November 23, 2023
You are here:  Home  >  Banking & Finance  >  Current Article

Montecito Bank & Trust hires Leis to be COO


George Leis

George Leis

Updated at 8:10 p.m.:

Montecito Bank & Trust, one of the largest privately-owned banks in California, has hired veteran Union Bank executive George Leis to join its executive team.

Effective July 19, Leis will become chief operating officer reporting to President and CEO Janet Garufis. He’ll oversee the bank’s lending, retail and business banking activities and join the bank’s executive committee.

“George Leis will make an important contribution to our team from Day One, as we continue to deliver exceptional service and leadership while being even more involved in supporting the Central Coast communities than we are today,” said owner and Chairman Michael Towbes in a statement.

Leis joined Union as the head of its Central Coast region after negotiating the $1.5 billion sale of Santa Barbara Bank & Trust’s parent company to Union in 2012. It was the largest banking deal in the region’s history. He most recently served as the managing director of Union’s Private Banking division.

Montecito Bank & Trust has expanded its management ranks, hiring Jeff Paul from Rabobank to be director of retail and commercial banking and Jeff Pittman from Wells Fargo to be director of wealth management.

By hiring Leis, Montecito Bank & Trust gets an executive with high visibility in a number of philanthropic roles. He currently chairs the foundation board at CSU Channel Islands and is involved with campaigns for United Way and American Heart Association among others.

“Union Bank has been great to me, but my new position perfectly aligns with my skill set, personality, as well as my desire to be deeply involved in the community,” he said in a statement. Towbes said hiring Leis “represents a quantum leap forward for our bank.”

Garufis said she and Leis worked together at Security Pacific National Bank and Bank of America and have nearly 30 years history as colleagues and competitors.

“He knows how to roll up his sleeves and get the job done,” she said.

Union Bank spokesman Dan Weidman said Vince Caballero is the regional manager in Santa Barbara and he’ll continue to be very active in the community.

“George played an instrumental role during Union Bank’s acquisition of Santa Barbara Bank & Trust and he was key in helping Union Bank expand in the Central Coast market,” said Weidman. “We wish George well as he takes on this new role in Santa Barbara’s banking community.”

Leis started his career with Security Pacific National Bank in retail and commercial banking, before serving in leadership positions at Bank of America Private Bank, Wells Fargo Private Client Services, Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management and Pacific Capital.

With 10 branches and about $1.2 billion in assets under management, Montecito Bank & Trust is the 2nd largest bank based in the Tri-Counties and the largest privately-owned bank between Los Angeles and the Bay Area.

• Contact Henry Dubroff at