If you were a bank president at an institution with less than $1 billion of assets within San Francisco, chances are about 50-50 that by now you are doing something else with you career.
"It's been a bloodbath," said the chief financial officer at one small San Francisco bank.
While Northern California community banks, at least so far, have been spared the worst of the real estate problems that have ravaged community banks in the southern part of the Golden State. San Francisco community banks weren't so lucky.
Vulnerable to Downturns
San Francisco's community banks found in the last two years that they were not immune to the same afflictions of other big-city community banks. High overhead, overreliance on commercial real estate, and aggressive growth left them vulnerable to the slightest downturn.
The result has been losses, regulator-prompted recapitalizations, and executive turnover.
Optimism among the city's bankers is hard to find.
"I wish I could sound more optimistic, but until the California banking market gets back on its feet. I don't think there's going to be much optimism," said James Woolwine, chief executive of Golden Gate Bank.
According to information provided by Sheshunoff Information Services, eight out of the 19 banks in San Francisco County with assets of less than $2 billion are losing money, and nine of the 19 have nonperforming asset ratios of greater than 4%.
A telephone survey of the 19 banks found that eight no longer have the same chief executive they had in June 1991.
The most visible troubled institutions are a troika of private banking organizations, two of which have gone through management changes -- Bank of San Francisco and Pacific Bank -- and two of which have gone through recapitalizations -- Bank of San Francisco and Golden Gate Bank.
Pacific Bank is under orders from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to raise $25 million by yearned. With about $85 million in nonperforming assets. Pacific Bank has one of the highest ratio of nonperformers as a percentage of assets of any bank in California.
Some Positive Points
There are, however, bright spots. The city's Asian-oriented community banks are all performing well. And Redwood Bank, a real estate-oriented bank that's run by a former real estate developer, appears to have escaped the credit quality problems that have crippled its competitors.
"I think it's easy to blame your problems on the regulators," said Bruce W. Leppla, chief executive of Redwood Bank, which has only a 1% nonperformer ratio. "The bottom line is we didn't do a lot of deals that other banks would."
In addition, San Francisco community banks are relatively well-capitalized. Only one bank, Pacific Bank, has a leverage capital ratio of less than 5%.