Adjustable Rate Mortgages Remain a Draw

As the Federal Reserve embarked last year on what economists have predicted will be an ongoing program of interest rate hikes, Connecticut banks have since increased mortgages with adjustable rates — a major contributor to the Great Recession of 2009 when homeowners borrowed at lower, initial rates, then could not keep up with ballooning payments as interest escalated on a contractual schedule.

Adjustable rate mortgages made up 22 percent of all mortgages outstanding in Connecticut as of June, according to a Hearst Connecticut Media analysis of ARM and overall mortgage data on file with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. That represented a 1 percent increase over the intervening year, despite the Fed’s Open Market Committee having hiked four times since June 2017 the federal funds rate that governs the interest banks charge their own customers for mortgages and other loans.

Of some 40 banks based in Connecticut, more than half reported an increase in ARM loans outstanding, with the overall total up 5.4 percent to $6.7 billion, with year-over-year differences stark in some cases.

Fieldpoint Private Bank & Trust in Greenwich reported a 14 percent decline in ARM loans that still left it with among the larger portfolios calculated as a percentage of total mortgages outstanding, along with New Canaan-based Bankwell and Laurel Road Bank, formerly known as Darien-Rowayton Bank.

By contrast at tiny Milford Bank, ARM loans were up more than 60 percent in the past year, but remain only 15 cents on every dollar of mortgages outstanding.

Mixed results

At the nation’s biggest banks, ARM lending trends have been mixed, including those that have a significant presence in Connecticut. Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase added to their ARM totals nationally — FDIC does not detail any one bank’s figures on a state-by-state basis — while Wells Fargo and Citi saw their own percentages ebb.

At People’s United Financial, the largest mortgage lender based in Connecticut, ARM loans made up 13 percent of total mortgages as of June, a slight reduction from the year before and well below Connecticut’s overall ratio. The Bridgeport-based bank is now in the process of acquiring the parent company of Farmington Bank, where ARM loans spiked 27 percent in the past year to make up a third of its total mortgage portfolio.

In June, banking analytics firm Black Knight determined that more than 1.7 million ARM borrowers nationally have seen their monthly payments escalate $70 a month on average over the past year.

“Borrowers had been the beneficiary of downward reductions in their rates and payments following the financial crisis, but that’s no longer the case,” the Jacksonville, Fla.-based firm stated in its monthly newsletter. “While this has not led to any measurable increase in ... ARM delinquencies, ARM loans are now prepaying at a 70 percent higher rate than their fixed-rate counterparts over the past 12 months.”

Another million borrowers could face payment increases when their mortgage contracts hit the next “reset” milestone if rates hold steady or increase, Black Knight determined.

‘A place for ARM’

Heading into 2007 and 2008, many homeowners accepted the risk of higher ARM interest rates on the assumption they could sell their property if their income did not keep up, which proved untenable as the housing market went dry. Like other states, Connecticut saw a wave of resulting foreclosures, peaking in 2012 at 22,000 seizures by lenders as tracked by CoreLogic.

On Tuesday, the Boston-based Warren Group reported July increases in both home sales and median prices in Connecticut, a key period representing closed transactions from purchase contracts reached in the spring months. But with home sales trending downward nationally — new Mortgage Bankers Association reported a 1.7 percent decline in new applications last week, and a drop as well in ARM filings — it is anyone’s guess whether that trend will continue on an upward trajectory.

At Stamford-based First County Bank, ARM loans were down more than 10 percent in the past year, with CEO Rey Giallongo telling Hearst Connecticut Media via email that his company has seen more people opting of late for traditional, 30-year fixed-rate mortgages.

“There’s a place for ARM, but it’s primarily a customer who is more mobile and not planning on being in a home for the long run,” Giallongo stated.

Photo by Tyler Sizemore; 203-842-2545; @casoulman

First County Bank Offers Free Shred Day in Fairfield

FAIRFIELD, CT -- The newly opened Fairfield branch of First County Bank is offering a free community event that is open to the public. On Saturday, August 11, residents are invited to come celebrate Customer Appreciation Day at 1312 Post Road, Fairfield, CT. This event is free, open to the public and is open to customers and non-customers as well.

First County Bank is providing an opportunity for residents to avoid identity theft and protect their privacy by offering free, secure shredding of personal documents.The limit of documents to shred are three boxes per person. The branch will have extended hours from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and attendees can enjoy free food and gifts while shredding important documents.

Suggestions of documents to shred include:

  • old tax returns
  • medical records
  • confidential documents
  • credit card statements
  • payroll information
  • other documents containing personal information

For questions or further information, call (203) 254-1206.

SilverSource Golf Tournament Raises Over $100,000 To Protect Vulnerable Seniors From Eviction & Supports Rides To Wellness

More than 170 people came out to support SilverSource on June 11th at the 2018 SilverSource Charity Golf Outing, which raised more than $100,000 to support the SilverSource Housing Stability Program and the Ride To Wellness Program.

Held at Rockrimmon Country Club, attendees enjoyed brunch, 18 holes of golf, a cocktail reception, dinner, awards ceremony and auction, led by TV personality, Alan Kalter.

At the event, SilverSource recognized First County Bank, its Foundation and Chairman and CEO, Reyno A. Giallongo, Jr. Giallongo accepted an award commending the firm’s longstanding support for improving the quality of life for older adults.

“We at the Bank and the Foundation are huge fans of SilverSource. We all know how difficult the aging process can be, either living through it, or caring for a loved one with age related issues,” said Giallongo. “Fundraising events like today support the many SilverSource programs which enable seniors to age in place safely, get transportation to and from medical appointments, obtain counseling and advice and simply live in dignity.”

“Did you know that 8% of our senior residents are living at or below the poverty line?” said Jerome Berkman, Chair of the SilverSource Board of Trustees. “The SilverSource vision is a society that ensures that older adults have the resources to live independent, healthy and fulfilled lives.”

“We’re looking forward to working more with SilverSource,” said Dr. Jennifer Calder, Director of Public Health for the City of Stamford, CT. “Sometimes seniors struggle, and SilverSource is a community partner in providing services for seniors.”

“We are grateful to the players and sponsors for making the tournament a success,” said Kathleen Bordelon, Executive Director of SilverSource. “Funds raised at this annual event are critical to caring for the elderly and older residents who need financial support for housing and other basic needs along with professional guidance due to a crisis.” The SilverSource staff managed more than 2,000 cases last year, with nearly 53% of financial assistance for the elderly at risk of eviction, and older residents in need of affordable senior housing.

SilverSource would like to thank its dedicated golf committee, led by Bill Hennessey including Ernie Abate, Bob Goldstein, John Louizos, John Schule, Ellen Bromley and Jerry Berkman.

The board and staff are especially grateful for the support of all the sponsors including: First County Bank; BLT/Harbor Point; Spinnaker Real Estate Partners; Steven Wise Associates; George Comfort & Sons; Bartlett Tree Experts; Stamford Health; ShopRite, Grade A Markets; Viking Construction; Cacace Tusch & Santagata; David’s Soundview Catering; Kilbourne & Tully; Lapine, Inc.; KAF Manufacturing Co, Inc.; Curtis, Brinckerhoff & Barrett; RVDI; Magna Construction; Reckson; Mezzapelle and Associates; Plaza Realty & Management Corp.; AA Hearing Aid Center; Carmody Torrance Sandak & Hennessey; Edgewater Advisors; SB&W; CDS; F.D. Rich Company, the Cappelli Organization and media sponsor, Stamford Magazine/Moffly Media.

About SilverSource, Inc.

SilverSource, founded in 1908, advocates for older adults and provides case management, guidance, emergency financial assistance and other services to improve the quality of life for people over age 60. In addition, SilverSource is an information resource center and referral source for older adults and their families. SilverSource, Inc., a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization is located at 2009 Summer Street in Stamford, CT 06905. For more information visit or call 203.324.6584.

Darien Sidewalk Sale & Family Fun Days Coming Soon

By Jon Craig, Joe Lombardi, Wilton Daily Voice

The Darien Chamber of Commerce will hold its annual Sidewalk Sales and Family Fun Days from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on July 12 , 13 and 14 -- which fall on a Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

First County Bank is continuing as Title Sponsor of this annual Darien summer celebration.

There will be something for everyone: Shoppers of all ages can find bargains under the tents and inside shops on the Post Road, in Goodwives, and Noroton Heights shopping centers.

Merchants have announced sales of up to 75 percent off.

Free activities for any age include: frozen treats, balloon creations, face painting and caricatures.

Live bands will entertain on Friday night and Saturday afternoon.

Another special feature on Saturday, July 14 is the Collectable Car Show on Day Street and behind 1001 Post Road.

In addition, families can enter the “Where’s Waldo” promotional event located at Barrett Bookstore, enter the treasure hunt involving free prizes from participating merchants and a gumball guessing contest.

Stop by the Chamber Tent to learn more details.

For access to the full schedule of events, click here:

The Darien Chamber is committed to taking a leadership role in promoting the business community and quality of life in Darien. Bankwell and Laurel Road Bank are Elite sponsors that support the Darien Chamber throughout the year.

Volunteers Needed for Navigators Stamford KIC IT Race Weekend June 23-24, 2018

By Greenwich Free Press

Volunteers are needed for the 11th annual Navigators KIC IT Races, which will be held June 23 and 24 at Cummings Beach in Stamford.

There will be a 5k, Kids Triathlon and a Family Festival on Saturday, and Olympic, Sprint and Relay Triathlons for adults on Sunday. Volunteers can choose a few hours one or both of the mornings.

The Navigators Stamford KIC IT Races raise awareness and funds for 40-year old Kids In Crisis, a free emergency shelter and 24-hour crisis counseling resource for Fairfield County children and families.

“This is a great activity for large groups and families to do together,” said Shari Shapiro, Executive Director for Kids In Crisis. “There is a reason why so many volunteers come back again and again, it’s fun and rewarding and that’s a win-win, for everyone!”

The Navigators Stamford KIC IT Race Series has quickly become one of the area’s premier multi-level sporting events and, at the same time, one of the most fun-filled, family friendly experiences around.

A special thanks to sponsors including; Navigators, Gen Re, Shoff Darby, Boeing, GE Capital Aviation Services, WomanScape, First County Bank, Moffly media, News-12, Hearst Media, WEBE-108, ACME, Rise Coffee, Danny’s Cycle, Timex, School of Rock, and The Ritzy Chickens.

Visit for details and to register.

Established in 1978 Kids In Crisis ( is Connecticut’s only free, round-the-clock agency providing emergency shelter, crisis counseling and community educational programs for children of all ages and families dealing with a wide range of crises – domestic violence, mental health and family problems, substance abuse, economic difficulties and more. Kids In Crisis has helped more than 143,000 Connecticut children and families to date.
24-hour helpline: 203-661-1911

Crash Involving Reckless Driver Sends Five To Stamford Hospital

By Kathy Reakes, Joe Lombardi, Stamford Daily Voice

A Stamford man was charged with causing an accident that sent five people to the hospital, according to the Stamford Police.

The crash occurred around 7 p.m. Sunday when Kadeem Sadio, 28, was speeding southbound on Hope Street when he slammed into a vehicle pulling out of Donut Delight, said Sgt. Kenneth Jarrett.

Jarrett said the impact of the crash was so intense it spun the second car across Hope Street and into the First County Bank property, shearing the driver’s seat off of the floorboards.

Five occupants in both vehicles were transported to Stamford Hospital with non-life threatening injuries, he added.

Sadio was arrested in April by Stamford Police in a road rage incident in which a witness video led to his arrest.

In that incident, Sadio was arrested and charged with numerous motor vehicle violations after he backed into another vehicle in the area of Mission Street and then attempted to leave the scene of the accident without exchanging information, causing the other driver to confront him, Stamford Police said.

When the driver confronted Sadio, he got out of his vehicle and began punching the other operator in the face multiple times, police said.

Good Samaritans then stepped in and separated the two, but Sadio got away and attacked the driver with a shovel.

Sadio is well known for police who has prior convictions for a weapons violation, probation violation, and robbery.

Connecticut Community Banks Adapt to Digital Era

By Paul Schott, Stamford Advocate

The community bank is no longer just a brick-and-mortar business.

Southwestern Connecticut-based banks are devoting an increasing amount of resources to digital banking as they respond to customer demand and aim to grow their businesses. The trend shows no signs of slowing, but both banks and their patrons have expressed a desire to maintain in-person service as the industry’s technology continues to advance.

“For these smaller banks, they need to find their niche, and they have to get ahead of the curve,” said Kwamie Dunbar, an associate professor of finance at Sacred Heart University. “The millennial generation needs online services, including banking, so for these small banks to get new business and be competitive, this is what they need to do.”

Going digital

Fifteen percent of customers are now “mobile dominant,” up from 10 percent a year ago, according to professional-services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers’ 2018 Digital Banking Consumer Survey.

The growth of Darien-based Laurel Road’s online platforms, including its student-lending business of the same name, launched about three and a half years ago, spurred its rebranding this year. The firm was formerly known as Darien Rowayton Bank.

Among recent digital additions, Laurel Road has introduced mortgage and bank account-opening platforms.

“We’re mimicking the experience the we did on the student-lending platform with the deposit platform,” Scott Skorobohaty, Laurel Road’s executive vice president of community banking and commercial lending, said in a recent interview. “We know it will be quick, fast and efficient. … It cross-sells the client into another product for us. It helps improve our balance sheet.”

For Stamford-based Patriot Bank, its online platforms allow it to reach customers outside southwestern Connecticut, in turn creating a larger deposit base to support its overall expansion. Deposits reached $655 million in the first quarter of this year, up 17 percent from a year ago.

In its latest earnings report, Patriot announced it was in the final stages of hiring a chief marketing officer and mobile banking strategist. The new executive’s responsibilities would include oversight of improved digital services and the build-out of a national small-business lending platform.

“In order for us to fuel growth initiatives, particularly around loans, we have focused on a more enhanced and sophisticated digital platform to track deposits that aren’t restricted by geography,” said Rick Muskus Jr., the bank’s president.

Stamford-based First County Bank is also allocating more resources to online services. Last fall, it appointed its then-chief marketing officer, Karen Kelly, to the new position of chief digital banking officer.

“We’ve made a significant investment in human capital,” said Reyno Giallongo, First County’s chairman and CEO. “We felt it was really important to carve out digital banking as its own line of business.”

Community banks like Laurel Road, Patriot and First County face relatively few downsides in expanding their digital offerings — as long as they understand the commitment that is needed, Dunbar said.

“It’s going to require constant and frequent investments to keep the technology moving forward,” Dunbar said. “That’s where it may be a challenge for these community banks. But if they get it right, there is tremendous upside.”

Need for traditional banking

Amid the growth of digital banking, customers said they still want analog options. In the PwC survey, 65 percent of respondents cited the importance of having a local branch, and 25 percent said they would not open an account with a bank that did not have at least one local branch.

Community bank executives have noticed those trends; they say brick-and-mortar service remains integral to their operations.

Laurel Road maintains branches in Darien, Fairfield and Norwalk.

“The last thing we want to do in any way is alienate the client base that helped us get here, which is the client base that utilizes this (Darien) branch, the Rowayton branch (in Norwalk) and the Southport branch (in Fairfield),” Skorobohaty said. “Because of them, we’ve been able to go out and do the things we want to do on the fin-tech platforms.”

At the beginning of the year, Patriot launched a 11,000-square-foot flagship branch, at 999 Bedford St., in Stamford. It includes two “live banking” consoles — one in the building and another in a drive-through terminal — that allow customers to video-conference with bankers.

“Patriot is still a community bank, and our brick-and-mortar banking is a very valuable component,” Muskus said. “It’s the bedrock mission of Patriot Bank to be a strong community partner.”

First County has also expanded its branch system. In February, it opened a 2,400-square-foot establishment at 1312 Post Road in Fairfield. The downtown location marked the bank’s 16th branch.

Increasingly, technology influences the in-person business. First County plans to launch later this year a “digital ambassador” program, in which a couple of employees in each branch would act as point persons on digital topics for colleagues and customers.

“Our employees need to understand how these digital services work and what the benefits are, and we also have to make sure our customers are trained in the proper use of these platforms,” Giallongo said. “The digital and in-branch experiences really go hand in hand.”; 203-964-2236; Twitter: @paulschott

Stamford Unemployment Ranks Lowest Among State’s Major Cities

By Paul Schott, Fairfield Citizen

Stamford posted the lowest average unemployment rate last year among the state’s five cities with more than 100,000 residents, according to a new report from the state Department of Labor.

As the state’s third-largest city, with about 130,000 residents, Stamford produced a 4.1 percent jobless rate for 2017. State officials and local business leaders see the city’s location and workforce as key drivers of the low unemployment.

“When you compare Stamford to the state’s other large cities, it is more of a financial center, which is a benefit,” said Andy Condon, director of the Labor Department’s Office of Research. “And Stamford also doesn’t have as large pockets of poverty as some of the other cities do.”

New Haven, the second-largest city, recorded a 6 percent unemployment rate. Bridgeport — the state’s largest city, with nearly 150,000 residents — averaged 6.8 percent for the year. Waterbury, the fifth-largest city, posted a 7.4 percent rate. Hartford, the fourth-largest city, lagged at 8.1 percent.

“Hartford’s unemployment rate reflects communities that have lower levels of education and lower earning power,” Condon said. “Other communities like Waterbury are old industrial towns where industry is no longer happening.”

All of the top-five cities saw their unemployment levels fall in the past year. Despite its high rate, Hartford saw the largest year-over-year percentage decrease in unemployment, a 1.1-point drop.

Among Fairfield County’s other large municipalities, Norwalk averaged a 4.2 percent unemployment rate, Danbury recorded a 3.9 percent level and Greenwich saw 3.7 percent unemployment.

Ongoing growth

Stamford’s proximity to New York City makes it desirable to many companies, including a large number of financial-services firms.

“Stamford is a very attractive place to live and work,” said Reyno Giallongo, chairman and CEO of First County Bank, which is headquartered at 3001 Summer St., and also operates eight branches in the city. “It’s connected via Metro-North to Manhattan and New Haven, and the downtown is very vibrant. The rents are probably more expensive than other parts of Connecticut, but they are still less expensive than Manhattan.”

Professional-services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers announced last month it would open a divisional headquarters at its existing downtown Stamford offices, at 300 Atlantic St. A day later, reality-television producer ITV America and startup Wheelhouse Entertainment revealed they would open a hub in the city’s South End, at 860 Canal St.

Combined, those firms plan to hire about 900 Stamford-based employees in the next few years.

“The location is a huge component of why Stamford has been as successful as it has been,” said Catherine Smith, the state’s economic development commissioner. “The access to New York is really important for some companies. So it’s not a surprise you would see the growth in the area of service-industry and digital-media companies.”

The city’s location also puts residents within a manageable commuting distance of a proliferation of companies. The fastest Metro-North ride from the downtown Stamford station to Grand Central Terminal takes about 50 minutes.

“Stamford has a large commuter community, and that has an impact in lowering the city’s unemployment rate,” Condon said.

Looking statewide

Last year’s statewide jobless rate of 4.7 percent, compared with a 5.1 average in 2016. In 2017, for the seventh year in a row, most cities and states saw declining unemployment, but fewer saw a decrease than in 2016.

Among the state’s 169 cities and towns, the jobless rate fell in 152, rose in nine and eight saw no annual change.

Canaan, a town of about 1,200 in the state’s northwest corner, posted the lowest unemployment rate, at 2.8 percent. Hartford accounted for the highest municipal jobless rate.; 203-964-2236; Twitter: @paulschott

The Palace Theatre's 9th Annual Gala Raises $165,000

Nonprofit welcomes legendary band Earth, Wind & Fire as headline act

On Wednesday, May 30, The Palace Theatre in Stamford welcomed Earth, Wind & Fire, one of the top-selling musical groups of all time, for the nonprofit's 9th Annual Gala. The event is The Palace's largest annual fundraiser, which this year raised $165,000 to support the organization and its arts education programs.

"We are proud to present world class entertainment such as Earth, Wind & Fire so close to home," said Michael Moran, Executive Director of The Palace. "While most people know us for our outstanding shows, they may not know that The Palace is a nonprofit organization. We rely on the assistance of our generous supporters to entertain, educate, enrich and inspire the diverse population of our region."

With a signature sound beyond category and a groove as deep as the soul of the planet, Earth, Wind & Fire's legendary journey has set the standard for music of all genres and made a profound and lasting impact on pop culture. Born in Chicago in 1969, Earth, Wind & Fire has released 23 albums. They have recorded eight #1 R&B singles and eight Double Platinum Top 10 Pop Albums. Earth, Wind & Fire has earned more than 50 Gold and Platinum albums and sold over 100 million albums worldwide, earning them a solid spot as one of best selling music artists of all time.

As part of the gala, The Palace honored SL Green Realty Corp. with the Arts Ovation Award. This award is presented annually to an individual or corporation that has demonstrated a commitment to the arts through philanthropic efforts and through service to the Palace Theatre. "We are proud to recognize SL Green Realty Corp. for their longstanding support and outstanding contributions to the arts and education in our community," said Moran.

The Palace's 9th Annual Gala was sponsored by SL Green Realty Corp.; Purdue Pharma; Robinson & Cole; Castleton Commodities International; NBCUniversal; RFR Realty LLC; Shipman & Goodwin LLP; Cacace, Tusch & Santagata; Day Pitney LLP; Elm Eastern Land Management; Finn Dixon & Herling LLP; First County Bank; Freepoint Commodities, LLC; Gen Re; Murtha Cullina LLP; Phibro LLC; Pitney Bowes; The Whittingham Family; Barbara & Fabrizio Zichichi; Bank of America; Bobby Valentine's Sports Academy; Co-Communications; Grafico Marketing Group; Murace Plumbing Co., Inc.; Propark America; Schindler Elevator Corporation; Sentinel Maintenance; Stamford Office Furniture; SDSSD; The Aiello Charitable Foundation; The Rich Foundation; Webster Bank; Nancy & Brad Benjamin; Laurie Cingari; Darlene Goodwin; Linda & Dennis Hampton; Debbie and Howard Levy; Juanita James & Dudley Williams; Nina & Norman Lotstein; Lori & Frank Mercede; Marylee Santoro & Dennis Palumbo; Betsey & Arthur Selkowitz; Carmody Torrance Sandak Hennessey LLP; Leros Point to Point; and United Services of America an AffinEco company.

The Palace Theatre is located at 61 Atlantic Street in Stamford, CT. For the latest news and updates, follow @ThePalaceTheatreStamford on Facebook and @PalaceStamford on Twitter.

About The Palace Theatre

The 1,580-seat Palace Theatre is dedicated to performing arts of all genres – music, dance, theater and comedy. In addition to hosting world-renowned performers in each of those fields, the Palace partners with arts organizations like the Stamford Symphony and Connecticut Ballet for their performances. The Theatre's three floors encompass a deeper-than-typical Broadway-size stage, a café, a Learning Center, a theatre-long art gallery and a magnificent glass-walled promenade. The Palace is dedicated to providing exciting entertainment that enriches the cultural, educational, economic and social life of the community.

2018 SoNo Stroll Benefit Taking Place This Week

By RJ Scofield, Norwalk Patch

Guests can enjoy a cocktail reception and partake in a three-course meal at one of the event's eleven participating SoNo restaurants.

NORWALK, CT – On Wednesday, June 6, the Human Services Council will host the SoNo Stroll Benefit, its biggest fundraiser. Now in its tenth year, the Stroll has become HSC's biggest and most successful fundraiser.

According to a news release, SoNo Stroll kicks off at 5:30 p.m. at Mora Mora (17 Washington Street, South Norwalk), where a cocktail reception will take place, along with live and silent auctions. Following the reception and auctions, guests partake in a three-course meal at one of the event's eleven participating SoNo restaurants.

Purdue will serve as the stroll's generous title sponsor, with additional critical support from First County Bank, Marcus Partners, Cushman & Wakefield, Bigelow Tea, CBRE, Baywater Properties, Peter DiNardo Enterprises, James P. Murphy & Associates, M&T Bank, People's Bank, Sequel International, Timex and Webster Bank.

Other sponsors include A. Pappajohn Company, Bowlmor, GGP, Hoyt-Cognetta Family Funeral Services, EFA Partners, Signature Construction, Spinnaker Real Estate Partners, Turner Construction and many more.

Paul Zullo and Donna Bonato of Silver Creative (50 Washington Street, Norwalk) provide the beautiful graphic design, artwork and all supporting materials for the event. Additionally, Silver provides branding of the entire organization's materials all year long at no charge. Brenda McKenna of BCM Media (30 Old Kings Highway South, Darien) provides gratis media support and public relations support not only for events but also throughout the given year.

"A special thanks to these business owners," Director of Development & Communication Kim Killoy said in a release. "We could not do this amazing work without you. Our dedicated Board of Directors is an extension of the HSC family. They too have dedicated their time and effort to keeping HSC's programs viable and successful for those in need. Their generosity of both spirit and giving makes possible all that we do for those children, adults and family we empower and enable them to enjoy a better life."

Casey Dohme of The Blind Rhino (15 North Main Street, Norwalk) has volunteered his time and staff, acquiring donations of beer and wine for the cocktail reception. Paula Garelick, owner of Mora Mora and Garelick & Herbs, has shown her generosity by providing the beautiful venue at 17 Washington Street for the cocktail reception and a menu of scrumptious hors d'oeuvres for our guests to enjoy.

"We are so grateful for the efforts of these two businesses whom have made possible the success of this event," Killoy said. "The restaurants are the final destination of this wonderful event and this year we are lucky to have our guests dine at The Spread, El Segundo, Harlan Publick, Washington Prime, Match, Valentino's Cucina Italiana, Beach House SoNo, O'Neill's Irish Pub, Tablao, Cask Republic and Saltwater SoNo. Each of these eleven restaurants provides a delectable menu that includes choices of three salads or appetizers, three entrees and three desserts."

Since 1944, the Human Services Council has created and fostered programs that educate, safeguard and empower the people of the Greater Norwalk area. Their vision is for everyone to have the opportunity to reach their full potential, and are home to the Norwalk Mentor Program, the Dr. Robert E. Appleby School Based Health Centers, Children's Connection, the Mid-Fairfield Substance Abuse Coalition, 40 South Main Street Supportive Housing and Ludlow Commons, Senior Housing.

For more information on HSC, please visit their website at and follow @humanservicesCT on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

To sign up for Norwalk breaking news alerts and more, click here.

Photo credit: Shutterstock/Lipatova Maryna

The Evolving Face of The Bank Board of Directors

By Phil Hall, Westfair Online

In the aftermath of the 2008 recession, the banking industry underwent dramatic changes at multiple levels. This has created new and significant challenges for the boards of directors serving this industry.

“Today’s boards are under more pressure than ever before,” said Christopher Gruseke, president and CEO at New Canaan-headquartered Bankwell. “It is management’s job to run the institution, but it is the board’s responsibility to make sure, on behalf of the shareholders, that management does its job. It’s not a small task to be bank director.”

“Banks are under increased scrutiny,” said Susan O’Donnell, partner at consultancy Meridian Compensation Partners in Newton, Massachusetts. “That aspect of the director’s role is understood and known. Responsibility evolved and increased over the years. In addition to the risk role, banks need to make sure their directors have skills and experience to evolve, say with cyber risk and tech and AI issues. Banking changes and so must leadership.”

Lloyd G. Gibson, dean of the Ernest C. Trefz School of Business at the University of Bridgeport, noted that today’s banking industry is not having problems attracting board members. “Some people are very comfortable to be recruited with the risks associated with directorship,” he said, noting that turnover on most boards is infrequent. “Once on the board, members tend to stay on, not unlike members of Congress.”

Typical of a long-serving board is First County Bank. “We have a very low board turnover,” stated Reyno A. Giallongo Jr., chairman and CEO of the Stamford-based bank. “We only added a couple board members in the last few years.”

Many banks prefer not to set limits for their board members’ presence. “We have no maximum age limit and we don’t say that you can only serve X-number of years,” said Joseph D. Roberto, chairman, CEO and president at PCSB Bank in Yorktown Heights, adding that shareholders who believed the board needs new faces can vote off the long-serving directors in favor of
new candidates.

“There are some benefits to stability in this industry,” O’Donnell said. “It takes a while to understand the business. You don’t see that when you come on for several years and then move off.”

However, Waterbury-headquartered Webster Bank sets a 10-year term limit for directors and a cut off for service at 75 years of age. “It’s not an age limit, it’s a director guideline,” explained James C. Smith, Webster Bank chairman, stating this policy enables the board to “refresh and replenish itself as it goes along.”

Once a director is on a board, the responsibilities quickly become considerable. “Our monthly board meetings last three hours, and you need at least three hours to prepare for each meeting,” said Giallongo. “A board member has to be a person with a flexible schedule who is either self-employed or has a boss who does not mind having them out of the office for seven-to-eight hours a month.”

And within the board structure, there are diverse committees where directors work on specific issues. “Our bank has committees within the board focused areas including loans, audits and investments,” said Roberto, noting that committee participation is based on the members’ skill-sets. “We need to make sure that we devise the committees based on the strength of board members.”

And thanks to digital technology, board members are finding themselves on call at all hours. Nicholas Coriano, founding partner and CEO at the Bridgeport-based investment relations consultancy Cervitude Inc., observed that today’s directors are continuously updated through emails and text messaging. “Management needs to make sure there is continuous communications with their board, otherwise everyone is not on the same page,” he said.

Nor are the communications between management and the board expected to be a one-way endeavor. “Ours is expected to be more hands on,” said Judith Corprew, executive vice president for compliance and risk at Stamford-based Patriot Bank. “Our regulators want to see a board that is very well involved. The board is important to management team — and you don’t get that kind of understanding with a high turnover.”

At First County Bank, Giallongo said that his board serves as the proverbial eyes and ears of the institution by reporting on products being used at other financial institutions that could potentially become part of the First County product line-up. “They also bring up possible support for a local nonprofit that we may or may not have known or recommend a new business or market for us to pursue,” he remarked.

Over the past several years, financial institutions have placed a greater emphasis on moving away from the stereotype of boards consisting solely of older white men and becoming more inclusive of the wider society. “We want to have a diverse board and we do have a diverse board,” said David Lucas, president and CEO at Stamford Federal Credit Union. “Diversity is very important — we talk about it all the time.”

“Customer bases are more diverse and a bank may want its board to reflect the customer base, though it may not need to be an exact match,” said the University of Bridgeport’s Lloyd G. Gibson.

Philip J. Lane, associate professor of economics at Fairfield University, pointed out that diversity at the board level should go beyond race and gender considerations to include a diverse mix of opinions. “I want to have people smarter than me and think different from me, and who can raise questions that I had not considered,” he stated. “I don’t want all the people to think like me. I want very different opinions, with ideas turning about that will help us think stronger.”

One area where bank board diversity has rarely touched is the inclusion of millennials among the board members. “Millennials don’t ever want to walk into a bank,” Lane said with a laugh, also pointing out that not many millennials have the business experience and connectivity that would benefit a board’s operations.

But that doesn’t mean that millennials will not get their shot at bank board membership. “Most banks have advisory boards,” Lane said, referring to a separate function that often serves as a training ground for future board members. “This way, management gets to know their skill sets and weaknesses so in a few years they can get ready for election to the board.”

The Exchange Club of Stamford 21st Annual Partnership Golf Tournament, May 31st

By Rebecca R. Ayars, HamletHub

Benefits Center That Educates Parents, Protects Local Children From Abuse and Neglect

The Exchange Club of Stamford hosts its 21st Annual Partnership Golf Tourna- ment at Sterling Farms Golf Course, on Thursday, May 31, 2018. To date, this popular fundraising event has raised more than $1,000,000 for The Exchange Club Parenting Skills Center and its mission of strengthening families and stopping child abuse and neglect in Fairfield County.

Tournament highlights will be a post-golf dinner and wonderful raffles and auction items donated by local businesses. Physical therapists from Performance Physical Therapy & Wellness will be on hand and ready to prepare the golfers - showing them stretches that can maximum their game and prevent injury and offering soft tissue massage.

Area businesses and organizations are contributing vital support, including: First County Bank, Conair, County TV, and Performance Physical Therapy & Wellness. Advantage America Paper, Bank of America, Bankwell, Camsan Electric Inc, Gesualdi Construction, Mezzapelle & As- sociates CPA, Morgan Stanley, Patriot Bank, Resinall, The Stamford Police Association, The Umbrella Club, Totilo & Associates CPA, and 4 C's Assessments, are also tournament sponsors.

"We are excited to provide much-needed financial help to the Parenting Skills Center, so it can continue offering services that transform families and protect local children,” said Vincent J. Freccia III, Chairman Emeritus of the Exchange Club’s Golf Committee.

Interested individuals are invited to attend Sterling’s Dinner at 6:30 pm, at $60 per person. Please RSVP by May 30, at

The Exchange Club of Stamford, a local chapter of the National Exchange Club, is an all-volunteer, national service organization for men and women who want to serve their community, de- velop leadership skills, and enjoy new friendships. Committed to child abuse prevention, the Club raises critical funding for the Parenting Skills Center. Over 10,000 children and their families have been assisted by the Center’s effective, home-centered interventions and parenting edu- cation programs, since its founding in 1989. Find us, at

About The Exchange Club Parenting Skills Center

The Exchange Club Parenting Skills Center (PSC) has been helping local children by working to create stronger, and more resilient and loving families for almost 30 years. To fulfill its mission of stopping the cycle of child abuse and neglect, its parent educators work closely with children and parents in their homes, providing needed interventions and teaching safe-parenting. Please learn more and donate, at