Friday, March 07, 2008

Bank Seeks to Widen Base Beyond Latinos

Bank Seeks to Widen Base Beyond Latinos
Security One Changing Name, Leaders

By Alejandro LazoWashington Post Staff Writer Tuesday, March 4, 2008; Page D04

Founded in 2006 by some of the Washington area's most prominent Hispanic business leaders, Security One Bank of Baileys Crossroads sought to carve out a niche serving the fast-growing Latino community.

But the bank struggled to grow in the midst of the housing downturn and weakening economy, banking analysts said. Now, Security One, which has only one branch, plans to broaden its base beyond the Hispanic market with a new management team, new investors and a new name.

Security One is being renamed John Marshall Bank, after the fourth chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court who grew up in what is now Fauquier County. The bank's new chief executive, John Maxwell, said he chose the name to help the bank sound more local and community-oriented.

Maxwell said the bank will continue to offer services oriented toward the Hispanic community, including bilingual tellers. But he said he hopes to tap the wider market.
"We are really focusing on small business, but again, I don't want to lose the Hispanic focus of the bank," Maxwell said.

Ronald Gordon, a board member who founded ZGS Communications, an Arlington broadcasting company that owns Telemundo affiliate television stations, said he embraced the new management because of its commitment to continue to serve the Hispanic community.

"The bottom line is that we are taking the bank to a totally different level," Gordon said. "And as long as the bank has that commitment, to serve our community, then I think we are going to have a stronger bank."

The changes at the bank reflect the difficulty of catering to a niche market, analysts said.
"When you are making loans, you are competing with everyone" said David Danielson, president of the Vienna consulting firm Danielson Capital. "A person taking out a loan with a bank is not going to bank with you just because you're Hispanic. They are going to go out and find the best rate."

Maxwell, 47, was the president and chief executive of the former James Monroe Bank of Arlington, which was sold to Baltimore-based Mercantile in 2006.
In an interview, Maxwell said his team of seven investors will contribute $6 million worth of equity to Security One, and that he plans to raise at least $15 million through a private stock offering.

The bank is looking to open two new branches in Leesburg and Alexandria, Maxwell said, and a new commercial lending unit is slated to open in Bethesda next week.

The bank, which opened with $15 million worth of capital in May of 2006, has lost about $3.5 million since then, according to regulatory filings. The bank currently has $11.4 million worth of equity.

Security One's chief executive, Carl E. Dodson, is stepping down to become chief operating officer of John Marshall Bank.

The changes in the bank's organization are subject to approval by the Virginia State Corporation Commission.

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