First County Bank Profile

First County Bank Profile: Meet Elizabeth Grajeda

Elizabeth Grajeda is the Assistant Branch Manager at First County Bank’s Shippan branch in Stamford.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in Guatemala and moved to the United States in 1994, thanks to my mother who wanted a better life for me and my sisters. I am the first child of five and a proud mother of two girls and one boy. I have always lived in Stamford and have never seen my life outside here. I love spending my free time with my family watching movies and soccer, eating ice cream, going to the park or just relaxing at home with them. One of my biggest obsessions is shopping for shoes- different types, sizes, colors- and I love to match them up with my clothes (but what woman doesn’t, though!).

I started my career at First County Bank in 2004 as a teller at the Atlantic Street branch and worked my way up to Supervisor and then Assistant Manager in 2013. I love to work with people, listen to them, and help them out with their needs. I also love to volunteer in different community and bank events. One of my favorite ones has always been the Stamford Thanksgiving Balloon Parade, even though it’s cold, but I love it because it’s fun.

What is your favorite part of your role with First County Bank?
My favorite part of working at First County Bank is my interaction with people: to be able to help them out with their needs and give them advice. I also enjoy the long term relationships and friends I’ve made through the years. I have been able to see families opening their newborn’s first savings account, and then, after years passing by, seeing that child growing up and coming in to open their first checking account or credit card.

What is the most frequent question you receive from customers?
“How do you do it?”
In my branch we have always worn different hats, from teller to manager. I always have a smile on my face and a positive attitude towards everything I do.

What is your favorite First County Bank moment?
My favorite First County Bank moments are when I am able to be a part of my customers’ and employees’ lives, achievements and needs, and when I am able to serve the community.

 

First County Bank Profile, In Our Community

Richard Evanko 2018 CLC Alumni Hall of Fame Inductee

Richard Evanko, Vice President

Richard Evanko, Vice President, Business Banking Manager

Congratulations Richard “Rich” Evanko on being a Children’s Learning Center (CLC) 2018 Alumni Hall of Fame Inductee.

Rich joined First County Bank in 2015 and serves as a Vice President and Business Banking Manager. In this position, he is responsible for managing the business development team, origination of commercial relationships, and client retention.

In the local community, Rich is active with the Stamford Chamber of Commerce where he is Chairman of the Young Professionals Council and on the Board of Directors. He is also involved as a member of CLC’s Finance Committee and the United Way.Rich is a lifelong resident of Stamford, CT.

Join us in congratulating Rich on this great achievement.

First County Bank Profile

#FridaysinFairfield: Meet Amal Hamioui

Meet Amal Hamioui, Teller, Fairfield Branch in this final edition of #FridayinFairfield.

Tell us about yourself.
My name is Amal Hamioui I recently moved to the United States two years ago from Morocco after finishing my Bachelors in Economics.  It’s been hard leaving everything behind but so far the new experience has been worth it.

Moving to this country has taught me to be independent; it has also motivated me to become a better version of myself. My goal is to not only be a successful individual but also to be successful in my career.

What separates First County Bank from other Banks?
I think because we are a community bank and we’ve been in existence for a very long time, we consider and treat our customers like family and our number one priority is to help them, and that what separate us from other banks

What excites you the most about the new Fairfield Branch?
The opportunity to learn and grow with very supportive colleagues in this new position.

What’s something someone may not know about First County Bank?
First County Bank offers online banking which I believe to be an important service that accommodates our fast-paced life. This service offers customers the ability to deposit checks and use the money management tool to manage their accounts.

What is your favorite First County Bank moment?
My favorite moment is when I interviewed for the job; I was welcomed as a member of the First County Bank family, it just felt like it was the right place to be from the start.

First County Bank Profile

First County Bank Profile: Jagjiwan Singh

Jagjiwan Singh

Meet Jagiwan Singh, Business Development Officer in this First County Bank Profile as we celebrate National Small Business Week.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I have been with the Bank in the Business Banking Division and in this position as Business Development Officer for almost two years. I love what I do as I get to meet business owners and help them in any phase of their business cycle. In my free time, I love spending time with my wife and two boys; our favorite activity is going cycling in the summer time to the beach.

What separates First County Bank from other Banks?
I came from mid-sized and large banks therefore I can personally tell how we differ from other banks and its simple: we are a mutual bank therefore we do not have the pressure of reporting back to shareholders; instead we can focus on our customers, community, and employees.

Another thing that makes us different is flexibility with our business lending products and criteria.  Did you know that we have a small business loan product called BusinessFirst Express that is very streamlined and delivered like a fintech solution?  The decision process can be as short as 48 hours!

What excites you the most about the new Fairfield Branch?
It’s a great feeling being in Town of Fairfield, especially downtown as Fairfield is such a welcoming community! We were welcomed by First Selectman Mike Tetreau and Chamber of Commerce President Beverly A. Balaz.

What excites me the most is the energy level we have in the branch; the whole team from Branch Manager to Tellers are thrilled to be part of this great location!

What’s something someone may not know about First County Bank?
Most of the nonprofits I have visited in Fairfield County do not know how much we have given back to the community. They do not know about our First County Bank Foundation which was started in 2001 or that it has provided over $8.2 million in grants and this truly shows who we are.

What is your favorite First County Bank moment?
When I started with First County Bank it was Summer of 2016 and my Manager Rich Evanko provided me with over 10 checks to be delivered to nonprofit organizations. I was shocked as coming from a big bank we had never done anything like this; it was a great feeling that I can never forget. The smiles on the faces of those who really needed the funds showed me how much we really care about the community in which we serve.

First County Bank Profile

#FridaysinFairfield: Meet Jorge Palencia Soto

Meet Jorge Palencia Soto, Teller at our Farifield Branch in this edition of #FridaysinFairfield.

Tell us a little about yourself.
Hi everyone, my name is Jorge Palencia Soto. I was born and raised in Stamford, CT.  I started with the Bank in the beginning of July 2017, I have worked for 8 months now. I started at the West Main branch as a floating teller, I was later transferred to the Shippan Branch. As a “floater” I have had the opportunity to learn a lot of things and have gotten to know a lot of people. So far I have been able to work at 8 branches! In my spare time I like to dance and go out with my friends.

What separates First County Bank from other Banks?
I believe what separates First County Bank from other banks is the customer service we provide; from the minute a customer walks in we greet them and make them feel welcome and at home, because as our logo says, “It’s where you belong”. Also another great thing about the Bank is the diversity of our tellers, this makes it easier for the customer to come, get help and actually walk out satisfied.

What excites you the most about the newly opened Fairfield Branch?
What excites me the most about the Fairfield Branch is that we are located in the middle of Fairfield, there are many nice places to visit in this area.

What’s something someone may not know about First County Bank?
Something that someone would not know about First County Bank is that we offer similar products and services as other banks, but the best part is that we do it with the best customer service.

What is your favorite First County Bank moment?
My favorite First County Bank moment is being the floater and getting to know new customers and coworkers!

First County Bank Profile

AITE Branch, Student-Employee Profile: Meet Anoushka Chatterjee

Anoushka Chatterjee, First County Bank, AITE Branch Student-Employee.

In this First County Bank Profile we stopped by our limited-access branch at the Academy of Information Technology and Engineering (AITE) in Stamford to meet soon-to-be AITE Graduate Anoushka Chatterjee.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a senior here at AITE and will attend Indiana University in the fall, I was admitted directly to the Kelley School of Business. I hope to major in Information Systems with a minor in either accounting or finance. My interest in business sparked when I took accounting last year, and I look forward to continuing my passion for the next four years.

Outside of school, I am a swimmer and swim for Zeus and Norwalk High School Girls Swim Team. In the fall, I was named FCIAC Scholar Athlete of the Month. I currently live in Norwalk, with a sister who attends the University of Wisconsin. Since my junior year, I have worked at Kumon Tutoring Center in Westport as well as played the cello in the Norwalk Youth Symphony. This is my second term working at the First County Bank, AITE Branch.

What were your initial thoughts about being a First County Bank, AITE Branch student-employee?
Initially, I thought it would be a great opportunity especially since I took Accounting I last year, and continued with Accounting II this year.

I also thought it would be perfect exposure to be a part of a business and learn how to consult with customers as a high school senior. Attaining these skills will benefit me as I go into business school, as I will have a better idea of what it’s like to work in the real world.

What surprised you the most about your experience in the financial industry?
I was surprised with the sense of responsibility that came from learning all the terms of confidentiality and detail to accuracy required. I was impressed with how technology has become so advanced in today’s society to make banking transactions easier for this job. Today there is apple pay, remote deposits, and the ability to deposit checks on mobile once we receive it.

What’s a key educational takeaway from your experience?
A key educational takeaway from this experience would be from the monthly BAI tests that we are required to take. They are essential for our jobs and allow us to learn a new skill each month. Some examples of what we have learned are: Identity theft (defend against someone from having their identity get stolen), OFAC regulation (determining someone’s past and risk), bank safety/robbery training (how to stay safe during a robbery).

How will you use the skills you’ve learned in college?
With this job, I’ve really learned to be disciplined and the importance of deadlines. Since I am pursuing business, everything I learned in financial services will help me for when I have presentations, internships and job opportunities. Managing money with today’s expenses and high costs is not easy, which is why it’s important to save as much as possible and start a 401(k) in the first job you get.

What financial tip or lesson would you share with a friend or family member based on your experience?
If there was one thing I learned from this experience, it would be how essential it is to be responsible with money and managing spending within means of your current salary. It’s extremely vital for people to understand the importance of budgets and how much one can spend. After going through this experience, I learned how difficult it can get having to pay off debts, so I strongly believe that one must value the concept of saving money.

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.

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.”

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.

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.