Jeffrey K. Ball is the Founder of Friendly Hills Bank in Whittier where he currently serves as President, Chief Executive Officer and Director. Mr. Ball serves on the board of the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco and Data Center, Inc., a bank technology company based in Hutchinson, Kansas, where he also serves as Chairman of the Audit Committee. He is a member of the Executive Committee and board of directors of the American Bankers Association where he serves as Chairman of their Government Relations Council Administrative Committee and as a member of their Grassroots Committee. He is a past Chairman of the California Bankers Association where he currently serves on the board of directors and is Chairman of their Federal Government Relations Committee. In his exclusive interview with the Wall Street Transcript, Mr. Ball details his strategy for building and growing a community bank in Southern California.
One aspect is the growth of new unregulated online financial services: “…private lenders serve the higher-risk aspect of our market. As a commercial bank operating under a regulatory environment, we are traditionally more on the lower end of the risk curve, and often, there have been these private entities that have been able to serve the higher end of the risk curve. So you might have a business that is struggling and is not bankable, and we can help place them with some of these other lenders that are able to serve them.”
An opportunity for growth, especially in a state where recreational marijuana was just legalized, is the ability to transact in cryptocurrencies. “When we are talking about alternative currencies, there are really two forms that we are looking at. Number one is a stored value, and that is when you are holding assets in these types of facilities where there is a true stored value so that the money that you invest will be safely stored and reachable at a future point in time. The other aspect of it, of course, is on the payment side. And that is where the payment stream with the ability to transfer payment in a safe and secured environment is a value.”
The tipping point will be achieved when transactions are cheap and easy. “So I’ve looked at it from both of those standpoints. And I think when we are talking about cryptocurrency, we have to think about it more under that second umbrella, which is about more safely and securely transferring payments. And that’s where I think the great opportunity will be for all banks, and that includes community banks as we look toward different ways that we can provide more efficient banking services for our clients.”
Read the complete interview in the Wall Street Transcript.