Avalon a One-Bank Town
Santa Catalina Island is once again a one-bank island. Security Pacific National Bank, which had Catalina to itself for 60 years, was challenged at the end of 1982 by upstart National Bank of Catalina. Today, only the little bank remains.
Security Pacific is the nation’s seventh-largest banking company, with 600 branches and $53.6 billion in assets. National Bank of Catalina, which opened its doors in Avalon on Dec. 31, 1982, today has two offices and $30.7 million in assets.
Security Pacific, based in Los Angeles, announced last fall that it was leaving Catalina because it was expensive to maintain an office there and because it saw the island’s growth potential as limited. Its branch there was one of the bank’s few remaining offices without an automated teller machine. The branch was closed March 31 and accounts have been transferred to a Security Pacific office in Long Beach.
Meanwhile, National Bank of Catalina has been capitalizing on Security Pacific’s flight across the channel, picking up many of Security’s customers. The bank has been growing 70% to 80% a year since it opened three years ago, said President Allan T. Gibson. The small bank also opened a mainland office, in Signal Hill, last October. It caters to professionals and small and mid-sized businesses.
Gibson said his bank has no plans to open additional mainland branches and doesn’t anticipate driving Security Pacific out of California any time soon. “I think they’ll be able to compete with us very easily,” he said.