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For Mark Beriault and his team of 37 commercial lending staff, it’s all about people versus numbers.
“The sheer size of today’s national banks dictates interest in only big deals. If a loan request is not a number with at least six zeroes, it receives little if any interest,” he says.
Beriault is speaking from experience. His banking career began 37 years ago with a regional bank that, through a series of mergers and acquisitions, ultimately became Bank of America. “With each name change, we saw more centralized decision making and less customer service,” he recalls.
“At Manasquan Bank, the size of the loan request is secondary to the business owner or property owner making the request,” says Mark Beriault, Executive Vice President and Chief Lending Officer, who oversees all residential and business loans for the Bank.
Beriault joined the Bank in 2004 to expand its lending operations. He has assembled a team of seasoned local loan officers that contact borrowers personally and make informed decisions in a timely manner. “We typically get back to the applicant with a decision within two to three weeks,” he states.
Beriault’s team is nimble and customer service-oriented. “We can afford to be because all loan decisions are made right here. It also means we can service the loan more efficiently. If a business or property owner has a question, he or she calls the account officer directly. Our customers don’t need a toll-free number and an afternoon to spend on hold,” he says.
Beriault knows that a significant portion of Manasquan Bank’s business loans has been taken from multi-billion dollar institutions. “Servicing is the issue. When decisions are moved from local loan officers to out-of-state analysts, the customer suffers. We succeed because we give business owners prompt answers to their questions.”
The Farmingdale resident states the rest of Manasquan’s commercial loans come from long-term customers. For example, we have a coffee manufacturer who started with a small line of credit. A few years later, we financed the purchase of his building. Now he has multiple Real Estate holdings, a working capital line of credit, an equipment line of credit, and five buildings. We’ve grown together,” says Mark who adds that relationships like this remind him why he enjoys working at Manasquan Bank.
“I know that I can make a difference every day,” he says, noting that Manasquan Bank has been heavily involved in financing much of the rebuilding related to Hurricane Sandy. “We offer a construction loan that only charges interest on funds drawn. Once the building is complete it converts to a conventional mortgage,” he explains.
Beriault notes that while it simplifies the rebuilding process and eliminates duplicate closing costs, construction loans are much more labor-intensive for the lender. “Other area banks shy away from construction loans because of the added paperwork. We do it because it’s the right thing to do,” he adds. “What I do matters,” he concludes.