Poppy Bank, launched in 2004 and with total assets of about $1.5 billion, changed its name from First Community Bank in November. Khalid Acheckzai, formerly chief financial officer at the bank, was named CEO in December.
How long have you been with First Community, now Poppy Bank?
About three years.
Before that you worked as a CPA?
I was at Crowe Horwath, a CPA firm, about sixth or seventh in the nation. They’re international, too. They focus predominantly on banks. Before that I was part of Perry Smith, a northern California audit firm. I am one of the few people who liked banking.
You chose banking?
I chose it because my grandfather had a background in banking. Growing up as a kid, talking to him — he traveled around the world. Even though I was in public accounting and consulting, all I ever did was banks. I started out as a teller at Bank of America when I was in college.
You really do love banking?
(Laughs) Exactly. Usually people see banking only from the finance side or the lending side. While I was in college I worked for Bank of America centralized underwriting. I did financial statements, loan covenants. Then they made me an analyst, a credit officer.
Then you were setting up financing for tech companies?
Exactly. I worked for Silicon Valley Bank for about a year and a half. Then I went to Perry Smith. I implemented SOX 404 (Sarbanes-Oxley Act, 2002, which mandated risk assessment for publicly traded companies, internal financial controls and reporting). I did banks year-round.
You were just auditing banks?
Yes. I had the background in banking, being a teller.
Poppy Bank has tripled in assets in about four years. What was it when you came?
It was right around $900 million.
It has grown half again since you arrived?
That’s remarkable growth?
It is. We have been fortunate. We have a solid strategy.
Where has that growth come from? The East Bay, Walnut Creek? Milpitas?
We added the Milpitas branch in 2015, right after I started here. We started Windsor, and we’re starting Menlo Park. That will open April 2, that’s our goal. We are North Bay-based, but we have branches in the rest of the Bay Area as well. Our small-business lending team is in Roseville.
We don’t need a branch on every street corner, but we’re trying to have one in every county. We like to use technology. A lot of our business clients use remote-deposit capture. They don’t need to come into a branch.
Will the Menlo Park branch, soon to open, be primarily for tech lending?
We have a lot of loans in that area already. We do lending in all of California. Our main area is the North Bay, then the Bay Area. We have SBA lenders out of state.
Arizona, Washington and Oregon?
Exactly. We also added a team in Temecula. They are focused on SBA, small businesses.
In November you changed your brand. But the parent company is still First Community Holdings?