In a Nutshell: Trustco Bank, which traces its origins to early 20th century Schenectady, New York, demonstrates its commitment to the communities in which it operates in a variety of ways. Active financial literacy initiatives send branch managers to local schools, while special classes teach first-time homebuyers the ins and outs of the process. Trustco Bank also supports and encourages its employees to volunteer for causes important to them. Even the bank’s products are designed to have low barriers to entry, to help people learn about finance. For these impressive efforts and more, we are recognizing Trustco Bank with our Editor’s Choice™ Award for Community Commitment.
Consumers can generally count on banks to provide a number of familiar financial products and services. But some banks are deeply engaged in their communities and go the extra mile to provide quality, personalized service.
Trustco Bank is a shining example of just such a facility.
Trustco Bank’s roots go back to 1902 when the Schenectady Trust Company opened its doors for business. The bank served the Schenectady region for a century, sticking close to its founding principles of providing personalized service.
“Throughout this time, Trustco Bank has remained true to core banking principles and did not get caught up in any of the latest banking fads that have caused so many other banks to close their doors over the years,” according to the bank’s website.
The bank took on its current moniker in 2002 when the institution began a large expansion, including opening new branches in Florida, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and Vermont.
“Today, Trustco Bank has 148 branch locations, 53 of which are in the state of Florida. The bank believes in old school, personal service and welcomes each customer by name as they enter the branch,” according to the company.
As part of its DNA, Trustco Bank has been engaged with the communities where it operates since its earliest days, whether it’s through delivering financial education, volunteering, or providing quality banking products.
“Our traditional banking principles translate well to working in the community,” said Adam Roselan, Trustco Bank’s Vice President of Marketing.
We are recognizing Trustco Bank with our Editor’s Choice™ Award for Community Commitment because of its demonstrated efforts to engage with and improve the communities where its branches are located.
We spoke with Roselan to learn more about Trustco Bank’s community engagement efforts, high-quality customer service, and its range of banking products and services.
Delivering Financial Literacy in the Classroom
People approach finances today much differently than they did just 20 years ago. Where monthly checks were mailed to pay bills, consumers now click-to-pay online. And cash has largely been replaced by card swipes or chip insertions.
Not only has the nature of finance changed, but evidence shows that many young people do not receive any kind of significant financial education at home, whether it’s due to lingering societal taboos against talking about money or the parents’ lack of confidence on the topic.
Unfortunately, financial education is not a curriculum requirement at many schools either.
Thankfully, Trustco Bank is helping to fill that gap in the communities it serves.
Roselan said Trustco Bank frequently delivers financial literacy lessons to students of all ages.
“Our branch managers are asked to go to schools on a regular basis to talk about topics like checkbooks and how to balance them,” he said. “And they will teach them about how to track spending on banking apps, including checking their balances, and budgeting lessons.”
Roselan said a number of Trustco Bank employees are involved with the national organization, Junior Achievement.
“Junior Achievement’s Purpose is to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy,” according to the Junior Achievement website. “The envisioned future — what we aspire to become. Junior Achievement maintains an active vision, front-and-center, on how we can have a positive impact on the lives of more students — guided by our core values.”
Trustco Bank’s financial literacy efforts also extend beyond the classroom to adults in the community.
“We’re also big on doing first-time homebuyer seminars,” Roselan said. “Every third Wednesday of the month, we’ll host two seminars in each region. Our branch managers will reach out to local housing agencies and inform them about the event and invite them to come.”
Volunteering to Support Employee-Chosen Causes
Roselan said Trustco Bank also encourages volunteerism among its employees in an effort to support causes that benefit the community and are also significant to the employees.
“We allow our employees to make that choice of what to participate in,” he said. “When people come to me and ask about volunteer opportunities, the first question I ask is, ‘Do you have any particular interests or causes you want to get behind?’”
When employees are able to support organizations or causes that are personally meaningful to them, not only does the employee gain more from the experience, but it adds more value to the cause they are supporting as well, Roselan said.
“We have over 300 employees and just over 1,600 hours of community involvement so far this year,” he said.
Trustco Bank employees have volunteered for a wide variety of causes, including food banks, medical issues, and education.
“But it’s not limited to those,” he said. “Our employees are more than welcome to get involved in any way they can, and we’ll support it.”
Trustco Bank also makes monetary donations at the corporate level to support a number of causes, including housing, food banks, hospitals, and services for underserved communities and individuals.
“Once a year, around the holidays, we participate in a Make-A-Wish charity drive,” he said. “From mid-November through the end of the year, all of our branches will sell stars for Make-A-Wish.”
The funds raised benefit the local Make-A-Wish Foundation chapters nearest to where the bank branch is located.
Designing Products and Services to Be Attainable to a Variety of Customers
“Trustco offers a variety of personal banking options that fit your needs,” according to the website. “From our free checking accounts to savings accounts with low minimum balances and great rates on CD’s and loans, Trustco Bank has been the low-cost provider of high-quality products and services since opening for business in 1902.”
Trustco Bank supports its communities through these types of banking products and services as many of them were designed to have little to no barriers to entry.
“Our main product is our free checking account,” Roselan said. “It is a completely free account, and it comes with access to our free mobile app, free online banking, and access to our ATM network with 55,000 ATMs worldwide.”
He said Trustco Bank created the free account to make it affordable for anyone to start banking and learning finance basics without having to pay fees.
And, in line with the first-time homebuyer classes Roselan mentioned earlier, residential mortgage lending is one of Trustco Banks main areas of focus.
“We offer a first-time homebuyer’s mortgage where we offer 97% financing LTV (loan-to-value) at the same rate as our conventional 30-year 90% mortgage,” Roselan said. “We also offer discounted closing costs on that product and make a donation deposit into their tax savings account.”
He said with the first-time homebuyer product, the bank will finance as low as $15,000. “I know a lot of other lenders don’t do that,” he said.
Trustco Bank also offers a secured credit card for those with less-than-perfect credit, he said, to help consumers begin to rebuild their credit.
Trustco Bank’s motto is “Your hometown bank,” and Roselan said the institution and its employees aspire to live up to that standard every day. And with its array of accessible products, community involvement, and financial literacy initiatives, the bank is certainly living up to its motto and more.