Serving Delaware for over 181 years

August 7, 2013

WSFS Bank was founded in 1832, seven days before the city of Wilmington, said Rick Wright, executive vice president and chief retail banking officer. Like the city, it has grown and evolved over the last 181 years. It was founded by Judge Willard Hall on the premise that a bank could help the average saver — “the common man” — by providing a safe place to save one’s money.

WSFS is the seventh oldest bank in the United States continuously operating under the same name. The initials stand for Wilmington Savings Fund Society, but the bank has evolved the acronym to incorporate its mission, “We Stand For Service.” Wright said, “The bank is focused and dedicated to service. The commitment to provide customers exceptional service in retail banking has been at the core of WSFS since its inception and that is why and how the bank has withstood the test of time.” 

Many banks proclaim “people are our biggest assets,” but WSFS can prove it. For the past 10 years WSFS has worked closely with the Gallup organization measuring both associate and customer engagement. WSFS consistently ranks at “world-class” levels of associate and customer engagement. Wright explained, “Our customer engagement scores are beyond the 90th percentile in Gallup’s database of all companies that it measures.”

Stephanie Heist, vice president and director of communications, added that Gallup has a measurement they call “engagement ratio,” which measures actively engaged associates compared to those actively disengaged. In the average company, the ratio is 1.5 engaged to 1 disengaged. “Our branches boast a 37:1 ratio,” she said. “That speaks for itself in terms of our commitment to our associates and empowering them to serve our customers and communities.”

Wright described one of the ways the bank has achieved the world-class rating. Unlike other banks, he said, “over 10 years ago we decided it made sense not to have separate tellers and sales associates, but instead people who could service any need that the customer might have. Our tellers, whom we call personal bankers, are able to assist our customers and not pass them from associate to associate.” In addition to transactions, “they can also sell products, handle service requests, and are encouraged to assist customers with all aspects of their financial needs.”  

In the newest bank branches, WSFS Bank interiors are permeable. “A person can easily step away from the teller line and enter an office with a customer to speak about financial planning or loans,” said Wright. The lobby contains automated cash recyclers; there are no drawers with cash.

“Whatever the customer wants, whomever they see can generally help them,” Wright said. 

With the introduction of online and mobile banking, the banking industry now is looking at lower transactions at the branch than in the past. Other banks are trying to come to grips with that, perhaps with fewer tellers or closing branches. WSFS was prepared for this. Wright said, “At WSFS, we evolved into this model over many years, not relying on getting transactions, but seeing ourselves as a service-based bank. We provide the right solutions to the customer based on their unique needs.”

He adds, “We have the same kinds of mobile solutions as anyone else, but we think personal interaction is a strength. It has enabled us to provide world-class levels of service to our customers.”

Whereas a typical bank may spend a week or so training new employees who then go from classroom to the branch for more on-the-job training, at WSFS, training is constantly evolving. New associates spend seven weeks training in the classroom, learning transactions, service functions, and how to deliver stellar service. “Our training is substantially more than other banks,” Wright said. “And our customers value this level of experienced personal bankers.”

One result is less turnover, he noted. “If you have people you pay more because they do all these functions, and invest time training them, you can’t afford the turnover of a typical bank. We work hard to make sure that’s a relatively small number.”

WSFS Bank has convenient branch offices in all three Delaware counties, as well as southeastern Pennsylvania.   

“We consider ourselves the only community bank in Delaware that serves the whole state. We have five branches in Kent County, seven in Sussex and 22 in New Castle,” Wright said. “We also have an ATM network of more than 450 ATMs in and around Delaware, more than other banks, combined. And Cash Connect, our ATM division, manages ATMs across the country.”

WSFS provides competitive rates and a full range of financial products and services that include checking accounts, savings accounts, money markets, CDs, home equity loans and lines, mortgages, and trust and investment management services. 

WSFS Bank also meets the needs of large and small businesses with a full array of customized checking, savings, credit, cash management and investment solutions – all developed for the special needs of businesses.

In addition to serving customers, making a visible impact on the lives of others is a driving force behind WSFS’s community efforts. WSFS directs contributions to nonprofit organizations that work to advance four focus areas: education, health and human services, programs for the homeless, and economic development and business growth. Each WSFS associate is encouraged to volunteer four hours of compensated time a month to serve at the nonprofit of their choice. More than half of WSFS associates participate, donating their time, talent and enthusiasm to community service projects throughout the Delaware Valley. Last year alone, WSFS associates gave more than 10,000 hours of their time to more than 200 local organizations, the majority of those hours after work and on weekends.

You’re bound to see them in your local community too. Stop by any branch to see what WSFS associates can do for you. For the branch nearest you, visit wsfsbank.com or call toll-free, 1-888-WSFSBANK. 

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