Bangor Savings Bank’s Personal Touch

Positive People—Bangor Savings Bank, with enthusiastic endorsements from its staff, was named one of the best places to work in Maine. Several bank employees above are (from left, front row) Cathy Franni, Emmi Wilson, Kayla Dunn, Lynne Milnes and Carrie Welch; (from left, middle row) Laurie Duncanson, Judy Kuchinski, Deb Fredrickson, Michelle Boisvert, Amy Smith, Sarah Ryder, Lori Miles, Anna Bergeron and Abbee Howes; and (from left, back row) Drew Nickerson, Mick Naylor, Alex Small, Anthony Black, Ally Sprague, Tom Worster, Mike Randall, David Rusbult and Phil Woodard.
Positive People—Bangor Savings Bank, with enthusiastic endorsements from its staff, was named one of the best places to work in Maine. Several bank employees above are (from left, front row) Cathy Franni, Emmi Wilson, Kayla Dunn, Lynne Milnes and Carrie Welch; (from left, middle row) Laurie Duncanson, Judy Kuchinski, Deb Fredrickson, Michelle Boisvert, Amy Smith, Sarah Ryder, Lori Miles, Anna Bergeron and Abbee Howes; and (from left, back row) Drew Nickerson, Mick Naylor, Alex Small, Anthony Black, Ally Sprague, Tom Worster, Mike Randall, David Rusbult and Phil Woodard.

By Karen Epper Hoffman

Maine remains a state where tradition and the human touch in banking matter. So perhaps it is not surprising that Bangor Savings Bank—with 56 branches dotting the state’s Canadian border from York to Ogunquit, and spread throughout all but its northernmost crown—is a leading force when it comes to originating residential mortgages.

“We work hard to find solutions for our customers,” says Jim Donnelly, executive vice president and chief consumer officer for the Bangor, Maine-based bank. “A relationship can start with any product or service and as our customers’ needs change we are there to help them with the right solution. Listening to them and doing what is right for them builds the necessary trust. The customer ‘Matters More’ at Bangor Savings Bank.”

Indeed, the bank has won a J.D. Power and Associates award for highest customer satisfaction in retail banking in New England for the past two years.

With $3.2 billion in assets, Bangor Savings has been growing its residential home loan portfolio between 8 and 10 percent annually for the past three years, despite the ups and downs of the local mortgage market. About half of the bank’s $2.3 billion loan portfolio is residential mortgages or consumer loans, with the business and commercial real estate side representing the other half. The bank also offers wealth management and advisory services, payroll and merchant services and deposit and treasury offerings, making it a one-stop shop for small-business owners who also want to bring their personal business to the bank.

In the past two years, Bangor Savings has been outpacing the market. Last year the bank generated a loans-to-assets ratio in consumer and residential mortgage lending of 35.2 percent, placing it 17th among the top-producing consumer and mortgage lenders among ICBA member banks with $1 billion or more in assets.

Donnelly credits the bank’s strong lending performance in particular to the leadership of coworkers Bruce Ocko, senior vice president and director of mortgage services; Jonathan Plummer, vice president of retail lending; and Skip Bates, vice president and statewide market manager. He says Bangor Savings’ mortgage and retail loan officers tend to win business by taking a “highly consultative approach”—looking at the customer in a holistic way, as opposed to just as a customer buying a single product.

Most of the bank’s loan officers give customers their mobile phone numbers and go to great lengths to keep borrowers fully informed every step of the way during the often-daunting mortgage approval process. “We really try to put the customer at the center of the room and figure out what we can do to make their life easier, how we can do it faster and better,” Donnelly says.

“Despite the ever-growing regulations, Bangor Savings’ loan aims to shorten the process for our customers and complete most consumer mortgages (from purchase and sale to closing) in under 30 days,” he adds. “We have a goal to continue to shorten the process to 21 days.”

He says the bank has been making significant progress toward shortening time to closings.
“Our credit quality has stayed strong throughout the downturn,” Donnelly explains. “As others have vacated the market, we have been actively lending.”


Karen Epper Hoffman is a financial writer in Washington state.