An update with Mark O’Connell, Avidia’s president & CEO
Even in this heated political season, we can all still agree on one thing: 2020 has been hard! We’ve had to watch restaurants, stores, and other institutions we’ve come to rely on close their doors forever. And all that may have you wondering about another type of institution – your financial one.
To be perfectly honest (something we pride ourselves on being), 2020 hasn’t been easy on most businesses, including financial institutions.
In a recent article featuring Avidia’s President & CEO, Mark O’Connell, The Worcester Business Journal highlights how the pandemic has adversely impacted the bottom lines for local financial institutions. But if you’re an Avidia customer, employee, or live or own a business in a community Avidia supports, there’s actually reasons to be optimistic. To discuss those, we virtually sat down with Mark to talk about the state of Avidia. Here’s a summary:
- Open for business. “We definitely don’t have the in-branch traffic we had before, as many people prefer to use drive-up windows, but we’re certainly open for those who require personal service,” said O’Connell. All of our branches remain open - for drive up service and offer walk-in service through appointment. The bank is also continuing to progress with construction of its new Washington Street Hudson branch (slated to open by June 2021), as well as completing the renovations of its corporate office in downtown Hudson.
- Increased deposits. Avidia, like most financial institutions, has seen strong growth in deposits as people may be saving more. It also demonstrates that customers continue to trust the financial strength of Avidia and other FDIC-insured institutions.
- Historic mortgage demand. The low rate environment may have negatively impacted bank profits, but it has certainly created a refinance boom at Avidia. “We had our biggest residential lending year ever,” cites O’Connell. In these challenging times, Avidia’s commitment to mortgage lending has helped people lower their mortgage payments, consolidate debt, and even realize their dreams of purchasing homes.
- Continuing to support local businesses. Despite the challenges businesses face in an uncertain economy, Avidia continues to provide lending support. Spurring our strength and growth in business lending was the bank’s leadership role with the Payroll Protection Program (PPP). Avidia originated more PPP loans than any bank of its size. “Business owners that couldn’t get PPP loans from larger financial institutions turned to us for these loans, and even moved their banking relationships to Avidia,” says O’Connell.
- Flexibility for employees. The bank continues to operate at full staff and to provide a valuable benefit – work-at-home flexibility. “Employees who have school-age children face tremendous challenge and anxiety,” shares O’Connell. “Allowing them to work at home has provided much needed flexibility to manage these new challenges without impacting the service we provide.”
- Supporting communities in need. Avidia has stayed true to one of our most important missions – giving back to make life better for local people. “We’ve made charitable donations to all area food pantries as well as UMass Memorial Marlborough Hospital for personal protective equipment,” shares O’Connell. In fact, between the charitable foundation and bank deposits, Avidia has donated more than $400,000 to local organizations this year.
So, while 2020 has been a year of challenge, and many uncertainties still loom, there are reasons to feel optimistic about Avidia. Our leader honestly feels that way. “We’re doing well,” says O’Connell.