BANKING: Optimism Abounds

In Westchester’s highly competitive banking environment, many of the key players are on the move and looking for an edge in 2017.

M&T Bank, for instance, has been making waves following its acquisition of Hudson City Bank last year. Eight Hudson City branches in Westchester were converted in February 2016, adding to the six existing M&T branches in the county. The changes have fueled hiring by the bank on both the retail and commercial sides. “That’s a further sign that we feel pretty bullish about Westchester County,” says Regional President Frank Micalizzi, who’s based in Tarrytown.

Headquartered in White Plains, The Westchester Bank opened a new branch in Rye Brook in December 2016, at 800 Westchester Avenue, and is looking to open a seventh county branch in 2017. “We think there will be opportunities to build our business in Westchester,” says CEO/President John Tolomer. “We’ve been very fortunate to attract the most prestigious small and midsize businesses in Westchester.” But Tolomer knows his team will have to work hard to keep doing so. “It’s always a challenge
to continue to acquire those types of clients,” he says. 

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Meanwhile, Wells Fargo, which is based in San Francisco but has a strong presence in the county, will be investing heavily in technology to make banking more convenient. “While many customers enjoy visiting their local branches, people are also
turning to mobile devices to conduct their banking,” says Maria Ferreira, Wells Fargo’s Community Bank area president for Suburban New York and Connecticut. “Wells Fargo will
be investing in its technology, to deliver a world-class experience for customers, both in our Westchester County branches and online.”

As for the rest of the banking sector, optimism among business owners about President-elect Trump’s proposed corporate-tax cut — from 35 percent to 15 percent — bodes well for banks that serve them. 

“There seems to be a lot of receptivity to a potential tax cut,” says Tolomer. “In my experience, every recovery starts with confidence and enthusiasm. We’re beginning to see the seeds of enthusiasm.” 

The uptick in real estate prices in New York City in the past few years could also spark business for Westchester banks, as it drives homebuyers seeking less costly options toward the county. “Westchester is a nice alternative for folks to have a good quality of life and still be near New York City,” says Micalizzi. “Westchester is a very good county for us to do business in. We’re very optimistic.” — Elaine Pofeldt

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