Five Questions With: Rheo Brouillard

CEO and president of Savings Institute Bank & Trust Co. talks about the acquisition of NewportFed. More

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financial services

Five Questions With: Rheo Brouillard

"At the present time, there’s no plan to expand the number of branches."
Posted 9/3/13

Rheo A. Brouillard has been CEO and president of Savings Institute Bank & Trust Co. since 1995. He has been CEO and president of SI Financial Group Inc., the holding company of Saving Institute Bank and Trust, since its inception in 2004. He is chairman of the board of Bankers' Bank Northeast, based in Glastonbury, Conn., which provides financial services to banks; a director of Infinex Financial Group, based Meridan, Conn.; and a director of VantisLife, a life insurance company based in Windsor, Conn.

Brouillard has a bachelor’s degree in management from Western New England University and an MBA from American International College.

PBN: Since an organization’s name is important, what was the thinking in terms of potentially changing the name of NewportFed when the acquisition by Savings Institute Bank & Trust Co. becomes final on Sept. 6?

BROUILLARD: It is absolutely a difficult decision. As a community bank, we understand that a bank’s history and name are important. People identify with the organization they’ve done business with and we didn’t want to simply cut that out. We wanted NewportFed to still be connected to the community. We looked at potentially changing both our names to something new. But given the history – both banks have been around since the 1800s, and are very well-known in their communities, we decided to keep the NewportFed name on the six branches and add a line on the signage that says, “A division of Savings Institute Bank & Trust Company.”

PBN: How will you reintroduce the bank and maintain customer relationships? Are there plans to do that by branch? With individual customers? With commercial clients?

BROUILLARD: It gets back to the whole idea that relationships are important. I intend to be in the NewportFed branches the week of Sept. 9. Myself and members of our management team will work with branch managers at NewportFed and commercial lenders to set up meetings with as many customers as we possibly can. We’ll have a whole team in Rhode Island. Our Senior Vice President Michael Moran, who lives in Westerly, will be work with the commercial loan team at NewportFed. We intend to maintain those customer relationships and are keeping the same branch managers.

PBN: How much of an expansion in terms of branches will there be? Is there a change in the number of branches in Rhode Island? How many are there now and are there plans to grow in specific areas of the state? Is there expected to be an increase or decrease in the number of employees in Rhode Island?

BROUILLARD: At the present time, there’s no plan to expand the number of branches. We are keeping all of the branches – five NewportFed branches in Rhode Island and one in Pawcatuck, Conn. All of the staff in the branches will stay the same. We do have plans to grow. We’ve already added two mortgage originators, so there is an intention to expand some of the staffing in order to offer additional products and services.

PBN: There is tough competition for business customers in Rhode Island. Will there be a change of focus in terms of commercial banking, more or less emphasis on that, with the acquisition?

BROUILLARD: We recognize there is tough competition, but we think there’s an opportunity in Rhode Island. It’s kind of a unique situation in the banking world – some small community banks and large banks. We tend to compete well against the large banks. We can focus more on the relationship with the customers. We think we can bring some value to the small business market in Rhode Island. We’ve made offers to three additional people who are commercial lenders so we can do more business,

PBN: Are there new or expanded services for Rhode Island customers? How will you distinguish the bank and grow your customer base, since the service offered by most banks are generally very similar?

BROUILLARD: We’re bringing additional products. On the lending side itself, NewportFed is primarily a commercial real estate lender. They generally don’t do lines of credit and other kinds of loans to businesses. In addition, we’ll bring in some services for commercial businesses, like merchant processing. If they accept credit or debit cards, we have a company that will provide that service. We can provide payroll services for small business and remote deposit capture, so they can scan the check in directly. So there are number of those kinds of products we will add to the mix.

On the mortgage side, we’re adding two mortgage originators. Our mortgage originators will go to where you want them to meet you – to your house or your office. We also have a number of mortgage products that appeal to a broader customer base.

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