Thinking small, Investors Bank values local connections

By Benjamin Fang

Investors Bank prides itself as a community-based institution.

With locations throughout Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island, the bank strives to create connections with local neighbors and businesses. According to Michael Billia, senior vice president and regional manager in Queens and Long Island, branch managers are key.

“We have very capable managers, they’re well-versed in all areas of banking,” Billia said. “They’re able to go out and find out what the company is looking for, so we can direct them to the right people and build that relationship.

“We want to develop a relationship with all our customers,” he added. “We really want to be a relationship-driven bank.”

Through sponsorships, volunteerism and other opportunities to get involved in the local community, Billia said Investors puts a large emphasis on the relationships they create.

“We’re not a transaction bank, we’re a relationship bank,” he said. “Business owners like to know who they’re banking with. They like to be able to have a contact person.”

Maria Odysseos, vice president and market manager based in their Broadway office, said most of their branches are located in smaller neighborhoods.

“You’ll find us in small neighborhoods like Maspeth, Astoria and Bay Ridge. They’re niche communities, but they’re all full of small businesses,” she said. “There’s a lot of opportunity for us to get our name out there, network and meet the owners on a one-to-one basis.”

Investors is involved with local groups like the Long Island City Partnership and the Federation of Italian-American Organizations. With their Richmond Hill branch, Investors is connected to the local Boys and Girls Club, Kiwanis Club and Lions Club.

It’s not just the branch managers who are involved; the entire team is out at soup kitchens or other volunteering opportunities.

“It’s a branch thing, so everyone gets involved,” she said. “We’re a full force out in the neighborhood.”

Odysseos noted that not only do they know their local organizations, they also know the local businesses. If they have a function, they use local restaurants and vendors, she said.

“We want them comfortable enough where they come to us,” she said. “They know all of us by name, they feel comfortable walking in. That’s how we do business here.”

Investors Bank is currently expanding in both Queens and Long Island. Billia said the borough is both diverse and growing, including booming neighborhoods like Long Island City.

“From a banking perspective, there’s a tremendous amount of opportunity to grow with the community,” he said. “That’s the important thing.”

Though networking is important in meeting local business owners, Billia said they get a good amount of referrals by current customers.

“It’s always good because it tells you you did something right when your customers are willing to refer you to other people,” he said.

Billia reiterated that they spend a lot of time getting to know customers to build a strong bond. Their immediate needs are lending and capital, he said, but more importantly, businesses need a bank that will support them through thick and thin.

“I’m finding most of our small business customers are looking for lending needs and a bank that will be behind them, through good and bad times,” he said. “As a small business, you go through cycles up and down. You want a bank that’s there with you.”

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