Boston Private Financial Holdings Inc. has installed new leadership and a new strategy at its Los Angeles banking unit to right the ship after the unit suffered losses related to its residential and construction loan portfolio in the past year.
The company announced Tuesday that it had hired V. Charles Jackson as the chief executive officer of its First Private Bank and Trust. He succeeded James D. Dawson, who had been the bank's interim CEO since February, when Richard C. Taylor retired.
Boston Private took a $25 million impairment charge in the first quarter as a result of heavy losses in First Private's loan portfolios. Mr. Dawson, who will remain a First Private director and executive vice president and CEO of the parent's private banking group, said in an interview Tuesday the bank "strayed" into making some speculative land development loans in the Inland Empire that caused the losses.
"Really we got trapped in a perfect storm as growth slowed and the credit crunch began," he said.
Over the past six months First Private has stopped lending to land developers, Mr. Dawson said, and it has started to focus on "building this business into one that focusses on deposit management, wealth management, and investment management."
Boston Private plans to change First Private from a traditional community bank with a focus on lending to a private bank, he said. "Some of the banks that we have bought in the past five years resemble private banks, and some do not. First Private was community bank with a concentration on banking assets and lending. We want to change that."
Mr. Dawson said Boston Private is using a similar strategy at Charter Bank in Bellevue, Wash. "This is a model and an approach that we believe can really be beneficial for us," he said. "We want to get the right leadership in place, so that we can expand by focussing on private banking."
Mr. Dawson also said he is confident that Boston Private can develop its operations in Southern California, a market it entered in 2003 by buying First Private, which has six branches in Encino, Grenada Hills, Burbank, West Lake Village, Santa Monica, and Irvine. He said Mr. Jackson has a strong reputation in the banking industry, specifically in California, and will help foster organic growth.
Mr. Jackson, a 30-year banking veteran, was the CEO of Security Pacific Bancorp in Los Angeles. Before that he was president and CEO of Community Bank in Pasadena. Earlier he had worked for Mellon Financial Corp.
Boston Private has spent the past couple of months assembling the capital to expand. On July 23 it announced plans to sell 16 million shares of common stock for $6 each to raise $90.2 million. A day earlier it announced that Carlyle Group would invest $75 million in the company.
"We have raised enough new capital to ensure that we have a strong balance sheet enterprisewide," Mr. Dawson said. "We think that we have the capital now to support all of our companies with organic growth, and when the time is right, we can look for acquisitions."
Boston Private is interested in expanding into Atlanta, Washington, Denver, and Dallas, he said, but "our primary focus is developing a strong wealth management presence in the regions we are already in."
It has $36 billion of assets under management and 14 units that focus on private banking, investment management, and financial planning in New England, New York, Florida, the Pacific Northwest, and California.