Bangor Savings Bank will launch its first credit cards

By Kathleen O’Brien, Bangor Daily News Staff

Despite a challenging year for banks that saw interest rates rise and distrust grow after Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse, Bangor Savings Bank netted nearly $42 million in income during the past fiscal year and will debut a new location and its first-ever credit card suite later this year.

Between March 2022 and April 2023, Bangor Savings Bank’s assets grew to more than $7.4 billion – a 7.1 percent increase from last year — and netted an income of nearly $42 million, according to Bob Montgomery-Rice, Bangor Savings Bank’s president and CEO. The bank’s loans also jumped 19 percent to $4.7 billion by April 2023. 

While the bank’s $42 million revenue marked a slight decrease from the $49.8 million it gained between April 1, 2021, and March 31, 2022, Montgomery-Rice said the drop doesn’t represent any significant decline in business. Instead, the pandemic-driven federal loans that were getting paid back resulted in above-average profits that the bank wouldn’t expect in a standard year. 

“The PPP loans were getting paid back, and that was significant one-time revenue that happened over two years,” he said. 

Bangor Savings also opened three new locations during the past fiscal year in Boothbay Harbor, Bar Harbor and Manchester, New Hampshire. The company plans to open another location in Kennebunk in the fall. 

With the new locations, the 171-year-old company boasted more than 1,000 employees across 68 branches and five business and loan production offices across Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts as of June. Together, they serve more than 260,000 customers. 

Bangor Savings’ Maine ABLE Benefit Checking, a program the bank launched in 2021 in partnership with the Maine State Treasurer that helps individuals with disabilities save money through checking accounts, finished the fiscal year with more than $2.7 million in deposits and 300-plus participants. Montgomery-Rice said Maine is the first state in the U.S. to offer such a program. 

“That’s almost $3 million more than people would normally have to improve their lives,” Montgomery-Rice said. “We hope other states adopt the model because helping people who are in that situation is important.” 

Bangor Savings also opened nearly 300 new accounts with its Benefit Promise program, which launched last year and helps people who have fallen out of or never entered the banking system due to bad credit or a significant life event. 

“When someone is outside the financial system, life is harder and more costly,” Montgomery-Rice said. “It’s not good for individuals and it’s not good for the economy.” 

Aside from opening a bank account and saving money, Gena Canning, Bangor Savings’ chair of the board, said the Benefit Promise program helps people and families gain financial stability and independence. 

The company also worked to expand its Buoy Local rewards program by integrating it with the Bangor Savings Bank Debit Mastercard. The program allows cardholders to earn loyalty points for patronizing the more than 1,600 local businesses involved in the program. 

“No other card in the country does that,” Montgomery-Rice said. “It incentivizes people to shop locally.” 

Looking ahead, Montgomery-Rice announced Bangor Savings will launch its own credit card suite, “everblue,” for business customers and individuals later this year. Business credit cards will be available later this month and everblue cards for consumers will debut in July. 

Despite the competitive housing market, driven in part by limited housing stock, the bank helped more than 2,000 customers secure $778 million in residential loans between April 2022 and March 2023, $703 million of which were purchases. 

The bank also provided 66 community development loans, totaling more than $107 million, to support 425 affordable housing units. 

Alongside its successes, Montgomery-Rice said the company also experienced a new challenge of customer unease and distrust following the abrupt collapse of Silicon Valley Bank. It led Bangor Savings employees to reassure customers that their money was safe and secure. 

“Whenever there’s instability in the banking system, all banks have to deal with it,” Montgomery-Rice said. “There was a confidence issue. We were never at risk, but we needed to make sure people understood that.”

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