07/25/2022: President’s Message

Joseph Vitale, Seneca Savings

Joseph Vitale, President, CEO & Director,          Seneca Savings

President’s Message | YEAR END 2022

As we enter 2023 with confidence and certainty about our direction, we must also reflect on 2022 and all that we learned and accomplished together. Many, if not all industries, continue to face consolidation, rapid change, talent reallocation, and a shifting economic landscape. The banking industry is no exception. At our core, Seneca Savings is about community. As a community bank, it’s our number one priority to invest in, empower, and support all community stakeholders.  Throughout the year, Seneca Savings stayed committed to our customers, our employees, and the communities that we serve and did incredibly well, despite certain, shared challenges that we all faced. Investments in staff and culture, technology and tools, marketing and content development, remained at the forefront in 2022, and will so in 2023 as well. Refining our strategy, advancing our product and service offerings, nurturing our current customer relationships, while assertively cultivating new ones, defines us as a rising star amongst community institutions in Central New York. 

Now more than ever, financial education is vitally important. Cost of living increases in 2022 impacted families and businesses dramatically. The Seneca Savings team further invested in Seneca Savings University content including videos, worksheets, and webinars. Our partnership with EverFi provided 5 Schools, 485 students, with over 1,086 hours of financial literacy learning in the classroom, including Syracuse schools. The Journey podcast features experts in industries including accounting, financial investment, and financial literacy, alongside some of our very own experts here at Seneca Savings. If you’ve not had the opportunity to download one of our podcasts yet, you can find it on every major podcast platform and we encourage you to take a listen. There are some simple, yet powerful insights, that every one of us can learn from.

Commercial Banking 

Commercial Lending saw another strong year. Even with the paydown of outstanding Paycheck Protection Program loans, we saw significant growth in the commercial lending area. We experienced strong increase in Commercial & Industrial loans along with Commercial Real Estate Loans of 23.2% in commercial and industrial lending and 11.9% in commercial real estate. Our team provided $20.1M in new loans and lines of credit to over 65 customers in 2022. As we continue to let the commercial 1 to 4 family investment properties paydown, we saw an overall growth of 14.01% in commercial loans outstanding comparing 2022 to 2021. Going into 2023 with interesting rates raising at the fastest rate in history, we are planning for more modest, slower

Personal Banking 

We recognize that today’s clients prefer to interact with their bank in a variety of ways. We serve many of our clients exclusively through our online banking products and services. Other clients prefer to visit one of our 4 full-service branch locations where you can speak to a banker in person. Regardless of how you choose to use our services, always remember that, at Seneca Savings, talking with a real live banker can always be as easy as picking up the phone. 

Mortgages, HELOCs, Personal Loans 

Our residential lending department had a busy year for 2022. Our lending team booked a total of 199 loans, totaling just under $25.1M that consisted of mortgages, Home Equity Lines of Credit and our Consumer Loans (personal, auto, RV’s etc.). Seneca Savings also partnered with First Credit Corp and purchased 68 Manufactured Home loans totaling $5.3M and Home Head Quarters purchasing low to moderate income mortgages totaling $1.6M. With the rate increase environment that we are currently experiencing, we hope to continue with our Home Equity Lines of Credit, giving our applicants an opportunity to take advantage of the equity in their homes. These funds will be readily available whenever our applicants need funds fast. Our HELOC application process is easy to begin online as the online customer journey remains a continuous focus.

Technology 

In 2022 we continued to expand our advancements in technology offering a 24-hour interactive chat bot, online loan application options for mortgage, retail and commercial applications, and several enhancements to internal technology.  In early 2023 we will be offering Positive Pay for businesses ACH and check review to help combat ever evolving fraud and we will be upgrading to a one long in business and personal online banking login.  

Financial Quest 

In 2022 FQ was faced with many challenges and many opportunities. The Federal Reserve’s aggressive rate hiking cycle to combat 40-year high inflation caused the stock market to have its longest decline since 2008-2009. This put pressure on FQ’s fee-based revenue. However, the highest fixed rates that we have seen since 2010 provided an opportunity for us to increase our client’s returns for those seeking safety and income.  

Throughout 2022, we provided a constant stream of contact with our clients to guide them through a difficult year. By the end of the year, we met and exceeded our goals for both top-line and bottom-line revenue. We added a new Financial Advisor, Ethan Dolce. He successfully passed all of his licensing exams and is now providing regular support to all of our branches. We expect him to be a significant contributor in reaching our 2023 goals. Looking forward to 2023 we still face many challenges with the economic situation. The FQ team is ready to face those challenges, whatever they may be, and continue to guide our clients to the successful attainment of their most cherished goals. 

Community 

SenecaLocal is our local community initiative. In 2022, Seneca Savings supported nearly sixty organizations, with our employees devoting nearly 400 volunteer hours in service. It’s something we’re very proud of as our team exceeds expectations every year in giving back. These are the organizations that the Seneca Savings Team “SenecaLocal volunteered for in 2022: 

  • American Cancer Society Making Strides 
  • American Red Cross 
  • Baldwinsville Au Chocolat 
  • Baldwinsville Christmas Bureau 
  • Baldwinsville Community Scholarship Foundation 
  • Baldwinsville Meals on Wheels 
  • Baldwinsville Volunteer Fire Dept Parade of Lights 
  • Baldwinsville Public Library 
  • Baldwinsville Rotary Seneca River Days 
  • BLCO – Chapman Summer Concert 
  • Bridgeport BLCO 
  • Bridgeport Elementary 
  • Bridgeport Food Pantry 
  • Bridgeport Used Clothing Drive 
  • Baldwinsville branch Christmas Event with Santa 
  • Cato Christian Fellowship 
  • Chittenango High School 
  • Chittenango Little League 
  • Chittenango Tuesdays in the Park 
  • Clear Path for Veterans 
  • CNY Diaper Bank 
  • Female Charitable Society of Baldwinsville 
  • Girl Scouts
  • Greater Baldwinsville Chamber of Commerce 
  • Greater Sullivan Area Chamber of Commerce 
  • Griffin’s Guardians 
  • Lafayette Booster Club 
  • Liverpool Chamber of Commerce Truck or Treat 
  • Music for the Mission 
  • North Area Volunteer Ambulance Corps. 
  • Our Lady of Pompei/St. Peter’s Church 
  • Pope JP23 Finance Council 
  • St. Joseph’s Church 
  • Syracuse Habitat for Humanity 
  • Tillie’s Touch 
  • Town of Sullivan soccer coach 
  • United Performing Arts 
  • Women Business Opportunities Connection 

Our ‘Friday Jeans’ days generated $4,470.00 for these local non-profits:  

  • Second Chance Canine Adoption Shelter 
  • American Heart Association – Go Red for Women 
  • On Point for College 
  • Girls on the Run Upstate NY 
  • Baldwinsville Meals on Wheels 
  • JDRF Imagine Camp 
  • St. Mark’s Lutheran Church Loads of Love Laundry Ministry 
  • Tillie’s Touch 
  • Baldwinsville Rotary Backpack Program 
  • American Cancer Society Making Strides ($500 bonus from bank) 
  • Bridgeport Food Pantry 
  • Mattydale American Legion Post 1832 
  • Alzheimer’s Association 

We’ll be deepening our commitment even further in 2023 to area organizations who are doing good works. We look forward to our team being a vital part of that journey. Each quarter we shared true stories about customers and community leaders in our publication JOURNEYS. Seen in our branches, online, and in area select Wegmans stores, the public response has been overwhelmingly positive and supportive. We’re inspired by these stories of leadership, resilience, vision, ingenuity, and tenacity. Each who were featured, taught all of us how to step up and how to give back even more. We’re excited to shine a light on more true stories in 2023!

 Summary 

Thank You to all who contributed to making 2022 a year of progress, especially in light of the many challenges we all faced. To those who’ve taken the time to offer an online review, we are grateful. In this world of online word of mouth, it’s something that matters a great deal and we appreciate all of the kind words. It’s a testament to our continuous commitment to five-star customer service. With the coming year, may we remember who we are, why we’re here, and what’s made us 95 Years strong, as we celebrate our 95 Year Anniversary in 2023. For nearly a century, people have made the difference. They do today. We’ve never forgotten that. It is you, your family, your business, your partnership, that make all that we do worthwhile. We will always be with you, for life’s journeys. 

 

Sincerely, 

 

Joseph G. Vitale 

President, CEO & Director 

 

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