Banking on Success: A Look at Careers in the Banking Industry with CommerceWest CEO Ivo Tjan ’99

Commerce West

As older generations retire, the banking industry provides opportunities for lucrative and impactful careers for today’s young professionals. Ivo Tjan ’99, founder and CEO of Irvine-based CommerceWest Bank, which primarily serves small- to medium-sized enterprises for their commercial banking needs, looks at why students and alumni should consider careers in the field, how to get started and his personal entrepreneurship story.

“I became a CEO when I was 27 years old,” says Ivo Tjan, who founded CommerceWest Banktwo years after completing his undergraduate degree in marketing from Cal State Fullerton. In a sector dominated by older professionals – many of them in their 60s – the young entrepreneur found a niche focusing on commercial banking services for Southern California companies with revenues between $5 million and $100 million.

Tjan (pronounced tee-jan), who entered the banking industry at age 18, already had held management roles at Eldorado Bank, Home Savings of America and Great Western Bank, which, supplemented with his business coursework at CSUF, provided a focus and foundation in this field.

“I became a better CEO because I’ve been in there for so long. I was young, but I had the experience beforehand at different banks,” he says. “You have to stick to your core competency of what you’re good at.”

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