Former Treasurer Helped Guide City Back to Investing

Many thanks were doled out for Marina Wang recently, as she yielded her volunteer position as city treasurer to her replacement after more than a decade.
The career (and now retired) certified public accountant and banker is ready, after helping guide the city back into carefully investing its dollars, to take a breather.
“What’s next for me? Enjoying life,” she said in a telephone interview. “I have a college reunion next year, and my college has its 90-year celebration. So, maybe in September, I’ll go back to Taiwan.”
That college, National Taiwan University, is where she earned a bachelor’s degree in banking and accounting in 1965, before she embarked for California to earn her master’s degree in business administration from San Jose State University. She stayed here, moving to San Marino in 1981 so she could put her two children through its schools (it worked out; her daughter went to Harvard and son to Stanford).
Wang had been bank president at two local banks that were absorbed to larger companies — First Public Bank and later Trust Bank. About 10 ½ years ago, Wang said she was presented an opportunity to contribute her banking and finance knowledge to San Marino when Dennis Kneier, then the city treasurer, successfully ran for City Council.
“He left the post to run for City Council, and I was encouraged by the then-mayor and other city councilmen to serve the city, because long-term residents should return something to the city,” Wang said.
As treasurer, Wang oversaw the city’s cash flow and budget and would later manage investments as the city returned to a point to comfortably do so. Prior investments had resulted in a financial loss.
“Ironically, in the very beginning, I was one of the people who was criticizing (the city),” Wang said. “However, from then on, the City Council stayed far from any investments. They’d rather stay safe. Profit is not the main intention. The main intention is safety. For years, they didn’t allow us to do any investments.”
Among Wang’s efforts were to divide sums of city money in various local savings accounts for FDIC protection to generate some interest and also creating a number of CDs in local banks. At first, the country’s financial crisis motivated her to stay put with the city’s money but the still-improving state of the economy has opened doors for that.
“It was horrible, so no investment was fine with me,” she said. “At the time, the reserve was tight and in every little thing, the whole council was very carefully watching. Now, it seems like everything is back on track. I hope the best for them. It seems like a lot of talented people are being hired.”

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