Russo, who started her career at a small community bank 35 years ago, was eager to return to her roots.
“This is a great opportunity to be involved with the community,” she said. “My passion is helping clients manage the ‘what if’s’ of their financial situations and their businesses by developing solutions tailored to their unique needs.”
Her current role consists of working with community organizations and local business owners, but for Russo and First Central Savings the bonds built within the community go further than banking.
“It’s not just a banking relationship, it’s about giving back through financial literacy and events,” Russo said. “We try to do whatever we can for the community, because this is a community-based bank.”
The Forest Hills branch of First Central Savings Bank has worked closely with the Forest Hills Kiwanis, Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce, and Queens Chamber of Commerce.
First Central Savings will sponsor and participate in the upcoming Forest Hills Festival on Austin Street on June 9, and also sponsor Jazz Thursdays on August 15 and 22 on 70th Road between Austin Street and Queens Boulevard.
Recently, Russo attended an event held by the Queens Community House and expressed the bank’s interest in supporting the nonprofit with their programs and needs. She’s also looking for more community organizations to build a relationship with.
“We would love to develop the business side of it with the organizations and nonprofits, but ultimately it’s about making the connections in the community to say we are here because a lot of other banks are really not doing that anymore,” Russo said. “We can do what the big banks do with local people.”
Over the course of Russo’s career, banking has evolved. Decades ago, there weren’t amenities such as ATMs, direct deposit and online banking, so when clients needed to cash a check or pay a bill they visited a bank, resulting in a lot more foot traffic in local branches.
“No matter where you go, there’s not as much traffic in the brick-and-mortar spaces as there is online or mobile,” Russo said. “That’s why it’s very important for us to be in the community, helping local organizations and telling them that we’re here to support them.”