Monday, December 14, 2009

Take Credit Where Credit Is Due

The end of December 2009 (27th) marks my six month anniversary as the CEO of Pan American Bank. In my original draft to this post I used the term "leader" instead of CEO. But I have very specific criteria for what makes a "leader" and as such, I will hold off on calling myself this organization's leader...for now.

As the CEO of a community bank it is not only a "good idea" to get out into the community - it is ESSENTIAL for our survival. I need to be out there for reasons such as business development, needs assessment, etc. But I am learning that the most important reason for me to represent Pan American Bank is because we are so reflective of the Latino communities that that we serve.

It did not take me long to figure out how this 45 year-old organization assumed some of the traits of its Latino customers. We are a small, feisty and proud bank. We are loyal to our customers and our community. We are full of energy and the will to do great things. But unfortunately, we are the last to let others know about our accomplishments.

Back in November 2009, CNN ran a series of video essays called Latino in America. According to CNN, by 2050, the U.S. Latino population is expected to nearly triple. CNN explored how Latinos are reshaping U.S. communities and culture and forcing a nation of immigrants to rediscover what it means to be an American.

The research conducted by CNN highlighted some great achievements by Latinos. But despite the strides made by Latinos, we continue to struggle with tooting our horn. As a result, many great people and efforts go unrecognized. People and efforts that can significantly enrich the fabric of our incredible nation.

Over the weekend I was asked to sit on a panel for a California Assembly Town Hall meeting. The portion of the meeting I sat in on had to do with the housing crisis, foreclosures and loan modifications. I could tell from the onset that this meeting had the potential to sting, as the seats were filled with consumers, consumer advocates and others looking to let me know how horrible a person I am for being a banker.

The session was started by Speaker of the California Assembly Karen Bass. The Speaker then passed the floor to me for an introduction. As I began my introduction I could hear the clicking of bic lighters getting ready to ignite the torches. But within minutes the crowd quieted down and began nodding their head in support. At the end of the meeting, as I exited the stage, I was approached by many people - consumers, advocates, political representatives and others. All seemed amazed at what they had heard. Many almost could not believe their ears. And why would they, we have not tooted our horns to let anyone know.

So what was it that was so amazing? Well, without going into too much detail, here's a quick rundown. You tell me if this is something the world should know about.

1) Pan American Bank was founded in 1964, making it California's OLDEST Latino-owned Bank and the Country's second oldest. In 2010 the Bank will enter its 46th year of operation. We've been around longer than most California banks, period.

2) Pan American Bank was founded by Romana Acosta Banuelos, a woman born in Arizona in 1925, who was "invited" by the U.S. Government to relocate to Mexico in 1933 during the Great Depression, only to return in the 1940's to launch one of California's most successful food companies, Ramona's Mexican Food Products, Inc.

3) Mrs. Banuelos, founder of Pan American Bank and Ramona's Mexican Food Products, was appointed in 1971 to the post of U.S. Treasurer - the first Latina to hold that prestigious position. At the time, Mrs. Banuelos was the Country's highest ranking Latino.

4) Pan American Bank is headquartered in East Los Angeles - an example of the Bank's commitment to its mission of serving the Latino community. No other bank is headquartered in East Los Angeles.

5) Eighty-five (85) percent of Pan American Bank's loans are 1-4 family mortgages. Pan American Bank has foreclosed on only one (1) borrower during the past two years, showing the banking industry that minority lending can be done prudently. Pan American Bank has not originated a single subprime loan.

So there it is. My top five reasons why Pan American Bank is worthy of praise. It is my mission to ensure that Pan American Bank is no longer the Latino community's best kept secret. The secret is out! Let the world know. Hear me toot our horn! Let me hear you toot our horn!

No comments:

Post a Comment