Personal Living

Banking on the Businesses

Published: Monday, July 1, 2013 | 10:50 AM

AmericanWest Bank is a business-focused community bank with its Pasadena location at 721 E. Union Street and a number of other Southern California offices from LA to Palm Desert and more than 100 branches overall. When you talk to Edward Lee, Pasadena Branch Manager, it’s clear this bank has managed to carve out a unique niche in banking today, which is no easy feat.

“We’re a full-service bank offering customers all the products and services they could want, but we are proud to deliver it with a true community banking spirit,” said Lee. “Every client is our most important client.”

Founded nearly 40 years ago, AmericanWest recently expanded to this area when they merged with Inland Community Bank. Today, the bank has $3.8 Billion in assets and are well-capitalized by regulatory standards, with Total Risk Based Capital above 16 percent—nearly twice the amount required by regulators to be considered among the strongest banks in the Nation.

They are putting that capital to work in the form of loans as they are actively lending here in Pasadena and are a Small Business Administration Preferred Lender. In fact, AmericanWest is best-known for assisting businesses. Lee says every day their experienced team is working with local businesses to secure the financing they need as well as recommend up-to-date financial solutions. This allows businesses to leverage their current cash flow in order to create new opportunities for growth. The efforts of the AmericanWest team are demonstrated in their bottom line. Last year alone they had more than 10 percent organic loan growth.

“We’re passionate about helping local businesses achieve their financial goals and businesses are responding more than ever before,” says Lee. “When I think of the economic vitality of our region I immediately focus on the businesses—large and small. The products and services they create, promote, sell and service, as well as the people they employ, that forms the foundation of our local economy. Our job is to help them stay strong and grow.”

In the spirit of offering local business leaders useful guidance, Lee reminds us that today many financial institutions can fund a loan, but he recommends choosing a banker who truly knows your business. Whoever you choose, they should be a resource available to you year-round, and on short notice, not just when your loan or line is up for renewal.

Another personality trait of AmericanWest is their willingness to earn your business.

“We don’t expect clients to know every product and service available in banking—that’s our job—and if we’re doing our job right we understand their financial goals and proactively recommend banking solutions to save them time and money,” said Lee.

Working closely with local businesses and helping them achieve success is why I am at AmericanWest Bank,” Lee said. “It’s exciting to play a small but important role in moving our local economy forward.”

Finally, as a business-focused community bank they are equally committed to being an active corporate citizen. So much so that AmericanWest created a unique program that takes volunteerism a step further. To ensure employees have the time to volunteer, every employee receives paid time off to volunteer during working hours. Last year, employees donated more than 8,000 hours of their time at their favorite charities.

As a healthy, thriving bank, leadership appreciates that making financial contributions is also an important part to being active in the community.

“In addition to the many charitable contributions made every year, we get creative and host several of our own bank-wide initiatives ,” Lee said. “For example, we just completed a month-long food drive where every branch chose a local charity and then sought cash and food donations for them throughout May. Our five branches in this area collected $2,460 and nearly 1 ton of food!”

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