Koreatown lender Hanmi Bank recently opened a loan production office in Dallas, its second location outside of Southern California.

That makes Hanmi the latest local Korean-American lender to look for growth in the Lone Star State. Rivals BBCN Bank and Wilshire State Bank, the two other largest Korean-American lenders in the nation, already have operations there.

Mark Yoon, chief financial officer of Hanmi parent Hanmi Financial Corp., said there’s still opportunity in Texas even so.

“There’s enough market for us,” he said. “The market there is growing.”

What’s more, Yoon said Hanmi will seek to do business with customers beyond just Korean-Americans. The bank hired Pervez Bhojani, a Pakistan-born banker, to run the loan production office. Yoon said Bhojani has a Rolodex of customers from Pakistan, India and elsewhere.

“We’re competing across the Asian market,” he said.

Expanding outside of Southern California is a priority for Hanmi, BBCN and Wilshire as the local Korean-American banking market is saturated and highly competitive, driving down potential yields. The banks are looking to expand into metro areas with large or growing Korean-American populations, including Seattle; Washington, D.C.; Atlanta; and New York.

Hanmi, which opened the Texas office in August, already has a loan production office in Seattle and Yoon said the bank wants to expand to the New York area.

Apple Seedling

Century City investment firm Adherence Capital Management doesn’t have any clients yet, but the firm boasts a couple of big names.

The firm, which launched last month, was co-founded by Mark Lewis, a former managing director of Santa Monica investment consulting and services firm Wilshire Associates Inc., and Steve Johnson, previously the chief investment officer of Braeburn Capital Inc. – the finance arm of Cupertino tech giant Apple Inc.

Before leaving Braeburn last year, Johnson oversaw a portfolio of about $113 billion. The money was invested in everything from treasuries and mortgage-backed securities to commercial paper and municipal bonds, according to Apple filings.

Johnson said he always saw Braeburn, based near Reno, Nev., as a temporary gig. Around the time he was leaving the firm, he met Lewis through one of Lewis’ employees, who was dating Johnson’s daughter.

For now, Johnson and Lewis are managing their own funds but hope to get business from high-net-worth individuals, family offices and institutional investors. They are offering three investment products: multiasset portfolios for high-net-worth clients, and fixed-income and municipal bond portfolios geared toward institutional investors.


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