley, Stephen is a participating member of Renaissance Executive Forums, ProVisors, Business Executives Council↗ and Association for Corporate Growth(ACG).

A resident of Vista, Jon Michael supports the Vista Optimist Club↗ and has arranged for Regents Bank to sponsor a Vista Optimist Club fundraiser event. Personally, he also supports Disabled American Veterans↗ and the American Diabetes Association.

Please join us in congratulating Stephen and Jon Michael. They’d love to hear from you.

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