WILMINGTON — If you’re not listening to the customers and changing to meet the market, then your business is not serving the community to the best of its ability. At least that’s how M&T Bank Delaware Market President Nick Lambrow views it.
So when he and other colleagues at M&T looked at the latest census numbers and saw the burgeoning growth of the Latino community in Georgetown, it was time to transition its banks to meet the needs of the community. M&T Bank is turning its Georgetown Center branch as a multicultural banking center, among the first in Delaware.
These eight branches, spanning from Wilmington to Georgetown, are part of M&T Bank’s most recent push to offer banking and other services in other languages and hire bankers from local communities.
“It’s important to our customers, and we’ve always felt that serving our communities in general — whether they’re diverse or not — is who we are,” Lambrow said. “There’s a lot of business and entrepreneurs there. In Georgetown, the demographics are changing so quickly and to not think about that means you’re not connected to the community.”
This will expand the number of M&T multicultural centers to 118 locations in cities across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. When the program first launched in late 2020, there were 19 designated branches.
To qualify, branches must employ at least one multilingual banker and be in a community where the population is at least 10% Asian America, Polish or Russian or 20% Latino or Black.
Signage, ATMs and websites will all be multilingual in those target communities, but most importantly, M&T will be hiring members of the community, paying a 10% premium for employees who are multilingual. It’s also critical to have staff who understands the needs — and concerns — of the community.
M&T Bank Vice President and Regional Community Reinvestment Officer Randy Kunkle said that the bank held focus groups across the branches, and specifically in Georgetown, one that included Latino business leaders and small business owners to talk about what they want to see in a neighborhood bank.
“In Latino cultures, there’s not a lot of trust in banks, whether it’s from their experiences or culture of origin, so they work a lot in cash. It’s about learning and making sure there’s someone in the branch they can talk to and feel comfortable with, who understands their community,” Kunkle said.