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Santa Rosa's Exchange Bank has recently made a number of business development hires and reassignments, part of a longer-term effort that included the creation of a formal business development department last July, said Howard Daulton, senior vice president in corporate and business development.

[caption id="attachment_75966" align="alignright" width="144"] Brian Kilkenny[/caption]

Many of those business development officers are focused on commercial lending. In April, the bank brought on Brian Kilkenny, most recently a vice president and business development officer at Bank of America.

[caption id="attachment_75970" align="alignleft" width="180"] Steven Shira[/caption]

Other recent hires include Steven Shira, most recently with George Peterson Insurance, and Mike Arendt, who works part-time in business development after serving for more than a decade at Luther Burbank Savings, most recently as a vice president.

The bank also recently added a number of individuals to help develop new business for loans backed by the U.S. Small Business Administration. Rebecca Roberts focuses on those efforts in the Sacramento area, with Bradley Abel in the South Bay and Richard Carlson in the East Bay. Scott Dykstra focuses on SBA development in the North Bay.

[caption id="attachment_75973" align="alignright" width="160"] John Meislahn[/caption]

Those hires join other employees focused on business development under  long-time employee John Meislahn, who was appointed to the newly created position of vice president in sales and business development last July, and Sherrill Stockton, who heads SBA lending for the bank.

"We're ramping up our business development efforts in a measurable way," Mr. Daulton said. "We've always had it, but now it's a more formal process."

 Mr. Daulton said that new technology -- recently a major push for Exchange Bank -- has allowed the bank to pursue more robust business in areas where it lacks a physical branch. The bank does now maintain two full-time loan production offices in the South Bay and the East Bay, but is also eying new business in areas like Solano County.

Exchange Bank is actively pursuing new relationships and demand for financing in manufacturing, wholesale agriculture, commercial real estate, professional services and, increasingly, construction, Mr. Daulton said.***

Santa Rosa-based Community First Credit Union has launched a new Web-based money management program, responding to demand for increasingly sophisticated technology and services that were once only in reach for the largest national banks.

Known as "360 MoneyHub," the program automatically imports account activity for both Community First and, if desired, other financial institutions. Users are able to assign and track different categories of income and expenses, with features that include automatic alerts when a certain type of spending is reaching its budgeted limit.

Community First selected a customizable money management platform by Tolland, Conn.-based Geezeo for the new service, spending several weeks in testing before offering it for free to members in early June, said Todd Sheffield, president and chief executive.

"It fits into our role -- we're supposed to be helping people with their financial lives," he said.

Though Community First is among the smallest financial institutions based in the North Bay, with $157 million in assets and 15,800 members, the credit union has seen rapid growth while embarking on a number of initiatives to expand its online and physical presence in recent years. The lender pooled its resources with four other credit unions to develop a mobile banking application that launched in March 2011, and rapidly expanded a two-branch footprint with three new branches opened between November 2010 and September 2011.

Other North Bay-based institutions have also begun offering a Web-based financial planning tool. Santa Rosa's Exchange Bank chose Intuit's FinanceWorks as its integrated money management platform. Redwood Credit Union, also based in Santa Rosa, began offering a similar program as part of its own technology upgrades last year.***

Wells Fargo Bank has made a big push in the home mortgage realm, and recent data compiled by the North Bay Business Journal shows that the North Bay is no exception.

The bank underwrote $2.66 billion across 6,750 mortgages for Sonoma, Marin and Napa counties combined in 2012, firmly solidifying its position as the region's highest-volume mortgage lender for another year, according to the Business Journal's annual list of mortgage lenders and data from San Diego-based DataQuick (see May 20,"Residential mortgage lenders," p. 16).

In 2011, Wells Fargo funded $2.34 billion across 6,450 loans.

Wells CEO John Stumpf has told shareholders that the bank plans to remain bullish on mortgages, considering them a solid asset in an improving housing market. The bank originated approximately one in three U.S. mortgages in 2012 and serviced one in six, according to Wells Fargo's 2012 annual report.

A higher regulatory burden has made mortgage lending more complex and expensive, putting a premium on those with well-oiled mortgage departments while challenging those who are less specialized in that type of lending. Yet the stakes are high, with lenders competing fiercely to attract any new loans and refinances as one of the only ways to move the profit needle in a historically low interest rate environment.

"We really believe that market share is something that comes from providing exceptional service," said Bill Seiwert, head of mortgage lending for Wells Fargo in much of the Bay Area, including Marin County. "We've been working very hard in these markets to reach as many customers as possible."

The bank offers a number of related programs outside of pure mortgage lending, including education for current and aspiring homeowners and assistance for those facing foreclosure.

Second on the list of mortgage lenders in 2012 is Bank of America, with $637 million and 1,740 mortgages originated. The most active North Bay-based mortgage lender was Redwood Credit Union, with $238 million and 1,038 mortgages in 2012. ***

Scott Chisholm, a managing director at Mill Valley's Redwood Trust, Inc. (NYSE: RWT) will resign July 1, the company announced.

Mr. Chisholm joined the company in September 2009, focusing on building Redwood Trust's real estate investment platform and its related team. That team has generated in excess of $700 million in aggregate investments and originations. ...

Submit items for this column to Business Journal Staff Writer Eric Gneckow at 707-521-4259 or eric.gneckow@busjrnl.com.