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Q&A with Lee Pullan, vice president and senior private banker at City National Bank

As a private banker, Lee Pullan works with many high-net-worth individuals. Day to day, he manages existing clients, works on new credit requests and develops business across a product line that includes deposits, credits and investments.

“It really covers a broad spectrum,” Pullan said.

At 39, Pullan has been in banking for almost 20 years. Today, he’s vice president and senior private banker for City National Bank where he’s worked for more than five years after being recruited away from Wells Fargo.

Pullan has been a certified health care banker since 2010, a designation he attained after attending a rigorous multiday course and taking an exam. Each year he’s required to take a recertification test to maintain the designation. He said the certification helps him understand nuances that only apply to the health care industry, helpful because about 40 percent of his clients are surgeons, physicians or other medical professionals.

“Internally it’s been highly valuable,” Pullan said.

When he’s not at City National working in finance, Pullan is living a double life of sorts.

For more than three years, he’s been in the Navy Reserves, a dream he fulfilled after thinking about joining the military for close to a decade. In his other life, he’s a logistics officer for the 30th Naval Construction Regiment in Port Huneme, Calif.

What made you go into banking?

I’ve always enjoyed finance and banking. I’m the kid on family vacations who brought a pencil box and kept track of when we spent money. I’d give my dad a running total. … I’m that geeky kid that ironed his money. It’s a sickness.

What challenges are you facing?

There is a lot of uncertainty among clients. There’s a lot of unknowns out there, and people are hesitant to expand current operations in business so they’re requesting fewer loans. That’s probably the single biggest issue we’re facing right now.

How do you unwind?

I have an alter ego. I have another life in the U.S. Navy and that mixes it up for me. Also I’m contractually obligated to stay in good physical shape.

Why did you enlist in the Reserves?

It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve always been attracted to it. … I really do believe in things that are bigger than us and the common good. It’s my way of giving back and trying to do a selfless sacrifice for others.

How do you secure a new client?

I’m fortunate. I’ve been in this town 16 years. Most of my clients are from existing client referrals or people who already know me.

What do you want people in the business community to know about finance?

If you liked it in 2007, you ought to love it now. Everything’s at a discount.