February 3, 2023
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Montecito Bank & Trust opens in Santa Maria

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By Madeleine Benn

Staff Writer

Montecito Bank & Trust is expanding into the Santa Maria Valley, as the largest bank based on the Central Coast opens its 15th branch.

 After having received FDIC approval, the bank is set to have a soft launch in December and a grand opening in January. 

“We have been planning an expansion to northern Santa Barbara County for some time, but waiting for the right team to staff it! Now that we have the right, local leadership, Santa Maria is the perfect place for us to expand our service and philanthropy,” said Janet Garufis, Chairman and CEO of Montecito Bank & Trust, in a press release.

Barbara Luis will helm the new branch as Vice President of Branch and Community Relations Manager for Santa Maria and Karly Davis will join her as Vice President of Commercial Banking. Privately owned Montecito Bank & Trust has assets of around $2.5 billion. 

 “We are excited about our expansion into the Santa Maria market. At Montecito Bank & Trust, we lead with people. Having local community members leading our Santa Maria banking team allows us to provide unique solutions to this vibrant and diverse community,” said George Leis, President and COO, in the release. “This community is home to many of our associates and is a natural extension of the Montecito Bank & Trust banking experience.”

 Speaking with the Pacific Coast Business Times, Garufis said, “We have wanted to be in the north county for a long time but as a community bank we lead with people, not brick and mortar. We finally found the right team and we’re excited to enter the market as it will fill out our footprint in Santa Barbara County.”

Santa Maria is the largest city in Santa Barbara County and the bank’s expansion is a natural extension of its footprint north from the Santa Ynez Valley, where it has a large presence. Santa Maria has a diverse lineup of financial services including Community Bank of Santa Maria, led by Jim Glines and Janet Silveria as well as national, state and Central Coast competitors. 

“We welcome MB&T to Santa Maria and welcome the competition,” Silveria said in an interview.

The largest credit union in the region, CoastHills, is also based in Santa Maria.

 Garufis said the Santa Barbara-based bank saw ample opportunity in the Santa Maria Valley. The Santa Maria area has been growing faster than South Santa Barbara County and it could be poised to benefit from new housing construction and commercial development related to Vandenberg Space Force Base nearby in Lompoc.

Among the two other banks based in the region, Community West Bank has a branch in Santa Maria; American Riviera bank has a commercial lending center in San Luis Obispo. 

The expansion into Santa Maria comes as mergers are having an impact in the region. U.S. Bank, based in Minneapolis, is acquiring Union Bank, which has one of the largest branch networks on the Central Coast. In addition, Bank of the West, which has several branches in the region, is being acquired by Bank of Montreal and its parent BMO Group.  

Montecito Bank & Trust is the oldest community bank based in the region. Founded in 1975, it has offices in Camarillo, Carpinteria, Goleta, Montecito, Santa Barbara, Solvang, Ventura and Westlake Village.

 Along with offering a variety of deposit, lending and wealth management services, Montecito Bank & Trust has a track record of corporate philanthropy, including a recent $2 million in grants to area nonprofits during its 20th annual Community Dividends luncheon.

 The Bank has earned 23 Best Bank awards over the last nine years. They were voted fourth Best Bank to Work for in the United States by American Banker Magazine.