Signature Bank
Signature Bank

It's unlikely that you'll ever walk into a Signature Bank off the street or see an advertisement for the company at a ball game. Unlike First Financial, Signature has practically avoided brand exposure since it started back in 2001.

Instead the bank relies on hiring experienced bankers with a portfolio of clients who refer other customers by word of mouth. Signature deals exclusively with private companies in the New York area -- a section of the population that has grown frustrated with big banks, says CEO Joe DePaolo.

New York private business owners want one point of contact to streamline all of their financial needs, he says. So that's what Signature offers. Clients can call their same banker for advice about buying a vacation home as well as securing a line of credit for their business. Signature employees are on call all the time to answer questions quickly, to jibe with the pace of a New York entrepreneur.

Customers like it. The bank, which has grown to $13.1 billion in assets since it started in 2001 continues to expand. This past quarter, Signature's net income grew 64% to $36.6 million.

And as long as big banks continue to frustrate customers, DePaolo sees room to keep growing. There's no outsourced call or automated bank robot behind the company's formula for success. "You know what the formula is?" he says. "Answer the damn phone."


Last updated September 13 2011: 8:10 AM ET