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New branches show Bankwell confidence in brick and mortar

Connecticut Post logo Connecticut Post 6/15/2018 By Paul Schott
a person posing for the camera: Shanelle King, vice president and marketing manager for Bankwell, is interviewed on June 8, 2018 at the bank’s new branch at 1095 High Ridge Road in Stamford, Conn. © Provided by Hearst Communications, Inc Shanelle King, vice president and marketing manager for Bankwell, is interviewed on June 8, 2018 at the bank’s new branch at 1095 High Ridge Road in Stamford, Conn.

Bankwell is growing, while continuing to invest heavily in its capital infrastructure.

a man wearing a suit and tie: David Dineen, executive vice president and head of community banking for Bankwell makes a point during an interview are interviewed on June 8, 2018 at the bank’s new branch at 1095 High Ridge Road in Stamford, Conn. © Provided by Hearst Communications, Inc David Dineen, executive vice president and head of community banking for Bankwell makes a point during an interview are interviewed on June 8, 2018 at the bank’s new branch at 1095 High Ridge Road in Stamford, Conn. a group of people standing in front of a sign: Officials gather at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on June 8, 2018, at Bankwell’s new branch at 1095 High Ridge Road in Stamford, Conn. From left, are: Luis Ramirez, universal banker, Bankwell; Ben Fetterman, director of retail banking, Bankwell; Heather Cavanagh, director of events and marketing, Stamford Chamber of Commerce; Peter Hermance, branch service manager, Bankwell; David Dineen, executive vice president and head of community banking, Bankwell; Stamford Mayor David Martin; Shanelle King, vice president and market manager, Bankwell; Rob Mallozzi, senior vice president and director of business development, Bankwell; and behind Mallozzi, Brian Sahai, Bankwell universal banker. © Provided by Hearst Communications, Inc Officials gather at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on June 8, 2018, at Bankwell’s new branch at 1095 High Ridge Road in Stamford, Conn. From left, are: Luis Ramirez, universal banker, Bankwell; Ben Fetterman, director of retail banking, Bankwell; Heather Cavanagh, director of events and marketing, Stamford Chamber of Commerce; Peter Hermance, branch service manager, Bankwell; David Dineen, executive vice president and head of community banking, Bankwell; Stamford Mayor David Martin; Shanelle King, vice president and market manager, Bankwell; Rob Mallozzi, senior vice president and director of business development, Bankwell; and behind Mallozzi, Brian Sahai, Bankwell universal banker.

The New Canaan-based bank last week opened branches at the High Ridge Shopping Center in Stamford and in the downtowns of Darien and Westport. While the bank continues to expand its digital services, Bankwell officials say they have grown their branch network to 12 locations because customers still favor in-person banking for many transactions.

“As we look to expand in communities, we always look to where our customers are,” David Dineen, Bankwell’s executive vice president and head of community banking, said in an interview last week at the new Stamford branch, at 1095 High Ridge Road. “We think brick and mortar is still important, along with high tech.”

a group of people standing in front of a building: Officials gather at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on June 9, 2018, at Bankwell’s new branch at 1065 Post Road in Darien, Conn. From left, are: John Breznen, David Harvey Jewelers; Ben Fetterman, director of retail banking, Bankwell; Penko Ivanov, chief financial officer, Bankwell; Chris Gruseke, Bankwell CEO; John J. Ryan, attorney and former state senator; Susan Marks, Darien selectwoman; David Dineen, executive vice president and head of community banking, Bankwell; Ellen Bay, Darien market manager, Bankwell; Bob Palermo, senior vice president and senior lender, Bankwell; Susan Cator, executive director, Darien Chamber of Commerce. © Provided by Hearst Communications, Inc Officials gather at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on June 9, 2018, at Bankwell’s new branch at 1065 Post Road in Darien, Conn. From left, are: John Breznen, David Harvey Jewelers; Ben Fetterman, director of retail banking, Bankwell; Penko Ivanov, chief financial officer, Bankwell; Chris Gruseke, Bankwell CEO; John J. Ryan, attorney and former state senator; Susan Marks, Darien selectwoman; David Dineen, executive vice president and head of community banking, Bankwell; Ellen Bay, Darien market manager, Bankwell; Bob Palermo, senior vice president and senior lender, Bankwell; Susan Cator, executive director, Darien Chamber of Commerce.

In Stamford, the new 1,800-square-foot branch complements another banking center, at 612 Bedford St.

“I think a second branch for Stamford reinforces our commitment here,” Dineen said. “We feel Stamford is a thriving, great business community and a city we want to be in.”

With its new branches, Bankwell is competing with national powerhouses. Bank of America maintains a branch across the road from Bankwell’s new Stamford branch and another two doors down from its Westport center.

a man and a woman looking at the camera: Shanelle King, vice president and marketing manager for Bankwell and David Dineen, executive vice president and head of community banking for Bankwell, are interviewed on June 8, 2018, at the bank’s new branch at 1095 High Ridge Road in Stamford, Conn. © Provided by Hearst Communications, Inc Shanelle King, vice president and marketing manager for Bankwell and David Dineen, executive vice president and head of community banking for Bankwell, are interviewed on June 8, 2018, at the bank’s new branch at 1095 High Ridge Road in Stamford, Conn. a box on a table: A view of the service counter inside Bankwell’s new branch at 1095 High Ridge Road in Stamford, Conn. © Provided by Hearst Communications, Inc A view of the service counter inside Bankwell’s new branch at 1095 High Ridge Road in Stamford, Conn.

“We feel we bring local decision-making, and we’re locally based,” Dineen said. “Everyone down from the leadership team, to everyone who works in the banks, we all live and work in the communities that we serve. I think that really speaks to us as a community bank.”

The size and layout of Bankwell’s new branches are representative of contemporary bank buildings, according to state Department of Banking officials.

a man wearing a suit and tie: Shanelle King, vice president and marketing manager for Bankwell and David Dineen, executive vice president and head of community banking for Bankwell, are interviewed on June 8, 2018, at the bank’s new branch at 1095 High Ridge Road in Stamford, Conn. © Provided by Hearst Communications, Inc Shanelle King, vice president and marketing manager for Bankwell and David Dineen, executive vice president and head of community banking for Bankwell, are interviewed on June 8, 2018, at the bank’s new branch at 1095 High Ridge Road in Stamford, Conn.

“One of the most interesting trends in bank branches is that when we see new ones coming up, they’re looking a bit different,” said Matt Smith, a spokesman for the Banking Department. “You’re not seeing the 3,000-square-foot branches. They’re smaller. That’s not surprising with the rise of technology.”

Reasons for brick and mortar

There are 1,189 bank branches in Connecticut, about flat compared with the number a year ago, according to Department of Banking data. The total has declined about 8 percent since 2007.

The growth of digital banking has reduced the need for in-person services, but not made them obsolete.

In a new survey by professional-services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, 65 percent of respondents cited the importance of having a local branch, and 25 percent said they would not open an account with a bank that did not have at least one local branch.

“I don’t think the bank branch is going away anytime soon — there is still an appetite to go in and conduct business in a traditional way,” Smith said. “It’s not about doing away with branches altogether; it’s about rethinking them. I think we’ll continue to see that trend of reinvention over the next 10 years.”

a room that has a sign on the floor: Employees set up the service counter inside Bankwell’s new branch at 1095 High Ridge Road in Stamford, Conn., on June 8, 2018. © Provided by Hearst Communications, Inc Employees set up the service counter inside Bankwell’s new branch at 1095 High Ridge Road in Stamford, Conn., on June 8, 2018.

Other local banks are also expanding their branch systems.

At the beginning of the year, Patriot Bank launched a 11,000-square-foot flagship branch, at 999 Bedford St., in Stamford. It includes two “live banking” consoles — one in the building and another in a drive-through terminal — that allow customers to video-conference with bankers.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd posing for the camera: Officials gather at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on June 9, 2018, at Bankwell’s new branch at 100 Post Road E., in Westport, Conn. From left, are: Ben Fetterman, director of retail banking, Bankwell; state Rep. Jonathan Steinberg; Matthew Mandell, executive director, Westport Chamber of Commerce; Chris Gruseke Bankwell CEO; Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe; Penko Ivanov, Bankwell chief financial officer; Mike Pida, Westport market nanager, Bankwell; Barbara Reynolds, chairman, Westport Chamber of Commerce; state Sen. Tony Hwang; David Dineen, executive vice president and head of community banking, Bankwell; and Randy Herbertson, president, Westport Downtown Merchants Association. © Provided by Hearst Communications, Inc Officials gather at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on June 9, 2018, at Bankwell’s new branch at 100 Post Road E., in Westport, Conn. From left, are: Ben Fetterman, director of retail banking, Bankwell; state Rep. Jonathan Steinberg; Matthew Mandell, executive director, Westport Chamber of Commerce; Chris Gruseke Bankwell CEO; Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe; Penko Ivanov, Bankwell chief financial officer; Mike Pida, Westport market nanager, Bankwell; Barbara Reynolds, chairman, Westport Chamber of Commerce; state Sen. Tony Hwang; David Dineen, executive vice president and head of community banking, Bankwell; and Randy Herbertson, president, Westport Downtown Merchants Association. a person in a suit standing in front of a building: Shanelle King, vice president and marketing manager for Bankwell and David Dineen, executive Vice President and head of community banking for Bankwell, are photographed on June 8, 2018 outside the bank’s new branch at 1095 High Ridge Road in Stamford, Conn. © Provided by Hearst Communications, Inc Shanelle King, vice president and marketing manager for Bankwell and David Dineen, executive Vice President and head of community banking for Bankwell, are photographed on June 8, 2018 outside the bank’s new branch at 1095 High Ridge Road in Stamford, Conn.

In February, First County Bank opened a 2,400-square-foot establishment at 1312 Post Road in Fairfield.

Increasingly, digital and in-person services meld together. “In the branch, we can help you sign up for online banking, we can get the app for you on the phone,” said Bankwell vice president and market manager Shanelle King, who leads a team of four at the new Stamford branch. “We’ll do it all in a timely, efficient and very courteous manner. I think we’ve got a great team here.”

While they are focused on building the customer bases of their new branches, Bankwell officials said they would consider opening additional locations.

“We’re tied to the New York City metropolitan area, particularly Fairfield County, and we’re between New York City,” Dineen said. “We think there’ll be opportunities for us to continue to grow.”

pschott@scni.com; 203-964-2236; Twitter: @paulschott

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