On June 30 of this year, $3,044,352,000 in Ulster County deposits were reported by the 21 banking institutions with offices in the county, according to federal data released last week. That’s about $200 million more in deposits than on the same date last year. Increases in deposits were reported virtually across the board by national, regional and local banks large and small. Only two of the 13 commercial banks reported a loss in deposits, and none of the eight savings institutions did.
The three-billion-dollar local deposit barrier had been broken before, but the prolonged recession had brought the numbers down below that mark. But Ulster County’s still in the minor leagues. A healthy increase in Manhattan deposits means that that New York County banks will almost certainly report a trillion dollars in deposits for the first time next year. New York County has 65.68 percent of all state deposits. Ulster County has a two-tenths of one percent share, about one Ulster dollar for every 330 Gotham dollars, The ratio would of course be even more striking if the deposits in the other four boroughs were included.
Two additional Ulster Savings Bank branches, one in Lake Katrine and the other in Wappingers Falls, reported in 2016 and not recorded in 2015, constituted the only change in the local bank structure between last year and this one. How the regulators authorities managed to list Wappingers Falls as an Ulster County location remains a mystery.
The seven percent increase in Ulster County deposits at a time when alternate financial institutions are competing more aggressively with banks must be regarded as a good economic sign.
Most banks and savings institutions have distinctive characteristics, usually stemming from their history, business circumstances, role in the marketplace and style of their leadership. Their different goals, relationships and priorities can have significance for their customers. Pursuing their objectives in a low-rate banking environment can be no easy matter.
Two local banks made presidential appointments in the past few months. Bill Calderara was appointed CEO and president of Ulster Savings. Kevin McLaren was appointed president at Catskill Hudson Bank.
Both executives, Calderara directly and McLaren a leader later, succeeded Ulster County banker Glenn Sutherland, who had been president of Catskill Hudson and was after his retirement recruited as interim president of Ulster Savings.
In September 2015, Catskill Hudson chairman and CEO Mario Martinez announced the appointment of Orville Aarons, a consultant and an independent director of Naugutuck Valley S&L, as president of the Kingston-headquartered bank. Not quite a year later, Martinez announced that McLaren, executive vice president at Catskill Hudson and former president and COO for several years of The Stissing National Bank of Pine Plains, was being promoted to the presidency of Catskill Hudson.
Catskill Hudson has over $400 million in assets and 12 branches, six in Sullivan County, two each in Ulster and Saratoga counties, and one each in Orange and Dutchess. The bank’s geographic dispersion is particularly useful when it comes to establishing relationships that lead to a higher volume of prudent loans.
A majority of the stock is owned or controlled by board members and other insiders, with the Martinez family (Dawn Martinez, CEO and chairman Mario’s wife, was recently added to the board) the largest stockholders.
Bill Calderara started work of Ulster Savings Bank, which has over $700 million in assets, on June 27, succeeding Glenn Sutherland. “Bill was selected by the Ulster Savings board of trustees and president and CEO Glenn Sutherland for his banking acumen and his experience in, and commitment to, community banking,” Ann Marrott, chair of the USB board, is quoted in a press release as saying at that time.
Like Aarons, whom McLaren replaced at Catskill Hudson Bank, Calderara was a bank director at Naugatuck Valley S&L. He was also named CEO at Naugatuck in September 2012. Now Calderara has the top job at Ulster Savings.
Kevin McLaren is a local guy, a Saugerties native with 30 years of experience in financial services. He is past president of the Saugerties Boys and Girls Club and the Saugerties Economic Development Committee, and is board chair of the Ulster chapter of Habitat for Humanity. He started his banking career in Saugerties and worked at various banks. He even put in a year as a financial analyst at IBM in 2001-2. His background includes experience in a whole range of managerial operations. That’s useful to the bank.
Under Mario Martinez’ leadership, Catskill Hudson has established a two-branch beachhead in Saratoga County, by many yardsticks the most successful upstate area when it comes to economic development. Martinez, an investor with other interests than banking, resides in Saratoga County and is well known in its business community.
Catskill Hudson management prides itself in running an efficient shop, but its strategy is broader than that. Catskill Hudson has considerable investment income. As a bank focused entirely on commercial accounts, however, it is seeking not only to grow deposits but also to improve its loan portfolio. (The company doesn’t sell its loans to others.)
Martinez has set as a goal an increase in the bank’s loan-to-deposit ratio, currently around 50 percent. “This will be accomplished by extending credit in those areas of the … market with the strongest economic potential, while at the same time attempting to reduce credit risk,” Martinez wrote in the bank’s 2015 annual report.