Bank of Fairfield, sister institutions, to become Bankwell

Peyton R. Patterson, CEO of the BNC Financial Group, left, and Heidi S. DeWyngaert, bank president, talk about the rebranding of the Bank of Fairfield as Bankwell. (John Kovach Photo)

Peyton R. Patterson, CEO of the BNC Financial Group, left, and Heidi S. DeWyngaert, bank president, talk about the rebranding of the Bank of Fairfield as Bankwell. (John Kovach Photo)

You soon will be able to Bankwell in New Canaan. And in Wilton. And in Stamford. And in Fairfield. And soon in other towns — starting with Norwalk.

P1-bankwell-logo-7-3More than a decade after starting as a small community bank here, the Bank of New Canaan and its holding company, BNC Financial Group, plans to rebrand itself as Bankwell and become a single-banking organization with a community banking model. So each of its branches, including Stamford First Bank and the Bank of Fairfield, will become Bankwell. The company is in the process of acquiring Wilton Bank, which would be renamed Bankwell in Wilton.

But this, bank leaders said during press conference at the Bank of New Canaan offices on Elm Street on Friday, June 28, is just the beginning of its plan to grow from Fairfield County toward New Haven County and Westchester County. The name changes were first announced at the BNC Financial Group annual meeting of shareholders Wednesday night, June 26.

“Really who we are is the hometown bank. We believe in the towns where do business,” Peyton R. Patterson, the BNC CEO, said.

A couple years ago, the state named BNC the best community bank in the Connecticut, but a lot people didn’t know there were five locations to do business.

With the acquisition of Wilton Bank, Bankwell will have more than $700 million in assets. The company has continued to grow since being founded in 2002 in New Canaan — BNC has the second largest market share in New Canaan, behind JP Morgan Chase.

In addition to Bridgeport, where BNC has a loan-production office, the company has branches in three major Fairfield County markets: New Canaan, Stamford and Fairfield.

But for a while, BNC banks did not offer the same services that some of the larger banks did, such as mobile banking. But that is changing. Bankwell will have a full offering state-of-the-art mobile and online banking, which has already launched along with a new cash management service and mortgage products. It plans to introduce wealth management this fall.

“We’re not like other banks. We don’t think your choices should be limited to two wildly different extremes: either the small bank that doesn’t have the range of products and services you need, or the cold and impersonal giant that has no idea who you are or what you need,” Patterson said. “We see the world through your eyes, and know that you want great products, advice you can trust, and personalized service all in one place. That’s what we deliver, without compromise.”

Bankwell’s first expansion plan is to open a new branch in Norwalk in early 2014 and add a new branch in Stamford the same year. That would give Bankwell eight branches. Each branch will still have the local town feel. Here in New Canaan, they will be called “Bankwell in New Canaan;” in Wilton it will be “Bankwell in Wilton,” for example. The website will be MyBankwell.com.

The new name and logos will be unveiled on branches Monday, Sept. 9, except in New Canaan, where regulations limit logos on signs.

Both Fairfield branches will move, but only a matter of yards from their current locations, and only to improve visibility and access, bank officials said. Branches are on Black Rock Turnpike and the Post Road.

All branches stay open weekdays until 5 p.m. and drive-ups at select branches are open from 6:45 a.m. until 6 p.m. At present, Wilton Bank is open weekdays until 4, and the drive-up is open 8:30 to 5.

BNC bank customers are rebated all ATM or debit card fees wherever they go nationwide, including those incurred at other institutions when they use their bank debit card. Other features include Debit Purchase Rewards, Popmoney Person-to-Person Transfers, Remote Deposit Capture, wire transfers, notary public, safe deposit boxes, and coin counting.

Patterson said that the Bankwell name was chosen because it offers the “promise of an exceptional banking experience.”

The new tagline: “Bank smart. Bank local. Bankwell.”

“We think this really stands out from our competitors,” Patterson said. “We know we’re not in this business alone. We know we have some very large companies to compete against. And we have some local players in all of the markets where we have to compete head-on with other local community banks or banks that may be 12-times as large as us. But we want to hold on to what we really believe makes us special. And we really believe this is a nice start at that.”

The bank is still committed to community service, Patterson said, providing volunteering, mentoring and financial support to more than 150 local organizations including those involved in the arts, health and human services, and education. In addition, many management, staff, directors and advisory board members take active roles within local nonprofit organizations.

“It’s really the people who make the bank and the people are not changing,” Heidi S. DeWyngaert, bank president, said.

BNC Financial Group, created in 2007, is a federally-regulated bank holding company in New Canaan. It operates two state chartered commercial bank subsidiaries, Bank of New Canaan, founded in 2002, and Bank of Fairfield. The Bank of New Canaan operates a division in Stamford under the name, Stamford First Bank, founded in 2010.

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