Merchants Bank of Bangor, which recently opened a new branch in Downtown Bethlehem, received a rating of “Outstanding” on its most recent Community Reinvestment Act Exam from the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council.
It's a first for the bank, which was founded in 1890.
"We're very proud of our small community bank for being recognized for the work we think we do," said Anthony Biondi, CEO of the bank.
Banks can achieve rankings of Outstanding, Satisfactory, Needs to Improve or Substantial Noncompliance.
The act, enacted Congress in 1977, encourages banks and other depository institutions to help meet the credit needs of the communities where they operate.
"This is the first time we achieved an 'Outstanding,' which is really very hard to get," said Chrystal Schardt, marketing director for Merchants. "It means we reached the kind of achievement this organization wants to see in a variety of categories."
Along with examining lending practices, loan-to-deposit ratios and investments and services, the council also evaluates the philanthropic activities the bank, including employees' volunteer hours for qualified organizations.
"It also takes a look at where we are lending and who we are lending to and that we have internal controls in place so we're not denying loans to people who should be getting loans," Biondi said.
In 2012, Schardt said, Merchants Bank employees volunteered 1,020 hours to reinvestment act-eligible organizations and programs.
Biondi noted the recognition is particularly rewarding because it follows two other recent honors, the Greater Lehigh Valley of Chamber of Commerce's The Spirit of Forks Award and the Volunteer Center of the Lehigh Valley's Spirit of Volunteerism Award.