Marge Rovereto is returning to banking work in Ulster County. She has spent the past four years as president and CEO of Hometown Bank of the Hudson Valley, formerly Walden Federal. Last Friday was her last day of work in Walden. The Kingston native will start her new job as chief lending officer at Rondout Savings Bank on November 7.
It becomes quickly obvious how many people Rovereto knows as she sits quietly at a corner table at the Stockade Diner in Uptown Kingston this past Saturday morning. It’s also obvious how quickly word gets around in a community like Ulster County.
“Congratulations, Margie,” one smiling woman says.
“Welcome home,” adds another.
The three people at the table nearest the cash register add their sentiments. Everyone seems immensely pleased that one of their own has returned.
Tom Koskie, the diner co-proprietor who worked with Rovereto years ago at Ulster Savings Bank, gives her a hug.
Rovereto worked her way up the ranks to be in charge of loans at Ulster Savings, and was the bank’s president and CEO from August 2006 until March 2011.
How did Margie enjoy the commute on her last day from Kingston to Walden the day before? The leaves were beautiful, she responds. But she did feel the drive was getting a bit long by the time she got to Route 208 in New Paltz. Next month she’ll be working a few minutes away from her Kingston residence.
This January, Hometown Bank established a small loan office at 185 Green Street in Kingston, where mortgages will be processed and real-estate closings held. The manager of Hometown’s northern outpost is Liz Moeller, who lives in Saugerties. Her commute has become considerably shorter, too.
Margie’s very much a local. Her parents owned the Hub Deli on Broadway. She attended Kingston High and SUNY-Albany. In 2009 she was chosen Business Person of the Year in 2009 by SUNY-New Paltz and became a member of that institution’s Hall of Fame. She’s a longtime board member of the Center for Spectrum Services and a staunch supporter of Rupco, the Kingston-headquartered regional provider of and advocate for affordable housing and community development.
Rovereto is happy about her transition from the top job at Hometown to one rung lower at a bank almost three times the size in terms of deposits. She likes the people at Rondout Savings. She knows she’ll fit in.
“The staff and I are thrilled to be adding Margie to the senior team,” said bank president Jim Davenport in a press release. “She is a dynamic hands-on leader with a strong belief in supporting community both professionally and personally. Margie’s qualities align perfectly with Rondout Savings Bank’s core values.”
The community banks of the mid-Hudson Valley have held their position in the local marketplace in recent years. In terms of deposits, their growth pattern, according to federal statistics, hasn’t been much different from that of the megabanks, regionals and credit unions with which they compete.
There’s more than a hint of truth to the ironic adage that the job of a banker is to lend money to people who don’t need it. But banking, challenged by new forms of competition, has changed, and it’s going to continue to change. Alternate sources of financing have been increasingly flourishing, while at the same time the damage caused by the Great Recession has inculcated in many potential borrowers a profound resistance to debt. Even though the economic climate is now slowly improving in the Hudson Valley, a sufficient number of dollars are still not being put out onto the street.
This, of course, poses problems for the banks as well as for their customers. With interest-rate income negligible, bankers find themselves reassessing who to loan money to and who not to. If there’s anyone who can fashion a correct course in an economy like this, it ought to be the experienced loan professional.
Community bankers often use the word “relationship.” For community bankers more than for their brethren at national banks, risk and reputation are inextricably intertwined. There are risks to that kind of bonding, of course. Sweetheart deals to desperate acquaintances based on old connections lead to too many soured loans.
Margie Rovereto is the epitome of the community banker. She likes people, and she knows an enormous number of local people and businesses. She knows their reputations and their ambitions. The exact opposite of the stereotype of the dour banker, she’s outgoing, usually cheerful, and supportive of her customers’ goals. She values the importance of relationships and knows the meaning of old-fashioned terms like community needs and customer service.
That doesn’t mean that she’s likely to be profligate with her employer’s money. It just means she’s a very careful listener. She knows the local landscape as few others in the financial community know it.
“Margie’s a real people person,” Tom Koskie says.
The Rondout press release puts the new appointment in measured and prudent banker’s language. Rovereto “will apply her depth of experience to further enhance [the bank’s] current residential and commercial programs.”