Operating and managing any financial institution means hard work and dedication.
Whether it’s a large conglomerate or a small, community-based company, making smart decisions and implementing strong business tactics into daily operations are imperative to the prosperity of not only the bank, but also its customers.
One community-based bank that makes a significant impact in the Greater Lehigh Valley is Merchants Bank, based in Bangor.
Here to answer this week’s “Behind the List” questions is Rocco DelVecchio, CEO of Merchants Bank.
Lehigh Valley Business: How long has Merchants Bank been operating in the region and what are its primary services?
Rocco DelVecchio: Merchants Bank was chartered 128 years ago on Oct. 8, 1890, making it the oldest community bank in our region. We have nine offices throughout Northampton County and offer a full array of financial services for both the consumer and business customer.
LVB: What have been some of the biggest challenges and opportunities that Merchants Bank has encountered throughout its years in business?
DelVecchio: As with most community banks of our size, I believe our biggest challenge has been navigating the expanded regulatory environment since 2008 and the additional costs incurred to meet all regulatory requirements.
Another challenge all banks face is the emergence of financial solutions offered by nonbank competitors, typically known as fintech. While it is a challenge, it also presents an opportunity for us to partner with them to increase access points for our customers.
The opportunities for our bank are endless. Our structure provides the flexibility to be attentive to our customers and respond to their everyday needs in a timely, efficient manner.
Just in the past two years, we have been able to grow our income-producing assets by well over $50 million due to our customer service and the relationships we have developed and sustained over the years with centers of influence and our loyal customer base.
LVB: How does Merchants Bank directly stimulate the local economy? How does it get involved with the local communities?
DelVecchio: Our responsibility as a community bank plays a critical role in keeping the local economies vibrant and growing. We do this in several ways.
Our bank and our employees volunteer their time, money and resources with numerous local municipalities and nonprofits. We provide leadership to nonprofit committees and boards.
Merchants Bank has donated over $150,000 and volunteered more than 1,000 hours in community support just in the past year.
Through partnerships with municipalities, economic development and redevelopment authorities, the bank helps support the vitality of the communities where it’s needed the most. As an example, our recent sponsorship of the Easton Redevelopment Authority’s application to the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh resulted in grants to improve properties in the West Ward of Easton.
We are also one of the leading contributors to the Neighborhood Partnership Program known as Slate Belt Rising through the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley. This program implements community revitalization initiatives in the four boroughs of Portland, Bangor, Pen Argyl and Wind Gap.
LVB: Advancements in technology have been making banking easier for customers, specifically mobile banking. Does Merchants Bank offer this to its customers, and what are some of its perks? What other technological solutions does the bank offer?
DelVecchio: The pace of technological advancement is faster than many smaller community banks can sustain. However, we recognize the need to provide our customers with the latest technology that allows them to bank on their time and improves their user experience.
Merchants Bank offers both business online banking and personal online banking, including mobile applications.
We offer remote deposit capture to small businesses and mobile deposit capture for individuals, as well as Apple Pay. We will soon be adding Android Pay and Samsung Pay in the very near future.
Our online banking solution includes bill pay and person-to-person payments as well.
In October, we will migrate to an updated online banking product for our business customers with added security features and a streamlined access screen.
LVB: What does the future look like for Merchants Bank? Does it have plans for growth?
DelVecchio: We enjoy our role as a small $400 million locally owned community bank.
Our employees live here, work here and play here – we’re your neighbor. Your concerns are our concerns.
The board of directors and our management team are committed to the local community and have no desire to merge with an out-of-the-area financial institution. We are committed to being your partner for the foreseeable future.
We do not have any immediate expansion plans but are always ready to evaluate prudent growth opportunities.
We continue to invest in new technology to provide the best banking experience for our customers. We employ the latest, best practices in guarding our customer’s personal information from fraud and other cybersecurity crimes.