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Firstrust Helps the Region Move Forward

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Nancy Glass had big plans. She was starting a production company that she believed could become something special. But she needed help. She needed a partner. She needed a bank.

The conglomerates wouldn’t pick up the phone. Some local institutions gave her a polite “no thanks.” But Firstrust was interested in developing a relationship that would endure. And it continues today. “When I was starting out, the bank that would talk to me was Firstrust,” says the founder and CEO of Glass Entertainment Group. “They were very supportive of me in my early days.”

Today, Glass Entertainment Group produces programming for CNN, Discovery Channel, HGTV and many other networks. It’s a national concern, but Glass has stayed with Firstrust, because the region’s largest family-owned commercial bank believed in her from the start. “I know they’ve been there,” she says. “I can always get my banker on the phone.”

Thanks to its long-term commitment to the area, Firstrust has the ability to work with customers of all kinds and stay with them as they grow and prosper. Its approach runs counter to a current banking climate dominated by large firms eager to gobble up their smaller competitors in order to grow market share and satisfy the desires of investors. That often leaves little on the table for institutions that aren’t interested in becoming conglomerates. Simply put, Firstrust has established a culture that fosters relationships with customers.

Edwin Williams Photography

Firstrust Senior Vice President Beth Packel has worked for super-sized banks before. She’s been at Firstrust for four years and is happy to be part of its community-based approach. “I wanted to work for a bank where the decision-makers were local,” she says. “If there’s a problem, customers can pick up the phone. If they need a quick turnaround on a loan application, they can get answers quickly. If a client is doing a real estate deal and needs a loan for a property in Philadelphia, having senior management or a credit officer in another state means they don’t know Philadelphia. If they don’t know the community, it can be an exercise in futility.

Another advantage is Firstrust’s ability to recognize the unique requirements of each customer. Rather than offer a menu of pre-packaged solutions to specific problems, its managers and officers take the time to understand each client’s business. When there are issues, they can provide tailored programs and ideas that get the desired results. “No two companies are the same. No two needs are the same,” Packel says. “We really take the time to learn. We peel back the onion and understand the company—how they get paid and what drives them. By putting all that together, we can do things that make sense for them. It takes time to do that.”

By understanding that businesses and various sectors of commerce require specific approaches, Firstrust has been able to develop customer bases in niches that other banks don’t—or can’t—address.

“If a transaction comes to us, we may not have expertise, but we’ll do what we have to do to learn about it,” says Packel. “For a recent client we wanted to help, we went to conferences across the country and learned so we could help their businesses in a new industry.”

Edwin Williams Photography

As Firstrust looks for new ways to help customers, it’s also paying close attention to trends in banking, with an eye on being as flexible and advanced as possible. The pace of technological progress can be dizzying, but thanks to a strong commitment to innovation and an understanding that customers’ needs are changing at a rapid pace, Firstrust is positioning itself for the coming decades while still offering the same client-based attention it always has. That blend of old and new is another reason it stands apart from competitors. “We continue to invest in technology and security,” Packel says. “Mobile banking is important. But at the end of the day, when a customer needs to pick up the phone and call someone, that’s not going away. We’re always going to be local.”

Learn more at Firstrust.com/mainline or call 800-220-BANK.Firstrust Bank

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*What’s this? This content is made possible by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the attitude, views, or opinions of the Main Line Today editorial staff.