The story of Manasquan Bank is quite simple. A community based financial institution that takes great pride in its consistent and uninterrupted mission of providing financial products and services to valued and respected personal and business customers. Additionally, we have been driven, from day one, by the credo “We will always endeavor to do the right thing.” For 142 years, Manasquan Bank has been a model of consistency and a stalwart of the communities it serves. Even during the banking crisis of 2008, the Manasquan Bank balance sheet remained strong, thanks to well-capitalized loans and prudent risk management.
Contrast that simple, but meaningful mandate to the image and actions of one of the largest financial institutions whose motivations simply differ from ours. The revelation that Wells Fargo employees opened as many as 2 million accounts, without customer knowledge has been astounding for all and devastating for some.
Some 5,300 employees lost their jobs. Customers paid at least $1.5 million in fees for bogus accounts. Ultimately, Wells Fargo Chairman and CEO John Stumpf stepped down. The bank has been fined $185 Million.
Aside from the initial impact, the ripple effects will continue. What of the bank’s customers who may experience declining credit scores for not staying current on accounts they didn’t even know they had? Just by the nature of the scandal, dislocated employees may find it difficult to find work in the banking industry.
Wells Fargo’s carefully crafted image as the bank for Main Street has been, at best, tainted and potentially shattered. The scandal has rekindled fears of “here we go again.”
The banking industry, as a whole, has taken yet another blow to its image. Words such as distrustful, impersonal, unresponsive, distant, crisis ridden, and consumed by turmoil begin to surface. But this is too broad a brush to paint the entire industry.
At Manasquan Bank building trust is part of our ethos. All residential and business lending decisions are made locally. You can actually speak face to face with your loan officer. He or she will commit to a fast decision because all loan processing is centralized with one team. And if you’re not satisfied, you can speak to me, because I work under that same roof, shoulder to shoulder—on the same floor.
Wells Fargo announced they are putting your interests first. What were they doing before? It has always been the belief at Manasquan Bank that the customer comes first. We recognize that the customer always has a banking choice and that differentiation occurs through product and service delivery.
It is why we have begun to modernize our branches, added more electronic banking tools and even expanded to the Howell/Freehold border and soon Ocean Township. We have made significant investments in infrastructure, security and technology during the past two years alone.
Most importantly we have invested in our people so they are better equipped and motivated to engage with our customers, whether it is face to face in our branches or digitally through our web site. Nurturing quality customer relationships is our core value. You’ll see new branch designs in our remodeled Brick and newly opened Howell locations .That branch transformation will continue throughout the entire franchise. This design enhances customer interaction and puts highly trained universal bankers at your disposal and eliminates artificial physical barriers between our customer and our servicer.
Manasquan Bank has always stuck to the basics. We are a mutual bank and don’t have stockholders to answer to. Our mission is to remain relevant and sustainable. Our goal is to continually provide extraordinary service through multiple delivery channels, while maintaining a solid balance sheet so we can continue to serve the financing needs of our communities.
In an era where most banking institutions offer the same services and capabilities, customer service and trust become key differentiators. Such traits in a financial institution may be rare in the industry, but are at the core of Manasquan Bank.
James S. Vaccaro
President and Chief Executive Officer