Signature Bank in New York has hired two veteran bankers away from rival First Republic Bank to head up its new West Coast operations.

The $43.1 billion-asset company said Tuesday that it has named Joe Petitti as head of West Coast operations and John “Jack” Knight as managing director, cash management operations.

Petitti, formerly an executive vice president in charge of deposit strategies at San Francisco-based First Republic, will oversee Signature's expansion efforts in California, which will largely consist of hiring teams of bankers with existing books of business.

Joseph DePaolo, president and CEO of Signature Bank
CEO Joseph DePaolo said that Signature's brand of relationship banking plays well in California.

Knight, formerly First Republic’s national director of preferred banking, will be responsible for cash management products and services and will manage the day-to-day operations of Signature’s West Coast activities.

Signature is primarily a private bank that caters to businesses, their owners and senior executives. The bank hired its first private-banking team in California last summer and President and CEO Joseph DePaolo said it decided to continue expanding because it believes there is strong demand for its brand of banking in the country’s largest state.

“Since appointing our first private client banking team in California last summer, we have quickly learned that out client-centric philosophy and high-touch service is much needed,” said DePaolo, the only CEO in Signature's 17-year history.

Petitti and Knight will work temporarily in Signature’s recently opened loan production office in San Francisco until its full-service private-client banking office opens downtown. The office will be Signature’s first full-service office outside the New York metropolitan area.

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