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Martin K. Birmingham

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

Years in current role: 9

What has been your organization’s biggest success over the past year?

I’m proud of and excited about the continued evolution of our corporate strategy to embrace existential opportunities associated with the fast-changing banking and technology landscape. Our digital transformation continues to build momentum as we focus on delivering meaningful and differentiated experiences for our customers. We’re collaborating with fintech companies to enhance our already-strong community bank with products and services that empower both our customers and our employees, drive efficiency into the enterprise and have the potential to generate new sources of income and profitability through Banking-as-a-Service, or BaaS.

What are your expectations for the next 6-12 months?

We will continue to find ourselves in a challenging operating environment with a slowing economy. While wage inflation is significant and corporate profits are strong, these measures are lagging indicators and not reflective of the challenges many are facing. Uncertainty is impacting capital expenditures and rising interest rates are impacting small businesses and homebuyers. It’s clear the Federal Reserve is more focused on its mandate to fight inflation than full employment at this point. At Five Star, we are focused on being a source of strength and stability in all economic cycles. The past investments we’ve made, including in recruiting strong talent and bolstering our digital capabilities, have positioned us to continue serving our customers and communities well in this environment.

What advice would you give somebody just starting out in your industry?

I see significant opportunity for someone starting out in our industry. The financial sector has certainly changed a great deal in recent years, but I believe that local community banks like Five Star are uniquely positioned because we understand the needs of our customers and communities very well, as our employees live and work here. For individuals who thrive in a collaborative environment, are passionate about client service, and are engaged and present in everything they do, banking is an excellent career choice — especially working for a locally headquartered financial services company.

What is one personal goal you have for the next year?

I am a strong believer in the importance and opportunity associated with life-long learning. If the pandemic and consequent changes that have taken place in the financial services industry, our economy and society in general have taught us anything, it is that we need to be constantly evolving, growing, and responding. Embracing change and every opportunity for personal and professional development is always my goal.

What are your favorite things about Rochester?

Throughout my whole life, Rochester has been a great place to live, work and play. While I’ve seen our region make very healthy and important transitions, including from an economy heavily centered around manufacturing to one where knowledge-based industries are thriving, the strong sense of community has been consistent. We have many social and economic challenges and I love the way that individuals and organizations work together to ensure good stewardship of the community and a positive economic outlook and well-being for all. I believe Rochester has a very bright future.

This profile is part of Rochester Business Journal's Power 30 Banking & Finance list for 2022. Information used in this profile was sourced from the honoree. View the full list at rbj.net.

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