Signature Bank Expands West Coast Operations With Appointment of Executive Director and 45 Professionals Spanning 15 Private Client Banking Teams

Expansion Extends Across both Northern and Southern California with Planned Opening of Four Private Client Banking Offices; Marks Bank’s Entry into the Los Angeles Area and Orange County

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Signature Bank (Nasdaq: SBNY), a New York-based full-service commercial bank, announced today its expansion efforts in the greater Los Angeles market, complementing its San Francisco operations.

Judi Prejean, who will oversee the Bank’s West Coast growth and ongoing operations, was appointed to the post of Executive Director, West Coast Banking Operations, along with 45 professionals, spanning 15 private client banking teams. Total teams comprising Signature Bank’s West Coast Banking Operations are now at 19, which consists of 61 banking professionals.

The new teams will be based in both Northern and Southern California, and as a result, Signature Bank will open four new private client banking offices in the Southern California areas of Warner Center (Woodland Hills), Newport Beach, Beverly Hills and Ontario. Concurrently, the Bank will enhance its presence in San Francisco with the appointment of five additional teams to its flagship Mission Street office.

Prejean, based in Warner Center, brings more than four decades of banking experience to her new role. Most recently, she was Senior Vice President and Business Banking Group Manager at Bank of the West in Los Angeles, where she spent nearly 30 years in roles of increasing responsibility. In her last position, she led business banking throughout California, working with small to mid-size businesses statewide, and managing nine banking teams. Colleagues she worked with there for 10+ years also joined Signature Bank.

Emilie McMurray and James Canepa, each named Managing Group Director and Senior Vice President, are responsible for business development and for the oversight of six and four teams, respectively.

McMurray, with more than two decades of banking experience, joins from JPMorgan Chase in Irvine, California, and will be based in the Newport Beach office. Previously, as Senior Vice President and Market Manager for Business Banking in Orange County, California, McMurray and the 80+ person team she managed, oversaw the banking and finance needs of the institution’s commercial client base.

The teams under McMurray’s direction throughout both Northern and Southern California, include mainly professionals with whom she previously worked at JPMorgan Chase:

  • Scott Manivong, with a 22-year banking career, was named Group Director and Senior Vice President. He served as Area Manager, Silicon Valley Business Banking and Vice President, based in Santa Clara and managed a team of 11 regional managers. Joining Manivong’s team is Isiah Alcantar, as Group Director and Vice President. He was a Vice President, Area Manager of Business Banking in the South Bay for seven years and spent nearly two decades working in commercial banking. Lee Nguyen, Associate Group Director and Vice President, was formerly a Relationship Manager I, Business Banking Retail in Palo Alto for 13 years, and Christine Grady, with 15 years in banking, is the team’s Senior Client Associate, after serving as a Business Relationship Manager at her former institution.
  • A team led by Brian Ngo-Tran and Huy Doan, both named Group Director and Senior Vice President, will be based out of the soon-to-open Newport Beach private client banking office. Devin Butler is the Senior Client Associate. A 20-year banking veteran, previously, Ngo-Tran was a relationship executive within the technology and disruptive commerce group in Southern California. Doan, having spent 18 years in banking, was a Business Banking Area Manager – Vice President for Orange County at the institution’s Irvine branch, where he managed a team of relationship managers. Butler was an Orange County-based Relationship Manager I at his former institution, managing a large book of commercial clients and mentoring small business bankers throughout the branch network.
  • Another Newport Beach team will be headed by Group Director and Senior Vice President Rita Al-Silhi, who brings nearly 20 years of banking experience to her new role. Previously, she was Business Banking Area Manager in Irvine, responsible for managing 12 relationship managers. Zach Lomas joins Al-Silhi’s team as Associate Group Director and Vice President while Noemi Martinez was appointed Senior Client Associate. Previously, Lomas was Senior Business Relationship Manager at Chase and Martinez joined from Wells Fargo Bank, where she served as Treasury Services Associate.
  • Group Directors and Senior Vice Presidents Adam Lewis and Casey Grafeld join the San Francisco office covering the North Bay. Lewis, a 16-year banking veteran, was Vice President of Business Banking and Area Manager of JPMorgan Chase’s Team North Bay in San Francisco. During Grafeld’s 28 years in banking, the past four were spent as a Senior Relationship Manager at the San Rafael office of Bank of America. Joining Lewis and Grafeld is Senior Client Associate Jonathan Jones, who worked in banking for 15 years at Bank of America, as a Sales Support Associate in the San Francisco branch as well as a Consumer Relationship Manager.
  • Several teams will call the new Beverly Hills office home. Group Director and Senior Vice President Aaron Blackfelner, joined by Bianca Castillo, Senior Client Associate, comprise one team. With nearly two decades dedicated to banking, most recently, Blackfelner spent 11 years as Business Banking Area Manager for Los Angeles. Castillo, most recently Vice President, Branch Manager in Gardena, California, spent four of her 16 years in banking in that capacity.
  • Thomas Fatemi, Group Director and Senior Vice President will be based in Beverly Hills. Fatemi, whose banking career spans 15 years, most recently, held the role of Senior Business Relationship Manager in Los Angeles.

Canepa will oversee private client banking teams throughout Southern California, including those in Warner Center (Woodland Hills), Ontario and Beverly Hills. He spent the past decade of his 22-year banking career at Bank of the West in Sherman Oaks, California, where he was a Regional Manager, Senior Vice President, managing the Southern California region.

Canepa worked with Prejean for five years. The teams he oversees predominately join from Bank of the West. Canepa and the following teams will be based at the new Warner Center office in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley:

  • Jodi Chavin, named Group Director and Senior Vice President, spent 18 years as a Senior Business Banking Relationship Manager for small to mid-size businesses, where she worked with Prejean as well, for five years. Lara Tabbara, with a 15-year banking background, was appointed to Associate Group Director and Vice President and previously was a Relationship Manager I, focused on Commercial & Industrial (C&I) clients while Rita Kouyoumijian, new Senior Client Associate, was Vice President and Senior Service Officer in Sherman Oaks for the past 13 years.
  • A second team is headed by Sania Kazimi. With 27 years of banking expertise, Kazimi was a Senior Lead Relationship Manager III, also in Sherman Oaks, developing and managing commercial relationships. Michael Thomas serves as Associate Group Director and Parviz Ansari as Senior Client Associate on Kazimi’s team. Thomas, whose banking career extends 22 years, most recently managed a JPMorgan Chase office in Los Angeles. Ansari was a Senior Relationship Manager at the Sherman Oaks branch, a position he held for four years during his 20-year career in relationship banking.
  • Group Director and Senior Vice President Debra Gentz worked with Canepa and Prejean for 10 of her 20-year banking career. She was a Principal Business Banking Relationship Manager. Mardig Taslakian was named Associate Group Director and Vice President, a 15-year banking veteran, who spent the past seven as Senior Private Client Advisor.
  • Aleen Orfali was named Senior Client Associate for Gentz’ team. She comes to the Bank from City National Bank, where she served as Assistant Vice President and Senior Private Banking Officer. She began her 10-year career at Bank of the West in Sherman Oaks.
  • For the new private client office in Ontario, Kenneth Hernandez was named Group Director and Senior Vice President, Brad Buenconsejo Associate Group Director and Vice President and Zenaida (Sandy) Valencia, Senior Client Associate. Hernandez, with 28 years of related expertise, was Principal Business Banking Relationship Manager for five years. Buenconsejo was Vice President and Private Client Advisor in Pasadena, handling a portfolio of high-net-worth clients for 10 years. Valencia spent 20 years in various roles at her former institution; the latest, Business Banking Sales Associate in the Chino, California branch, supporting relationship managers.

Furthermore, adding to the Bank’s Los Angeles-area expansion are two additional teams:

  • Joseph Mauriello and Timothy Huynh, both of whom worked together at Bank of the West for 10 years, join Signature Bank as Group Directors and Senior Vice Presidents in Newport Beach. Mauriello was Vice President and Senior Team Leader in Newport Beach prior, specializing in serving commercial clients in the areas of manufacturing, distribution and importing/exporting, having spent 18 of his 38-year career at Bank of the West. Huynh was a Senior Relationship Manager III, Vice President there for 13 of his 25 years in banking. Grace Patton joined the team as Relationship Manager, after dedicating 12 of her 20+-year career in financial services as a Senior Client Service Officer in the Wealth Management Group of the same institution. Channing Lindsay and Michelle Trinh join this team as Associate Group Director and Vice President, and Senior Client Associate, respectively. Lindsay was Senior Private Client Advisor and Vice President at Bank of the West for five years while Trinh was a personal banker at Citibank for 13 years before joining the Mauriello/Huynh team.
  • Jim Strickland and Mike Weiner, both named Group Director and Senior Vice President, will be leading a fourth Warner Center team, joined by Vladimir Balles, Associate Group Director and Vice President. All come from roles at Opus Bank in Valencia, California, where, Strickland, a 30-year banking professional, was Regional Managing Director and Wiener and Balles, both with 25 years in the industry, served as Senior Vice President – Senior Relationship Manager and Vice President – Senior Relationship Manager, respectively.

Additionally, Signature Bank also appointed three teams to its existing San Francisco private client banking office that already houses four:

  • Marsela Pecanac, Group Director and Senior Vice President and Eric Burnias, Associate Group Director and Vice President, join from Amalgamated Bank in San Francisco. Pecanac was a First Vice President in Commercial Banking there for seven of her 16-year banking career, and Burnias was an Account Executive.
  • A team managed by Deborah Stangl and Lisa Zuffi, both Group Directors and Senior Vice Presidents, have known each other for 21 years, and previously worked together at Bank of America. Stangl, with 27 years of banking experience, was a Senior Vice President and Business Banking regional Manager at Bank of the West for the past two years. Most recently, Zuffi spent the past eight years of her 25-year banking career at Heritage Bank of Commerce in Walnut Creek, California, as Senior Vice President and Relationship Manager.
  • The third San Francisco-based team is spearheaded by Ronald Henoud, Group Director and Senior Vice President, Associate Group Director and Vice President Josh Goff and Shona Jones, Client Service Associate, all joining from Bank of the West. Henoud, with a banking background extending nearly four decades, spent the past several years as a Team Leader Relationship Manager and Vice President in the Oakland, California office. Goff was a Senior Relationship Manager in Petaluma, California, handling business development and relationship management for eight years and has spent 14 years in the banking sector. Jones was a Senior Administrative Assistant.

“While our roots date back 20 years to our New York City inception as an entrepreneurial start-up commercial bank, Signature Bank has quickly grown from our initial beginnings in Manhattan and Brooklyn. First, we expanded into the greater metropolitan-New York area, and then, 16 years later, we established operations on the West Coast in 2017. With our proven single-point-of-contact banking model at our core, we realized the vast opportunity for bankers and clients alike on the West Coast. Our San Francisco clients are also significantly benefiting from the type of dedicated, exceptional service the Bank delivers to the commercial market, which has continually distinguished this institution since our formation,” said Joseph J. DePaolo, President and Chief Executive Officer at Signature Bank.

“In keeping with our founding philosophy, we add offices in geographic areas only once we identify veteran bankers in those markets. The West Coast presented many opportunities for attracting seasoned banking professionals, all of whom have long-standing careers and significant relationships, which is why this latest expansion is so sizeable and extensive. We welcome Judi and all the teams to the Signature Bank network and are ready to introduce our distinctive single-point-of-contact banking model to Southern California while simultaneously deepening our Northern California presence. We look forward to the contributions this remarkable group of professionals will bring to the Signature Bank franchise,” DePaolo concluded.

Prejean commented: “Signature Bank is just the right combination of traditional banking and modern technology. The institution and its principles initially reminded me of the way banking relationships were conducted in the past – when common sense, financial care and stellar service were considered key components of the decision-making equation, and the client was central to a bank’s operations and success here at Signature Bank, the client-banker relationship is clearly understood and highly valued in that same regard. In addition, commercial clients are afforded state-of-the-art technologies, giving them today’s necessary tools for advancing their businesses. Our clients perceive their bankers and teams as trusted and committed advisors, and know we stand ready to meet all their needs. I am privileged to have found Signature Bank after dedicating my entire career to the financial services space, and now see how its unparalleled model and single-point-of-contact focus influence the industry and the delivery of client care.”

Signature Bank expects to open its Warner Center, Ontario and Newport Beach private client banking offices during the summer of 2020, with Beverly Hills closely following in the fall.

About Signature Bank

Signature Bank, member FDIC, is a New York-based full-service commercial bank with 32 private client offices throughout the New York metropolitan area including Greenwich, Connecticut as well as in San Francisco and Charlotte, N.C. The Bank’s growing network of private client banking teams serves the needs of privately owned businesses, their owners and senior managers.

Signature Bank’s specialty finance subsidiary, Signature Financial, LLC, provides equipment finance and leasing. Signature Securities Group Corporation, a wholly owned Bank subsidiary, is a licensed broker-dealer, investment adviser and member FINRA/SIPC, offering investment, brokerage, asset management and insurance products and services.

Signature Bank’s revolutionary, blockchain-based digital payments platform, Signet™, allows the Bank’s commercial clients to make real-time payments in U.S. dollars, 24/7/365, safely and securely, without transaction fees. Signature Bank is the first FDIC-insured bank to launch a blockchain-based digital payments platform, and Signet is the first such platform to be approved for use by the NYS Department of Financial Services.

Since commencing operations in May 2001, the Bank has grown to $53.07 billion in assets, $41.0 billion in loans, $42.24 billion in deposits, $4.76 billion in equity capital and $3.39 billion in other assets under management as of March 31, 2020. Signature Bank’s Tier 1 and risk-based capital ratios are above the levels required to be considered well capitalized.

Signature Bank is one of the top 40 largest banks in the U.S., based on deposits (S&P Global Market Intelligence). The Bank recently earned several third-party recognitions, including: appeared on Forbes’ Best Banks in America list for the 10th consecutive year in 2020; and, named number one in the Business Bank, Private Bank and Attorney Escrow Services categories by the New York Law Journal in the publication’s annual “Best of” survey for 2019, earning it a place in the New York Law Journal’s Hall of Fame (awarded to companies that have ranked in the “Best of” survey for at least three of the past four years). The Bank also ranked second nationally in the Business Bank, Private Banking Services and Attorney Escrow Service categories of both the 2019 and 2020 National Law Journal’s “Best of” survey.

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This press release and oral statements made from time to time by our representatives contain “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 that are subject to risks and uncertainties. You should not place undue reliance on those statements because they are subject to numerous risks and uncertainties relating to our operations and business environment, all of which are difficult to predict and may be beyond our control. Forward-looking statements include information concerning our future results, interest rates and the interest rate environment, loan and deposit growth, loan performance, operations, new private client teams and other hires, new office openings and business strategy, and new products, future dividends and share repurchases. These statements often include words such as “may,” “believe,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “intend,” “potential,” “opportunity,” “could,” “project,” “seek,” “should,” “will,” “would,” “plan,” “estimate” or other similar expressions. As you consider forward-looking statements, you should understand that these statements are not guarantees of performance or results. They involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements and can change as a result of many possible events or factors, not all of which are known to us or in our control. These factors include but are not limited to: (i) prevailing economic conditions; (ii) changes in interest rates, loan demand, real estate values and competition, any of which can materially affect origination levels and gain on sale results in our business, as well as other aspects of our financial performance, including earnings on interest-bearing assets; (iii) the level of defaults, losses and prepayments on loans made by us, whether held in portfolio or sold in the whole loan secondary markets, which can materially affect charge-off levels and required credit loss reserve levels; (iv) changes in monetary and fiscal policies of the U.S. Government, including policies of the U.S. Treasury and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System; (v) changes in the banking and other financial services regulatory environment and (vi) competition for qualified personnel and desirable office locations. Although we believe that these forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions, beliefs and expectations, if a change occurs or our beliefs, assumptions and expectations were incorrect, our business, financial condition, liquidity or results of operations may vary materially from those expressed in our forward-looking statements. Additional risks are described in our quarterly and annual reports filed with the FDIC. You should keep in mind that any forward-looking statements made by Signature Bank speak only as of the date on which they were made. New risks and uncertainties come up from time to time, and we cannot predict these events or how they may affect the Bank. Signature Bank has no duty to, and does not intend to, update or revise the forward-looking statements after the date on which they are made. In light of these risks and uncertainties, you should keep in mind that any forward-looking statement made in this release or elsewhere might not reflect actual results.


Investor Contact:

Eric R. Howell, Executive Vice President –

Corporate and Business Development


Media Contact:

Susan Turkell Lewis, 646-822-1825,


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