New Southern California Bank One of First to Be Started by Wealth Managers: The Keller Financial Group Establishes First Foundation Bank with $25 Million in Capital Raised

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First Foundation Bank opened for business today on solid financial footing, signing up its first new deposit accounts.

This is a timely move by The Keller Group given the recent trend toward the merging of depositary banking with financial advisory services

    First Foundation, established by Keller Financial Group, is one of the first independent banks in California to be founded by a wealth management firm. Directors and officers of Keller Financial collectively own 56% of the bank's holding company. Most other investors are clients of its subsidiary, The Keller Group Investment Management, Inc.

Industry consolidation has reduced the number of California banks over the past 15 years, from 482 in 1990 to 274 in 2005, making it a favorable environment for independent banks such as First Foundation that can provide flexibility and personal service.

"We recognize our clients want a bank where someone knows who they are, what they need and can make decisions quickly," said bank CEO Scott F. Kavanaugh.

It has been a remarkably smooth ride lately for First Foundation, despite a national credit crunch, volatility on Wall Street and a weak real estate market. The bank's holding company raised more than $32 million in one month and invested $25 million in all shares of the bank.

"We even had to turn away investors and return money to shareholders," said bank President David O. Rahn. "Many of us, with our families, became shareholders. That benefits our clients, because the people running the bank are personally invested in its success."

The bank's client base is expected to be mid-to-high net worth individuals, as well as small businesses and their owners, with most loans being business lines of credit, multi-family properties, commercial investment and commercial owner-user real estate.

"This is a timely move by The Keller Group given the recent trend toward the merging of depositary banking with financial advisory services," said Ed Carpenter, chairman of Carpenter & Co. Investment Bankers, which consults approximately two out of three independent start-up banks in the state, including First Foundation Bank. "Both subsidiaries will offer their clients experienced management and high levels of service."

For more information on First Foundation Bank, call 949-222-2030 or visit http://www.FirstFoundationBank.com.

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Genevieve Anton (Media Only)
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