Record number of loans helped boost BayCoast revenue

MONEY TALKS: Amy Hernandez, right, manager of BayCoast Bank’s downtown Providence branch on Dorrance Street, speaks with universal banker Bianca Gouveia.  
MONEY TALKS: Amy Hernandez, right, manager of BayCoast Bank’s downtown Providence branch on Dorrance Street, speaks with universal banker Bianca Gouveia. 

PBN Fastest Growing Companies 2022
1. $75 MILLION AND ABOVE: BayCoast Bank
CEO (or equivalent): Nicholas Christ, CEO and president
2021 Revenue: $143.3 million
2019 Revenue: $110.1 million
Revenue growth: 30.2%

Marie Pellegrino, senior vice president and chief financial officer of Swansea-based BayCoast Bank, says the bank’s 30.2% revenue growth from $110.1 million in 2019 to $143.3 million in 2021 was due in large part to the federal Paycheck Protection Program launched during the COVID-19 pandemic to help keep small businesses on their feet.

“In 2021, we had a record number of loan closings,” Pellegrino said of the government stimulus loan program. “We facilitated applications and dispersed money. Everything was fast paced.”

The bank’s Commercial Lending Division arranged 828 loans in 2021 during the second round of the program, totaling $88.1 million across its branches in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.

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Several of BayCoast Bank’s divisions grew in 2021, including the Community Banking Division, which saw the opening of two new branches in Rhode Island; BayCoast Financial Services, which earned $1.3 million throughout the year; and the Partners Insurance Group, whose revenue rose by 23% since 2020, hitting $6 million. BayCoast continued that momentum into 2022, having opened two additional branches in the Ocean State.

BayCoast Bank was forced to move to a remote-only work system at the onset of the pandemic. The information technology department made sure everyone was equipped with laptops and phone systems so they could work from home, while interactive teller machines were implemented so customers could still perform transactions even when bank tellers weren’t in the office.

“Our customers rave about how they love it,” Pellegrino said.

Dan DeCosta, senior vice president and chief information officer, and his team had the hardest job of all at the beginning of the pandemic: configuring a way for the BayCoast Bank team to process PPP loan applications.

DeCosta described the day in April 2020 when he was abruptly informed that the bank needed a way to accept loan applications that very day, despite not knowing anything about what they were at the time.

Despite being put on the spot, he said, “We figured out a way to accept applications by 2 p.m. It took two or three hours. It wasn’t the prettiest, but it just needed to accept applications. The organization came together from there.”

Five hundred applications came in that first weekend alone. Once the initial rush had tapered off, DeCosta and his team redesigned the program so that it automatically fed the application information into the SalesForce technology they were using. Applications were prioritized by date and automatically assigned to employees based on who had the least work, in a round-robin fashion. Previously, this had been a laborious process done through email.

“Tech is huge, but people have a major impact as well,” DeCosta said. “We had [about] 300 employees working remotely almost overnight. It was all-hands-on-deck.”

The IT department handled much of the initial load in those first few weeks of getting everyone working remotely, including adding hundreds of employees onto the virtual private network system. They had to keep an inventory log of all devices and organized hundreds of laptops for employees.

“We worked a crazy number of hours,” DeCosta said.

Able to handle forms, signatures and documents for the PPP loans electronically, without navigating the mail, the program DocuSign proved to be invaluable during the loan processes, and it was extremely helpful that the bank had already purchased it for use. Ultimately, employees began to use DocuSign for handling internal processes as well.

“The tech was ready for us,” De­Costa said.

BayCoast Bank employees slowly began to adapt to the new technology, and DeCosta said it was gratifying to hear from colleagues that everything was great and easy to use since so many people often dislike new processes and systems.

“These moments have small victories; people are more willing to adopt new technology, and there’s less pushback,” he said. “Thousands of small-business employees were paid because of the loans. They could buy groceries despite their businesses shutting down.”

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