What business lines and geography do you serve in the L.A. area?
Commercial banking for the western markets, which include California, Oregon and Washington state.
How much time do you spend traveling for the job, including regional branch offices and seeing clients?
Approximately 30 to 35 percent of my time.
What’s something about the L.A. business community you didn’t realize before taking this job?
What still surprises me to this day, having worked in the Los Angeles market since I was 22, is the level of competition. New businesses and new financial institutions continue to move into the market, seeking to take their share – and driving competition at an ever-increasing pace.
How do you differentiate your bank from both locally based and other national banks with a presence in this city?
First, the longevity of our leadership and staff, which has been a key factor in supporting many multigenerational client relationships. Second, our unwavering and consistent commitment to supporting our existing clients and pursuing new opportunities for them. In my tenure at the bank, we have worked through multiple financial downturns and crises, and Union Bank has always maintained a strong willingness to support the expansion needs of our existing client base, and to lend money to solid new borrowing relationships.
What’s the best part about working for a big bank rather than a smaller one?
Working for a big bank allows us to provide a greater depth and breadth of products and services to our clients, while also ensuring our staff has greater opportunities for professional growth and advancement. It introduces us to unique learning opportunities and a more diverse set of clients with distinctive characteristics, and allows us to develop a more global perspective in managing our clients’ needs as well as our bank’s.
And the worst part?
As organizations grow, so does the bureaucracy. It’s to be expected, but clearly not the best part of working for a larger organization.
What’s an area of your business you’d like to grow?
We are working hard to grow our capital markets business.
It’s been more than six years since the financial crisis hit. How well do you think your industry has learned the pertinent lessons from that catastrophe? What are those lessons?
Over the years, the banking industry in general has often had a short memory. Competitive pressures combined with a slow recovery have driven looser credit structures and pricing compression, which are near pre-crisis levels. Despite these pressures, the regulatory environment has acted as a governor in many respects, and we are all doing a better job using available data to provide early warning indicators.
What’s the best advice you ever got?
Dream big and don’t fret about things you can’t change.
What’s your favorite restaurant for business meetings?
I don’t know if I have a favorite, as I enjoy trying new restaurants and venues. The only requirements I have are that they be somewhat quiet so we can talk comfortably, have decent food, and have easy freeway access and parking.
Lakers, Clippers or neither?
Lakers, of course.
Bita Ardalan, 53
Title: Managing Director
Bank: MUFG Union Bank
Rank, Local Deposit Market Share: 3, 11.4 percent
Family: Children, Shyan and Darius.
Activities: Golf, hiking, water and snow skiing, traveling, reading
Years in L.A. Area: 32
For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.
Stories You May Also Be Interested In
- Who’s Who in Banking & Finance: Investing Time in Community
- Who’s Who in Banking & Finance: Serving Middle Market
- Who’s Who in Banking & Finance: Getting Early Jump On Workday
- Who’s Who in Banking & Finance: At Home With Region’s Appeal
- Who’s Who in Banking & Finance: Scaling Range Of Business Sizes
- 20 in their 20s - Raymond J. Zolekhian and Robin Hanasab
- Who’s Who in Banking & Finance: Capitalizing On L.A.-Centric Sectors
- Sports Titans: Jeanie Buss