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We talked with him about leading a financial institution during the pandemic and the role of this nearly year-old, Glen Head-based bank with 49 branches including 10 in New York City at a crucial time for the bank and borrowers. How did First of Long Island modify operations during the height of the pandemic? As the pandemic was building and spreading, we phased in limited hours. We had our employees work from behind the teller line with glass barriers.
We kept our drive-up windows and ATMs open and we kept a few lobbies open. We always had our staff in. Did you personally shift to remote work? We were deemed an essential business. We had most of our back-office folks working remotely from home. I came into the office. We had people dealing with the public. I wanted to be here side by side with them. Has electronic banking accelerated? During the pandemic, transactions shifted to electronic products. Our customers can snap a picture of their check.
Those volumes tripled during the pandemic. How are branches impacted? In-person transactions have been going down for years, as electronic transactions went up. Branches have become about solving problems, asking questions, talking about new products, financial needs, and things to help their business. Are you adding branches?
That should open in the fourth quarter of this year. We continue to expand our branch network geographically. Who was borrowing during the pandemic and for what?
A lot of loans were the Paycheck Protection Program loans. We were very busy with that. A lot of customers came to banks and asked for payment deferrals. I think the banking community stepped up and combined with PPP to help the country get through this shutdown.
What was it like to help with PPP loans? When we were doing the PPP loans, we put together a team at the bank. I was personally processing loans and dealing with customers. The employees were so excited to help these businesses get through the pandemic and pay their employees.
I had so many employees saying how proud they were that we were here to help. People were working around the clock. We had people emailing each other at 2 in the morning. The system was open around the clock. How do you decide who gets loans? When we underwrite a loan to determine if a person qualifies, you get current information. You work with them to try to create a win-win situation.
You have to make sure the customer has the wherewithal to pay back the loan. How do loan volumes look now? Normal loan volumes have been down. As more banking is done online, do banks have to work harder at security? Banks have to be mindful of cyber security and fraudsters trying to steal identities. They do that more and more through digital channels. With the pandemic and people using more electronic transactions, criminals will try to exploit that. How do you manage stress, particularly in difficult times?
Make sure you laugh every day. We have a dedicated board of directors. Even at those meetings, we make sure we have a good laugh or two. It relaxes people, helps get rid of stress. When I go home in the evening, a lot of times I put on an old sitcom and watch it for a half hour and get a good laugh. I find that laughing is the best medicine for stress for me.
Related VideosThose volumes tripled during the pandemic. It is used for domestic or international transactions in which no cash or check exchange is involved, but the account balance is directly debited electronically and the funds are transferred to another account in real time. We were very busy with that. Our customers can snap a picture of their check. We had most of our back-office folks working first national bank of long island huntington ny from home.
First national bank of long island huntington ny -
First National Bank expects to have 53 branches in total by late , including the 42 it has in Nassau and Suffolk counties. He said the industrywide trend of banks closing branches has helped First National Bank. Get the Biz Briefing newsletter!
NEFCU, a credit union based in Westbury, has opened three branches with video teller machines but no live tellers in the building, including one in Levittown in September.
It opened one in Deer Park earlier this year and one in Bay Shore last year. Also, three new Teachers Federal Credit Union branches are scheduled to open in with video tellers instead of live tellers, according to the credit union. Uniondale-based Flushing Financial has a similar service at some of its branches, including in Uniondale. By David Reich-Hale david.