WEST HARTFORD — PeoplesBank is looking to welcome the community into its first central Connecticut location.
The Massachusetts-based bank, not to be confused with People’s United Bank, already has 22 branches throughout western Massachusetts and northern Connecticut.
Tom Senecal, president and CEO of PeoplesBank, sees West Hartford — and its 102 LaSalle Road location — as a perfect fit for the mutual bank. It officially opens Aug. 30.
“We have been looking at West Hartford for awhile,” Senecal said. “We’ve been looking for the right opportunity. There’s no other community like West Hartford. The vibrancy and the economic development made it the right fit for us. We’ve had several opportunities prior to this, but we felt like this was the right time and right place.”
Senecal knows there are already a lot of banks in West Hartford. He said PeoplesBank can offer potential clients something different.
“When you look at most of those banks, they are all public banks, and they’ve been here or are new here because of mergers and acquisitions,” Senecal said. “PeoplesBank will never be bought or sold. As a mutual bank, that’s why we feel that we have an opportunity here.”
The challenge, they said, is getting new customers to switch banking services. A start for them is a presence of commercial customers already in town.
“When we open, we’ll have some customers,” Senecal said. “Like anything else, when you find out who we are and what we do and what we’re about, we’ll grow. We’ll grow from word of mouth. Our existing customers are advocates of ours and speak highly of us.”
Promotions help, too, he said, which is why they’re offering a 1.02 percent interest rate for new accounts opened at the West Hartford branch to match their 102 LaSalle Road address. The offer will run for about six weeks.
Matt Bannister, senior vice president of marketing and corporate responsbility, said their entry into West Hartford also comes with support for the community.
“When we go into a community, we generally support a wide range of nonprofits there, often focused on housing, literacy and innovation,” Bannister said.
Those nonprofits include the Rotary Club of West Hartford, Westmoor Park, the town of West Hartford’s Celebrate West Hartford event, the West Hartford Senior Center, FoodShare, Habitat for Humanity, United Way of Connecticut, reSET Hartford, Hands on Hartford and the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce.
Senecal said PeoplesBank is welcoming the public, whether they are customers or not, to stop into their new location, which comes with a coffee bar at the entrance that encourages customers to stay for awhile.
By visiting, customers may also get a chance to see one of PeoplesBank’s more unique features: the VideoBankerITM.
An ITM, much like an ATM, allows a customer to do banking seven days a week. But a VideoBankerITM offers more than depositing or withdrawing funds. A tap of the screen will connect customers to a live teller video chatting with them, allowing for a full range of banking services outside of traditional hours. The drive-through also features an ITM.
“You can do almost any transaction here that you could do inside the branch,” Bannister said. “You can cash a check down to the penny, you can pay your mortgage, you can pay your bills, you can cash a check and split it between two accounts. The videobankers are here seven days a week.”
As Bannister demonstrates, a teller named Christopher Dimauro quickly pops up on the screen and walks Bannister through the process, which ends with a withdrawal of money. Dimauro informed Bannister that he could even make that withdrawal if he forgot his debit card through other forms of identification confirmation.
“It’s a little bit different than when I worked in the branches,” Dimauro said. “It’s always good to see my old customers and still get that interaction with people.”