President & CEO, Five Star Bank and Financial Institutions, Inc.
Years in current role: 9
What was your biggest success in 2021?
It was an excellent year for our organization on many fronts. We delivered record financial results and made strategic investments for our future while providing continuous essential support and services to our customers through a period of great uncertainty. We completed two bolt-on insurance acquisitions, expanding our insurance offerings and presence in the Rochester market. While many banks are closing urban branches, we opened two new branches in areas undergoing significant revitalization in the city of Buffalo. Throughout the volatility and uncertainty of 2021, we continued our critical mission to create a measurable impact in neighborhoods and communities across our footprint through donations, grants, sponsorships and investments in affordable housing.
What are your expectations for 2022?
Our Five Star team remains focused on the strong execution of strategic initiatives in 2022 while remaining resilient and nimble. We expect continued growth in loans and deposits as we navigate an increasing interest rate environment and an economy impacted by inflation levels not seen in 40 years. We also anticipate continued growth in our wealth and insurance businesses.
Our organization will continue to operationalize initiatives intended to increase efficiencies, optimize processes and improve customer and associate experiences. We are also implementing a refresh of our human capital strategy — long-term growth and success are linked to our ability to attract, develop and retain associates in the context of a diverse and inclusive workplace where everyone can thrive.
What is your biggest takeaway from dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic?
Lessons learned over the past two years are being incorporated into strategic and risk frameworks that guide the evolution of our company. In 2021, we added the strategic outcome of exceptional digital experiences enabled by complimentary fintech and digital partnerships. Recent initiatives announced include CHUCK™, an open payments network that allows customers to send money from their Five Star Bank account and gives the recipient the option of choosing where they want the money to go, and our partnership with bitcoin company NYDIG to enable customers to transact bitcoin through our mobile app and online banking platform. Additional offerings are expected to come to market over the next 12 months to benefit consumer and commercial customers while expanding our capabilities.
What is your favorite thing about the Rochester community?
I am a proud native of Rochester and I believe strongly in the quality of life we enjoy here. Rochester is a caring community with philanthropic people who believe in giving back. I am very proud of the strong partnerships among business, education, government and nonprofit agencies that are working to ensure positive outcomes for those who need support. While we have many challenges in the city of Rochester, I’m optimistic that we can work together to develop achievable solutions.