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Banker to the stars

Bram Goldsmith, 89, looks back on almost four decades at the top of City National Bank, which has turned a profit 78 straight quarters

August 05, 2012|E. Scott Reckard

After buying out Hart and becoming chairman and CEO in 1975, Bram Goldsmith enjoyed notable success in banking as well. He pegged his compensation to the bank's stock price, and the rapidly expanding City National so outperformed its rivals that Goldsmith earned $3.1 million in 1984 when the bill came due.

It made him the nation's highest-paid bank executive that year, earning more than the CEOs of the top three banks -- Bank of America, Citibank and Chase Manhattan -- combined.

The tradition of growth and reward continues. Russell Goldsmith's $9.5-million compensation package last year was second highest among the 42 CEOs of publicly traded banks with $10 billion to $50 billion in assets, according to research firm SNL Financial. Only Dominic Ng at East West Bancorp in Pasadena, at $10.7 million, earned more in this category of smaller regional banks.

Regrets? They've had a few, mostly for passing on deals that proved home runs for others, such as IndyMac Bank, the big Pasadena home lender that failed in 2008. IndyMac was purchased from the government by a hedge fund consortium and has turned impressive profits in its new incarnation as OneWest Bank.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday, August 09, 2012 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 News Desk 2 inches; 74 words Type of Material: Correction
Bram Goldsmith: An article in the Aug. 5 Business section about longtime City National Bank executive Bram Goldsmith included a photo of him with the Jacksons. The accompanying caption said Michael Jackson was shown displaying his No. 1 single "Shake Your Body." The song, whose full title is "Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)," was recorded by the Jacksons and peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in May 1979.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday, October 10, 2012 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 News Desk 1 inches; 39 words Type of Material: Correction
City National Bank: An article in the Aug. 5 Business section about City National Bank misidentified the bank's first chairman as Ben Maltz, the grandfather of City National Chief Executive Russell Goldsmith. The bank's first chairman was Jay Kasler.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday, October 14, 2012 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 News Desk 1 inches; 39 words Type of Material: Correction
City National Bank: An article in the Aug. 5 Business section about City National Bank misidentified the bank's first chairman as Ben Maltz, the grandfather of City National Chief Executive Russell Goldsmith. The bank's first chairman was Jay Kasler.

"Had we bid on IndyMac we would have been betting the franchise," Russell says. "It would have worked out great in hindsight. But taking that much risk would have completely distorted what our bank was about and who we are."

Oh, well. Just another story from front-row seats at life in the big leagues, L.A.-style.

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scott.reckard@latimes.com

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