Bucking the Banking Trend: First Bank of Greenwich grows Stamford account with downtown branch
By Paul Schott
STAMFORD — There is no app for The First Bank of Greenwich’s latest venture. Customers will have to take a trip downtown to see how it works.
Bucking the trend of banks increasingly automating their services, First Bank expanded its brick-and-mortar operations by opening Monday its second branch, in a new building at 900 Summer St. First Bank executives describe the 1,250-square-foot center as an essential hub for forging close ties with customers.
“We’ve always had a customer base in Stamford,” Mark McMillen, First Bank’s chief operating officer, said in an interview this week at the new branch. “It’s been mentioned many times that some of the customer base would like us to have a branch here so they can do their deposits locally. We’re interested in building total relationships.”
The branch at the corner of Summer and North streets functions as a full-service banking center, open Monday through Saturday. Customers can make deposits and withdrawals, cash checks, make cash exchanges, process wire transactions, open new accounts and make consumer loan applications. The branch also includes an ATM, self-service coin machine, conference room and a furnished waiting annex.
Most of the branch’s transactions take place at a centrally placed “pod,” which functions like a front desk.
“This is our model branch,” said Frank Gaudio, First Bank’s president and CEO. “Everything we do forward will be this type of design. We wanted it to be welcoming.”
A three-person team staffs the branch. All are registered loan officers.
“It’s been busy,” said universal banker Amy Sellers. “We’ve been learning about customers who work in the area. My goal is to be able to service our customers, and I hope to grow the business.”
The Stamford branch complements First Bank’s headquarters in the Cos Cob section of Greenwich, where 31 employees work in an approximately 5,000-square-foot complex at 444 East Putnam Ave. And it stands yards from a lending office that First Bank opened in November 2015 at 733 Summer St.
First Bank executives said they are proud of “organically” growing their organization — with no mergers or acquisitions. Between the end of 2011 and end of 2016, the bank grew its total assets from $75 million to $265 million, increased its loans from $55 million to $232 million and expanded its deposit total from $62 million to $213 million.
And they said they want to keep themselves accessible to customers. Gaudio, McMillen, Chief Lending Officer Evan Corsello and Assistant Vice President and Retail Bank Manager Emily Newcamp said they plan to make regular appearances at 900 Summer St.
“Our clients always have direct access to the decisionmakers,” Corsello said. “If they happen to walk into the branch and we’re out at a meeting, they can call our cell phone.”
The bank also gathers ongoing feedback from advisory boards, with the Stamford panel comprising some 70 professionals. Most of the bank’s customers work in small and medium businesses.
First Bank executives also want to use the new branch to test out new programs and services.
“It’s easier to quantify how things are working because it’s all new here,” McMillen said.
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