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Natural Awakenings Bucks and Montgomery Counties PA

Community Spotlight: True Community Banking

Oct 01, 2012 04:00AM
Why The First National Bank and Trust Company of Newtown is a Real Community Bank

by Linda Sechrist

In today’s world of banking few things are exempt from change. In the past, financial institutions were solid and an integral part of the community in which they were established. Today, we read about branch closings, mergers, name changes and relocations on a regular basis. Fortunately for Bucks County residents who are customers of The First National Bank and Trust Company of Newtown, none of these things has ever been a part of their experience in the community bank’s nearly 150-year history. Proudly committed to sovereignty in its own Declaration of Independence, “The First” even ensures that its customer deposits will not be used to support loans made outside of its service area.

The sense of continuity that pervades the culture of The First is attributable to several factors: low employee turnover and long-term employees such as John Parry, who until his recent retirement after 40 years of service, served as president and CEO. The First customers already know the familiar face that assumed the role of the 11th President and COO—Daniel J. Schaffer, who has been with the company for 18 years.

“I was born and raised in the area, graduated from Council Rock High School and even worked for the bank during my high school years. I attended Penn State University and was hired as a management trainee when I graduated. Like many of our new employees today, I started as a teller and worked my way up through the ranks. After opening the Solebury branch in 1999 and managing it for a period, I returned to the main office to work in commercial lending,” says Schaffer.

Another factor that Schaffer considers important to continuity is the fact that employees see themselves as integral aspects of the institution. “In other words, we all feel that we are the bank and are here to meet the financial needs of local families, businesses and farmers. We are very proud that throughout our long history in Bucks County, we have been privileged to loan more than 2 billion dollars to residents and businesses in our area,” advises Schaffer, who also notes that as a community bank, The First channels most of its loans to the neighborhoods where depositors live and work. “This helps to keep the local communities we serve vibrant and growing,” he says.

An aspect of the bank’s management philosophy, which is to encourage customers to interact and work with individuals at every level of management, gives employees an opportunity to build lasting relationships with customers, who are sometimes even neighbors. “That includes me because I’m on-site and accessible to customers,” advises Schaffer.

The First has a stellar record of stability, capitalization and safety, which has been recognized with a Five Star Superior rating, the highest rating attainable from Bauer Financial, Inc., an independent bank and credit union rating and research firm.

Bank employees are encouraged to get involved in local community affairs in all 12 neighborhood service areas throughout Central and Lower Bucks County. Perhaps the most unique example of community involvement is The First’s student-run branch at St. Andrew Elementary School, which gives students and faculty opportunities to make deposits and withdrawals two days a week under the management oversight of two tellers from The First.

“St. Andrew has been one of The First’s oldest customers and when the school recognized an opportunity to incorporate financial literacy into their math curriculum, we were delighted to help spearhead the venture,” says Schaffer. Through the program, the 7th and 8th grade student tellers and student body customers get hands-on experience as they improve their financial literacy by learning about the importance of saving, planning for their financial needs, as well as gaining a greater sense of personal responsibility. Additionally, tellers had to apply for their positions, submit resumes, and were interviewed by employees of the school and the bank.

“Today, financial literacy is extremely important and unfortunately it isn’t taught in the educational system. We believe that this program makes so much sense because it is helping to prepare the next generation, at an early age, to be financially responsible,” notes Schaffer, who adds that all employees of The First are particularly proud of this collaboration.

For more information on The First National Bank and Trust Company of Newtown, visit fnbn.com or call 215-860-9100, October 2012


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