Each year, the Journal checks in with some of the key figures in commercial banking in Sonoma, Solano, Marin, Napa, Mendocino and Lake counties. Here is our conversation with Jeff Clark, senior loan officer in the craft beverage group for Live Oak Bank.
What two or three elements of the commercial banking business have changed in the last five years?
JEFF CLARK: Although they are still at historic lows, higher interest rates have made banking more challenging for everyone. This has dampened investment and has made refinancing a struggle for some.
The regulatory environment continues to be a drain on the business community. It is increasingly more difficult and more expensive to do business. The weight of new taxes and regulations might sink California into the Pacific Ocean before the next Big One can.
In the North Bay specifically, what market forces might change significantly in 2019 and beyond, and why?
CLARK: Recent corrections in the tech sector of the stock market are a concern. So much of the North Bay economy benefits from our neighbors to the South, whether it be tourism or investment.
How have customer profiles and requirements changed? For example, are customers generally more cautious or bullish in their projects?
CLARK: Higher interest rates combined with recent stock market volatility has created some uncertainty in the business community. Businesses do not like uncertainty. The overall economy is sound, yet everyone seems determined to talk us into a recession.
What’s your institution’s long term view for business in the North Bay?
CLARK: Bullish. California is our highest loan volume state.
Most inspiring commercial banking story you were part of in the past two years?
CLARK: I love the story of the borrower that repaid her loan as agreed, and everyone lived happily ever after.
Senior loan officer in the craft beverage group
Live Oak Bank
100 B St., Suite 100 Santa Rosa, CA 95401; 707-921-1102
Year you assumed this position: 2014
How long have you worked in commercial banking?: 25 years
Read other conversations with this year's North Bay leaders in commercial banking.