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CEO Helps Position Bank to Be Right Fit for Its Market

In his now 35-year career as a banker, Gary Cady interacted with people from all walks of life and industry sectors, saw businesses flourish and fail, and weathered economic storms.

But his best career move was co-founding Torrey Pines Bank with Robert Sarver in May 2003.

Torrey Pines Bank was founded as a subsidiary of the holding company Western Alliance Bancorporation. Sarver, the chairman of Western Alliance Bancorporation, was Cady’s friend and mentor.

The bank was launched with $20 million in capital. As of the end of September, it held $1.9 billion in total assets, making it the third largest local bank.

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“Definitely the most exciting part of my career was the founding of Torrey Pines Bank,” said Cady, who has been the chief executive from the outset.

Founded with one office and seven employees, Torrey Pines now has 12 full-service offices, one loan production office and 234 employees.

Weathering a Storm

Cady is proud of the bank’s continued success.

When the housing market collapsed and the lending crisis hit, and other banks struggled, Torrey Pines Bank continued to grow, he said.

“We actually have grown significantly during the recession,” Cady noted. “Even though the economy isn’t expanding, we have been expanding significantly.” In the last two years, business loans grew from $500 million to $1.5 billion, he said.

In the third quarter of 2012, Torrey Pines Bank reported total deposits of $1.6 billion, up $21 million from the second quarter of this year.

Total revenues were $22.9 million in the third quarter for this year, an increase of $432,000 from the second quarter.

Cady said the bank serves an underserved market.

“Smaller banks have difficulty with that capacity and the larger banks spread their resources in other areas that haven’t given that market segment a priority.

We are in that in-between size that is best suited to deal with that market,” Cady said.

Cady speaks from his own experience having climbed the corporate ladder at both large and regional banks.

After graduating from San Diego State University with an undergraduate degree in finance in 1976, Cady started his 10-year-long career at Bank of America.

He worked at various departments and locations throughout San Diego. In 1987, he joined then small Grossmont Bank, which later went through a merger to become California Bank & Trust in 1998, and led to Cady seeking new pastures.

“I decided to make a change,” he said. “I wanted to go back to work for a smaller regional bank and that is how I became one of the founding officers of Torrey Pines Bank.”

Looking back at his career, Cady said he feels one of the most interesting aspects of banking is the unique insight he has gained into diverse industries and the relationships he’s built over the years.

“When I finished my finance degree at SDSU, I wasn’t quite sure what industry I was interested in, but then realized that banking would touch so many industries,” he said. “Banking interacts with manufacturing companies to professional service companies. At some point I thought I would have an interest in working in one of those industries, but I enjoyed the diversity the banking business offers me.”

He admitted that some parts of the banking business are more enjoyable than others.

Witnessing Business Evolution

“I have dealt from a customer standpoint with many entrepreneurs who started their own businesses and have found various ways to make money and be successful,” Cady said. “I’ve seen people in the construction business who started off as tradesman and evolved their businesses into generating revenues over $100 million a year, and that is a rewarding situation.”

The least enjoyable aspects are regulatory challenges and watching people’s businesses fail.

“The regulatory environment has been increasingly challenging and that is not the part of my job I enjoy the most,” he said. Similarly, “We have had businesses and clients that have financially failed and to deal with the financial and personal challenges is the hard part a banker has to deal with.”

The other big challenge, he said, is finding people with the right technical and analytical skills to analyze financial statements and properly structure loans and the know-how to build relationships with clients.

“I would say that the training large banks used to offer is no longer offered, and so our challenge is to develop people internally,” he said. “What needs to change is that a bank like ours needs to increase our own training of our existing personnel, but that’s a challenge in this economy.”

With his wife Stacy serving as senior vice president and head of operations at the bank, Cady says the future of Torrey Pines looks bright.

“We will continue to grow,” Cady said.

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