15 Minutes With…Tom Senecal

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President and CEO for the $2 Billion-Asset PeoplesBank in Holyoke, Mass.

IB: Tell us about your marketplace.
Senecal: We’re about 90 miles outside of Boston, and we’re home to the Basketball Hall of Fame and the Volleyball Hall of Fame. There are so many universities here, plus the health-care industry is big in our marketplace, and we have some smaller technology firms popping up. It’s a pretty stable economic environment.

We’re a 131-year-old institution, founded on St. Patrick’s Day in 1885. Holyoke is an old paper mill town that thrived in the early 1900s as the paper capital of the world. PeoplesBank has been headquartered here all during that time.

IB: PeoplesBank is a mutual bank.
Senecal: As a mutual, our customers are our members, and they control the bank. Our strategy and focus is to be the stable bank within our marketplace. We have a very long-term view. We don’t look at things quarter-to-quarter as public banks do. We continue to make investments in our community, and we’re one of the largest contributors to the communities in our marketplace.

IB: Your bank recently made a charter bylaws change. Why?
Senecal: Typically, when leadership transitions occur at a mutual, doubts surface in the marketplace about whether or not you’re going to take the institution public. We thought it would be very appropriate to come out with this stronger commitment to mutuality to ensure that our employees, our customers and our communities understood our commitment.

IB: Why is mutuality so important to your bank?
Senecal: Mutuals really do support their communities. Even if people in our marketplace aren’t aware of what mutuality ownership is, I think if PeoplesBank wasn’t here they would soon understand it. Our decisions are made by people within our community.

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