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.

First County Bank Profile, In Our Community

Roosevelt Simmons: One of the World’s Ten Nicest People

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Pictured (left to right): Hank Herman & Roosevelt Simmons

In November, Hank Herman of the Westport News wrote an article, The Home Team / The world’s 10 nicest people (Part 2). In the article, Herman lists ten of the world’s nicest people living in Westport, from “Joe the Italian Mailman” to “Sam at Mobil”; and in the mix our very own, “Roosevelt at First County Bank”.

“Roosevelt at First County Bank: Our youngest son Robby thinks Roosevelt, Assistant Branch Manager at our local First County on the Post Road, is the coolest person on the planet. He’s also one of the nicest. You know those commercials where they try to make banking seem fun and friendly? Roosevelt actually does that. Except that I have to figure on a 20-minute visit, so we can dissect and solve the problems of the Jets, Mets, and Knicks.”

We couldn’t agree more – next time you’re in Westport be sure to stop by the branch and meet one of the ten nicest people in the world – you won’t be disappointed.

For the full article, click here or visit: http://www.westport-news.com/news/article/The-Home-Team-The-world-s-10-nicest-people-12329097.php

First County Bank Profile

#FrontlineFridays: Meet Iliana Nikolova

iliana1Meet Iliana Nikolova, Teller Supervisor at the First County Bank Darien Branch located at 1006 Post Road in this edition of #FrontlineFridays.

Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Iliana Nikolova. I was born in Bulgaria, a small European country with old history and rich culture and traditions. I never thought that one day I would end up in a place called, “the land of opportunity”, but here I am!

Since then I’ve been tackling the challenges to adjust, learning and growing to become a successful person. You can find me in the dictionary under positive, funny and outgoing. I’ve been with First County Bank for 4 years, the last two years as a Teller Supervisor at the Darien Branch. I live in Stamford with my husband and two daughters.

What is your favorite part of your role at First County Bank?
My favorite part of my role at First County Bank is mostly the interaction with customers, being able to help them with whatever issue they are having, being able to find the answer to their questions, having them leave the branch with a smile and a comment: “Thank you very much. You are the best”.

Also, my new role as Teller Trainer Specialist gives me an opportunity to implement my knowledge and help new hires grow into their career here in First County Bank.

What is the most frequent question you receive from customers?
The most frequent question, “What’s my balance?”.

What is your favorite part of the holidays?
My favorite part of the holidays is Christmas Eve. The celebration of Christmas Eve in Bulgaria is ruled by traditions that are distinctly different from those Americans know. We follow Bulgarian customs closely. We invite an odd number of guests for a vegetarian meal that’s made up of an odd number of dishes.

What is your favorite First County Bank moment?
My favorite First County Bank moment was when I got promoted to a full time Teller and later on as a Teller Supervisor. I was accepted as part of the First County Bank family and given the opportunity to learn more and grow professionally. Also, I’m grateful to know and work with such wonderful people around me who are helping me every day to achieve my career goals, without whom I would not be where I am today.

Trends & Tips

Cyber Monday: Shop Safely

shutterstock_418009015 [Converted]During your online shopping on Cyber Monday, you will likely land on one of the many online retail giant’s shopping sites.  Here are some tips for shopping safely online.

  1. Type the URL into the address bar. Instead of just clicking a link to take you to your chosen retailer’s website, it’s safer to type the retailer’s URL into the address bar on your web browser. It may take a little more effort, but this simple action can help to prevent you from visiting a fake or malicious website.
  2. Credit Cards. Use the safest way to pay on the Internet – pay for your order using a credit card.  The safest way to purchase items via the Internet is by credit card because you can often dispute the charges if something is wrong.
  3. Trust your instincts. If you don’t feel comfortable buying or bidding on an item over the web, or if you feel pressured to place your order immediately, maybe you shouldn’t.
  4. Make sure the Internet connection is secure. Don’t trust a site just because it claims to be secure.  Before you give your payment information, check for indicators that security software is in place.
  5. Be cautious when responding to special offers (especially through unsolicited e-mail).

For more tips on how to shop safely, click here.

In Our Community

Support Local Businesses – Small Business Saturday is Tomorrow!

In 2010 American Express launched the first Small Business Saturday, encouraging shoppers nationwide to support local business. Since then, billions of dollars are spent on this Saturday at small and local businesses by tens of millions of people.

We are now encouraging you to do the same! Don’t do all your shopping at big retailers today or online on Monday, plan to spend some time shopping tomorrow and support our local businesses.

In Our Community

First County Bank & Palmer’s Market Donate Turkeys to The Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County

Pictured (Left to Right): Steve Ferguson, AVP, Business Development Officer, First County Bank, Aitza Cabrera, AVP, Branch Manager, Mortgage Loan Originator, First County Bank, Greg Palmer, Owner, Palmer’s Market,  Amzad Latiff, Director of Operations, Palmer’s Market, Tashi Tsering, Meat & Seafood Manager, Palmer’s Market, Richard Evanko, VP, Business Banking Manager, First County Bank.

Pictured (Left to Right): Steve Ferguson, AVP, Business Development Officer, First County Bank, Aitza Cabrera, AVP, Branch Manager, Mortgage Loan Originator, First County Bank, Greg Palmer, Owner, Palmer’s Market, Amzad Latiff, Director of Operations, Palmer’s Market, Tashi Tsering, Meat & Seafood Manager, Palmer’s Market, Richard Evanko, VP, Business Banking Manager, First County Bank.

First County Bank teamed up with Palmer’s Market to donate 100 turkeys, a $1,500 donation, to the Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County. Weighing in at over 1,200 pounds, these turkeys will be provided to local nonprofit organizations that feed the hungry in Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, and Wilton.

First County Bank is collecting food donations for The Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County at all Branches through the end of the year. For branch locations, go to: https://firstcountybank.com/branch-hours-locations-and-directions. Every donation is greatly appreciated.

 

Trends & Tips

Black Friday Shopping: Credit Cards or Debit Cards?

creditcardsDuring the Thanksgiving holiday, many prepare for the madness of the following morning, Black Friday. While debit cards are a popular form of payment they may not be the best choice.

Credit cards have become one of, if not the safest way to pay for purchases. Using a credit card is safer than a debit card because it is not directly linked to a checking account and you can often dispute charges if something is wrong.

Here are a few situations on Black Friday, where you may be better suited to use a credit card:

  • Online. Since the debit card links directly to a checking account, don’t use a debit card online, you have potential vulnerability there.  Also included in the category are phone orders.
  • Big-Ticket Items. With a big ticket item, a credit card is safer. A credit card offers dispute rights if something goes wrong with the merchandise or the purchase. With a debit card, you have fewer protections.  In addition, some credit cards will also offer extended warranties. And in some situations, such as buying electronics or renting a car, some credit cards also offer additional property insurance to cover the item.
  • If You’re a New Customer. Online or in the real world, if you’re a first-time customer in a store, skip the debit card the first couple of times you buy.  That way, you get a feel for how the business is run, how you’re treated and the quality of the merchandise before you hand over a card that links to your checking account.
  • Buy Now, Take Delivery Later. Buying now but taking delivery days or weeks from now? A credit card offers dispute rights that a debit card typically does not.  But be aware that some cards will limit the protection to a specific time period. So settle any problems as soon as possible.

For more fraud protection tips, click here.

First County Bank Profile

#FrontlineFridays: Meet Perry Mihaleas

perry-ffMeet Perry Mihaleas, Customer Service Representative at the First County Bank New Canaan Branch located at 95 Park Street in this edition of #FrontlineFridays.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up and live in Stamford.  I have been with First County Bank for about 7 years, and work at the New Canaan Branch.  I am a UCONN Alumnus and a UCONN Athletics fan.  I have 3 kids, and have enjoyed coaching youth teams:  Stamford Girls Softball, Volleyball and Basketball.  Probably one of the most rewarding experiences I have had was coaching a Challenger Baseball Team.

What is your favorite part of your role at First County Bank?
My favorite part of my role at First County Bank is my interaction with our customers, helping them with their banking needs and financial questions, but also having a personal interaction with them.

What is the most frequent question you receive from customers?
The most frequent question I receive from customers is usually about a transaction they may have forgotten or a question about online banking.

What is your favorite part of the holidays?
My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving.  We get together with family and friends, and I am very happy to enjoy each other’s company.

What is your favorite First County Bank moment?
I am not sure I have one favorite moment.  I find it rewarding when I can answer a customer’s question about a loan or some various financial options that we have that may benefit them; or when a customer calls and asks for you and you are able to assist them, and they tell you at the end of the call, “Thank You for your help. That’s why I do business here, because I am able to speak to a person on the phone.”

AITE Branch, First County Bank Profile

Alexander Graf, AITE Branch Student-Employee, Commended Student in the 2018 National Merit Scholarship Program

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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. During the first year of the program, we have had the pleasure of working with many motivated AITE students.

In October, student-employee Alexander Graf was named a Commended Student in the 2018 National Merit Scholarship Program. Alex is a graduating senior at AITE and took time out of his busy schedule to talk to us about his experience working for First County Bank’s AITE Branch.

What were your initial thoughts about being a First County Bank, AITE Branch student-employee?
I initially heard about the opportunity from a couple different teachers of mine who suggested that it would be a good experience. I ended up applying and we began the training in August of last year. I was unsure, but once I met Sheila (AITE Branch Manager) and the training got underway, it was a great experience.

The experience I’ve had overall working at the Branch has been second-to-none. Unlike learning in the classroom it was great to have first-hand experience on how things actually work behind the scenes at a bank. Additionally, I learned about the different types of accounts that are offered and how they are beneficial. I learned a lot of things that they don’t teach in school – how credit cards work, 401(k)’s, IRAs and just the different types of accounts in general.

What surprised you the most about your experience in the financial industry?
As someone who is interested in finance, I thought I had a good handle on what I might experience. However what surprised me the most was how friendly everyone was. There’s a stigma of how the business world is tough and no one is really there to help you – at the Bank you’re not just thrown into a situation, the peer-to-peer customer service was not what I had expected.

I also enjoyed the opportunity to work at the drive-through window at Summer St. It was that experience that really surprised me, and showed the willingness of everyone to help and mentor you.

What’s a key educational takeaway from your experience?
That’s an easy question, “how to know what to do.” The most important thing I learned really comes down to how to manage money. I think that that’s really something important for us to learn, especially before going to college. Many of us will be taking out loans whether it’s through the government or privately-funded and if we don’t know how to manage money and save, we’re going to have a really tough time coming out of it.

How will you use the skills you’ve learned in college?
My next goal is to get an internship at a financial services firm in college. First County Bank is the primary experience I will use when applying for an internship. Furthermore, what I’ve learned about money management and the industry overall is irreplaceable. I look forward to also using this experience to help future classmates and friends when it comes to classwork or personal finances/money management.

What financial tip or lesson would you share with a friend or family member based on your experience?
“Know how to make your money work for you.” Make sure you save in a reliable way, don’t just put your money in a savings account and let it sit there. It takes self-control to be smart about your money but it’s important that you make your money work for you. Most people just aren’t aware or start too late when it comes to saving for retirement; it’s important that we start now and educate ourselves on things like compounding interest.

Alex is in the process of applying to college. He’d like to major in Economics with certifications in Finance and Business. Alex also has a passion for music, which he’d like to minor in wherever he attends school.

In Our Community, Sponsorships & Events

Stamford Downtown Parade Spectacular

atlanticJoin us for this fun filled event as First County Bank volunteers navigate the streets of downtown Stamford handling the Paddington Bear helium balloon. Come out with the whole family and cheer us on as we hand out spin signs.

One of the largest helium balloon parades in the country, this event features everyone’s favorite giant balloon characters, award winning marching bands and fabulous floats. Fun for the whole family!

For event details or contact information, click here.