CHAIRMAN AND CEO LETTER
Our Vision: To help family-owned businesses, their families, and employees thrive through the generations.
As we look forward to the hope and promise 2023 brings, I can’t help but first reflect on the many challenges our nation as well as the world have recently faced. From record inflation levels, rising interest rates, and persistent supply chain disruptions to volatility in the markets, an ongoing health crisis, and geo-political/social unrest across the globe, challenges seem to be all around us. To add to that, the possibility of a global recession looms over all of us.
Through it all, the peaks and the valleys, the good times and not-so-good times, one thing remains constant: First Bank’s continued commitment to serving our clients and communities. For over 100 years, we’ve never lost sight of our focus on delivering what our clients need, regardless of what’s occurring around us. That same steadfast client commitment is unwavering in 2023 and beyond.
Building a Robust Client Experience
At the height of the pandemic crisis, it was evident that our clients needed a safe, contactless manner in which to do their banking. To provide the very best client experience possible, we invested in state-of-the-art technology that offers access to live, on-screen First Bank bankers by simply touching the screen. We took it one step further and, as part of our nationwide Branch Transformation Initiative, reinvented our branches to offer best-in-class digital capabilities, allowing clients to bank at hours that are convenient for them, and with the
option of in-person or virtual services. We also rolled out immediate access to experts via our Specialized Services team to assist clients with account maintenance, transaction questions, and more detailed information on any of our products and services.
What’s more, we’re crafting beautiful, new, and renovated branches that are illuminated at night with our First Bank “blue glow” lighting. The color blue, much like the proud First Bank name, is synonymous with being trustworthy, dependable, and committed. It seemed fitting to us to leverage this feature boldly in our new branch design.
To date, we’ve transformed 35 branches with 46 more on our roadmap in 2023. With the addition of 23 Interactive Teller Machines (ITMs) in 2022, we now have 70 in use with an additional 72 units planned. This offers clients access to ATMs as well as expanded ITM services.
In a particularly challenging rising rate environment, our First Bank Mortgage team continued to provide an outstanding client experience. Consistently receiving superior client feedback, our First Bank Mortgage Home Loan Advisors were once again rated 4.8 out of 5 “stars”.
Just look at what our First Bank Mortgage clients are saying:
In addition, we’re investing significantly in world-class digital solutions to provide a more robust client experience. We’re excited about the enhanced digital banking platform it will provide our clients and cannot wait to share it.
Our Client Value Proposition
We are a family-owned business that caters to serving the needs of other family-owned businesses. We excel at serving the businesses, their families, and employees through:
Expanding and Growing to Enhance our Client Experience
As always, we strive to serve all of our clients with the products and services they need; however, there’s one segment of clients that we feel we can serve unlike our counterparts—family businesses.
We continue to experience growth and are expanding our Commercial teams to better serve our business and family business clients.
We also established a Warehouse Lending team in Dallas, Texas, to facilitate funding to external Independent Mortgage Bankers (IMBs). It’s estimated that approximately 60% of all mortgages, excluding First Bank Mortgage loans, are funded through IMBs.
To further our commitment to expanding the client experience, we developed a team of Family Wealth Advisors across our footprint to better serve our high-net-worth clients with a minimum of $1 million of existing assets under management with customized, comprehensive wealth management services. Spearheaded by Charles Claver, Senior Vice President and Family Wealth Advisor in southern California, the esteemed Family Wealth Advisor team serves as a conduit for clients to additional key partners from Commercial, Mortgage, and
Protecting Our Clients’ Information
In all economic environments, cybercriminal activity never takes a rest. In fact, it continues to heighten. In order to protect our clients and their valuable information, First Bank remains invested as a leader in cybersecurity. First Bank clients can rest easy knowing we will continue to stay a step ahead of the bad actors by securing our cyber-environment, while also adhering to the strictest controls set forth by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). In addition to the stringent NIST guidelines, First Bank has continued to mature its “Zero Trust” security model to offer the most secure banking system available.
I’m proud to share that Marc Ashworth, CISSP, CISM, CRISC, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Security Officer for First Bank, was named winner of the Top Global Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) Award for 2022.
Supporting Our Clients’ Communities
First Bank meaningfully engages with our communities because it is the right thing to do, not for accolades. Serving our communities in which our clients and colleagues live and work remain a top priority and we’re proud to be there to provide services that go beyond banking. Last year, we gave over $1 million dollars to support non-profits across our footprint with approximately 70% allocated in support of agencies that serve youth from under-resourced communities.
We’re humbled with being named a winner of the 2022 St. Louis Business Journal’s Innovation in Philanthropy Award. Our unique partnership with Youthbridge Community Foundation was highlighted and the Youth Engaged in Philanthropy Program, a one-of-kind curriculum allowing young people to choose a cause, conduct research on the organization, and ultimately distribute grants to the selected non-profit(s).
Our goal is to offer holistic financial products, services, and education to all, regardless of their economic situation or the neighborhood they live in. To further support this commitment, we opened a branch in North St. Louis, a historically under-invested community. In partnership with the Tabernacle Community Development Corporation, First Bank opened a branch at The Hub, a local community center. Access to full-service banking services is critical to the development of any community and First Bank is proud to serve this under-resourced area. In addition, First Bank has an ongoing relationship with Marian Middle School, which serves young women from under-resourced communities and provides robust academic and social support.
Our colleagues consistently go above and beyond to support our communities; however, one outstanding employee has really stood out. Nikol Theberge, our Community Lender, has volunteered over 103 hours with one of our partners, Prosperity Connection, a local non-profit that teaches financial literacy.
To further our support of environmental issues, First Bank team members in California participated in coastal clean-up, one of the initiatives coordinated through First Bank’s employee-led Sustainability Council. First Bank continues to reduce paper consumption bank-wide as a result of its digital transformation, nationwide Branch Transformation Initiative, and adaptation of digital tools, such as eSignature application, SmartSign, and Microsoft Teams Meetings, just to name a few.
At all times, but especially in these, you need a friend and stable, reliable confidant, like First Bank, to walk alongside you and partner in your long-term success.
I personally want to thank all of our colleagues as well as our clients for your resilience, your determination to navigate any challenges, working together to develop meaningful solutions, and continuing to achieve great things. First Bank is here to build a robust client experience that caters to serving the needs of other family businesses as well as their families and employees. In short, we’ll always be here for you.
It’s an exciting, vibrant time at First Bank and I couldn’t be prouder to be part of it. Let’s meet the challenges of today, while crafting a promising tomorrow together.