Calixto Garcia-Velez, region executive, FirstBank Florida
Onetime Miami banker Calixto Garcia-Velez is back. After building his career here with financial giant Citibank, he left in 2005 to head Citi's West Coast operations, then headed to Puerto Rico to save a floundering bank. A planned sabbatical ended quickly when Mr. Garcia-Velez jumped at an opportunity to help grow a small Florida bank — back in Miami, a place he calls "home, both personally and professionally."
Now, as the region executive for FirstBank Florida, he aims to expand the bank by capitalizing on two strengths: a local team with a community feel, backed by a strong Puerto Rican parent company. "It's a nice combination," he said. "You have the personal attention at a local level, with a big balance sheet behind us."
This month, FirstBank Florida, once an Office of Thrift Supervision charter bank, merged into FirstBank Puerto Rico, meaning the bank is no longer a Florida-based thrift. "It's a change of a legal vehicle from being a thrift to being a state-chartered bank," Mr. Garcia-Velez said. It's "more efficient for the company internally" but won't affect customers.
He foresees growth both organically and through mergers and acquisitions. The troubled economy leaves open opportunity to attract clients whose current banks may be troubled and to acquire institutions hit by the crash, he said.
Mr. Garcia-Velez plans also to diversify lending, adding emphasis to the commercial side. "We are very strong on the real estate side," he said. "We don't want to lose that, but we are also trying to get more aggressive on commercial lending and middle-market lending."
He shared his goals for his second Miami incarnation with Miami Today staff writer Risa Polansky.
To read this profile article in its entirety,
subscribe to Miami Today’s E-paper.
With the E-paper you will be able to read
the entire contents of Miami Today online
exactly as it appears in print.
Or order this issue, to receive a regular
printed copy of this week’s Miami
Today. You may also subscribe to the printed
edition of Miami Today to receive the newspaper
every week by mail.