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Spotlight Bank of the Week
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spotlight bank

Spotlight Bank of the Week is a new feature that we are adding to our website and e-newsletter. It is an opportunity to promote anything about your organization, such as fun facts, organization news, special events, etc. The Spotlight Bank of the Week will be featured on our homepage slider, e-newsletter, and our social media platforms. To apply, just fill out our registration form and email it to Natalie Rowan at natalier@ibanys.net.

This opportunity is for member banks only. If you are not a member bank and wish to inquire about being our Spotlight Bank of the Week, please contact Linda Gregware at lindag@ibanys.net or at (518) 436-4646.

Spotlight Bank of the Week
WSB 125 LOGO WHITE

If your financial institution is called a “savings bank,” it has probably seen its fair share of history. The very notion of a savings bank is a relic from a time when banks were limited to one or two services. Although these regulations were repealed in the mid-1900s and banks could expand the services offered, many savings banks retained their original names in the interest of the community they served. Watertown Savings Bank is one such institution, where community has mattered for 125 years.

In 1893, a small group of Watertown residents decided they would build a financial institution to benefit the community. This group, composed of prominent businessman and successful professionals in the area, was beginning to see Watertown flourish and recognized the need for a reliable local bank.

The bank was, and still is, structured as a mutual savings bank with a board of trustees and no stockholders. A brief look at the original list of trustees provides a snapshot of local commerce and politics around the turn of the century. Among the list are two paper manufacturers, a produce dealer, a former lieutenant governor, a city mayor and a local jeweler. The snapshot is brought more into focus with a look at the original operating hours. In addition to weekday hours, the bank was also open from 5:00 to 8:00 P.M. on Saturdays. This was done to accommodate the mill workers and factory employees, who could only make it to the bank on Saturday  evenings after a six-day workweek.

The formative years of Watertown Savings Bank were proving fruitful, so much so that the bank moved into a new space in 1921. The new location, four times the size of the original office, was located at the top of Public Square and provided a hub for the hard-working local customer base. At this time, after only 28 years of operation, the bank had seen a growth of over $4 million in assets. Profits only increased in the decades to follow.

In 1959, the bank was once again in need of a larger facility and purchased two properties to facilitate the construction of a new office building. The new office opened a year later with 30 employees and $32 million in assets. A handful of our current employees started out at this now razed building, and they stayed because the bank cares as much about its employees as it does its customers.

Quality customer service is at the heart of what Watertown Savings Bank stands for and it is the reason customers continue to visit our branches. Bank President & CEO Mark R. Lavarnway said, “we have found that providing the highest level of personalized and community support offers many benefits which are often superior to our competitors. We understand our local economy and the diverse banking needs of our community.”

This year, Watertown Savings Bank celebrates 125 years of service in the North Country. With 125 employees, $660 million in assets and a total of nine branches in Jefferson County, the bank built to serve the Watertown community is still thriving. It currently retains the largest deposit market share in the county and has been recognized as the top mortgage and commercial lender. The Bank’s accomplishments do not stop at the county level either. It has been awarded the Top SBA Small Community Lender six times. Last year, Banking New York magazine named Watertown Savings Bank as the Top Community Supporter in New York State. In 2017 alone, we proudly donated over $335,000 to local non-profits and charitable organizations.

Our name and our mission have stayed the same since 1893. The nature of the banking industry demands that a bank evolve and adapt to stay relevant, but this is no small feat. Evolve too much and you risk losing your loyal customers, fail to adapt and you lose your ability to form new customer relationships. Watertown Savings Bank has found the right balance. Mr. Lavarnway points out “We have evolved with the times in terms of products and services, but we have maintained that same culture of local management, local decisions, and local support.” An emphasis on local support is the reason we opened our doors 125 years ago and it is the reason they are still open today.

To learn more about Watertown Savings Bank and its products and services, please visit www.watertownsavingsbank.com.

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