Saturday, May 26 , 2018, 1:45 pm | Fair 67º



Michael Towbes Stepping Down as Chairman of Montecito Bank & Trust

Janet Garufis to take the helm at locally owned community bank; George Leis to be named president

Michael Towbes, 87, is stepping down as chairman of Montecito Bank & Trust, the Santa Barbara-based financial institution that he founded and guided to become the largest locally owned community bank on the Central Coast. Click to view larger
Michael Towbes, 87, is stepping down as chairman of Montecito Bank & Trust, the Santa Barbara-based financial institution that he founded and guided to become the largest locally owned community bank on the Central Coast. (Noozhawk file photo)

Michael Towbes is stepping down as chairman of Montecito Bank & Trust, the Santa Barbara-based financial institution that he founded and guided to become the largest locally owned community bank on the Central Coast.

“I have had an amazing life,” the 87-year-old Towbes said in a statement from the bank released Monday evening, adding that he intends to spend more time with family.

Under the succession plan the bank’s board of directors will consider later this month, bank president and CEO Janet Garufis will become board chairwoman, while George Leis, executive vice president and chief operations officer, will follow her as president.

The bank will still be owned by a trust and remain independently owned “now and in the future,” according to the company statement.

“Michael Towbes is immensely proud of what everyone at Montecito Bank & Trust does to make our bank the best community bank on the Central Coast, and the communities we serve better places to live and work,” Garufis said.

“He has built the right infrastructure, with the right leaders, and in turn has trusted me and my leadership team and the bank associates to carry out our very important mission today and into the future.

“We are so grateful to Mr. Towbes for his thoughtful and diligent planning, which will allow us to serve our communities for years to come.”

Garufis joined the bank 10 years ago as president and CEO.

Montecito Bank & Trust, an S corporation, was founded in 1975, and operates 10 branch offices in Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, Goleta, Montecito, Solvang, Ventura, Camarillo and Westlake Village.

The bank offers a variety of deposit and lending programs for businesses and consumers, including business loans and lines of credit; commercial real estate finance; Small Business Administration loans; mortgage loans; consumer loans; credit cards; merchant services; and online services, including mobile banking and cash management.

Janet Garufis
Janet Garufis (Montecito Bank & Trust photo)

Its wealth management division provides comprehensive trust services and full investment management for all branch office markets.

Beyond his role at the bank, Towbes is chairman of The Towbes Group, an investment, development, construction and property-management company with more than five decades of experience in the tri-counties region.

Along with his wife, Anne, Towbes also is among the most active and generous philanthropists on the Central Coast.

George Leis
George Leis (Montecito Bank & Trust photo)

Garufis joined Montecito Bank & Trust in 2006, after holding positions with Security Pacific Bank and Bank of America.

She is a graduate of the Pacific Coast Banking School, and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from CSU Northridge.

Leis joined the Montecito Bank & Trust team last June, after serving as managing director of Union Bank’s Central Coast’s private banking division.

Leis started his career with Security Pacific Bank in retail and commercial banking, before serving in leadership positions as a senior vice president at Bank of America Private Bank, senior vice president and director at Wells Fargo Private Client Services, managing director at Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management and president and CEO of Pacific Capital Bancorp, the holding company for Santa Barbara Bank & Trust.

He also earned degrees from CSU Northridge.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Supporter

Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >

Meet Your Realtor Sponsored by Village Properties

Photo of Cimme Eordanidis
Cimme Eordanidis
"Since I truly enjoy doing what I do, interacting with people and representing them during one of life's most exciting events is very rewarding."

Full Profile >