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Central California's Suncrest Bank Challenges Big Banking With Ambitious, New, Local Banking Model

By securing unlikely, world-class leadership, Suncrest Bank is poised for aggressive growth

VISALIA, Calif., March 6, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- An international banking veteran, who has held senior roles with some of the world's biggest banks, isn't whom you might expect to have taken the reins as Chief Executive Officer of a little-known bank in California's Central Valley, but Ciaran McMullan rarely does what people expect.

First up, an aggressive "5 in 5" growth plan to take Suncrest Bank from $100 million to $500 million in assets over the next five years.

"I saw Suncrest Bank as an entrepreneurial challenge, to transform it into one of the best community banks in California, and the country," says McMullan.

McMullan's track record makes such lofty goals seem possible, having most recently designed and executed National Australia Bank's highly profitable agribusiness and community banking strategy across the Midwest.

Foundation for Growth: A New Paradigm
Despite international experience – or because of it – McMullan is passionate about America's small, local communities and their ability to drive the economy.

Since joining Suncrest last April, McMullan has completely overhauled the Bank's operating model.

"We are turning the typical banking model on its head," says McMullan. "Today customers are removed from decision-makers and get shuffled around. It's confusing and annoying, and we can do better."

Each Suncrest branch will be owned and operated by the community it services, led by a local President, and supported by a local Chairman, immersed in the communities where they live, work and lend. Working with the Board of Directors, McMullan granted stock to every single employee to further local ownership.

"Our branches are small businesses, run by local leaders with the authority to make decisions and service all your needs in one place – the way banking used to be!"

"We believe in the power of community powering communities. This is shopping local and dining local and yes – banking local. If the local economy is doing well, so will the bank. And vice versa."

Plan for Growth: Leaders, Not Lenders
The heart of the strategy is a genuine local commitment. It is not complicated, but it is unique – and some might say risky – giving control of individual branches to local branch presidents.

"We are hiring leaders – not lenders," says McMullan. "No one else is doing that."

In addition to hiring the "brightest, most talented young leaders locally," McMullan has secured some impressive external advisors. The former CEO of Rabobank NA, Ronald Block, is advising McMullan and the Board on their strategy, and the Bank recently engaged top investment banker, Sandler O'Neill, to advise regarding capital and growth plans.

The Five-Year Plan: "5 in 5"
Today, Suncrest Bank is the fastest growing Bank in its market, and the 14th fastest growing business across all sectors (Fresno Business Journal, 2014 Book of Lists). They closed 2013 at $126 million and reached $150 million in assets, just one month into 2014.

McMullan considers large, national banks – which currently claim 60 to 70% market share in most of the Central Valley – Suncrest's primary competition.

"We offer the same products and services at a lower cost and with a genuine personal touch," says McMullan. "It is better for customers to bank locally, where their money is funneled back into the community where they are living, working and raising families. Everyone wins."

About Suncrest Bank
Suncrest Bank, member FDIC, is locally owned and operated and offers a full range of business, agribusiness and personal deposit products and loans in California's Central Valley. One of the fastest growing companies in the region, the bank is regularly rated Five Stars by Bauer Financial as one of the nation's strongest financial institutions and is a Preferred Lender with the Small Business Administration. Suncrest Bank stock trades on NASDAQ's Over the Counter Bulletin Board: SBKK. To purchase stock, contact Michael Natzic or Troy Norlander at Crowell, Wheedon & Co. at 800-288-2811. To request additional shareholder information, contact Robert Moore at [email protected]. For general information, visit www.suncrestbank.com

SOURCE Suncrest Bank

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