From teens to business owners, Pennstar helps its customers to ‘strive’ and ‘shine brighter’
Published: February 1, 2013
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At Pennstar Bank, we are dedicated to putting customers first and committed to actively investing in the communities where we do business. This has been our business model for more than a century and a direction we will continue to perfect to help our customers work toward their financial goals.
Headquartered in Scranton, Pennstar Bank is an independent community bank that provides personal banking, asset management and business services and maintains 35 offices across Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, Pike, Susquehanna and Wayne counties.
NBT Bancorp, our parent company, provides Pennstar with the opportunity to balance and deliver the best benefits of a larger institution with a true community bank operating philosophy. In fact, NBT Bancorp has remained true to its community bank approach since its inception in 1856.
Pennstar Bank believes in building a culture of success by challenging its employees to exceed expectations every day. We believe in leading by example. We encourage our employees to think like owners and exhibit the initiative necessary to ensure our growth and continued success. Their leadership provides greater opportunity to think strategically to develop superior products and services underscored by unmatched customer service.
Because of this approach, the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce and Metro Action recognized Pennstar Bank and it employees in November 2012 for its company-wide Shine Brighter! philosophy to deliver extraordinary customer service. At the chamber’s annual gala, held November 12th, the bank was awarded the Best Practices in Customer Service SAGE Award.
Our team is continually taking action to help our customers. This past year, the nationwide concern about extreme deficits in financial literacy led the bank to the launch a new financial education program and banking products that will help today’s youth grow into financially responsible, independent adults.
Do you have a credit card? Have you taken out a loan? The majority of us have done so successfully, but many others end up overwhelmed with debt because they don’t fully understand credit and how to use it wisely. Especially with young adults, they underestimate the value of good credit until they are in a situation where they need it, like buying a home or car, obtaining a good job, and even signing up for various utility services. Pennstar Bank hopes to change that by helping kids, teens and young adults grow their money skills earlier in life through Strive®, its youth and young adult financial education program. Because developing smart financial habits at a young age often helps build a brighter financial future, it’s never too early to establish a good understanding of your finances and a good credit history.
Pennstar Bank provides tools for parents, teachers and employers to have financial discussions with youth and young adults. For example, the bank offers the following quick credit tips that you can share:
1. Only borrow what you know you can afford to pay back.
2. Be aware of all the terms and conditions and be sure to meet all requirements.
3. Process all of your payments within the timeframes specified to remain in good credit standing and to avoid penalties and fees.
4. Develop a budget plan and use credit carefully to help you stay away from a bad debt situation.
5. Closing your credit card can actually hurt your credit. Find out how it affects your credit report.
One of the top community initiatives in 2012, Strive® is much more than credit awareness. It focuses on building skills and enhancing the learning process as youth and young adults progress from one life stage to the next. This includes dozens of customized educational programs in local classrooms, as well as participation in America Saves Week in February, Teach Children to Save Day in April, and Get Smart About Credit Day in October. The bank also launched iStrive® banking products in 2012 for youth and young adults to gain first-hand experience managing a bank account including services like check cashing, debit cards and online banking.
As part of the bank’s Strive Financial Literacy program, Pennstar branch managers visited several classrooms throughout northeast Pennsylvania. In February, Tammy Jackson and Gail Rees taught students in grades 11 and 12 about the pitfalls and predicaments of automated financial services during a program for Leadership Lackawanna’s “Tomorrow’s Leaders Today.” In local classrooms, Pennstar branch managers participated in the Dunmore Elementary School back to school night and presented to the St. Jude’s School Parent-Teacher Group. The bank also provided Strive financial education material to the Valley View School District, Ms. Myra’s Preschool, A-Z Learning Center and Tobyhanna Kids Day Care Center.
Our financial education doesn’t stop with students, though. Representatives from Pennstar Bank visited the Pike County Center for the Aging in August 2012 to talk with the Center’s counselors about different forms of identity theft and fraud targeted at senior citizens. These experts taught best practices for the counselors to share with senior citizens to help them protect themselves from elder fraud and other forms of identity theft. The program’s attendees were instructed on how to help senior citizens better understand how their identities can be stolen so that they can be better prepared to protect themselves from future threats.
Pennstar bank also sponsored “Start UP,” a six-week certificate program for women entrepreneurs offered by the University of Scranton Women’s Entrepreneurship Center and Small Business Development Center.
In addition to our commitment to helping customers and our extensive corporate giving practices, our employees across our footprint and lines of business give back to the communities they call home and invest in their future. We’re proud to be active members and leaders in numerous community organizations to further demonstrate our commitment to the area’s advancement and well-being.
Beyond northeastern Pennsylvania, NBT Bancorp enjoyed continued growth in 2012, expanding its Norwich campus in NY; adding branches in Greene and Schoharie counties in NY; and acquiring all five branches of Hampshire First Bank in NH. NBT Bank also announced plans in 2012 to acquire all 26 branches of Alliance Bank in Syracuse, N.Y., scheduled for 2013.
These successes have been recognized by several national media. For the fourth year in a row, Forbes.com has ranked NBT Bank in the top 25 in its annual “America’s Best and Worst Banks” feature published December 2012. SNL Financial, a premier provider of breaking news, financial data and expert analysis on the banking industry, ranked NBT Bank as #17 on its list of top regional banks published April 2012. And, Bank Director magazine ranked NBT Bank as #19 in its Bank Performance Scorecard for banks with assets between $5 and $50 billion published third quarter of 2012.
In 2013, we promise to continue to support the best interests of Northeastern Pennsylvania every single day. Pennstar Bank offers more than just great rates, convenient locations and excellent customer service. Working together, you can rely on our knowledge, service and value to deliver a business banking relationship that exceeds your expectations. Stop by, call or visit us online today.
Pennstar bank is a division of Norwich, N.Y.-based NBT Bank, N.A. NBT operates from 135 banking locations in five states, including New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The bank reported total assets of $6 billion for the nine months ended Sept. 30, 2012.