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Chairman of Silicon Valley Bank: Focusing on clients' success makes us different

By Han Shasha (People's Daily Online)

14:36, April 15, 2013

As one relatively small and specialized bank with customers of technology entrepreneurs and high-end winemakers in the United States, Silicon Valley Bank has always been put in the spotlight.

People’s Daily Online West USA Inc. recently interviewed Mr. Ken Wilcox, chairman of the Silicon Valley Bank talking about what makes SVB different from other commercial banks.

"We don’t focus on just trying to make money. We focus on making our customers successful,” he said, “I think that’s rare for banks.” He emphasized that Silicon Valley Bank really get involved in their customers and help the clients being successful.

Besides its services, another thing makes it different is that “we don’t have a set of rules to follow like all other banks.” Mr. Wilcox introduced that other banks follow some rules about who they can lend to, for instance, if one company have not been profitable for three years, other banks cannot lend to them. He said, “We don’t have rules.” In his eyes, applying thinking is more effective and important than applying rules in banking customers. “We apply thinking, so I think we do a better job of assessing risks than other banks will.”

He said the third thing of course is focus. Almost every body in the bank focuses on the innovation space except a small group of people working on wineries. He said “over 90 percent ,maybe 95 percent of everything we do is in the innovation space”

The bank’s customer base is dominated by clean tech, biotech growth companies. In addition to bank those technology companies, Silicon Valley Bank operates venture capital and private equity divisions that bank investors behind those companies. He said that venture capital firms and private equity firms also need help of a bank because of their businesses. Silicon Valley bank provides services for about two thirds of all the venture capital firms in the United States.

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