Community Spirit: First Resource Bank’s winning partnership

First Resource Bank president and CEO Glenn Marshall with Immaculata University students Alexander Noel, Nicholas Boule, Connor Lindsay and their professor, Dr. Elizabeth Faunce, on the university’s campus in Immaculata, Pa.

When four students at Immaculata University in Pennsylvania partnered with bank president and CEO Glenn Marshall in a national competition, the whole team won.

By Jolene Johnson

Like so many community banks around the country, First Resource Bank in Exton, Pa., has built a reputation of going above and beyond to help its neighbors. During the Great Recession, the bank helped troubled businesses recover. Today, it supports children, veterans’ groups, seniors and many others through a variety of programs.

Now college students are on that list, too.

It began in the spring of 2018, when Dr. Elizabeth Faunce, an associate professor and advisor at nearby Immaculata University, asked First Resource Bank president and CEO Glenn Marshall to partner with four undergrad students to compete in a nationwide academic competition. Marshall didn’t hesitate. “I said, ‘It sounds like fun,’ and jumped in,” he recalls.

The 2018 Conference of State Banking Supervisors (CSBS) Community Bank Case Study Competition had tasked 51 student teams from 45 U.S. colleges and universities with developing an original case study that evaluated how banks use technology in their daily operations. The Immaculata team consisted of two sophomores and two juniors, all of whom happen to be on the men’s soccer team. Their mission: to create a video and write a 24-page paper, which required that they meet with

Marshall several times. “He was always available when we needed him,” says team leader Connor Lindsay, an upcoming junior and accounting major at Immaculata.

“You feel good about helping a younger generation get smarter. And if we can have a little part in that, then that’s good,” Marshall says. “I don’t think we sit around on all these things that we’re involved in and count the pennies of goodwill that we get. We just do it because we think it’s part of our brand.”

Marshall also impressed Faunce. “He was fantastic,” she says. “He was very open with the boys. He gave them all kinds of documentation he thought they would need—the most recent annual reports and what have you. He was very helpful and spent a significant amount of time with them, letting them ask questions and answering them very openly.”

The proof is in the report
What did the students learn about the bank? “The most important thing about this bank is the fact that it claims to be a high-tech, high-touch bank, and we support in our paper that it is both of those [things],” Lindsay says.

Take FRed (First Resource Easy Deposit), for instance. It’s a bank-issued remote deposit capture machine that scans and electronically deposits checks. The $260 million-asset bank provides this device to about 160 business customers for free. So instead of the office manager running to the bank to deposit checks, the machine can scan them within seconds at the office.

It also saves the bank money. Though it has just two branch locations, in Exton and West Chester, First Resource Bank doesn’t need to expand to be close to its customers. That’s because “with remote capture, it doesn’t matter,” Marshall says. “[Customers] can be anywhere.” He adds that it’s also why “we don’t charge for those services, because we view it as saving us on sticks and bricks.”

However, First Resource Bank still values face-to-face interaction with its customers. So the competition report also highlights FRan (First Resource Accountholder Network), which connects the bank’s small-business clients with prospective clients. “I was an FDIC examiner in another lifetime, and I’d never seen this in a bank before,” Faunce says. “As you walk in their branch, they have a table set up for their customers to put out their business cards.”

FRan arranges training sessions for customers to explain to bankers what they do and who they’d like to connect with in the community, and offers a free meeting space with complimentary Wi-Fi and beverages.

Benefits for both
Marshall hoped the students would become aware of an industry that helps communities and provides a fun and satisfying career path. And Faunce wanted her students to go beyond the one college class they take in money and banking. “In our finance classes … we don’t have a lot of banking exposure, so I thought this was a really good experience for our students,” she says.

“It really opened my eyes,” Lindsay admits. “I’m actually very interested in getting into the banking world now.”

Jolene Johnson is a writer in Minnesota.