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

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 Downtown Santa Barbara Branch opens at 1000 State Street, after acquiring the Great Western Savings building 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 receives 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 assumes the role of CEO and becomes the sole owner of the Bank of Montecito in October 1983. Through 1986, the bank expands to 5 locations, adding Goleta, La Cumbre and Carpinteria.

1990 – 1999

March 1993 is the inaugural Anniversary GrantsSM event, which becomes 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. May 1996 debuts the bank’s first website.


In October 2001, the bank acquires Valley Oaks National Bank in Solvang. The first Community Dividends takes place in November 2003, which annually gifts $1 million to local nonprofit organizations. The bank expands to 7 locations with the opening of the Westlake Village branch on January 10, 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 May 2009.


Reaching a new milestone in 2003, the bank eclipses $1 billion in assets. A second Goleta branch was 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 20+ “Best Bank” awards across multiple publications and local cities. In 2015, the bank adopts the .bank domain and opens its 10th branch in Camarillo. A new Mortgage division is launched in 2016. The bank is named 2017 Bank of the Year by the WIB. Janet Garufis is named Chairman & CEO in 2017 and George Leis becomes President & COO. Founder Michael Towbes passes on April 13, 2017. In 2019 the bank surpasses $1 billion in loans and $1 billion in assets under management for the Wealth Management division.

2020 - Present

2020 presents one of the greatest challenges of a generation, the COVID-19 global pandemic. Remote working became the norm, not the exception. In March 2020, the bank turned 45 and the annual Anniversary Grants celebration was held virtually for the 1st time ever. The Bank facilitated over $205 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding to local businesses and nonprofits needing coronavirus financial aid. For the 4th year in a row, the bank received national recognition as a Best Bank to Work For by American Banker and was named #1 Best Place to Work by the Pacific Coast Business Times. An 11th branch opened on the Mesa in Santa Barbara.