George Leis

Paul Wellman (file)

George Leis

George Leis Joins Montecito Bank & Trust

George Leis has joined Montecito Bank & Trust as its chief operating officer, CEO Janet Garufis announced last week. He will sit on the privately owned bank’s executive committee and oversee its lending, retail, and business services.

Leis most recently worked with Union Bank as managing director of its Central Coast Private Banking unit. He presided over Union Bank’s acquisition of Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, which floundered after the mortgage and real estate crises of 2008 and set local pundits on a death watch over SBB&T.

Leis succeeded in finding a financier to save the bank in Gerald J. Ford (no relation to the president) in 2010, temporarily. Ford bought the bank, which started in Santa Barbara a half century earlier, for a half-billion dollars and sold it to Union Bank, owned by Japan’s Mitsubishi UFJ, about a year and a half later for $1.5 billion.

Leis’s career includes the management of private client services at Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Deutsche Bank. He started his finance career at Security Pacific National Bank, as did Garufis, who praised Leis’s community banking instincts. “This is an opportunity for MB&T to expand our already deep bench of experienced bankers,” Garufis said in a press release. “I am very excited to work with George to continue to develop the next generation of community bankers.”

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