As U.S. Bank’s Small Business and Branch Banking market leader in Los Angeles, Ventura, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, Hamed Tavajohi has played a vital role in the integration of MUFG Union Bank, which U.S. Bank acquired in December 2022.
The process has been something of a homecoming experience for Tavajohi, who began his industry career at Union Bank as a bank teller in 1998. As the leader of the integration process for Union Bank locations and services throughout Greater Los Angeles, Tavajohi says U.S. Bank has committed to retaining all frontline branch employees during the merger.
What is U.S. Bank’s long-term plans in Los Angeles and Southern California?
Today, U.S. Bank has the fourth-largest branch network in the state, and that number is going to increase significantly with the conversion of hundreds of Union Bank branches to U.S. Bank branches, planned for late May. California customers will enjoy greater convenience, improved technology, and our continued focus on building strong communities.
After Union Bank branches are integrated to the U.S. Bank brand, current Union Bank customers will have more than double the number of branches available to them in California. At the same time, existing U.S. Bank customers will gain more than 100 new locations in the state… We have been investing in organic growth in Los Angeles as well, opening nine new or remodeled branches in Los Angeles and the surrounding area since late 2019.
U.S. Bank has committed to retaining all frontline branch employees during the merger, and customers will continue to see familiar faces serving them. We’re also making sure that employees who represent communities where a large number of residents speak Farsi, Spanish, Mandarin, Japanese, Vietnamese, and other languages remain in those communities. The mission of U.S. Bank is to use our hearts and minds to help power human potential, close the racial wealth gap by creating equitable access, and foster strong communities.
How have you helped direct that?
I’ve helped to manage the consumer and business banking integration strategy in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.
Can you tell us about your work in the finance industry prior to joining U.S. Bank? How has that experience shaped your executive strategy?
I have been working in the financial industry for more than 25 years, and actually began my career in 1998 at Union Bank, as a part-time teller while attending college. U.S. Bank has massively shaped my executive strategy because we believe in putting people first, drawing strength from diversity, and finding purpose in powering human potential – all of which align with my personal and professional ethos.
What is one of the most important professional lessons you’ve learned from your time in the industry? How has it guided how you handle your work?
I’m a firm believer that as a leader, it is important that all segments of my team know that I’m working to create win-win situations, as best as I possibly can. I value the team members that report to me as much as I do my peers and the leaders at the top of the house. I think we can absolutely put people first – not in spite of being in the financial industry, but because of it. Next to health, there is very little that is more personal than finance. Bankers have insights that can really help to make dreams comes true – and it is meaningful work.
Who or what helped you climb the ladder in the early years of your career?
John Sinnema, the head of Wealth Management at U.S. Bank in California, was a peer of mine at Union Bank, and we still enjoy a strong working relationship. It means a great deal to me to have trusted peers. I also serve on the board of local nonprofit A Place Called Home and have met some wonderful Los Angeles leaders there as well.
What trends in the finance industry should more people be paying attention to? Why is it important?
It sounds cliché, but people should be paying attention to ethics, and how they feel about their banking experience. For three consecutive years U.S. Bank has received the highest score in California in the J.D. Power 2023 U.S. Retail Banking Satisfaction Study of customers’ contentment with their primary bank, and for the ninth consecutive year U.S. Bank has been named one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies by the Ethisphere Institute, a global leader in defining and advancing the standards of ethical business practices.
What are some greater economic developments that are impacting or could impact U.S. Bank in the near future? How is the bank preparing for or handling these challenges?
Obviously, when financial uncertainties arise in the market, consumers can tend to worry; this is why confidence in choice of a bank is so important.
What is next for your firm?
My team is definitely hiring as we grow and continue to invest in California, and we are also especially passionate about serving small-business clients and continuing to invest in our communities in ways that make an impact.