When Jim Vaccaro was named President of Manasquan Bank in 2012, he had already accumulated a long track record of success in the financial world. He rose through the ranks of Citibank, became the Chief Financial Officer of Central Jersey Bank and Trust Company, helped form Monmouth Community Bank in 1998, and oversaw the eventual merger of that entity with Kearny Financial Corp.
While his resume is impressive by any standards, it’s Jim’s personal skills and boundless energy that stand out. “Energy is contagious,” he says. “I try to be thought provoking. When someone comes to me with an issue, I encourage him or her to also provide a potential solution. That reinforces everyone’s sense of value and bolsters confidence. It helps us build best of breed in our markets.”
Vaccaro is the first to say that all banks offer the same basic products. But the differentiators are customer service and efficient delivery of those products. “Similarity is not the same as ordinary. We challenge each of our departments to excel and empower our valued employees to make well thought out, customer centric decisions.”
He points to the commercial loan department as an example. “The nimbleness and flexibility we demonstrate to our applicants are unique in this industry. Customers are pleasantly surprised at our responsiveness. Loan decisions are typically made within two weeks,” he explains.
“Similarly, on the retail side, we have provided our branch personnel more tools, training and authority. This means customers can accomplish many more tasks with a single individual,” he adds. “That equates to better customer service and enduring customer relationships.
"Take that recipe and add more than a little dose of current technology and we have a banking model that stands up to any size bank in terms of products, but exceeds them on customer service. This combination of high tech with high touch manifests itself in positive operating results."
At year-end 2015, Manasquan Bank’s assets totaled almost $984 million. The bank’s 2015 net income of $7.2 million represented a compound annual growth rate over the past 5 years of 14%. Manasquan Bank is also among the top 11% of banks in the country in terms of total assets and the FDIC recognizes the institution as well capitalized.
Manasquan Bank’s return on average assets in 2015 was 78 basis points or 32 points above the national average of 46. Net Interest Margin was 3.31%, which is well above the national average of 2.96%. The bank’s efficiency ratio of 58% is more than 20 points better than the national average.
What’s more, Vaccaro believes this model is portable to other contiguous markets. In 2016, the bank will open a new branch in Ocean Township and its second Howell branch, giving Manasquan Bank a total of 10 branches.
Both of these markets are underserviced, particularly in terms of our target audiences,” explains the life-long Monmouth County resident. “Manasquan Bank is a community bank. The primary entities we serve include small and medium businesses, community governments and non-profits. We also cater to the individuals and families who maintain their checking accounts, savings and home mortgages with us,” he declares, adding that these particular sectors tend to be underserved by the big banks.
“We operate in an industry where ‘No’ is often the operative word. Say no to a loan applicant and you assume no risk. Tell someone they can’t use the coin counter because they don’t have an account and no one will notice. This view is shortsighted. Say ‘No’ often enough and your business will cease to exist,” he explains.
“We instituted some common sense policies here that believe it or not, are out of the ordinary for most banks. We have direct dial phones for example, which eliminated the need for gatekeepers.”
Manasquan Bank’s loan applications are processed -locally by our own team of loan officers, which leads to faster decisions. “An amazing thing happens when people can talk face to face,” says Vaccaro, pointing out that the bank’s loan portfolio is solid, with delinquencies well below industry norms.
“It’s all about hiring good people and providing them the tools, processes and procedures so that they are able to do their jobs well,” says the Ursinus College graduate. “One of the most critical positions at the Bank is the Human Resources Director. “I want Manasquan Bank to be the employer of choice within our industry. We are continually looking for qualified banking professionals, while also helping our internal staff with professional and personal development.”
For Jim Vaccaro, it’s always about personal service. Besides his banking career, he also served as the Chief Operating Officer of Springpoint Senior Living, Inc., the most prominent and largest not-for-profit provider of senior housing and healthcare in the State of New Jersey.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my tenure at Springpoint,” says Vaccaro. “It gave me the opportunity to serve our greatest generation. It was an uplifting experience that centered on compassion. We emphasized concern for the residents but also an empathy for the caregivers who are some of the most selfless people I have ever known,” he recalls.
While his passion for banking, brought him to Manasquan, he continues to serve the healthcare community in many ways. He serves on numerous local boards including Monmouth University, Barnabas Health, Monmouth Medical Center, Visiting Nurses Association of Central Jersey, and the First Leadership Cabinet and Interfaith Neighbors Advisory Board.
Manasquan Bank rewarded Jim’s contribution to the bank by naming him Chairman of the Board in November 2015. He also holds the titles of President and Chief Executive Officer.