As Banc of California ramped up its operations in Southern California, management decided it needed to do the same for the company's financial literacy program.
The $4.4 billion-asset company will host a financial literacy event in November for more than 5,000 children in Southern California and feature former President Bill Clinton as the keynote speaker. The company is touting the program as "the world's largest financial literacy education event."
The day will feature "real role model" speakers, including Clinton and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, in addition to entertainment such as a performance by the University of Southern California marching band, said Steven Sugarman, Banc of California's president and chief executive.
"As we grow, we need to see our efforts in these communities grow," Sugarman said in an interview. "We need to meet the needs of all of the communities we serve."
Banc of California, which has grown rapidly in recent years through several acquisitions, plans to reach $5 billion of assets. The financial literacy event, scheduled for Nov. 9, is expected to coincide with the bank's purchase of 37 Banco Popular branches.
The "investment we are making in these communities and the focus we have on financial literacy is tied," Sugarman said. As the bank grows, it is also expanding its financial literacy programs through recently announced partnerships with the University of Southern California and San Diego State University.
The decision to host the event is unrelated to an advocacy group's recent opposition to the Popular branch deal, Sugarman said, adding that the event's planning had been under way for months.
The California Reinvestment Coalition initially opposed the Popular deal, arguing that Banc of California had little history of serving minorities and the poor. The two sides came to an agreement after Banc of California set eight community reinvestment goals, such as putting 20% of deposits toward loans, investments or donations to low-income or underserved communities.
The company is recruiting students for the financial literacy event through its partnerships with community groups, nonprofits and religious organizations, Sugarman said. Participants will also get to see the University of Southern California women's basketball team play after the event.
"This is really a kickoff to the next phase of our efforts in Southern California," Sugarman said.