SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Financial security for many Americans is as unsettled now as it has been in decades due to the fallout from the coronavirus.
On the Central Coast, Montecito Bank & Trust is opening two locations this month, on the Mesa and in Westlake to increase its size to 13.
The Mesa location on Cliff Drive in the Mesa shopping center has the newest technology for customers on-site outside or inside the branch along with a full staff of banking representatives.
In this uncertain time, CEO Janet Garufis says there is a value to having a face-to-face sit down with customers who are looking to manage their money, reorganized their finances and make it through the pandemic.
Some of the national concerns have been payroll protection, stimulus funding, small business loans and mortgage protection along with refinancing.
Banks have set aside large sums of funds to cover their loans and manage issues that will arrive with bad loans. At the same time, they are watching the economic trends and warning signs of a possible double-dip of economic problems following the first wave when the pandemic and shutdown hit in March, April and May.
The Mesa branch has already had customers come in with immediate and long-range financial concerns.
Montecito Bank & Trust President, George Leis says, "I think during the pandemic we have noticed that our clients appreciate the ability to come in and interact with their banker. Nothing beats being able to sit down in front of your banker and having us help solve a problem together."
Garufis said, "we've seen a real surge, all banks have seen a surge in deposits. People are concerned about security, they bring their money to the bank because they feel this is the safest place to be."
It is a digital world and if they don't feel like walking in, technology is also just outside the door for a safe transaction, or through a smartphone and home computer.
Earlier this year there were hundreds of calls and applications that came in when federal loans were offered in the first few weeks of the pandemic. Business went through the ban as they processed online forms and had personal calls over the phone. It was a massive amount of coordination.
Branch Manager Jennifer Oakley said, "there will always be people here to answer their questions and help them out. "
These days your banker can also provide a little life coaching too.
"Sometimes things happen in people's lives that they weren't expecting," said Oakley. "We are prepared to adjust, as they have to adjust."
Long-range discussions are also on the table. Garufis said, "our bankers have been terrific about going through your financial situation." She says a common conversation involves going over "your balance sheet, the right loans at the right rates. We have been doing a ton of refinancing for people just because it is an appropriate time to do that."
The Mesa branch also has a community room for nonprofits and groups to meet for a work session. Oftentimes they have the organization's money in an account as well.
Using the latest technology, this branch also has a mega screen presentation with information, bank services and pictures of community partners, all in rotation.
In opening a new site, it is also getting community outreach underway with local fundraising, Mesa improvement programs and projects with the schools.