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Marty Birmingham

President & CEO, Financial Institutions, Inc. and Five Star Bank

Years in current role: 8

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I am very fortunate to work with an outstanding group of teammates dedicated to supporting our customers and our communities. All Five Star associates take great pride in being part of the communities we serve. We accomplish this good work in many ways, and I love that every day is different.

Ours is a locally headquartered and locally focused community bank that offers banking, insurance and investment products and services. We take the time to get to know our customers and offer education and solutions to help them improve their financial well-being. Helping our friends and our neighbors is incredibly rewarding.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve dealt with over the past year?

We established two unwavering principles at the beginning of the pandemic: protect the health and safety of our associates and customers and provide continuous banking, investment, and insurance products and services to the communities we serve. The challenges of the COVID pandemic were unprecedented and ever-evolving, yet we responded thoughtfully and timely by following these guiding principles.

Responses included the adaptation of work environments, working with commercial customers to help them navigate economic volatility, helping businesses with PPP loans, managing excess liquidity driven by stimulus programs, dealing with difficulties in remaining fully staffed, and helping associates respond to the ongoing impact of the pandemic in their personal and professional lives.

What do you see as the biggest changes in the banking and finance industry in the next 3-5 years?

Technology and evolving customer expectations have been the biggest driver of change in banking and finance for several years and I expect this to continue. The pandemic accelerated the rate of change and customers demonstrated their willingness and desire to have the ability to bank from virtually anywhere, anytime. The effective use of technology and data is essential for our success and it remains a critical focus.

We developed a comprehensive road map to respond to and capitalize on changes caused by evolving customer expectations and increased digitalization. We are making investments in people, processes and technology that balance our need to be high-touch and high tech. Five Star Bank is committed to evolving and responding quickly to changing market conditions and opportunities.

What is the No. 1 tip you would give to people or companies about planning their finances amid uncertain times?

Everyone should have a knowledgeable and experienced partner prepared to serve as a trusted financial advisor in good times and bad. It is important to build a strong relationship with someone who knows you and your finances and can provide support when there is a need driven by uncertainty and volatility.

This is where Five Star can help. Our style of community banking, with local leadership and local decision-making, makes us a valued partner for our commercial and consumer customers. Our associates keep customers at the heart of our organization, and they work to deliver relationship-building experiences, offering a full range of banking, insurance and wealth management and investment services.

What community organizations do you support as a volunteer and why?

I’ve always believed in the importance of giving back to the community where I live and work. Over the past 30 years, I’ve volunteered for many nonprofits in the Rochester and Finger Lakes Region — cultural and service institutions that support and sustain quality of life. I currently serve on the boards of St. John Fisher College, MCC Foundation, Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce and University of Rochester Medical Center. These institutions are focused on improving the lives of our neighbors through education, strengthening our local economic environment and health care.

I am also a strong advocate for the United Way of Greater Rochester and the Finger Lakes. It’s very hard to find a more efficient, accountable and transparent fundraising organization than our region’s United Way.

This profile is part of Rochester Business Journal's Power 30 Banking & Finance list for 2021. Information used in this profile was sourced from the honoree. View the full list at https://rbj.net/2021/12/17/rbjs-power-30-banking-finance/.

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