Five Questions With: Mark A. Light Jr.

Mark A. Light Jr. was recently hired as vice president and relationship manager for Centreville Bank. He has 16 years of industry experience in retail, small-business and commercial banking, most recently as vice president and relationship manager for Berkshire Bank.

Light has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Eastern Connecticut State University and an MBA with a finance concentration from the University of Connecticut.

PBN: What does your new position as relationship manager entail?

LIGHT: My role will be to work with our current base of commercial clients to ensure we continue to meet their banking and lending needs. I will also be developing new relationships to grow the bank’s commercial portfolio through commercial loans, deposit accounts, cash management products and any other services Centreville Bank and our operating division, Putnam Bank in Connecticut, can provide to help customers efficiently run their business.

- Advertisement -

PBN: How much of your work and focus will be directed at the recent acquisition of Putnam Bank and servicing those customers and clients? How will you balance this with demands/needs from the existing Centreville clients?

LIGHT: I will be covering eastern Connecticut with an emphasis on helping service existing customers and making sure their transition to the Centreville Bank family continues to be a smooth experience.

Outside of that, our current focus is to help all our commercial customers manage through the economic impact of the pandemic. The bank remains open for new business as usual, however, helping our customers in eastern Connecticut during this unprecedented time will be my top priority.

PBN: What have been the biggest challenges in commercial banking as a result of COVID-19? 

LIGHT: One of the biggest challenges was helping our customers navigate the PPP [Paycheck Protection Program] loan process. Banks were tasked by the CARES [Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security] Act to administer the loans and get the funds out to the businesses in need, but there were a lot of changes to the program throughout the year that did not make it easy.

I’m proud to say our team did a great job making sure customers received their funds in a timely fashion. We have now moved on to assisting customers with getting their PPP loans forgiven. It too is a long process, and we are working to make sure it is as easy as possible for customers so they can continue to focus on their business.

PBN: How has building new business relationships, particularly in a new region for the bank since the acquisition, changed as a result of COVID-19? Is it harder to make connections in a remote, digital world? How do you bridge that gap?

LIGHT: Getting out and meeting with customers and prospects in person is critical to building relationships, and not being able to do that has certainly been a challenge. Just like the rest of the world, we’ve managed to pivot and now have an effective array of options for electronic communications so we can still stay in touch and provide the type of responsive service our customers expect.

That said, I think we are all looking forward to the opportunity to get back out there and have these discussions face to face again. In my mind, there is no real substitute for that type of direct interaction.

PBN: What long-term impacts do you think the pandemic will have on the way banks court and service business clients?

LIGHT: Even before the pandemic, banks had been deploying capital to increase and improve online and digital services for their clients. I think one result from our experience this year will be even more of a focus in that area. We know that in order to obtain and grow relationships, we still need to deliver a personal touch, however, there will have to be a balance. Nonetheless, the one thing we do know is that customers will still want that high-touch relationship, no matter how it’s delivered, and that will continue to be our goal.

Nancy Lavin is a staff writer for the PBN. Contact her at Lavin@PBN.com.