Auburn Savings Bank’s loan team. From left to right are Jaimie Gutshall, William Tracy and Megan Moody.
At $78 million in assets, Auburn Savings Bank is the smallest bank in Maine, but it still managed to generate an impressive $23 million in mortgages last year. Adopting the motto “Local Banking for Local People,” the 126-year-old institution offers a full slate of services, with an emphasis on mortgages, of which 80 percent are residential and 20 percent commercial.
Auburn Savings Bank’s lending production last year placed it in a tie for 84th place in this year’s 100 best overall top-producing lenders among ICBA member banks. The bank’s volume of loan dollars provided stood at 86 percent of its assets overall.
As Auburn Savings prepared to celebrate its 125th anniversary, Executive Vice President and Senior Lender Bill Tracy and his team brainstormed on how to build loan market share more rapidly and get the bank’s name back on the street to differentiate itself from local competitors. In doing so, Tracy cast his mind back to the early 1990s when programs were being developed for initiating mortgages at low cost.
That spawned an idea: Allow Auburn Savings’ customers to provide only a $125 down payment to qualify for a conforming 15-, 20- or 30-year mortgage, and the bank would cover all other legally permissible closing costs. This year the bank once again continues to offer a $500 program for all confirming residential mortgages.
In addition to the nominal mortgage down payment campaign, Auburn Savings has found other avenues to compete with its larger brethren on the commercial lending side. Located in the southern area of the state, where the most cash is available, over the past six months the bank has reached out to share some opportunities with banks in northern Maine to participate in its local commercial transactions.
After 2008, when many of his competitors had hunkered down, Tracy and his colleagues at Auburn Savings became more aggressive, employing new strategies to bring in a younger clientele to his historic institution. Auburn Savings put in place several elements, including some staff reorganization to address compliance and regulatory issues.
“Now the recession changed how we think internally,” Tracy adds. “We’re more ready to anticipate changes from a risk perspective.”
But nothing replaces the satisfaction of giving back in the neighborhood. To enable a young couple to buy their first home for $125 is a significant offer. Tracy remains committed to servicing his local loan customers, and not just the bottom line—even though, as he notes, “Every penny counts in a small organization.”