Lifestyle Trends & Tips

Help Your Finances Fall into Place – 5 Easy Personal Finance Tips

As summer comes to a bittersweet end, and kids are getting ready for ‘back to school’, it may be an opportune time to look at your finances and do some planning. Don’t wait until the end of the year, when you’re under pressure to pay off holiday debts and income taxes are looming – tackling the job now, when there is little time pressure, can pay you greater dividends. Here are five ideas you can take advantage of right away.

1) Start organizing for tax time.

According to the IRS, the average refund is more than $3,000 so far this year with nearly 45 million Americans who filed early collecting refunds.

That’s a great incentive to get your tax files in order ahead of time! At the simplest, you should have two “buckets” – one for tax-related items and one for non tax-related items. Better yet, create an easily accessible filing system for all your household receipts and paid bills, and commit to filing them at least once a week. TIP: Some people find it convenient to staple receipts to warranty information and product guides so that, should you ever need it, you have all the information on your stove or computer in one place.

2) Make a plan for holiday spending. Continue reading

Lifestyle Trends & Tips

What Does it Take to be a Financial Manager?

In the wake of the recession, good financial managers are a hot commodity. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics broker ranks are expected to increase by 30% through 2018.  The pay is high, around $90,000 per annum and the competition is relatively low.  In today’s ‘bi-polar’ economy, there is clearly a demand for financial managers who are skilled in helping build and/or build back financial security. However, not everyone is cut out for the job.  According to this CNBC report, it takes a certain ‘personality’ to make it.  If you’re interested in the job, take a look at what it takes to be a financial manager:


Customer Profile

First County Bank Customer Profile: The Law Office of Alex Martinez, Stamford, Conn.

As a successful lawyer in Stamford, Alex Martinez is well versed in presenting his side of
any case. When it comes to his dealings with First County Bank, he simply states the facts,
“It’s been an awesome experience and I wouldn’t bank anywhere else.”

Alex started banking with First County Bank in the early 1980s. “Back then, I had personal accounts, you know, checking and savings,” he said. “I started my practice in 1993 and naturally looked to First County Bank for my business needs. And First County Bank was able to meet those needs, and continues to do so as my business grows.”

When asked what makes First County Bank different than other banks, Alex doesn’t mince words. “It’s passion, pure and simple,” he exclaims. “Camilo Duque, the Branch Manager at the Summer Street branch, is one of the most passionate people I have ever met,” he said. Alex was quick to note that every single person he has ever dealt with at the branch, from tellers to branch manager, have been very passionate about his business needs. “The people at the branches are the key to the Bank’s success. You build a bond with these people and they go the extra mile.”

The pleasure of dealing with First County Bank also extends to his wife and 9-year-old daughter, who both have accounts there. In fact, Alex’s immediate family are not his only relatives who bank with First County Bank. His mom has several accounts at the Bank, as does his sister.

Alex admits that in the last year, four or five different banks have approached him in an effort to lure his business away from First County Bank. “I can never see that happening,” he says. Alex has the utmost confidence in the Bank and its employees.

Alex is also very impressed with the diversity of employees at First County Bank. “Stamford has always been a very multi-cultural city and I love that First County Bank mirrors that diversity and is responding to the needs of the community.” We are proud to say that more than 16 different languages are spoken at our many branches.

Once again, a local resident sings the praises of First County Bank. Case closed.

Lifestyle Trends & Tips

5 Handy Apps for Small Businesses

With an “App App” here and an “App App” there, here an “App,” there an “App” everywhere an “App App” it’s hard to keep up! However if you’re a small to medium sized business owner, you may want to stay in the loop on Apps that can make your business more efficient, make your life easier and, best of all, allow you to spend your time and talents on the business of your business and not “bookkeeping.” From tracking expenses to sending invoices on the road…we found a great article from Mashable on 5 Handy Apps for Small Business Finance Management

We hope you find some of these apps helpful. Also, don’t forget that First County Bank offers a complete suite of business services to help your business save time and money. Feel free to contact one of the financial experts at our Business Banking Department for information on the business products and services we offer.

Customer Profile

First County Bank Customer Profile: Mary and Joseph Lebinski, Fairfield, Conn.

Mary and Joseph Lebinski, residents of Fairfield, have been married for over 45 years. They share the same feelings about love, commitment, and their bank. “We both love each other so,” says Mary grinning, “and we both love First County Bank.” Joseph nods his head in agreement, content to let his wife do the talking.

Their relationship with First County Bank began when they met Paul Bubniak, who is now a Vice President of Trust and Investments at First County Bank. Mary admits that Paul is like a family member. “He’s the sole reason I’m at First County Bank and I’m happy every time I see him,” she added. Together, Mary and Joseph do all their banking at First County Bank’s Westport branch.

Mary cites the friendliness, the warmth and the general “how-can-I-help-you” attitude that has her visiting the Bank at least once a week. “I missed my hair appointment last week because I was talking to a teller about my grandchildren,” she confessed. Joseph nods in agreement. Continue reading

The CEO's Posts

On the Economy and the Events of the Past Couple of Weeks

The downgrading of the US debt by Standard and Poor’s on Friday, Aug 5th, has been extensively covered in the news, so I won’t recap what we all know. But there are a few important points I would like to make regarding the topic.

1. Our customer deposits are protected and safe. First County Bank is itself in a sound position, due to conservative reserves that exceed requirements by a substantial margin. In addition, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation has the resources it needs to protect customer deposits. The F.D.I.C. is funded by premiums paid by the banks and is backed by the banking industry with $1.53 trillion in capital to assure its continued strength.

2. Despite the downgrading of our debt, the US economy is still the largest in the world and our bonds are rated by Standard and Poor’s as AA+–and still rated by Moody’s as AAA—and the strongest evidence of the world’s regard was provided on Monday, the 8th,  after the rating change, when demand for US Treasuries remained strong enough to increase their price, and thus to drive interest rates down, not up, on the news.

3. I want to affirm the Bank’s long-term faith in the economy and in the investment markets. We believe that a recovery,while slow in coming, is inevitable, and we will continue to offer our customers support and advice and a safe haven for their funds during the near-term and the long-term investment horizon.

First County Bank Foundation

First County Bank Foundation Donates $80,500 to Stamford Nonprofits

The First County Bank Foundation recently distributed a total of $80,500 in grants to 11 nonprofits in Stamford benefiting youth, employment, education and housing.

“For New Neighborhoods, this is the 10th consecutive year the First County Bank Foundation has awarded grant money to this worthy organization,” said Rey Giallongo, president of the foundation and chairman and CEO of First County Bank. New Neighborhoods has received $170,000 in grant money since the bank created its foundation in 2001.

Continue reading

Customer Profile

First County Bank Customer Profile: Italian Center, Stamford, Conn.

The Italian Center says “arrivederci” to its old bank, and “ciao” to a new one – First County Bank.

The Italian Center offers health and fitness facilities, indoor and outdoor recreational activities as well as conference and catering facilities capable of handling hundreds of guests. In addition, it has a summer camp and child day care facilities that are open to the public. “We have almost 30 acres and a 50,000 square foot facility here, so there’s something for everyone,” says Paul Hickey, the Executive Director, “but with something this size, there are always necessary improvements.”

In 2009, the Italian Center was looking for a line of credit to make some of these improvements, when Paul realized it was the right time to change banks. He previously worked with a large money center bank, but felt a disconnect and was concerned about the bank’s lack of community involvement. A fellow board member of the Italian Center heard Paul’s concerns. That member was Nino Antonelli, a Vice President at First County Bank. Nino assured Paul that First County Bank would be able to provide more personalized service. Continue reading

Customer Profile

First County Bank Customer Profile: Radio Personality Matt Zako at 95.9 The Fox in Norwalk, Conn.

Matt Zako is an on-air radio personality at 95.9 The Fox in Norwalk, and it’s safe to say he has lots of fans. But there are times that Matt himself is a fan. Especially when it comes to his bank. “I love First County Bank and all the people there,” he admits.

Matt’s relationship with First County Bank goes back almost ten years. It all started with a bounced check at another bank. “It was around the time we were starting a family and had a lot on our plates. My wife and I wrote a few checks before some money had cleared.”

The amounts of the bounced checks were low, but the overdraft fees were high. Matt went to his bank – the same one he had used for years – to see if there was anything they could do about consolidating or waiving the fees. “They acted as if I was a new customer, not someone who has been there for a long time. To be honest, I should have changed banks right then, but I didn’t.” Continue reading

The CEO's Posts

Why Women Make Excellent Leaders

If you look back in history, entrepreneurship has been dominated by men. However, more recently, there’s been a shift as we see more and more women step out of secondary positions in business and entrepreneurship and into high level, CEO positions across countless industries. Prominent women like Estee Lauder, Debbi Fields, Oprah Winfrey, Anita Roddick and J.K. Rowling embody the kind of vision, passion and perseverance present in some of today’s most inspirational and memorable female entrepreneurs and leaders. These are women who have overcome obstacles like balancing work and family, single motherhood, prejudice that favored men and have blazed trails opening doors for the next generation of women to become leaders, entrepreneurs or heads of companies.

We have our own example at First County Bank with the recent promotion of Katherine Harris to the position of President and COO of the bank. This is the first time in the history of the bank a woman has held this position.

My own enthusiasm about Kathy’s role as president and her vision for First County Bank got me thinking about the qualities that make women great leaders and visionaries.  What are some of the common characteristics of a female entrepreneur?  A recent article by Ladies Who Launch says that women have always possessed qualities that give them the edge to become a successful entrepreneur and natural leader. Qualities that are inherent in most women, if accessed have the potential to make them unstoppable. What are these qualities? Read what they say here and give us your thoughts. We’d love to hear from you!