AFTER YEARS IN HIGH-PROFILE private banking jobs, Stephen V.R. Spaulding has stepped back for a role at small Bank of San Francisco.

Mr. Spaulding, a veteran of Chase Manhattan Corp. and BankAmerica Corp., moved to the $250 million-asset bank as head of private banking and private business operations.

He expresses no regrets. "The great thing about it is that you can get your arms around this," Mr. Spaulding said in a telephone interview. Any of the branch offices he oversaw as head of Bank of America's U.S. private bankind department had larger loan totals than Bank of San Francisco.

Mr. Spaulding said he left his most recent post as president of Chase Manhattan Trust Co., San Francisco, in part because it was unclear whether the home office had a lasting commitment to California. "My interest was get back to a California- or San Francisco-based operation," he said.

Still, the one-office bank isn't without its worries. Regulators are watching as Bank of San Francisco tries to dig out of losses suffered during California's realty bust.

Mr. Spaulding said his first project will be to help recapitalize early next year and work out from under regulators' heightened scrutiny.

When he joined the bank last month, he became part of a new team focused on turning around what has been dismal performance.

Once recapitalized, the bank will develop a strategy focusing on the Pacific, he said. And to compete in a crush of private banks, an ad campaign may stress "that we are a local bank, that we are active and well, that we give great service."

Also on the move is David B. Robb Jr., who recently took over as president and CEO of J.P. Morgan & Co.'s Palm Beach, Fla., office. He was managing director of Morgan's Delaware private banking group in Wilmington.

Mr. Robb said he has no plans to shake things up. The 13-year-old office has an established client base, and assets have doubled in the last two years. "I wasn't sent here to fix things," Mr. Robb explained. "This office is in great shape."

Mr. Robb said one reason he's glad to be in Florida is that it is one of the nation's top private banking markets.

"Florida is an exciting market," he said. It's no secret that I was thrilled with the assignment." He added that there is a long tradition of Wilmington and Palm Beach exchanging officers.

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