In September 2016, First County Bank opened a limited-access bank branch at The Academy of Information Technology and Engineering (AITE) high school in Stamford, CT. With the first school year coming to a close, we took some time to talk to one of our AITE Branch student-employees to hear about his experience working at the AITE Branch.
Justin Blum is a graduating senior at AITE and in the fall will continue his education at the University of Massachusetts (UMASS), Amherst. Here are some highlights from the interview:
What were your initial thoughts about being a student-employee of First County Bank at AITE?
Well, at first I thought it was an interesting concept – opening a branch in a high school. I then realized it would be a great opportunity for me as a student. I want to study business in college, so I knew this would be a great opportunity for me to get real experience in the “business world”.
What surprised you the most about your experience in the financial industry?
The amount of different regulations was surprising. I had never really considered the amount of regulations in place to protect not only the Bank but the customers as well. One thing I did learn was that banking is much more personable than I previously thought. I expected to crunch numbers most of the day in a stricter, more formal environment. This was not the case, much of my job centered on the customer experience and building relationships!
What’s a key educational takeaway from your experience?
I accomplished my main goal of learning about the business world – it’s a complex place. It was interesting to understand how transactions are handled between deposits and withdrawals, especially how things done today can affect something further down the road.
How will you use the skills you’ve learned in college?
I’ve learned how to think more critically. I believe I can use the complexity of the behind-the-scenes work that I’ve learned and apply it when learning new materials in college courses and better connect the dots. It’ll give me an advantage in class and the ability to help my future classmates.
What financial tip or lesson would you share with a friend or family member based on your experience?
The most important tip I would share is to save. Building a savings is something my family has always instilled in me, it was only further reinforced by working in the branch. Today many of my friends are getting their license and starting to drive – it is now much easier for us to go a spend money on things we don’t necessarily need. I’d encourage everyone to carefully track their spending and begin to set money aside in case of an emergency.
At UMASS, Amherst Justin will pursue a double major in Business and Psychology. He hopes to one day become a Human Resources Psychologist or Business Consultant. We wish Justin and all graduating seniors of AITE the best of luck in all their future endeavors!
In a recent article 2016 Top Lenders, published by the Commercial Record, First County Bank is noted as a Top Lender of 2016. The Top Lender results “compiled with data gathered by The Warren Group, highlights the top residential and commercial mortgage lenders in the state by both volume and number of loans.”
We are pleased to announce that we were noted as a top lender in Fairfield County for both residential and commercial mortgages. We were also recognized as a top multifamily mortgage lender in the state of Connecticut!
“They were good transactions for us, and I think they were great transactions for the communities where these apartment buildings were located,” said Reyno A. Giallongo, Chairman and CEO, First County Bank. “It kept good quality stock in those towns with good quality sponsors.”
We are pleased to announce the recent addition of Duncan T. Lee. He joins the Bank’s Retail Banking Division as branch manager of the 1135 Post Road East, Westport, CT branch.
“We continually look to enhance our team by recruiting talented bankers and we welcome Duncan, with his 20 years of banking experience and recognition for sales and customer satisfaction,” said Reyno Giallongo, First County Bank’s chairman and CEO. “Duncan will be responsible for managing customer relationships and new business development for our Westport branch.”
As a branch manager, Duncan is responsible for managing branch customer service performance and cultivating relationships with community, industry and professional contacts. He is committed to helping customers and businesses select the best banking solution to achieve their goals.
Prior to joining First County Bank, Lee worked at several large banks in New York and Connecticut where he was a branch and district manager. In 1994, Duncan started his banking career in Westport. He has a B.S. in Marketing from Quinnipiac University.
Duncan is a resident of Stamford, CT and when not working, he enjoys time spent with his son and family. He is an active member in the community with the Chamber of Commerce in Stamford, CT, Scarsdale and Bedford, NY. Lee is fluent in English and Spanish.
We’re pleased to announce the recent hiring of Michael “Mike” Yao, who joins the Bank’s Commercial Banking Division as vice president, senior commercial banking officer. The addition of Yao demonstrates our commitment to further meet the needs of its commercial customers and the business community.
“Mike will be originating and building commercial business for the Bank. With over 30 years of expertise in commercial banking, he will be a strong contributor the Bank’s relationship management and lending team.” said Reyno Giallongo, First County Bank’s chairman and CEO.
Prior to joining First County Bank, Mike held commercial lending and portfolio management officer positions with several banks in Connecticut. Most of his banking career was spent in Fairfield County building commercial banking relationships. Yao has extensive banking and portfolio management experience with Commercial and Industrial Small Business Administration and Commercial Real Estate lending.
Yao is a member of the Housatonic Industrial Development Corporation Board of Directors since 2012, and vice president since 2012, along with being active with the Make A Wish Foundation of CT. He has an M.B.A. in Corporate Finance from University of New Haven and a B.S. in Accounting from Central Connecticut State University. Yao and his family reside in Trumbull, CT.
First County Bank was honored by The Business Council of Fairfield County in their 2017 Healthy Workplace Employer Recognition Program as a Gold category employer. The recognition program was held Friday, February 9, at the Stamford Marriott Hotel and Spa.
“First County Bank is honored to be among such a distinguished group of employers which actively work to promote employee health and well-being,” said Rey Giallongo, chairman and CEO of First County Bank. “We ‘re proud to be recognized as a Gold award recipient this year, which showcases our continued efforts to enhance our employee health and wellness initiatives.”
“What has been fascinating to witness is how companies continue to improve upon their wellness programs and are steadfast in making wellness a priority,” commented Anthony Aguanno, senior account executive, UnitedHealthcare of CT, Inc. and co-chair, The Business Council’s Wellness Roundtable. “From increasing engagement to identifying modifiable risk factors, these employers have been able to increase employee satisfaction and productivity while posting medical cost savings.”
Eric Thompson, principal, BlueBack, LLC., Vanessa Calabro, vice president, human resource manager, First County Bank, and Anthony Aguanno, senior account executive, UnitedHealthcare, and co-chair, The Business Council’s Wellness Roundtable at the 2017 Healthy Workplace Employer Recognition Event.
The 2017 Healthy Workplace Employer Recognition Program applauded the efforts of area employers who understand the competitive advantage of a healthy workforce and who have implemented a diverse range of programs to promote a healthy workplace and assist their employees to live healthier lives. The recognition program was presented by The Business Council’s Wellness Roundtable, with the generous support of First Niagara Risk Management Services Inc. and UnitedHealthcare of CT, Inc. The Healthy Workplaces Employer Recognition Program offers three categories of distinction, Platinum, Gold and Silver, awarded on the basis of program components and outcomes.
First County Bank is pleased to welcome John C. Polera as our newest member of the Board of Directors.
We are pleased to announce that John C. Polera has been named to our Board of Directors. John was officially appointed to the board at the January 25th Board of Directors & Corporators meeting. “John brings substantial legal knowledge and expertise to our board. His business and leadership experience in the tax and legal profession makes him an outstanding addition to our board of directors,” said Rey Giallongo, First County Bank Chairman and CEO.
John is an attorney and president at the law Office of John C. Polera, P.C. which has offices in Stamford, CT and Garden City, NY. His areas of practice include: commercial and residential real estate, real estate development, condominium formation, commercial and residential finance work, trust and estate planning and administration, tax planning and compliance, mergers and acquisitions, and business planning. He has been practicing as a tax and legal professional since 1986. In addition to being admitted to practice law in Connecticut and New York, John is a licensed CPA in Connecticut and has a Master of Laws Degree (LLM) in Taxation.
John has been a corporator at First County Bank since June 2015. He is a member of the American Bar Association, the Connecticut Bar Association and the Fairfield County Bar Association. He has been practicing as a tax and legal professional since 1986. John graduated from Tulane University, University of Miami School of Law and Boston University School of Law. He currently resides in Armonk, NY, with his wife and daughters.
First County Bank is pleased to announce Elizabeth “Beth” Canizares-Brucker, to our Residential Mortgage Division, as a mortgage loan originator.
We are pleased to announce the recent addition of Elizabeth “Beth” Canizares-Brucker to the Bank’s Residential Lending division as a mortgage loan originator. With the hiring of Brucker, First County Bank continues to augment our talented pool of mortgage loan originators to better meet the needs of its customers.
“Beth brings a solid mortgage lending, origination and marketing background to the Bank. She has knowledge in all aspects of mortgage origination and specializes in home purchase, refinance, first time buyers and luxury home lending,” said Reyno Giallongo, First County Bank’s chairman and CEO. “We look forward to her contributions which complement and further enrich the expertise of our First County Bank Residential Mortgage Division.”
Beth Brucker works closely with a network of realtor and financial professionals throughout Connecticut. Since 2002, she has been involved in the residential mortgage industry with some of the nation’s leading lending institutions. Brucker has considerable experience in all aspects of origination and helps guide borrowers through the loan process, recommending the best solutions for each customer. She specializes in helping first time home buyers achieve home ownership as well as working with customers in the luxury home market.
Prior to joining First County Bank, Beth was a mortgage lender who knows the local market and understands customer needs. Previously, she was an international marketing professional with a top 20 IT corporation in the Fortune 500. She is actively involved in the community with the Westport Rotary Club as social chair, newsletter editor and Lobster Fest member; The Rotary Means Business as social chair; American Heart Association of CT and NY as Advisory Board member and is a member of the International Society of Lower Fairfield. Over the years, she was also an active member of the Shellfish Commission for the Town of Westport and a volunteer in many other community and national charitable organizations. She earned her B.S. in Finance and Management from Fairfield University. Beth currently resides in Wilton, CT with her family.
First County Bank is pleased to announce the recent addition of Hugo Ramirez who joins the Bank’s Retail Banking Division as assistant vice president, branch manager of the 660 Main Street, Norwalk, CT branch.
“Hugo has over 15 years of retail banking experience with numerous awards. He will manage the customer relations and new business development for his branch as well as manage the branch operations.” said Reyno Giallongo, First County Bank’s chairman and CEO. “We continually look to enhance our team by recruiting talented bankers.”
As assistant vice president, branch manager, Hugo is responsible for managing branch customer service performance and cultivating relationships with community, industry and professional contacts. He is committed to helping customers and businesses select the best banking solution to achieve their goals.
Prior to joining First County Bank, Ramirez was with Patriot Bank, serving as a regional vice president. Ramirez has won numerous sales awards over the years for his outstanding sales performance in retail, wealth management, small business, cash management and insurance products.
Hugo is a resident of Stamford, CT and when not working, he enjoys time spent with his son and family. He is an active member in the community with the Chamber of Commerce in Stamford, CT, Scarsdale and Bedford, NY. Ramirez is fluent in English and Spanish.
We are proud to announce the launch of FirstPrize $avings, a new savings account. The FirstPrize $avings account is for consumers 18 and older who are seeking a new and fun way to save! This savings account promotes savings by offering those who make deposits of $25 or greater, an opportunity to win $1,000.
If you would like to learn more about the FirstPrize $avings Account stop by your nearest First County Bank Branch or contact our CustomerFirst Center at 203.462.4400 (Mon. – Fri., 8:30am – 4:30pm).
View the Savings Account Disclosures & Official Rules Disclosures by clicking here.
First County Bank Corporator Vincent Vetrini and his business County TV & Appliance were the featured story in the business section of the Advocate. This year County TV & Appliance is celebrating its 65th Anniversary of doing business here in Stamford. After six-decades of being a successful, local, family-owned business, Vincent and son Elio Vetrini see no end in sight. “We are a community-based store. We intend to be here forever,” Vincent stated in the article.
We congratulate Corporator Vincent Vetrini and the entire Vetrini family’s accomplishment of growing County TV & Appliance after the purchase of the store in 2003 from the Cohn family. Vincent understands the importance of local community ties as a way to build his business and strengthen his community. Appreciating and nurturing the relationships between a business and its local community is one of many reasons Vincent fits so well into the First County Bank family.