Our Story

On March 17, 1975, a group of local businessmen started the Bank of Montecito with a singular vision - building a local bank committed to serving the needs of the community. What they sought to build then is what drives us to this day and will continue to guide us into tomorrow.

1974 - 1979

Under founding Board members Michael Towbes and Jerry Parent, the Bank of Montecito is approved in May 1974 with starting assets of $1.25 million. On March 17, 1975, the first branch opens in a trailer in Montecito. A few months later, the Bank’s first “Drive-Thru” opens and by December, over 4,500 accounts are open. The Bank acquired the Great Western Savings building at 1010 State Street and opened the Downtown Santa Barbara Branch in 1979.

Founding Board of Directors

C.H.H. Branch, MD
Perry Carter
Julia L. Forbes
Randolph F. Marston
John O'Keefe (Chairman)
Gerald B. Parent
Michael Towbes
Mary K. Wright
1980 - 1989

In March 1982, the Bank received the first of 30+ designations as a Premier Performing bank by The Findley Reports, an independent service that rates the performance of California banks. Also in 1982, Michael Towbes assumed the role of CEO and became the sole owner of the Bank of Montecito in October 1983. Through 1986, the Bank expanded to 5 locations, adding Goleta, La Cumbre and Carpinteria.

1990 – 1999

March 1993 is the inaugural Anniversary GrantsSM event, which became an annual giving tradition to award nonprofits chosen by Bank associates. On August 19, 1994, the Montecito branch is destroyed by fire; completion of the new branch finishes 2 years later. The Bank of Montecito officially becomes Montecito Bank & Trust in February 1996 when the Bank opens its Trust & Investment division. In May of 1996 the Bank’s first website debuts.


In the fall of 2001, the Bank acquired Valley Oaks National Bank in Solvang. The first Community Dividends took place in November 2003, which annually gifts $1 million to local nonprofit organizations. The Bank expanded to 7 locations with the opening of the Westlake Village branch in 2005. In September 2006, the Bank names Janet Garufis as President & CEO and she is elected to the Board of Directors. The Bank opened its 8th branch, in Ventura, in 2009.


Reaching a new milestone in 2003, the Bank eclipsed $1 billion in assets. A second Goleta branch is opened in 2012. In 2013, Montecito Bank & Trust is voted “Best Bank” in the Santa Barbara Independent’s Best of Readers Poll, kicking off a string of 25+ “Best Bank” awards across multiple publications in local cities. In 2015, the Bank adopted the .bank domain and opened its 10th branch, in Camarillo. A new Mortgage division is launched in 2016. The Bank is named 2017 Bank of the Year by the Western independent Bankers Association. Janet Garufis is named Chairman & CEO in 2017 and George Leis became President & COO. Founder Michael Towbes passed on April 13, 2017. An 11th branch opened in 2018 on the Mesa in Santa Barbara. In 2019 the Bank surpassed $1 billion in loans and $1 billion in assets under management for the Wealth Management division.

2020 - Present

2020 presented one of the greatest challenges of a generation, the COVID-19 global pandemic. Remote and hybrid working becomes the norm. In March 2020, the Bank turned 45 and the annual Anniversary Grants celebration is held virtually for the first time ever. In November 2022, the Bank celebrated the 20th Community Dividends and doubled giving to $2 million. In 2022, the Bank celebrates its 10th year of winning Best Bank, bringing the total up to 25 awards. In 2023, the Bank continued to expand its footprint by opening new branches in Santa Maria and Oxnard.