When David Partridge entered banking in the 1970s, all it took to make money was to show up and unlock the doors every morning.

"It was almost impossible to lose money as a bank then," said Mr. Partridge, who was a senior executive of a California thrift at the time. "It was like drilling for oil in Saudi Arabia."

Limited Time Offer

Save $400 off your subscription. Special offer ends April 30, 2017.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.