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Trustees of Leland Stanford University


CASE: SI-134(A)

DATE: 01/31/16


Jaclyn Foroughi, CFA, and Professor Maureen McNichols prepared this case as the basis for class discussion rather

then to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of an administrative situation.


Copyright © 2016 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University. Publicly available cases are

distributed through Harvard Business Publishing at and The Case Centre at;

please contact them to order copies and request permission to reproduce materials. No part of this publication may

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appropriate. If you are a copyright holder and have concerns, please contact the Case Writing Office at or write to Case Writing Office, Stanford Graduate School of Business, Knight

Management Center, 655 Knight Way, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-5015.





We’re not just trying to develop a new bank model at the firm level and hope that has better and

salutatory effects. We’re really trying to change the banking system for good. 1

—Kat Taylor (JD/MBA ’86), co-founder and co-CEO, Beneficial State Bank


In November 2004, as presidential hopeful John Kerry conceded the presidential race to George

W. Bush, husband and wife team and Democratic supporters Tom Steyer (MBA ’83) and Kat

Taylor found themselves at an impasse in their political endeavors. Having served as a delegate

to the Democratic National Convention and as a significant backer of Kerry, Steyer was

considered a certainty for a position in Kerry’s administration. Taylor, meanwhile, had recently

emerged from a 20-year career hiatus, during which she raised four children and supported her

husband’s esteemed career as founder and senior managing member of Farallon Capital

Management. The lost presidential bid was not only disappointing but left the couple seeking

out new avenues to benefit from their time, passion, and energy.


For Taylor, the idea of a beneficial bank was not new; in fact, the notion of starting a bank to

help underserved communities had been suggested to her almost 20 years earlier when Taylor

sought career advice from then-economic advisor to Governor Jerry Brown of California,

Michael Kieschnick. At the time, the idea seemed implausible but now, with their newly

unleashed resources, the idea of community banking as a leverage point in both communities and

the overall financial system seemed almost compulsory.