The CEO's Posts

Happy Holidays

RGCEOsanta_hatOn behalf of the entire First County Bank Family, I would like to wish you a happy holiday season and express our appreciation for your continued business and support.

As we enjoy this special time of year, let’s remember to celebrate the many blessings in our lives. The blessings of family and friends, first and foremost.

Whether you plan to travel or stay home for the holidays, I wish you all Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Joyous Kwanzaa and Happy New Year!

May all your days be merry and bright.

Smart Savings Tips, The CEO's Posts

On Building an Emergency Fund – How Much for That New Transmission?!

RGCEO1According to conventional wisdom, everyone will at some time have a need for emergency funds. Unfortunately, many people still live their lives “paycheck to paycheck.” As a result, setting aside money for unexpected expenses can be a real strain on one’s household.

Before we tackle the issue of how to save for a rainy day, let’s figure out how much to save “just in case.” Most companies and nonprofits I work with say having six months worth of expenses set aside should carry their organization through a financial emergency. I think the same holds true for most families. A good starting point is to set aside at least six months of living expenses – household expenses, food and clothing allowances, health care costs and, of course, transportation expenses, to name a few.

Sure, this is easier said than done so here is some help on how to start. First, set a goal and talk with one of our financial experts at First County Bank about enrolling in an automatic savings program, which can be set up to deposit a portion of your paycheck to a savings account. Our trusted advisors will help you navigate your options to find the best savings plan to suit your individual lifestyle. The key is having immediate liquidity so be sure you don’t tie your emergency fund up in a CD, which generally makes funds harder to access at a minute’s notice. Investment products are also not the best vehicle for an emergency fund because of their inherent risk so you may want to steer clear of those.

Another tip is, resist the temptation to spend your tax refund and add it to this emergency account instead. Additionally, reviewing your expenses carefully may provide you with an opportunity to plan your budget and watch unnecessary expenses until you have achieved your financial goal. There are many easy-to-use online tools to help you save; a simple Google search is a good starting point for that.

Finally, resist the temptation to break open this “piggy bank” for a vacation or any expense that doesn’t meet the definition of an emergency. You’ll find that the alternatives to not having an emergency fund—like borrowing from a friend or family member—  aren’t ideal. Just watch any episode of Judge Judy to see how badly that can end.

The CEO's Posts

A Letter to Our Community Partners

R GiallongoDear Community Partner:

Having recently concluded the 15th Anniversary Celebration of the Bank’s Foundation, I want to thank you and your organization for all that you do for the local community. The partnerships that you have forged with your peers in the community, with the Bank, our Foundation and most importantly with our employees continue to improve the quality of life in our cities and towns, making Fairfield County a better place to live, work and play.

Having been here for 165 years, all of us at First County Bank dedicate ourselves to improving our community not only through our Foundation giving but in many other ways. Our employees have provided resources to hundreds of first-time homebuyers and have connected local businesses with our expertise helping them to grow and prosper to promote a stronger local economy.

I’m very proud of my colleagues here at the Bank. You see us at any number of Board and Committee meetings of many local nonprofit and service organizations but what you might not see is the incredible generosity demonstrated throughout the year by our employees. We have collected food for the Food Bank; pet supplies for the Shelter; household and baby items for rehabilitation programs and backpacks full of school supplies at each and every Bank-wide meeting. This is over and above the incredible giving of approximately $650,000 in local Foundation grants and scholarships this year… all made possible by our team members.

Through these efforts and over the 1,000+ volunteer hours that our employees participated in throughout the year, we are very proud to be part of your important community mission.

Thank you all for your help and support and I look forward to a great 2017.

Sincerely,
Rey Giallongo

In Our Community, The CEO's Posts

Let’s Drive Sales!

RGCEO11First County Bank recently partnered with the Business Council of Fairfield County to offer Supplier Connection, a service designed to provide local businesses with opportunities to connect with potential business partners. Chairman and CEO, Rey Giallongo shares background on the program and the potential benefits to our customers and neighbors.

We’ve always celebrated the entrepreneurial spirit we find in our small business clients. This spirit is especially important as we all work to speed up this slow growth economy. We know the numbers are startling. Most jobs – both created and retained – come from smaller, non-Fortune 500 type companies in our neighborhoods. What better way to create jobs than to drive sales and sales growth?

That’s our motivation for partnering with the Business Council of Fairfield County to make available Supplier-Connection.net through our website, firstcountybank.com. This is a free, cloud-based initiative created by IBM to match diverse small businesses offering an array of products and services to Fortune 500 companies looking to buy.

It’s pretty simple as it allows business owners to become part of a sophisticated and robust supply-chain network, which gets them noticed and matched with buyers.

This platform gets business owners past the receptionist and gatekeepers to directly in front of buyers from companies such as Pitney Bowes, UIL, Merck, IBM and many others who are ready to buy.

And, it works. According to IBM, Supplier Connection has help channel over $7B from participating partner corporations to registered small businesses since it started in 2011.

There’s plenty of upside here, so please take a moment and visit www.firstcountybank.com/supplier-connection to learn more.

Miscellaneous, The CEO's Posts, Trends & Tips

What do you save?

RGCEO11Cheryl and I got a head start this week clearing out some of the clutter in our loft. We started with the premise that we need more filing cabinets to store household paperwork and looked to place an on-line order, but did we? We pay all of our bills on-line, stack the invoices away and print many of the confirmations probably like most people do. But when it comes to financial record keeping and retention of paperwork, what do you really need to keep?

From a practical standpoint anything you can access electronically, it probably safe to shred. This would include bank statements, credit card bills, utility and phone bills as well as quarterly investment statements. You should keep tax paperwork up to 7 years, estate planning or health care documents and any paperwork relating to pensions or Social Security, as these are usually more difficult to reproduce. Some documents that are extremely difficult to reproduce like passports, wills and deeds should be kept in a safe deposit box but keep copies at home for convenience. It’s also a good idea to inventory and copy the contents of a safe deposit box for easy reference.

Figuring out what to keep or save goes a long way cutting down clutter and reduces the chance of personal documents falling into the hands of an identity thief.

Not sure what you should keep, and what can go?
Check out this special article from USA Today.

The CEO's Posts

Happy Holidays

RGCEOsanta_hatOn behalf of the entire First County Bank Family, I would like to wish you a happy holiday season and express our appreciation for your continued business and support.

As we enjoy this special time of year, let’s remember to celebrate the many blessings in our lives. The blessings of family and friends, first and foremost.

Whether you plan to travel or stay home for the holidays, I wish you all Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Joyous Kwanzaa and Happy New Year!

May all your days be merry and bright.

HappyHolidays

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bank News, The CEO's Posts

Happy Thanksgiving

RGCEO11As this time of year approaches, I am reminded of the following words by President John F. Kennedy, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter the words, but to live by them.” Powerful statement which can be applied not only to Thanksgiving but also to life, how we live day by day, who we are or strive to become. Every year, month, day, moment gives us an opportunity to change, to grow to show our thanks, our appreciation, our gratitude.

The holidays often stir emotions of home and hearth, of giving, forgiving and/or acceptance. Whether you spend it with family, friends or a significant other, remember to take stock in what’s important in your life, whether it’s health, home, family and friends, a moment that inspired you, a conversation that encouraged you to grow, a child’s laughter, a dog’s love. They are all blessings and they all matter.

Give thanks and show your thanks every day. And when doing so, send blessings to those less fortunate in our community and around the world. Natural disasters like the deadly Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and the Tornado that hit Oklahoma City came without warning and left a wake of disaster in their path. Our wonderful group of Bank Employees always answer, when called. We raised money for both natural and man-made disasters by just asking for help. It has been through a monthly Jeans Day for a cause or collecting food at our employee meetings to help fill the Food Bank’s pantry.

As I reflect on the year, I am thankful for many blessings. Most importantly my dear family and friends, the wonderful employees, executives and corporators of First County Bank and their families, our community partners and nonprofit organizations that give tirelessly to the community. I am thankful that this year, we have nearly reached the $6M mark in total grants awarded to nonprofits in lower Fairfield County since the Foundation’s inception in 2001. I am blessed that I get to go to work everyday excited about the service we provide at the Bank and contributions we make to our community.

I wish you all a safe and Happy Thanksgiving and trust your day will be filled with great food and libations and perhaps some football. And remember to not only utter words of thanks, live by them this Thanksgiving day and every day.

Bank News, The CEO's Posts

Out with the Old. Security-Enhanced Debit Cards Coming Soon.

RGCEO11Say goodbye to the 1960s’ technology in your pocket. We at First County Bank, as well as most banks nationally, will be issuing new debit cards to our customers early this fall adding the new EMV chip to your debit card. The EMV chip is actually a computer chip embedded in your card to authenticate transactions, improve payment security and reduce the likelihood of fraudsters stealing account information. These enhancements come in the wake of very well-publicized frauds at Home Depot, Target and other retailers.

Retailers will be adding new in-store technology and payment processes to accommodate this change. Industry experts anticipate 700 million new cards will be issued. Card users will be affected as the well-known “swipe” will be replaced with “the dip” meaning cards will need to remain in the reader until the transaction is complete and either a signature or PIN added. If a merchant has not yet converted to the new point-of-sale EMV technology, the reader will default to the less secure magnetic stripe information on the reverse side of the card.

The U.S. is the last major market still using the magnetic-stripe card system. Many European countries moved to EMV technology years ago to combat high fraud rates. The upcoming shift to the EMV card should help many of our customers when they travel.

We are very aware of how inconvenient it is for our customers when we are notified of actual or potential fraud on your debit card and have to reissue your card. This enhanced chip technology will better protect your information, should be easy to use and be more accepted globally now that this technology will soon become standard in the U.S.

We’ll provide you with more information as we begin to the reissue process but rest assured using your debit card remains a secure and efficient way to make purchases.

Bank News, The CEO's Posts

Here’s the reveal…Check out First County Bank’s New Executive Offices

First County Bank has some great news to share. We’ve just completed four (4) months in production of the Bank’s first video posting! Not that it took that long to film and edit but, the story line reveals our new office space at 3001 Summer Street in Stamford!

Our New Executive Offices

Posted by First County Bank on Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Some of you may recognize the address as the recent new home of Pitney Bowes located in the Bull’s Head section of Stamford. As of May 4th, the first floor of 3001 Summer Street is the new home of our Business Banking/Commercial Lending division, the team at First County Advisors, our wealth management division; and our Executive Offices. Our space provides plenty of visitor parking and most importantly, easy access for our customers.

RGCEO11Having not done a project like this before, it reaffirmed our belief in the importance of working with community based partners. The teams assembled to build and design the space – our landlord at Ashforth Properties; our architectural design firm, Esposito Design Associates; and, last but not least, our own Board of Directors and Bank staff could not have done a better job. Not only did the build-out go smoothly, but working collaboratively with our partners resulted in nearly no punch list or post-completion projects!

We celebrated our “Grand Opening” with a ceremonial ribbon cutting with Stamford Mayor David Martin and other community leaders on the evening of May 20th. A great time was had by all with Bank staff conducting many “walking tours” of the new offices.

If you have an opportunity to visit with First County Advisors or our Commercial Lenders, please stop in. We’re very proud of our new space and the technology being used here. Just as we’ve been for the past 164 years, First County Bank will be here for a while!

 

The CEO's Posts

An Evening for the Kids

RGCEO1I was fortunate to be recognized this past week by the Childcare Learning Center (CLC) for our Bank and Foundation’s work with CLC over the years. It was a real thrill to meet my co-honoree, Sharon Robinson, author, educational consultant to Major League Baseball and daughter of Rachel and Jackie Robinson. Adding to the evening, Mrs. Rachel Robinson joined us and both mother and daughter fondly remember their time as residents of Stamford.

CLC is a local nonprofit agency that has been at the forefront of developing and implementing high-quality programs for childcare and early childhood education and development. I’ve known CLC from the early 80s when I was President of the United Way Board of Directors and we’d walk over to perform site visits. One of the personal pleasures I had stems from those United Way visits – that’s spending time with CLC’s teachers and instructors. Each CLC program is developed with the goal of closing the achievement gap between children of low and high-income families. I’m proud to say the First County Bank Foundation has, since 2003, chosen to support CLC’s Teacher Education Initiative (TEI), which provides opportunities for the organization’s teachers to increase their skill set through outside course work and in-house seminars. It’s these types of initiatives that are easy for us to invest in as the TEI program produces tangible improvements year after year.

CLC used the occasion of their annual gala, which took place on April 25th, to showcase several successful alumni of their early childhood education program by enrolling them into the newly formed “CLC Hall of Fame.” It was a real thrill – the kids were great and very successful after overcoming significant childhood barriers.

The evening ended on a very high note with jazz guitarist and former NY Yankees great, Bernie Williams, performing. A very special evening for a very special organization.