Writer: Felipe Rivas
2 min read June 2021 — With roots that date back to more than a century of serving its local communities, OceanFirst Bank continues to enjoy organic growth underpinned by its ability to be nimble but large enough to service the complexity of its clients’ needs. The South Jersey provides great tailwinds for the bank’s growth in the New Jersey market. “We recognized that the opportunities in South Jersey promote tremendous growth potential for the bank into an area of the state boasting a multitude of diverse communities and industries,” First Senior Vice President & Regional President Vincent D’Alessandro told Invest:. in a recent interview.
What makes OceanFirst Bank unique?
OceanFirst Bank is a 120-year-old institution which continues to pride itself first and foremost on our people. In the last five years, via organic growth as well as through acquisitions, we have seen our staff increase to over 1,100 great bankers. The bank has successfully completed numerous acquisitions with the result each time improving our overall services, products, and experiences that we are able to provide to our clients. We remain small enough to be nimble and agile in servicing our clients but large enough to provide sophisticated solutions to them. Our growth has enabled us to become a more geographic and people diverse organization which gives us the opportunity to be exposed to more perspectives thus enhancing our company. This all gives our clients and staff the best banking experience possible.
Why is M&A activity increasing across the industry?
The framework of what comprises managing a bank has changed dramatically over the last decade. We are now fully immersed in the modern-day reality that we are living in a digital world. Clients are looking for multiple channels through which to do business including having access to a full array of sophisticated and advanced products. Banks failing to dedicate resources to its digital advancement and in dealing with the new demands of a faster-paced environment may find themselves having no other option but to sell to a larger organization which can provide such enhancement to their clients. For this reason, along with the ever-changing and more demanding compliance requirements on banks, M&A activity is anticipated to remain high. As banks fall behind the times and are financially struggling to grow fast enough are left with little options but to sell.
What makes South Jersey a great market for OceanFirst Bank?
South Jersey was the very first region outside our original footprint of Ocean and Monmouth Counties with which to start our acquisitions. We recognized that the opportunities in South Jersey promote tremendous growth potential for the bank into an area of the state boasting a multitude of diverse communities and industries. South Jersey enables companies to grow and expand given the region’s affordability of land versus other areas of the tri-state region while providing great access to corridors and ports. The growth of South Jersey has also been enhanced by the recent pandemic migration of people from urban areas such as Philadelphia. We have found that clients in South Jersey are extremely loyal and are appreciative of our bank due to our commitment to the area of the state. We are so impressed by the diverse businesses in the area, many of which are multigenerational which indicates to us that people are committed to their family-run companies. South Jersey also boasts a high quality of life with great educational institutions at all levels which should bode well for its future.
How would you describe the importance of small business to South Jersey?
Small businesses continue to be the framework of our economy especially in South Jersey. The small businesses in our region are the cornerstone of our commerce in the area due to their tireless commitment to providing the products and services we all need based on their understanding of the local marketplace. These are business owners who live here and best understand our needs. The bank is currently in process of bolstering its Business Banking group to ensure we are providing all the necessary offerings to best take care of the financial and banking needs of small businesses. These companies that are the lifeblood of our economy are truly reliant on the connectivity they have with their community banks and bankers. Many of them operate without CFOs, Controllers and Financial Specialists, so they have a special reliance on the relationship they develop with their banker. We cater to small-business leaders and make sure we have programs in place to support them and the communities in which they operate. Along with our banking support and the grants provided in our region by the bank’s Foundation, the employees of the bank also remain actively involved in volunteering in the community through our WaveMakers team which gets us all out into the community to make sure the not-for-profits remain strong and that small businesses have the resources they need.
What are the main challenges going forward for the banking industry?
Banks will be challenged to continue to grow and re-engineer themselves in an ever-changing world filled with higher levels of digital connectivity and the need for better efficiencies. The old-fashioned traditional bank will need to be focused on developing better technology in building digital platforms required to support its customer’s needs coming out of the pandemic and to gain the efficiencies necessary to deal with the changing industry without relying so exclusively on the old ‘brick-and-mortar’ structure of the past. Additionally, banks will need to remain vigilant in providing lending discipline to the borrowing community to not create over-leverage in the economy and potential credit risks in their loan portfolios. Being diligent in its lending activities while enhancing its digital offerings and continuing to recruit strong bankers are the main challenges for banks at the current time.
What is your outlook for OceanFirst Bank?
OceanFirst will continue to focus on growing and in developing deeper diversity in line with our experiences over the past 5 years which has resulted in an organization with more it can offer to its clients and more it can provide in perspective to its team members. The continued build-out of state-of-the-art digital technology remains a priority so we can continue to give our clients multiple product choices and efficient channels to do business connected to their great bankers. What we have done to build out our platform has allowed us the ability to connect to our clients in a faster, deeper, and more effective way which helps them to be more competitive in running their businesses. We continue to provide more and more sophisticated tools to our bankers in assisting them with supporting their clients. Our outlook for growth and opportunities, because of the long-term connections we have made and relationships we have enhanced during the pandemic, is very positive. Most importantly, we will continue to be there for our clients, combining digital and human connectivity.
For more information, visit: https://oceanfirst.com/