ABA Banking Journal - September/October 2017 - 12
BY MOLLY O'CONNELL
It wasn't long after receiving an MBA in Finance and Entrepreneurship
from the University of Colorado Boulder that Jason Pendergist found
his way into banking. After more than a decade of service at two of
the country's largest banks, Pendergist joined Luther Burbank Savings
in Santa Rosa, Calif., where he is currently president of consumer and
Since the fall of 2015, Pendergist has served as the inaugural
chairman of ABA's Commercial Real Estate Lending Committee. As his
tenure as chairman comes to an end this fall, Pendergist reflects on
his experience and offers insights on the future of the commercial real
From your perspective, what was the
impetus for starting the Commercial
Real Estate Lending Committee?
A: Upon arriving at Luther Burbank Savings, the first thing I realized
was that I no longer had the support of a $2.4 trillion bank and all
the resources that come with that. At Luther, at the time, we had
some regulatory challenges that we were working through and we
didn't have the internal resources to address the questions that were
being posed to us by the OCC. My initial calls were to ABA to try to
find people that could help provide answers.
I think it was those conversations that I had that ultimately
demonstrated that there was a need to put together a committee
of likeminded commercial real estate professionals. We were all
struggling with a similar series of questions and we needed to
find a peer group within which to collaborate to try to collectively
motivated you to step into the
role of chairman?
A: I think that community service in any of the forms in which
it presents itself is an obligation that we all have as citizens, as
leaders within our respective institutions, and leaders within our
respective communities. I believe, when asked, we're called to serve.
There was no question or hesitation on my part when I was asked to
fill the role of chairman. It was a humbling opportunity.
ABA BANKING JOURNAL | SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017
How has your participation on the
committee impacted your work at
Luther Burbank Savings?
A: Without question, the ideas that are gathered-both from
establishing peer group best practices and from our work on the
issues in the commercial real estate space, [such as] high-volatility
CRE, CECL or the economic environment within our markets-all of
those pieces turn into actionable takeaways that I bring to the job
on a daily, weekly, monthly basis.
I would largely attribute our bank's ability to successfully navigate
through the challenging regulatory environment, as well as our
successful conversion to a state chartered bank, to the learning that
we were able to take from the CRE Lending Committee and bring
back to our bank and our board.
Where do you see the commercial real
estate banking industry going over the
next few years?
A: Everyone has a quest for asset growth and one of the quickest
ways to fill that goal is through commercial real estate, given the
size of the deals and the relative ease with which an account can
be brought on board. We have seen a tremendous amount of growth
and a tremendous amount of capital that has poured into the
commercial space. I expect that trend is going to continue despite
some of the headwinds that we face from a regulatory standpoint.
It's still a great business, it's still a growing business, and it's
something that is going to become more and more important to
more and more of our community and regional bank partners.
MOLLY O'CONNELL is a policy research associate at ABA.