Staying centralized helps California bank build a solid relationship with customers

With almost 5,000 offices statewide, most California banks have aggressive plans to add to that hefty figure. A two-year-old bank, however, has no such notion.

''We do not intend to branch,'' declares Harold A. Fick, president of Borel Bank & Trust Company, with $25 million in assets. ''The more branches we get, the more managers I need and the further away we get from the concept I'm trying to implement.''

Mr. Fick points to the ''tremendous turnover'' in managers among San Mateo's 23 other banking offices. ''Thus, it's not possible for customers to establish a solid banking relationship,'' he says.

''I was born in this town and so was my dad,'' adds Mr. Fick. ''My great-grandparents came here in 1860. My brother (Ronald, who is vice-president and corporate secretary) runs the trust department and my senior officers all live in the area. What we're trying to do is bring a little continuity into the management end of banking.

''We're not a retail bank and we're not a business bank. Our only specializations are that we are not specialized. In short, we're an old-fashioned community bank and our business is growing essentially through word of mouth.''

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