Magazine article American Banker

Calif. Loan Officers Getting Signing Bonuses, High Pay

Magazine article American Banker

Calif. Loan Officers Getting Signing Bonuses, High Pay

Article excerpt

Under pressure to lend and facing stiff competition from large banks and other lenders, some West Coast community banks are luring loan officers with signing bonuses and higher than usual base salaries.

In California, where lending competition is particularly fierce, industry sources said signing bonuses range from $5,000 to $10,000-the equivalent of one to two months' salary-and even up to $20,000 in exceptional cases.

Meanwhile, average salaries for commercial loan officers have jumped 10% to 30% in California since 1996, these sources said.

"It's just wild out there right now," said Terry M. Purvis, who runs a Sacramento, Calif., financial services executive search firm. "Community banks are rolling out the red carpet and overpaying in most cases."

Redwood Empire Bancorp, Santa Rosa, and Greater Bay Bancorp, Palo Alto, both offer signing bonuses, though they declined to disclose the amounts. Some banks are even granting country club memberships and higher car allowances, recruiters said.

"They're doing just enough to sign you on board," commented Mike Bertoux of Wilcox, Bertoux & Miller, an executive search firm in Sacramento.

The race to hire top loan officers has become especially frenzied in the last few months as low interest rates have boosted loan demand and refinancings. At the same time, a tight labor market has made loan officers hard to come by.

To increase originations in its larger markets, Klamath First Bancorp, which has 32 branches in Oregon, Washington, and California, last week started a commission-based program for its loan officers. …

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