Interview with: Jack Choi, President and CEO - featuring: their state-chartered commercial bank operating in Los Angeles, California servicing primarily individuals, professionals, and small to medium-sized businesses in the local market.

Commonwealth Business Bank (CWBB-OTC: BB)

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Being the center point for most of their employees and having a clear vision allows Commonwealth Business Bank to generate a higher productivity than other banks

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Business Banks

Commonwealth Business Bank

5055 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 840
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Phone: 323-988-3000

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Jack Choi
President and CEO

Interview conducted by:
Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor
August 17, 2006

Jack Choi
President and CEO

Mr. Choi is an organizer, a director and the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Bank. Mr. Choi has over 20 years of banking experience both in the United States and Korea. Prior to founding the Bank, Mr. Choi was the Senior Vice President and Chief Credit Officer for Hanmi Bank, a position he held since 1999 until early 2004.  Mr. Choi holds Masters Degree in Banking from Pacific Coast Banking School and Business Administration from Pepperdine University.

Company Profile:
Commonwealth Business Bank is a state-chartered commercial bank operating in Los Angeles, California servicing primarily individuals, professionals, and small to medium-sized businesses in the local market. The Bank accepts checking, savings, and time deposits, and makes commercial, commercial real estate and consumer loans. The Bank also offers trade financing, letters of credit, wire transfer, Internet banking and other customary banking services to customers.

The Bank’s primary market area is Los Angeles County with a particular emphasis on the multi-ethnic communities located between downtown Los Angeles and Beverly Hills. The strategy of the Bank is to focus on its primary market and to provide products and superior customer service in special niches, and to utilize the contacts of our directors, officers and other employees to the fullest extent possible. Commonwealth Business Bank promotes its presence, its image, its involvement in the communities the Bank serves through participation in community programs, professional associations and business organizations.

CEOCFO: Mr. Choi, Commonwealth is a young bank, what is the vision and how is it developing so far?
Mr. Choi: “The vision we started with was that we wanted a bank that can generate and develop young talent for the next generation bank. I saw that the development and growth of the ethnic bank in the Los Angeles area, sometimes is bringing in more of the unprepared success of the young generation. Once the growth starts to slow down, then all the banks have to work on the internal control and discipline the organization. I think we have to be ready for the tough times after a relatively smooth cruising era, which is the 2001-2005 easy money expansion of the economy. For the next couple of years I think there is going to be many restructuring and sometimes reengineering process that will go on in the banking industry. Therefore, we are prepared for that, also we have to develop a new area of banking of which we have many challenges from non-bank financing companies or even non-bank non-financing companies. We saw that the Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT) are all trying to penetrate the financial industry. We have to be able to meet or exceed those challenges. My vision was to set up an organization that can develop a young talent to meet the challenges of the changing environment also the changing the competitive structure of the banking industry. We started with talented people, but not junior or entry level people. We started with seasoned and experienced senior level people in this bank. We are 1 years old and our plan has been executed as we have planned.”

CEOCFO: You have had your second profitable quarter!
Mr. Choi: “Yes.”

CEOCFO: What accounts for that?
Mr. Choi: “Our seasoned and experienced people have good connections and networks and they can develop their relationships much earlier than are the typical de novo bank. They brought in their relationships from the other banks and our excellent service. Therefore, we grew fast and our growth brought in the profitability sooner than the other banks.”

CEOCFO: Is there a typical customer for you?
Mr. Choi: “Typical customers we define as anyone who needs the highly sophisticated banking solutions, those are our target customers. We have the knowledge, experience and the team so we can provide solutions that no other bank can provide as easily. Our typical customer will be sophisticated, either an individual with a high net worth or businesses that are growing in a developing area.”

CEOCFO: Will you give us an example of what a customer might get at Commonwealth that they may not get somewhere else?
Mr. Choi: “Most lenders focus on the financial components of the past. In our bank, we have industry expertise in our team and we can read their competitiveness beyond their numbers. Even though they have the same financials, we can tell the better management from the mediocre management. We can give them more credit for the higher management skills and the dedication of the senior people of the borrower. We can give them better structure so that they can thrive faster than they can with regular lenders.”

CEOCFO: Are there services that you are not offering now that you would like to add in the future?
Mr. Choi: “We do not have a big wide consumer banking products like mortgages and credit cards. Instead, we have alliances with mortgages and credit cards so that our customers will not have any chance that they will have to go to another bank for those services. Our future focus is we will lead this bank to a complete banking service organization so that our customers can have all kinds of access including investment services.”

CEOCFO: You have a new branch; will you tell us about your branching plans?
Mr. Choi: “Our downtown area in Los Angeles is the center for the garment and textile district; their growth is phenomenal. With the introduction of China, India and Vietnam, their growth potential is larger. Some people say that downtown is doomed because of those imports, but they have a better future because those China, India and Viet Nam exporters need some connection point or hub in the Los Angeles area. This is because they don’t have the expertise in the local knowledge and the U.S. operation. However, the downtown garment district wholesalers or manufacturers have built that kind of foundation for more than two decades. Their knowledge will work very well with those exporters in China, India and Vietnam. Therefore, our focus is to entertain those shifts out there from manufacturers and wholesalers here to the importer and distributor here. Further, we have the capability to understand and address the need for the changing business models that is why we are entering the downtown garment industry.”

CEOCFO: Why should potential investors be interested and what should they know that does not jump off the page?Mr. Choi: “We understand our borrowers beyond their numbers. I would like to emphasis the potential of the bank, not from the numbers alone, but the whole aspect including management and their vision and dedication as well as numbers. I would like to talk about the dedication; many people think that they are just hired for compensation or money, but our focus is that the workplace is more important than before because we spend a lot more time than our former generations did. The workforce should be the focal point of our life, so when we see our people here in the bank, I give them a lot of advice and some incite on how their life should be centered around the work environment. In that regard, the dedication is not coming from the compensation itself, the dedication is coming from the community of the bank. I believe our bank is the community and the social network. Our bank is the center point for most of the people that work in the bank. With that environment and a clear vision of how to manage and lead a bank, we generate a lot higher productivity than other banks can have.

When our shareholders read what we publish through our business wire or press releases, I always emphasize that where we are not only encompasses numbers but also in the direction of the bank and the communication with our people. Therefore, they can feel that they are included and a very important part of the bank as well as the driver of the bank. Those intangible values of the bank will bring in more productivity and creativity so that we can excel in any changing environment. These days a change is almost instantaneous. Therefore, any organization that is sticking to their previous business model, hoping to have the same level of accountability will not have a long future. Dedication, strongly founded on the community sense, can meet any of the changing needs of our customers. Therefore, when our shareholders look at us, I ask them to look beyond numbers.”


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“Our bank is the center point for most of the people that work in the bank. With that environment and a clear vision of how to manage and lead a bank, we generate a lot higher productivity than other banks can have.” - Jack Choi does not purchase or make
recommendation on stocks based on the interviews published.