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Renzo LujanRenzo Luján is the Managing Director at First Republic Bank, where he leads a team of private bankers that provide customized banking solutions to clients. He started his career in banking with Washington Mutual and later moved to Citibank, where he honed his skills and gained valuable experience. With almost two decades in the banking industry, Renzo’s passion for banking and his commitment to delivering the best possible service to clients have earned him a reputation as a respected leader in the banking industry.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Renzo Luján shares what it was like growing up in an immigrant family
  • What attracted Renzo to the banking industry?
  • Why Renzo enjoys working for First Republic Bank
  • The importance of building relationships with clients
  • The value of financial literacy: internally and externally

In this episode…

For immigrants pursuing their career objectives, challenges often arise. What does it take to overcome obstacles and create the American dream?

Renzo Luján, a first-generation immigrant who came to the United States with his family from Peru, faced his fair share of challenges. But through determination and a commitment to excellence, he worked his way up the ranks of the banking industry and now holds a top leadership position. Renzo’s story is a testament to the power of hard work and perseverance, and it offers valuable lessons for people looking to succeed in their careers.

In this episode of the Rising Entrepreneurs Podcast, John Corcoran talks to Renzo Luján, Managing Director at First Republic Bank, about his journey from being a first-generation immigrant to becoming a successful banker. He discusses his passion for helping people and how the culture of First Republic Bank aligns with his values. Renzo also offers valuable insights and advice for anyone looking to pursue a career in banking and shares his thoughts on the industry’s future.

Resources mentioned in this episode

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Episode Transcript

Intro  0:02  

Welcome to the Rising Entrepreneurs Podcast where we feature top founders and entrepreneurs and their journey. Now let’s get started with the show.

John Corcoran  0:13  

Hi, welcome. John Corcoran here, I am the co-host of this show. And for those of you who haven’t listened to this program before, check out our archives. I’ve got some great interviews with past smart CEOs, founders and entrepreneurs of all kinds of companies. And I’m also the co-founder of Rise25, where we help connect B2B business owners to their ideal prospects in this episode course brought to you by EO San Francisco. EO San Francisco is part of Entrepreneurs’ Organization, which is a global peer to peer network of more than 16,000 influential business owners with 200 chapters in about 60 plus countries. If you’re a founder, co founder owner or controlling shareholder of a company generating over a million dollars a year in revenue, then we end if you want to connect with other like minded successful entrepreneurs, EO is really a great fit for you. EO San Francisco chapter enables leading entrepreneurs in the Bay Area to learn, grow and achieve greater success was founded in 1991. We have over 100 members in all kinds of different industries. You can learn more about how it works at and my guest here today is Renzo Luján. He is a Managing Director at First Republic Bank, which is one of our partners for the chapter here. And I can also say he is my banker, because we recently opened an account with First Republic so I can speak personally as to what that experience was like. And I have to say, unlike working with many other banks, you’ll be really impressed. So we’ll talk about that. But first, Renzo, pleasure to have you here today. And I want to dive into your background. I love hearing people’s stories, their backstories, you actually came here to the United States, you’re born in Peru, and your parents left, because there’s a new president that was elected your there were a lot of jobs and a lot of economic opportunity. And now here you are in the United States of obviously, for a long time, working with businesses, helping them to get ahead. And I’m always fascinated to hear that perspective and what that’s like for you. But first of all, what was it like growing up in an immigrant family, first generation family? In San Francisco, in the Bay Area?

Renzo Luján  2:27  

Yeah. Well, Hi, John. Thank you for having me. Yeah. So we were, you know, I was born in Peru, we came here when I was eight years old. My two parents that I’ve told her brothers, I’m the youngest of three. You know, I would say, looking back, you know, my dad had to work two to three jobs, sometimes, for a long time, in order to, you know, to support us, my mom was a stay at home wife, and then, you know, she obviously helped raise us, I always laugh that she was always very overprotective. But then my dad wasn’t home, because he was working a lot, right. So he missed a lot of events, right? So because of that, so but kind of being able to see that, and being able to appreciate that. Now, you know, not, at the time, if anything, know, looking back some of the things that that I think about are, you know, the all the hard work that he put in to be able to get us to, you know, brothers to where we are now, which we are all, you know, you know, just feel like we’re doing well in our separate fields. But, you know, growing up was definitely interesting.

John Corcoran  3:44  

It definitely makes you appreciate how much, especially when you become a parent, I know you’re a parent as well, once you become a parent, you appreciate what your parents put in for you. Not just, you know, leaving the country they know, to a new foreign place, getting a new job working multiple jobs. I mean, it’s hard to do all that. What drove you towards banking? Was there anything internal? Anything that that, like, what in your upbringing that drew you towards that as a field?

Renzo Luján  4:15  

You know, I always thought, you know, I thought the suit was cool, you know, but I was a teenager and my, my mom’s like, you know, always when I was looking at different things to do, and, you know, the same thing my mom kind of pushed me to go, you get, you know, professional, you get to wear the suit. And then so I got into banking, I started with Washington Mutual when I was 19. So this was 2003. And, you know, I just do something that I enjoy doing. I love working with people. I love helping people try to become better to helping in any way that I can. And I was with WAMU for about four years. Then I was with Citibank for about two years. years after that, and then I got recruited the First Republic in 2009. Which, you know, looking back is probably one of the best phone calls that I’ve ever received. Because I’ve been there, what, 14 years now. And the culture of the bank really fits my own values.

John Corcoran  5:16  

Yeah. And you know, I want to dive into that a bit. Because First Republic is one of these banks that for years, I’ve heard people say good things about them. I just hear different people recommending different banks and people who were First Republic clients, customers would be like, oh, there’s bass, you gotta, you gotta check it out. You know, and of course, moving banks is a hassle. Right? You know, and so it’s something that people put off all the time. What is it about the culture of First Republic because we were joking beforehand. Their ambition is not to be another Chase, you don’t want to be another Wells Fargo.

Renzo Luján  5:53  

And you know, it’s funny, I laugh when you say that, because one thing I hear a lot when I get new clients who are frozen? You know, my friends say they loan the bank. And I’ve never heard anyone say they love their bank before. So we never, you know, I would say, a big part of it. It’s, you know, when I talk about the culture, it really is. What does the client want? And helping them get there? Right. So I’ve been other banks before, you know, and I’ve seen it, where it’s about pushing products. It’s about, you know, making goals with, you know, with First Republic really is do the right thing. And the business will just come. Right, and I think our you know, our, one of our board, Jim Herbert, who was our are one of our founders, our founder and CEO, our CEO, he said, we’re a service company, we just happen to be a bank. So I think that’s one of the things that we kind of owe, you know, and you know, when you get hired First Republic, it’s kind of strange. You go through like seven or eight interviews, you know, that it’s kind of a process. And I think the reason for that, we just want to make sure you know that, do you have the right? Mindset, right, because sometimes people come over from other banks, and have a much different mindset. And to undo the other big bank. Yeah, that, you know, sometimes it takes a little bit because it’s, you know, it’s definitely a different type of culture.

John Corcoran  7:22  

Well, that’s what I found so interesting. And I’ll tell my story. So the way that we finally set up a First Republic account was that it had been months, we’re with a large national bank that everyone’s heard of, had been months, we’d been sending messages to someone who was supposed to be our private banker, they wouldn’t respond, we’d realize a few weeks have gone by, we’d send another email because they hadn’t responded to the previous email. And then it got to the point where it was like, I needed to sign something, they needed a wet signature version, which I’m a former lawyer. And I can’t stand that term, because there’s no security whatsoever to this wet signature thing. But people just know it. And they think like, Oh, if you sign it in blue ink, somehow that’s more secure. And then we go and we sign up with First Republic, and I signed my document on my phone using DocuSign at seven, six o’clock on a Friday, and you also emailed me back the next day on Saturday. And I was like, this is a different experience.

Renzo Luján  8:25  

And that’s the thing, I think, you know, because I love what I do, right? It really makes me happy to do what I’ve been doing. I and I think, you know, after 14 years, doing a lot of things, it’s hard to kind of just, you know, not necessarily be excited about it. So I think I love you know, I value the relationships, that I build a value my clients, a lot of my clients are my friends. You know, I don’t really see this as a job. I like a career and me helping people get to where they want to be. But yeah, I think just overall, it’s just, we try to make it we know people are busy, you know, we were trying to make it as simple as humanly possible. And there you know, one of the things that’s awesome about the bank, there’s a lot of empowerment. So if something system doesn’t work, they want to hear what we have to say as far as improving the quality and then two big procedural changes for the bank because there’s a whole portal specifically for ideas. So you know, there is

John Corcoran  9:28  

That’s pretty innovative for a bank to have that and another interesting thing is is that you know, I think for a lot for a number of years going back 1012 years as technology was adopted you know people started moving towards online only banks that that you can use any ATM but you didn’t really have a relationship with the with the any bank or anything like that First Republic’s gone the opposite direction. You have a team that’s in a local office. One thing I think that’s interesting is when I email with you, you have other people cc’d on their their Other team members that can respond can help with various different issues. Like, it could be like resetting a password, but you don’t get routed to Oh, you need to call this 800 number and wait on line went on, on hold for 45 minutes just to get that one issue resolved, which is just such a nice relief for that, but, but when the pandemic hit it all sudden became Oh, you know, we it’s actually there’s a real benefit to having a relationship with a banker for things like the PPP that came through.

Renzo Luján  10:26  

And that’s the thing. So I think, you know, the technology is important, right? We all we want it to be convenient to be able to do our day to day. But I think for a while, prior to the pandemic, during the pandemic, rather, people realized that it was along with the technology, it’s also important to have a relationship, right, a lot of people had a tough time, just getting to talk to anyone finding out where the heck they were, as far as the PPP process. If you speak to anyone that whether that process was First Republic, you know, having that point of contact, really put a lot of, you know, tensions at ease. And if anything, we gained a lot of business from that after that process, because white people tucked in this at First Republic was able to, you know, to kind of help them and we process and we didn’t we didn’t have an SBA lending program prior to that, and we built one over the weekend, because we wanted to make sure that all our clients were taken care of, and we, you know, all 11,000 applications are so we were able to take care of which was.

John Corcoran  11:33  

That’s amazing, though, to be able to pivot like that, in during a pandemic is incredible.

Renzo Luján  11:39  

Working overtime, people working weekends, the client, the bank, like, knew it was a need. So they were, you know, paying the good bonuses for people that were going to work on this and talk about people getting emails over the weekend, people were getting, you know, from New York, emails at midnight, go to the CDC, it was, it was a lot of work. But in the end, you know, I think we’re all happy that we’re able to help our clients.

John Corcoran  12:04  

Yeah. Now, one thing I know you care a lot about, which relates to banking is financial literacy, and understanding finances. Part of this is motivated by we were talking beforehand, your your father’s CPA passed away. And so you got into helping him with filing his taxes, and you kind of saw firsthand how a lack of financial literacy can can hurt you. In the case of your father, you want to tell that story?

Renzo Luján  12:33  

Yeah. So as you mentioned, you know, but that CPA passed away, and then me being the banker, that was like, Okay, do my taxes, but he’s been at the post office for a long time, 20 years, a little over 20 years. But when doing that paperwork, that’s when, you know, I saw his his W two is, and I was like, holy moly. Like they’re, you know, you’re getting your 40k a year or so then I was like how, you know, and then I was looking back thinking back, right? How were you making that supporting a family of five and three kids? I never felt like, you know, like we struggled, but in but how did we not considering you know, and then I look closer, and then he was paying around 800 and some change for for MediCal? And it was a while? Why is it so high. So we got that changed. But even then, because of that lack of knowledge that was happening, then that was less money, he was able to put to a 401 K, which is why he’s you know, he’s retiring actually in one month. But wait till the age of 70. Right. So something we definitely would have wanted him to do earlier. But that kind of just got me thinking and really passionate about financial literacy. So you know, a few years ago, the bank also started opened up for folks to be able to start employee resource groups. So you know, I helped formed I was one of the founders for First Republics, Latino, Latina, that next employee resource group. And one of our pillars is financial literacy, both internally and externally. Internally, because not everyone has banker at a bank, you have it, you have marketing, you have HR, you have people in different sectors that want to know what to do when they retire. Not everybody, you know, was born here, not everybody just has that education. And then externally, whereas with our communities with our none of our nonprofit clients, we lead some financial literacy courses for you know, a just for as little as young as you know, middle school, elementary school, and for sometimes for the parents, just basic banking and credit and things like that.

John Corcoran  14:45  

You know, it’s funny, I, early in my career, worked in politics, and I was a lawyer and I used to joke that I’m going to round up my career by working for the IRS all the most hated professions right? And it’s nice to see someone that’s taking an industry in a company that’s taking an industry, like banking that doesn’t have a good reputation, but injecting into it some life and really working on doing your best in order to perform good service. I guess. So. Thanks for your time Renzo? Where can people go to connect with you and learn more about what you guys do?

Renzo Luján  15:26  

Well, you can, everyone can always email me R L U J A N at Or even shoot me a text or give me a call 650-787-1298 Here’s my phone number.

John Corcoran  15:43  

Did you just hear that banker text me? That’s just amazing. Blows my mind

Renzo Luján  15:50  

The bank is banking specific stuff, no account numbers, but

John Corcoran  15:53  

just to kind of loosen it up. I would be the conservative you set a calendar. And but shout out to Nicole McKenzie, a member of our chapter, who I remember specifically in one of our forums, someone had asked about banking, and she just raved about you guys. So I want to give her credit where credit’s due so Renzo, thank you so much for your time. Thank you. Thanks so much for having me.

Outro  16:19  

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