First County Bank Profile

First County Bank Profile: Meet Beth Brucker

Meet Beth Brucker, Mortgage Loan Originator for the Norwalk, Westport and Fairfield Branches of First County Bank.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I service the Westport, Norwalk and Fairfield Branches of First County Bank.   In addition, I also work out of the main office of residential lending at Prospect Street, Stamford and service clients all over CT.   I have been with the bank since November 2016 and wished I moved to First County Bank much earlier in my career.

Volunteering is a passion to me and I am very involved in the communities of Fairfield County. For over a decade I was active with the Fairfield Women Exchange in Southport and am looking to rejoin this group again. In Westport, I have been a board officer and a Special Paul Harris Award Recipient for the Westport Rotary Club and serve as the Lobsterfest Volunteer Chair.

What separates First County Bank from other Banks?
First County Bank provides unparalleled customer service.   We are true to the meaning of a “community bank”. In residential lending, our upfront “commitment/pre-approval” without a property, “make sense underwriting”, their “sure fire closing process”, and everyone “under one roof” makes the loan process streamlined.    It is the best process I have witnessed in the residential lending business.

What excites you the most about the newly opened Fairfield Branch?
The opportunity to return to a town that was so much a part of me and my family.   Other than living in Southport, CT and volunteering at the Fairfield Women’s Exchange for over a decade, my roots are deeply seated in the Fairfield and Westport communities.   I graduated from Fairfield University and my daughters graduated from the Fairfield school system.   My husband practiced law in the town of Fairfield and played a big part in the development of The Ridge in Fairfield, the old Pepperidge Farm Estate.

What’s something someone may not know about First County Bank?
In residential lending, the fact that we issue a true solid commitment/pre-approval signed by our underwriters gives us a competitive advantage and is unique in the industry! Because of this upfront commitment/pre-approval, our closing is expedient and fast.

What is your favorite First County Bank moment?
My favorite First County Bank moment – is every day.   I love what I do because of the strong team that supports me.   I didn’t realize I would feel this way again about the mortgage industry.

Bank News

First County Bank Welcomes New Commercial Lender

 First County Bank is pleased to announce the recent hiring of William Catanzaro, who joins the Bank’s Commercial Banking Division as vice president, commercial banking officer. First County Bank’s addition of Catanzaro demonstrates the Bank’s commitment to its commercial customers and the business community.

“Bill is a Stamford native with over 20 years’ experience in commercial real estate lending. In that time, he has developed an extensive business network in the community. He will be originating and building commercial relationships for the Bank. We know Bill will be a strong contributor to the Bank’s commercial lending team.” said Reyno Giallongo, First County Bank’s chairman and CEO.

Prior to joining First County Bank, Bill held commercial real estate lending and portfolio management positions which focused on the Fairfield County market. Catanzaro has extensive expertise with Commercial and Industrial (C&I) and Commercial Real Estate (C.R.E.) lending.

Catanzaro holds a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) degree from Richmond American International University, London, England and a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Northeastern University, Boston, MA. Bill and his family reside in Stamford, CT.

In Our Community, Smart Savings Tips

First County Bank Sponsors Financial Literacy Programs at Local High Schools

Local students are getting a free education in how to manage their money. First County Bank is working with Banzai, a national award-winning financial literacy program, to offer the completely free financial literacy curriculum available to eight schools in the New Canaan, Fairfield, Norwalk, Stamford, Westport, and Wilton areas.

“Banzai is a web-based financial literacy program,” Morgan Vandagriff, co-founder of Banzai, said. “Kids have their own bank accounts, and they work through assignments that are based on real life. But because First County Bank is sponsoring it, local schools get it for free. More than ever, it’s important that kids develop sound financial skills to prepare them for the real world. First County Bank realizes that, and they’re doing something about it.”

Banzai is an interactive, online program supplemented by printed workbooks which aligns with state curriculum requirements for personal finance education. It has become the largest program of its kind, servicing more than 35,000 teachers and available in all 50 states.

April is National Financial Literacy Month, and it’s dedicated to helping Americans improve their financial well-being. We’re making an extra effort to spread awareness to teachers about this free financial literacy program available to them. First County Bank has offered time, money, industry experience, and a variety of bank resources to help local schools teach personal finance in the classroom.

Students using the program are exposed to real-life scenarios where they learn to pay bills and balance a budget – but it’s not always easy. Students must learn to manage unexpected expenses such as parking tickets, interest charges and overdraft fees. The educational program also introduces students to auto loans, bank statements, entertainment costs, savings and more.

Teachers interested in using the Banzai program can visit firstcountybank.teachbanzai.com or call 888-8-BANZAI.

First County Bank Profile

#FridaysinFairfield: Meet Ruchi Sharma

Meet Ruchi Sharma, Teller at our Fairfield Branch located at 1312 Post Road in this edition of #FridaysinFairfield.

Tell us more about yourself.
My name is Ruchi Sharma and I live in Trumbull with my husband and two daughters. I am from India and we came to the United States in 2006. I like to keep myself busy with different kinds of activities that are related to work, house chores or entertainment. From the beginning, working in a bank and becoming teacher have been my ambitions and I am proud to say that today, I have fulfilled both.

I started my banking career with First County Bank in the Westport branch two years ago. The support and trust I received there as a new comer in banking, is something not only do I appreciate but respect. I will continue to give my best service to the Bank as well as to our customers.

In addition to fulfilling my role at the Bank, I am also the coordinator and teacher of the nonprofit organization HindiUSA. Simply put, I love what I do and there’s nothing stopping me from reaching my full potential.

What separates First County Bank from other banks?
There are many things that set First County Bank apart from other banks. However the most important thing is the enthusiasm towards our customers, which can be seen by our big smiles and the friendly manner and positive attitude we maintain in order to make customers feel like a family member. This is the most prevalent feature that separates us from other banks.

What excites you the most about the new Fairfield branch?
The opportunity to learn more and get to know more about the community’s needs in terms of banking.

What’s something someone may not know about First County Bank?
Most customers might not know that we also offer Vantis Life insurance. And also, an existing customer can now open an account online using online banking.

What is your favorite First County Bank moment?
When a customer admires our service and tells us, “That’s what I love about this Bank, the people.”

Smart Savings Tips, Trends & Tips

10 Tools for Success in Financial Literacy Month

If you’re struggling to find a way to analyze your finances, get a jumpstart by considering these tools for success provided at FinancialLiteracyMonth.com:

  • Free Webinars – Sign up for free webinars designed to help you on your path to financial wellness. Topics include goal setting, credit reporting, managing credit, debt repayment, and budgeting.
  • Income Worksheet – Use the income worksheet to help you determine the amount of income you can realistically count on.
  • Net Worth Worksheet – Calculating your net worth is as simple as comparing what you owe (liabilities) and what you own (assets).
  • Debt Load Worksheet – Create an accurate picture of your debt obligations.
  • Financial Priorities Worksheet – Creating a list of needs and wants can help you establish your financial priorities.
  • Financial Goal Worksheet – Smart financial goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Rewarding, and Trackable. Use this worksheet to identify short-, mid-, and long-term SMART goals.
  • Goal Certificate – Create a “fridge friendly” personalized goal certificate to help you stay motivated.
  • Record of Daily Expenditures – Knowing where your money is going is critical for a successful budget. Track your daily expenses and then ask yourself if you’re spending your money wisely.
  • Expense Worksheet – Create and follow a spending plan. A realistic monthly spending plan is a valuable tool to guide your spending and saving decisions.
  • Tips for Change eBook – Download the eBook to read tips submitted by financially savvy consumers.

If you’ve found these tools helpful, have questions or would like to work through a tool with a trusted advisor, we encourage you to reach out to your local banker. Let’s work together to get you on the path to financial wellness.

First County Bank Profile

First County Bank Profile: Meet Sebastian Kulesza

Meet Sebastian Kulesza, Assistant Vice President, Branch Manager of our Glenbrook Branch, located at 275 Hope Street, Stamford.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in Bialystok, Poland and at the tender age of 12 moved to the United States along with my younger brother and our mother in search of a “new beginning.” Upon our arrival, I was very disappointed that contrary to many beliefs and folklore tales, the roads in the U.S. were not made of gold but rather were full of potholes, especially in Brooklyn, New York were we spent our first year in America.

Fast forward to present time, I currently live in Norwalk along with my fiancé and our daughter Kassiani and son Aidan. We have a little home and a white fence; I guess all we’re missing is a cat or a dog to make our “American Dream” complete.

What is your favorite part of your role at First County Bank?
This a tough question to answer since I wear so many “hats” but I would have to say that my favorite role is being able to play a part in my staff’s development and then seeing them fly on their own.

Personally, I don’t think there are a lot of other things more gratifying than seeing others succeed and do well, especially when they have worked hard to get to where they are.

What is the most frequent question you receive from customers?
 One of most frequent questions is: “What can we do, to assist a customer with their financial needs?”

What is something people may not know about First County Bank?
I believe that most of our customers are very familiar with our Bank and our belief in providing outstanding customer service. What makes us unique is our multicultural diversity and our ability to work as a team all-around to come up with creative solutions to achieve a customer’s financial needs.

What is your favorite thing to do during the spring or summer?
Going for walks at the park, going to the beach with family, and hosting family and friend cook-outs. What’s better than enjoying the company of those you hold dear to your heart over drink and food, while sharing laughs?

What is your favorite First County Bank moment?
Over the past 15 years, I have had the pleasure of being part of many great moments and memories at the Bank. I believe the memories we create by serving our community, all the fun times we have as a Bank team and the great mentors that have been part of my success here at the Bank are priceless.

Smart Savings Tips, Trends & Tips

April is National Financial Literacy Month

April has been regarded as National Financial Literacy Month for almost twenty years. Financial literacy is something everyone should be educated about or have a trusted advisor they can come to for help. At First County Bank we understand the importance of teaching skills and providing our customers and community the opportunity to educate themselves.

This April, we encourage you to take the next step in learning more about your own finances – strengths, weaknesses and most importantly, opportunities. That next step can be as simple as scrolling through our blog to read about Smart Savings Tips or Lifestyle Trends & Tips. To pursue financial literacy further, we encourage you to talk to your local banker.

First County Bank Profile

#FridaysinFairfield: Meet Mariam Njie

Meet Mariam Njie, Teller at our Fairfield Branch located at 1312 Post Road in this edition of #FridaysinFairfield.

Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Mariam Njie. I was hired in the summer of 2017 and began at the Norwalk, Main Avenue Branch. I have an Associate’s Degree in Finance. I am a wife and a mother of two boys. I enjoy cooking and reading.

What separates First County Bank from other Banks?
I believe what separates First County Bank from other Banks is the excellent customer service that we provide. This I can personally attest to because I have helped out at different branches and this has been a consistent theme in all of them. We always go the extra mile to meet the needs of our customers.

What excites you the most about the new Fairfield Branch?
The staff and also the location.  My colleagues and I have developed a great rapport and I am excited about the future of this branch. We are located in the heart of Downtown Fairfield, which means the branch is accessible to a very diverse group of customers. The centralized location also provides a lot of interesting places to visit on my breaks.

What’s something someone may not know about First County Bank?
First County Bank offers the convenience of online banking. This convenience offers things such as monitoring transactions/balances, transferring money between accounts, scheduling bill pay, and using the money management tool to manage finances, all from the comfort of their home or on the go with mobile.

A recent add-on is that customers can open accounts via online banking from the comfort of their home.

What is your favorite First County Bank moment?
My favorite moment is every opportunity I have to attend to a customer and providing a needed service so that they walk away with a smile on their face.

First County Bank Profile

First County Bank Profile: Karen Chavez

Meet Karen Chavez, Branch Manager of our Springdale Branch, located at 1110 Hope Street, Stamford.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in Ecuador and have been working at First County Bank for over 12 years. I currently reside in Stamford with my husband and my two children. I love listening to music and enjoy spending time with my family. I am an active member of the Stamford Exchange Club and JM Wright PFO.

What is your favorite part of your role at First County Bank?
My favorite part of my role at First County Bank is being able to interact with people, help customers accomplish their financial needs, and establish lasting relationships. It makes me feel good when customers ask me, “What do you think I should do Karen – Give me your advice.”

What is the most frequent question you receive from customers?
 What are the current CD rates?

What is something people may not know about First County Bank?
What it makes First County Bank different from other banks is the level of customer service we provide, we treat our customers with respect and we care about them.

What is your favorite thing to do during the spring or summer?
During the summer I love being outdoors and preparing barbecues with my friends and family.

What is your favorite First County Bank moment?
My favorite First County Bank moment when I was promoted as a Branch Manager.

First County Bank Foundation

First County Bank Richard E. Taber Citizenship Award Applications now being accepted online

Taber Scholarship kids 2017

The 2018 First County Bank Richard E. Taber Citizenship Award application is now available online. High school seniors can view the information required and apply at www.firstcountybank.com/scholarship.

The Richard E. Taber Citizenship Award rewards high school seniors residing in Fairfield County towns of Stamford, Norwalk, Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan, or Westport who are overall well-rounded citizens. Unlike many scholarships based on top academic achievement or athletic ability, this scholarship is weighted towards demonstrated leadership and caring for the community in which we live. The criteria for selection are best defined by the word, C.L.A.S.S. (Citizenship; Leadership; Academics; Service; Sportsmanship).

Three $5,000 scholarships will be awarded to graduating high school seniors in our community, but they must apply before the deadline of May 1, 2018. Each recipient will receive a personalized certificate; a check for $5,000 will be sent directly to the college of acceptance; a congratulatory advertisement with photo will appear in the local newspaper; and winners will be prominently displayed with a photo on the bank’s website.  Decisions on scholarship recipients will be made the end of May.

The award was named in honor of Richard E. Taber (Dick) who retired in 2011 from First County Bank as Chairman and CEO, and initiated the First County Bank Foundation which he championed during his 40 years at First County Bank.  “These annual scholarships honor Dick’s legacy of volunteerism and community involvement,” said Rey Giallongo, president of First County Bank Foundation, chairman and CEO of First County Bank.  “As a mutual community bank, we are proud to help civic-minded students start their college career and we recognize the importance of these scholarships to deserving high school seniors,” added Giallongo.

Candidate Criteria

The recipient of this award must be a high school senior who has been accepted to an accredited two- or four-year college or university.  The recipient will be selected without regard to race, sex, religion or creed.  Each candidate must:

  • Be a current resident of Stamford, Norwalk, Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan or Westport and be a graduating high school senior
  • Hold a “B” average or higher during their junior and senior years in high school
  • Provide an admission acceptance document from a two- or four-year college or university
  • Be involved in the community
  • Provide reference letters from two individuals not related to the candidate.  One letter from each of the following is preferred:
    • High school teacher or counselor
    • Community leader/volunteer program counselor
    • Provide an official high school transcript
    • Complete a brief essay (not to exceed 1,000 words) describing how the candidate best fits into the definition of “C.L.A.S.S.” (Citizenship; Leadership; Academics; Service; Sportsmanship)
    • Complete the online application, available at www.firstcountybank.com/scholarship.

Employees and directors of First County Bank and their affiliates, subsidiaries, agencies and their respective immediate families (spouse, children, parents and in-laws) are not eligible to apply for the Richard E. Taber Citizenship Award.

First County Bank Foundation officers will review the applications and make a recommendation to the Foundation’s board of directors who will select the Richard E. Taber Citizenship Award recipients.  All applicants will be notified by the end of May.