Page 17 - BusinessWest May 12, 2021
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The pandemic — and the economic shutdown it ushered in — challenged business-banking clients as well, and for the first round of Paycheck Protec- tion Program (PPP) loans, Greenfield Savings Bank created a task force
of 43 employees to help local busi- nesses process their loan applica- tions. Employees often made calls on the weekend to clarify any point that might slow down the process. Several applicants received calls from Howland himself.
“It was amazing that no one com- plained for calling them at 8 p.m. on a Saturday,” he said. “They were all just happy we were working on their behalf.”
In the first round of PPP, Greenfield Savings processed 720 loans totaling around $60 million, and followed up with nearly the same amount in the second round. Meanwhile, the busi- ness-banking team at Greylock secured $30 million in PPP loans, which Bissell said helped save nearly 4,000 jobs in the Pittsfield area.
As everyone tries to figure out what lies ahead, bankers remain optimistic. Like every institution, Freedom Credit
Video tellers, like this one at Greenfield Savings Bank, have become a popular option for banking ‘in person’ during the pandemic.
Union saw a surge in deposits after $1,400 pandemic-relief checks began landing in accounts, Welch noted. “People have only spent about 25% of their government checks, so there’s lot of pent-up demand out there.”
While banks had been increasing their use of technology anyway, indus- try data suggests COVID accelerated that shift by at least five years. Based on that trend, Welch sees bankers mov- ing toward more of a consulting role.
“I think, eventually, people will visit a bank or credit-union branch when they need financial advice such as buy- ing a home or a car,” he said. “Increas- ingly, they will handle their routine transactions online.”
Video teller machines are another example of the increased use of tech- nology for everyday transactions.
“I think the pandemic made cus-
“We are looking forward to a routine where we see our customers on a regular basis and we can have that friendly conversation once again. Everyone in our company is looking forward to that happening.
about personal relationships.”
In addition to engaging custom-
ers again, Howland said the cama- raderie and collegiality of the staff being together is also essential.
“I’m a big believer in the small talk around the water bubbler,” he said, adding that the pandemic robbed people of those everyday social interactions that were taken for granted in the past.
“We are looking forward to a routine where we see our customers on a regu- lar basis and we can have that friendly conversation once again,” he went on. “Everyone in our company is looking forward to that happening.” u
    tomers more willing to try new tech- nology that we hadn’t offered before,” De Maria said. “We’ve seen some real success in their adoption of tools like our video banker.”
Still, while bankers are pleased with how well customers have adjusted to
making technology part of their bank- ing routine, they all look forward to the time when in-person banking becomes normal once again.
“When you get down to the basics, we provide relationship-based finan- cial services,” Bissell said. “It’s really
    You should choose your bank.
Not the other way around.
       As a mutual bank, we only answer to our customers, not to shareholders. So we’ll be here for you on Day 1 and Day 9,125. It’s a promise we can make after nearly 150 years of helping businesses grow in the Pioneer Valley. So choose a bank that will always be here for you. And don’t settle for a bank that might be here today, gone tomorrow.
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