Making Partners
How Penn Community Bank helps law firms succeed.
by Jennifer Updike

In years past, lawyers hung out their shingle, handed out discreet business cards, manually tracked their time in 6-minute increments, and walked, or drove, to the bank to deposit a client’s retainer check. Today, that traditional law firm business model mostly has gone the way of the cassette tape—replaced by new technology and modern business practices that enable lawyers and other professional service providers to run their businesses more efficiently.
Key to that efficiency is a financial partner that understands what today’s lawyers and law firms need to help their clients succeed. For many of those local law firms, that financial partner is Penn Community Bank.
“We needed a bank which could capably meet our firm’s needs, as well as, and especially, the needs of our clients. We found that at Penn Community Bank,” says Richard C. Howard, Jr., an attorney at the Perkasie firm of Weber Kracht & Chellew. “We wanted a bank which was responsive to those needs and would deliver good customer service—a local place which has big-bank capabilities with a small-town bank feel, and who treats you like a true partner.”
Howard serves as his firm’s CFO, overseeing management of the firm’s finances and ensuring its financial stability. Like many law firms, Weber Kracht & Chellew has sophisticated business and financial needs that its banking partner must meet. And, like many law firms, it has worked with a handful of banks over the years, looking for the right fit.

Just Like Cheers
Weber Kracht & Chellew had maintained accounts at other area banks, but a few years ago the dynamic of having multiple accounts at multiple institutions wasn’t working as well as it could have, Howard says. Then Nicole Boytin, a banker in the commercial lending department, contacted Howard and said she was interested building a relationship between the firm and Penn Community Bank. Howard took the opportunity to meet with her and to learn more about the ways the local, mutual, full-service bank, and its banking technology, could support his firm’s financial operations.
Over time, the firm moved more of its financial processes to Penn Community Bank. Today, the firm’s payroll, savings, and line of credit are with Penn Community Bank, as well as real estate settlement and escrow accounts. When asked what made the firm choose Penn Community Bank, Howard noted the efficiency that comes from having one point of contact—a personal banker—to call upon when needed, as well as the banking technology that had been missing from the firm’s previous relationship.
“One of my favorite TV shows is Cheers,” says Howard, citing the American sitcom that ran from 1982 to 1993. “Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and that’s what you have with Penn Community Bank. What we like, and what our office manager really likes, is that if we contact someone at Penn Community, they are very responsive. If they don’t know the answer right away, they make certain to connect you with the person who has the answer. Focused on solutions and customer service, they are responsive, and they know us. This really helps gets things done efficiently.”

Deepening Relationships
Penn Community Bank believes that building strong relationships is the key to business success, for the bank itself and its customers. That’s why business customers are assigned a relationship officer, so they always have one point of contact if they have a question, are seeking advice, or need to resolve an issue.
“At some banks, the person you deal with at first just gets the business through the door and then moves on to the next prospect,” says Charles F. “Rick” Miller, Penn Community Bank Executive Vice President, Commercial & Industrial Lending Group Manager. “We’re not wired that way. Our goal is to grow and strengthen relationships by having a deeper understanding of our customers and their goals.” 
“When I work with a business owner to secure a loan or a line of credit, they deal with me throughout the entire process,” adds Boytin. “And we don’t go away once their business is in the bank. They always know they can call on me to help them grow their business.”
To learn how best to serve their customers, Penn Community Bank’s team members spend time getting to know business owners and their industries. They listen to their pain points and devise solutions to meet the challenges. In the case of law firms, much of that insight comes from business and community relationships the bank has with firms across Bucks County.

Solutions for Legal Professionals
Penn Community Bank relies upon attorneys across Bucks County for outside legal counsel for a variety of matters. When the bank—which has opened three new branches in the past two years—looks to buy or lease property, General Counsel Stephanie Schwartzberg turns to knowledgeable local real estate attorneys such as Maureen Burke Carlton, of Curtin & Heefner LLP. Schwartzberg also is active in the Bucks County Bar Association, and Penn Community Bank has sponsored events and workshops in partnership with the bar association.
Working so closely with so many different attorneys has helped the bank to understand the particular needs of law firms and to ensure that it has developed products, services and policies that help law firms succeed.
For example, remote check deposit enables law firms to deposit clients’ checks electronically, without having to leave their offices and travel to a branch in person. And when Howard’s firm ran into a limitation on the amount of money that could be transferred between accounts, Boytin was able to approve the transaction quickly so the client’s money could be transferred and the accounts could be reconciled before a deadline.
Schwartzberg continues to work with attorneys, including Bucks County Bar Association President Jessica Pritchard, of Antheil Maslow & MacMinn, to develop solutions to issues that vex attorneys, such as streamlining setup of escrow accounts and providing responsive deposit and investment services for estate counsel.

Shared Values and Commitment to Community
Frank Sullivan, Managing Partner of the Yardley office of Hill Wallack LLP, is a familiar face at organizations and events throughout Bucks County. Along with Penn Community Bank President and CEO Jeane M. Vidoni, he serves on the board of United Way of Bucks County and is active in the Central Bucks Chamber of Commerce, among others. He believes volunteering for and sponsoring nonprofit initiatives demonstrates a shared commitment to investing in the community.
“Penn Community Bank’s commitment to the community is well known,” Sullivan says. “I don’t remember being at a nonprofit event in Bucks County in the past 10 years where I haven’t sat with, talked to, or run into people from Penn Community Bank. 
“Giving back to the communities in which we work and live is a deeply ingrained component of the value system of Bucks County attorneys,” he continues. “The decision to collaborate with one another is much easier to make when you know that the other organization is actively involved in community outreach. This translates into knowing, almost intuitively, that you have a shared value system and work ethic.”
In November, Penn Community Bank is sponsoring a birth certificate clinic in partnership with Hill Wallack and Legal Aid of Southeastern PA.
Carlton echoes Sullivan’s comments, noting that Curtin & Heefner had worked for many years with the two local, mutual banks that joined together in 2015 to form Penn Community Bank.
“The past three years have demonstrated that they are still the same community bank, but they are better together as Penn Community Bank,” Carlton says. “Not only are they able to offer a greater breadth of products and services, they have the people and the resources to solidify that strong commitment to the communities in which they are located. 
“Penn Community not only participates in many events throughout the county, they make impressive contributions and sponsor many events for nonprofit agencies that are integral to our county’s fabric,” she continues. “I truly believe that their customers and potential customers appreciate that commitment to community. They are raising the bar for all banks. There is such a need for a true community bank such as Penn Community Bank.”

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Photography by Jody Robinson

Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Life Magazine, November 2018.