Monday, March 19 , 2018, 4:32 am | Fair 41º



Don Toussaint of Rabobank Puts Stock in Service, Staying Power and Business Sense

Commercial banking executive believes he has found the right fit with the right bank at the right time

Don Toussaint, executive vice president and head of commercial and retail business banking for Rabobank, has seen the banking world become much more complex and regulated during a career that spans more than three decades.

Don Toussaint
Don Toussaint

“The (banking) environment has changed an awful lot,” he said. “The industry has become more sales-oriented over the years, which I have enjoyed. More recently, we’ve been more disciplined on the credit side.”

Toussaint said he believes Rabobank has the staying power to weather the economic challenges of the past few years.

“Fortunately, we have a very strong parent company and can weather most things,” he said. “We’ve been consistently profitable for 112 years, and we have a lot of staying power. The credit crisis has affected us as well. A lot of our borrowers are a lot weaker because it’s been challenging for them. It’s nice to be with a bank with the staying power of Rabobank.”

Toussaint began his banking career with Bank of America in Los Angeles and joined Security Pacific in 1979. He later moved to San Francisco, where he spent 11 years running commercial banking for Security Pacific National Bank in the Bay Area.

Toussaint then moved back to New England, where he grew up, to serve as the regional president for the Bank of Boston. In 1999, he was approached by the CEO of Santa Barbara Bank & Trust and asked to come back to the South Coast to run commercial banking for Pacific Capital Bancorp. He said he jumped at the opportunity to return to Santa Barbara.

In 2009, Toussaint became president of Rabobank’s South Central Coast Region, and last November, he was promoted to run commercial banking for Rabobank for all of California.

“It’s nice to be able to do the job from Santa Barbara,” Toussaint said. “It’s just a wonderful place to live and work. (My wife and I) always wanted to get back to this area, and it’s great to be back living in a nice community and working for a big company like Rabobank.”

He said Rabobank’s large presence and ability to make an impact worldwide drew him to the institution.

“It’s a statewide role, which I enjoy, focused on commercial banking,” Toussaint said. “It’s with a strong organization that has tremendous worldwide capabilities. We have a great capacity to lend and tremendous capabilities in areas like public finance, solar financing and derivatives. There are capabilities of a larger bank that you don’t always get at a smaller bank.”

Apart from pursuing wide-reaching commercial banking aspirations, Toussaint is also a board member for several local institutions of higher education. Having earned a master’s degree in business administration from UCLA, Toussaint said he has always had an interest in higher education and has been involved with colleges for his entire career. He has served on the board of directors for the Westmont College Foundation for 10 years, in addition to holding board positions for the California Lutheran University Business School’s Forecasting Project and the Economic Development Cooperative of Ventura County.

Toussaint said that during the economic crisis, companies that cut expenses early on fared the best.

“Companies sensed that revenue was going to be difficult, and they cut expenses to the bone. Companies that did that early on are now doing well and were able to survive because of that,” he said. “Companies that didn’t cut their expenses early on found it difficult to control revenue growth. The situation weeded out weaker players and created opportunities for stronger players.”

With Rabobank, Toussaint said he feels like he has positioned himself as a strong player in commercial banking.

“I’m delighted to be with Rabobank at this stage in my career,” he said. “I’m glad to be working with a bank that provides its customers with sophisticated services.”

Noozhawk business writer Taylor Orr can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @NoozhawkBiz, @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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