Grandpoint Bank Promotes Karen McGuire to Executive Vice President

karenCongratulations to Karen McGuire, manager of Grandpoint Bank’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, Regents Bank,  Bank of Tucson 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.


An Entertaining Group of Ukulele Players and a Patron of the Arts

In La Jolla, we celebrated the holiday season and our 15th anniversary by teaming up with our client La Jolla Music Societyscreen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-07-51-am to host a client appreciation reception followed by a holiday performance at the MCASD Sherwood Auditorium. We enjoyed wonderful Greek food by Eclat Cateringscreen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-07-51-am and wine before walking over to the museum across the street to enjoy the unique and amazing music of The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain,screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-07-51-am as they performed their “Holiday Show.”


The evening also featured a special appearance by Kristin Lancino (third from left), president and artistic director of La Jolla Music Society and festive caroling by Full Measure. Third from right: Regent Bank’s Hanaa Zahran.

As La Jolla Music Society described The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, they have “entertained British Royalty, jammed with George Harrison, performed with Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) and rocked out at Glastonbury Festival…their hilarious, entertaining dash through all genres of music has led to sold out shows all over the world from the Royal Albert Hall to Sydney Opera House via Carnegie Hall.”

Our guests have since shared with us:

What a unique and memorable performing group!  I think I smiled nonstop through the entire concert!”   

“The concert was outstanding! Thank you for including us!”

“Great memory!!!!!”

“We had a fabulous time. I could not stop smiling and I am still enjoying the ukulele.”



We’d also like to acknowledge our wonderful relationship manager and senior vice president, Hanaa Zahran, who established our relationship with La Jolla Music Society. Hanaa was recently featured as one of San Diego Business Journal’s finalists for Women Who Mean Business this past year, partly because she is tremendously involved with arts and education outreach programs.

Hanaa has joined both the steering committee and corporate involvement committee for a new science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program the San Diego Fleet Science Center is launching for children interested in STEM disciplines. The committees are supporting the Science Center’s endeavor to unite STEM programs throughout the city. The organization will act as a clearing house for corporations, parents and kids that want to be involved with or learn about K-12 STEM programs. Hanaa believes that San Diego’s kids can and should have access to the best STEM training and resources, and she is committed to making it happen.

Hanaa also served as a board member at La Jolla Playhouse for 10 years, only just recently leaving her role on the board. She also served on the theater’s finance, investment and audit committees. Of particular significance was her contribution on the Playhouse’s finance committee, which she chaired for four years. During that time, she developed the idea to create a royalty reserve account as a way to build up reserves from show royalties.

She is also involved with Water for Africa and Lifeline. She has boosted the fundraising activity of both organizations and spent nearly five years on the gala committee for Water for Africa. The organization has played a pivotal role in the development of sustainable water projects in over 120 villages in Africa. These organizations are especially important to Hanaa because she originally hails from Egypt.

Hanaa is thrilled to partner with the La Jolla Music Society. And as everyone who attended our client appreciation reception knows, this is an organization very deserving of San Diego’s pride and admiration. Cheers to a wonderful 2017 and our next 15 years!


Regents Bank’s Darla Clark with carolers


Jim & Colleen Coffman with Darla Clark


(l to r) Rachel Maurais & Stephen Friedman, Ash & Lata Israni, Luis & Sally Maizel


(l to r) Randy & Jennifer Minnier, Kim Poole, Michelle & Brian Hudak


(l to r) Richard Leung, Hanaa Zahran, Isaac & Loraine Levy


(l to r) Tamara Lafarga, Roger Joseph, Steve & Lori Sefton


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Finishing the Year with Charity Drives

Thank you to everyone who contributed to our Salvation Army Angel Tree drive at our San Diego County offices and the Clark County Food Bank drive at our Vancouver, Washington office. The food drive collected 170 pounds of food, and the photos below of our Salvation Army Angel Tree drive speak for themselves. Remarkably, one of our clients contributed $2,000 through our Escondido office to the Angel Tree drive. We are truly grateful to every person who opened their hearts and their wallets to assist those in our community who needed a helping hand this holiday season.


Regents Bank Escondido office (l to r): Taryn Diehl, Mark Fisher, Loretta Warner, Bill Scheffel, Mark Anderson, Alice Tiongco, Melissa Scanlon, David Ekings


Regents Bank Vista office


Regents Bank San Diego office


Regents Bank La Jolla office

Our staff also spent time ringing the bell for Salvation Army Red Kettle drives throughout San Diego County and Vancouver, WA


Regents Bank President Steve Sefton was bell ringing at the Ralph’s in La Jolla


Jesse Murphy-Hill ringing the red kettle bell in Vancouver


From left to right, Melissa and Kelsey Scanlon, Brenya Tiongco, Taryn and her daughters Layla and Trinity working the red kettle in Escondido

Finally, we’re always proud to support Friends of Downtown, and our Senior Vice President Ben Price recently attended their annual Scholarship Luncheon to help present scholarship money the organization raised for San Diego City College students.



2016 San Diego City College Scholarship Recipients and Friends of Downtown Presenters. Ben Price (far right corner)

For more photos of the Friends of Downtown Luncheon at City College:


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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 or (602) 445-6511.



Happy 2017!


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 Regents Bank wish you peace, prosperity and happiness for 2017.



Two ways to help those in need this holiday season

christmas-cove-display-la-jollaFor many, the holidays evoke magical memories of childhood they’ve cherished throughout their lives. As we celebrate the time of year when we have so many opportunities to provide for those less fortunate, we hope you’ll consider brightening a child’s Christmas morning by helping with our Salvation Armyscreen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-07-51-am Angel Giving Tree gift drives.

In the spirit of the holidays, Regents Bank’s San Diego offices are welcoming our staff, clients and friends to contribute now through Friday, December 16 at our offices in downtown, La Jolla, Vista and Escondido.

At our Escondido and Vista offices, you’ll find Angel Trees with gift tags for specific requested gifts. The requests come from hundreds of San Diego children, ages infant to 12 years old, who would otherwise have no gifts to open this holiday season. Families in need that sign up for the program must meet Federal minimum poverty guidelines to qualify.

Each angel on our trees has the name, age, gender and gift request of a child in need. You can “adopt” a child and purchase their (unwrapped) Christmas gift wish to deposit in the barrel we have displayed onsite.

Our La Jolla and Downtown offices are hosting similar gift drives based on a list of suggested items from the Salvation Army.  The general drives help the Salvation Army complete family packages for the holidays. Gifts for “tweens” are most needed since they are the ones who are chosen the least from the Angel Trees.  Again, please do not wrap the gift.

According to the Salvation Army, gifts that interest boys in the tween age group are: Legos, remote controlled toys, athletic balls (soccer balls, footballs, baseballs, basketballs), skateboards, building sets, clothes, watches and electronic items.  Tween girls appreciate: hair tools, hair accessories, nail supplies, make-up, jewelry, art sets, journals, CDs, DVDs, toiletry sets (body wash, lotions, body mists, etc.), scooters, Polaroid cameras (instant cameras) and stationery sets.  Of course, any items for all ages will be gratefully accepted and appreciated.

Please feel free to contact your Regents banker or the main telephone line at any of our San Diego-area  offices if you have any questions about our Salvation Army gift drive.

If your philanthropic heart leans toward higher education, we invite you to help us invest in educating tomorrow’s leaders. Throughout the year, we support Friends of Downtown,screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-07-51-am a non-profit 501 (c)(3) with a membership comprised of individuals who work or live in downtown San Diego. Its goal is sharing information and ideas to enhance the community.

In 2000, Friends of Downtown began awarding scholarships to students at San Diego City College, one of the hidden jewels of downtown, which serves more than 16,000 students on its 60-acre campus. Since then, Friends of Downtown has awarded over $425,000 in scholarships, becoming the largest SDCC scholarship provider. Students who apply are evaluated on their academic performance and interview with the group’s scholarship panel.

FOD Scholarship Luncheon Group Photo

2016 San Diego City College Scholarship Recipients and Friends of Downtown Presenters

For additional information about the Friends of Downtown, please visit

Thank you in advance to those who plan to contribute to the Salvation Army, Friends of Downtown or any other organization working to lift up our neighbors and our communities.


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Happy Thanksgiving


It was 1621 when the Plymouth colonists and the Wampanoag Indians shared a fall harvest meal, regarded by most as the first Thanksgiving. It wasn’t until 1863, however, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day.

Those very early colonists were faced with a harsh New England winter in their first year, which brought malnutrition, illness and death. The kindness of an American Indian who spoke English, which he learned during his time as an English sea captain’s captive, went a long way toward preventing more colonist deaths.

That man, Squanto, taught the colonists how to cultivate and collect food in their new homeland. He also helped them forge an alliance with the local tribe, the Wampanoag; an alliance that endured for more than 50 years.

Historians speculate that the 1621 Thanksgiving menu, shared between the settlers and their new friends, probably included fowl of some sort as well as deer and corn. With no oven and a dwindling sugar supply, cakes and pies were almost certainly not on the menu.

Despite the fact that approximately 90 percent of Thanksgiving meals now feature turkey, the wildfowl served at the first Thanksgiving meal was probably goose or duck.

As traditions have evolved, one or two lucky turkeys get pardoned by the U.S President each year, which started in the mid 20th century. Some state governors do the same for turkeys in their respective states. Over time, parades and volunteering have also became part of the U.S. Thanksgiving tradition.

However you celebrate Thanksgiving, whatever you include in your feast and whomever you invite to your table, from all of us at Regents Bank, we hope this Thanksgiving fills your heart, as well as your belly, and that we all reflect on the charity and friendship exemplified by that first Thanksgiving celebration.

Happy Thanksgiving.



Government Guaranteed Loans and Helping Businesses Grow

leticia-scearce_biltmore-bankSecuring a business loan can be vital to a company’s growth or even survival. Senior Vice President Leticia Scearce, head of Grandpoint’s Government Guaranteed Lending division, shares some great loan options that are available through various government programs which can be facilitated by the Bank and its divisions, Regents Bank, The Biltmore Bank of Arizona and Bank of Tucson.

Q: What should people know about the government guaranteed lending programs that are available?

LS: Government guaranteed loans are there to help small- and medium-sized businesses, since these loans require less cash investment up front and offer longer loan terms. Government guaranteed loans can help bridge the gap for small- and medium-sized businesses that otherwise would not have access to capital.  Also, many businesses that could qualify for conventional loans opt for government guaranteed loans instead because they require less money down and have longer terms. When opting for guaranteed loans, clients usually pay two percent more in fees for 10 to 15 percent cash down versus the 30 percent down for conventional loans.

The most well-known government guaranteed loan programs are those offered by the Small Business Administration (SBA) loans.  These loan programs can include financing for owner-occupied real estate purchase or construction, refinance, equipment, business acquisition, exporting and short term working capital (revolving lines of credit).

Another very attractive loan program is available through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).  Eligible USDA loans can be for real estate and equipment (including renewable energy projects) in rural or farming areas and can have a loan term up to 30 years. In addition, there are a few subprograms under the USDA loan program umbrella that allow us to finance projects in urban areas that have a local foods component – food manufacturing, distribution, retail, etc. The USDA loan product is attractive because it offers the longest term of the government guaranteed loan programs; is more flexible in pricing and prepayment penalties; has less oversight with franchises and dealer agreements; and has less regulation overall. It needs to be mentioned that even though the program is offered under the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the financing of eligible projects / properties under this program do not need to be agriculture related.  Rather, its availability is contingent on the current population levels of a specific census tract in which the business or property will be located.

Q: What is the current status of government guaranteed lending?

LS: We’re hitting record levels of government guaranteed lending as the economy is improving. One reason is that the banks’ lending standards for conventional loans haven’t changed much since the recession, which makes guaranteed loans more attainable and attractive.

Q: Have you seen any big changes in the government guaranteed lending programs that business owners should know about?

LS: We saw a big change recently in the SBA 504 program. This product offers low cash down and a 20-year fixed rate on the client’s second loan, which is financed by the SBA. The agency now allows the client to refinance existing loans on owner-occupied real estate and allows some cash out provisions, helping the small business owner access capital for long-term working capital.

Q: How do the members of the government guaranteed lending program for Grandpoint Bank and its divisions work together to assist clients?

LS: We are tasked with helping all our regions expand our government guaranteed lending, which is a combination of SBA loans, USDA loans and export loans. I’m based in Phoenix at The Biltmore Bank of Arizona, along with Debbie Lindsay, our loan administrator. My team’s loan specialist/underwriter, Marchette Wesley, and portfolio servicer, Hector Palomares, are in California, and I travel to our offices throughout Arizona, California and Washington to train our staff about our guaranteed loan platform.  We assist our relationship managers in deepening their knowledge base with the different loan products we have available. We also train our credit staff so they can recognize when a conventional loan isn’t suited for a client and a government guaranteed loan could offer a great alternative.

Mark Phillips, Grandpoint Capital’s chief credit officer, and David Ross, Grandpoint Bank’s chief credit officer, and our regional bank presidents have been very supportive of our division and expansion.

Q: How is Grandpoint Bank, and its divisions, differentiating itself in this type of lending?

LS: Our Southern California and Vancouver, Washington markets do a lot of export business, so with our large geographic footprint and sizable lending capacity, we can target more middle market customers.   In Arizona, we have more rural opportunities, and thus the USDA programs are a great fit. We are already one of the top lenders in the state for USDA loans.  We are looking forward to expanding our footprint in USDA lending in all of our markets.   Seventy to 90 percent of government guaranteed loans don’t count against a bank’s legal lending limits, so we have more capacity to service larger companies as well.

Q: How did your career lead you to becoming the head of the government guaranteed lending division?

LS: I was drawn to SBA lending in 2007 when I was working in commercial lending at a community bank here in Scottsdale. I further progressed into this niche lending sector during the recession when the credit markets froze and guaranteed loans became even more essential. When I joined The Biltmore Bank of Arizona in 2011, I helped established the SBA department, and a year later I pushed for expansion into other government guaranteed loan programs such as USDA loans and export financing.  A diverse, more inclusive platform was important to our brand and to our customer base, and I was fortunate that key management at Biltmore trusted and supported my recommendations. In 2012, Biltmore Bank was acquired by Grandpoint Bank, and with the backing of a larger bank, it allowed us to expand our lending efforts even further.  Personally, Grandpoint gave me access to a larger platform with great management resources to help expand and develop this lending niche. Prior to the acquisition, our government guaranteed lending activity was small, but many of the banks acquired by Grandpoint around the same time had SBA loan portfolios, so my servicing and liquidation role increased. Soon thereafter, our senior management team decided to expand this niche of lending for the whole family of banks. I’m pleased to have a very amazing team. We all have to stay up to date on policies and procedures for all of these programs. This type of lending makes you a better banker, because it requires a complex level of understanding and mastery of detail; it makes you sharper.

Q: Are you involved in any civic work?

LS: I serve on the City of Phoenix Investment Advisory Board, which advises the city on its entire investment portfolio.

Q: What do you like to do for fun?

LS: My husband and I are into cycling, and I love to hike. I also enjoy cooking and baking, and I’m a wine connoisseur. We have visited more than 100 wineries, and I’d love to become a sommelier someday. More immediately, I’d like to look at growth and loan opportunities in the wine industries throughout the various regions we serve. I also enjoy reading, gardening, and I am a big tennis fan!



Veterans Day, 2016

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Our great nation was founded on the belief that everyone is created equal and that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are inalienable rights. At times in our history, as will surely be the case in our future, brave men and women have been called upon to defend those rights and ideals.

Today we celebrate those individuals who have given their time, their skills and even their lives, to protect our safety, freedom and way of life.

To all the members of the United States military, past, present and future, thank you for your service. No one better demonstrates than you the closing line of the Declaration of Independence: “we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

Happy Veterans Day