In a Nutshell: Tompkins Bank of Castile has been serving customers in Western New York since 1869, and throughout its history it has always remained engaged in its local community. This proved particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic. The bank was able to pivot to its existing digital channels and promote them to customers so they could still gain access to the high-quality services they were used to. The institution offers a full range of modern banking products and services, including a selection of credit cards to suit nearly every financial scenario. Tompkins Bank of Castile also supports the community through a variety of financial literacy efforts, monetary donations, and volunteerism.
Community banks are often known for their attentive customer service and community engagement. In many ways, they are similar to credit unions in the financial products and services they offer combined with their personalized touches.
That’s certainly the case for Tompkins Bank of Castile in Western New York.
“In 2019, Bank of Castile celebrated our 150th year,” said bank Senior Vice President Diane Torcello. “It was complemented by the bank being recognized as the 2019 Business of the Year by the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce. It was a great way to celebrate our anniversary.”
The long-standing institution takes its role as a community bank seriously, and its accolades support this notion.
“Local is at the heart of who we are and what we do. We’re here to help our communities thrive and grow, and that includes you,” according to the bank website. “From the budding entrepreneur with the next big idea to the busy parents looking for the perfect home, we’ve been there. We don’t just work here. We live here, too.”
The bank’s parent company, Tompkins Financial Corporation, can trace its roots in the region all the way back to 1836. We reached out to Torcello to learn more about the institution and Tompkins Bank of Castile’s long history and reputation for quality.
Our discussion led us through a range of topics, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the bank’s diverse offerings for customers of all kinds, and the importance of supporting the community.
Aiding Customers Through the COVID-19 Pandemic
As with so many businesses in the past year, Tompkins Bank of Castile was met with a number of unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Torcello addressed a few of the ways the institution handled these challenges and sought to meet customer needs.
“We were one of the first banks to offer PPP (the Paycheck Protection Program) to our customers,” she said. “And our delivery was among the smoothest in the industry.”
Torcello said Tompkins Bank of Castile processed 738 PPP loans, reinvested $120 million in the communities it serves and helped to protect about 7,000 local jobs.
“We supported customers — both consumers and businesses — with a payment loan relief, which was launched quickly and effectively prior to the mandate,” she said. “And we’re going to continue to work with the impacted customers.”
Torcello said the bulk of the relief efforts were done when the PPP was launched through the Small Business Administration, but it is an ongoing process with the bank’s customers.
“We’re currently in the forgiveness phase, so we’re processing forgiveness applications,” she said. “And we launched into round two of PPP. We’re still currently processing round two applications. For nearly a year, this has been a full-force effort between our lenders, our branch managers, our analysts, and our back-office support departments.”
The bank also pivoted during the early phase of the pandemic to embrace the institution’s digital channels, Torcello said.
“We were able to build upon our existing knowledge of our communities where we still offer the personal touch, but we also shifted to promoting our technologies such as digital banking, cash management, and so on,” she said.
The bank was able to navigate the uncertain waters of the pandemic without losing touch with its customers.
“Our level of customer service remained exemplary through the entire process,” Torcello said.
Offering A Range of Products to Suit a Variety of Financial Needs
As a community bank, Tompkins Bank of Castile works to ensure that it is meeting the needs of its broad customer base. This means it provides all the modern banking products and services one would expect, including a suite of diverse credit cards, mortgages, and other lines of credit.
And it never loses sight of its commitment to quality service along the way.
“The power of local people and local decisions leads to a passion you never thought you’d get with a bank,” according to the institution. “That’s right — we value all members of the communities we serve and we love what we do. Talk to any of our team members and you’ll experience the Tompkins Bank of Castile difference — not just a bank you can trust, but a bank like you.”
Torcello said the bank has recently seen strong demand for mortgages, including new purchases as well as refinancing.
“It’s because the rates are so attractive,” she said. “We also offer home equity lines of credit, fixed-rate home equity loans, and a product where it is adjustable to fixed — you can actually lock in a rate on your home equity.”
Torcello chalks up the recent surge in home equity loans to the fact that people spent so much time at home in the past year and had the time and money to embark on home improvement projects.
Of course, the bank offers automobile loans and personal loans as well.
When it comes to consumer credit cards, Tompkins Bank of Castile customers can select from one of three Visa cards — the Platinum Card, the Max Cash Preferred Card, the Real Rewards Card, or a secured Visa.
Each credit card comes with its own incentives and perks, allowing the bank to offer something for nearly every unique financial situation.
Supporting the Community through Education, Sponsorships, and Volunteerism
Torcello said Tompkins Bank of Castile is always serving the community in one way or another.
“We’ve been a part of this community since 1869, so you could say we know how to roll up our sleeves and get involved,” according to the bank. “Charities, nonprofits, and civic organizations are essential for a successful community, and we’re proud to help with more than just a donation. Our team members are often caught out there volunteering and helping those who need it most.”
Financial education is another priority for the bank, Torcello said. And, in the past year, the institution has shifted from offering in-person seminars to virtual classes that address important financial topics including fraud, first-time home buyers, and budgeting.
The bank also partners with Junior Achievement, a nonprofit geared toward young people that focuses on economic empowerment through education.
“We also go to different community groups and different employers, and speak on financial literacy and credit,” Torcello said. “We’ve worked with a local community college and high schools as well.”
“We have some really wonderful community involvement initiatives that we’re very pleased with,” she said. “We organized food donations for the frontline folks — local hospitals and service organizations.”
This particular initiative was called Banksgiving.
“To celebrate November’s designation as National Gratitude Month, Tompkins Bank of Castile, Tompkins Insurance Agencies and Tompkins Financial Advisors are donating $7,500 to several food pantries in our footprint of Western New York, calling the initiative ‘Banksgiving,’ in lieu of hosting our annual Customer Appreciation Apple Day,” according to a blog post.
Tompkins Bank of Castile lives up to its longstanding reputation with its commitment to the community, attention to quality customer service, and wide range of financial products for today’s diverse needs.