Janet Garufis, head of Montecito Bank & Trust, was recently named vice chair for 2016 of the influential Community Depository Institutions Advisory Council (CDIAC), which advises the Federal Reserve Board. Garufis, who also received kudos this year from American Banker as one of the top 10 women bankers to watch, said she felt “very honored to have the opportunity to serve” on the national CDIAC, which she joined in 2015. She’s served on a similar committee at the San Francisco Federal Reserve since 2014 and chairs that CDIAC this year.
The national CDIAC consists of a banker from each of the community depository councils in the Fed’s 12 districts, among which San Francisco’s is the largest geographically and the most diverse. Twice a year, the national group members visit Washington to give Fed Chair Janet Yellen and the other governors a chance to “hear from the people in the trenches,” Garufis explained. As the nation’s bank, the Federal Reserve relies on the community depository councils for information on local lending conditions and economic trends.
At her community bank — with assets less than $10 billion, community banks are smaller than regional (assets over $50 billion) and national banks — Garufis said, business is good, especially for homeowners and entrepreneurs since there is a lot of money to lend. Interest rates have never been better in her more than 40 years of banking, she added. From the bankers’ perspective, borrowers are still cautious, she said, although lending has been getting stronger.
American Banker took note of Montecito Bank & Trust’s ability to maintain no net losses during the Great Recession, a time when nearly 500 banks failed nationwide. Garufis, who has been with Montecito B&T for nine years, credited that success to bank owner Michael Towbes’s very long-term view of investment.