The list of the nation’s fastest growing companies includes the likes of Facebook, Amazon and … Belmont Savings!?!
The local bank made Fortune Magazine’s list of Top 100 Fastest Growing Companies for 2017 – a select list of companies that included just five from Massachusetts and seven savings banks. Fortune summed up the bank’s emergence in a brief description: “Once a sleepy savings bank, this 132-year-old Massachusetts institution is emerging as a regional powerhouse.”
Listed on the NASDAQ (and Fortune’s list) as BSB Bancorp, Inc., Belmont Savings has had 18 straight quarters of growth, according to the bank’s end of the year earning’s announcement.
“Excluding the impact of the Tax Reform Act, the Bank has had 18 consecutive quarters of earnings growth. For the year ended December 31, 2017, the Company reported net income of $14.39 million or $1.55 per diluted share as compared to net income of $11.98 million or $1.33 per diluted share for the year ended December 31, 2016 or an increase in net income of 20.1%.”
While recognizing that Belmont Savings is still a small fish compared to the national banks, the bank has found success by focusing on old-fashioned local banking, said Belmont Savings President and CEO Robert Mahoney, who has led the bank since 2010.
“We provide much more personal service,” Mahoney said. “When you go to a bank you get to talk with someone in person. It is a community banking model. We’ve had some good success, and Watertown has been a great place for us.”
The bank is always looking for more customers, and Mahoney said Belmont Savings prefers going to community events to buying big advertising campaigns.
“We sponsor events such as the (Watertown Education Foundation’s) Spelling Bee and the Faire on the Square – they are great for meeting and engaging with (prospective customers) – rather than taking out full-page ads in the Boston Globe” Mahoney said. “We probably attend two events a week.”
The bank has three stand-alone branches (two in Belmont and one on Mt. Auburn Street in Watertown Square), as well as three branches inside supermarkets. The Watertown branch is one of Belmont Saving’s biggest and busiest, and Mahoney said it benefits from having plenty of parking.
The supermarket branches are a great place for visibility, Mahoney said. And, unlike a regular branch where almost everyone is already a bank customer, the branches inside supermarkets are surrounded by people who are not Belmont Savings customers – not yet, at least. One of these is in the Star Market on Mt. Auburn Street just over the in Cambridge, with others in Waltham and Newton.
The bank has also taken advantage of the strong local real estate market, as well as local institutions. The bank has financed some smaller condominium projects in Watertown, but perhaps its most recognizable commercial development project that Belmont Savings has financed is the project that transformed the former Macy’s in Belmont Centre into several stores, including Foodies Market.
Belmont Savings tries to bring in local deposits from individual customers and business loans, and they also have accounts from municipalities, including the Town of Watertown, and from colleges, such as Boston College, UMass, Boston University and Suffolk University, Mahoney said.
The bank has not followed paths that other banks ventured into in recent years, such as insurance, student lending or wealth management, according to Mahoney.