GRBblog

Welcome to the GRBblog! Get to know GRB, Rochester's only locally owned and managed commercial bank. A commercial bank, but also a community bank, with an entrepreneurial spirit about everything we do. We're committed to Growing Rochester Business and making our community a better place to live and work.

The GRBblog is where we post bank news and information, stories about the great organizations we support, and share relevant local and national business news.


Celebrate Black History Month with Western and Central New York Connections

Black History Month illustration

This month GRB is celebrating the contributions that Central and Western New York’s Black leaders have made in creating a diverse and inclusive culture. While we acknowledge that the journey for equality is ongoing, we are proud to be part of communities with vibrant and longstanding histories of Black leadership.

In Rochester, we are fortunate to be able to draw inspiration from the generational progress that began with Frederick Douglass. Rochester’s Frank Stewart started the first Black baseball team in 1866 and Hester C. Jeffery founded the Susan B. Anthony Club for Colored Women in 1891. We are also proud to celebrate Beatrice Amaza Howard, the first Black woman to graduate from the University of Rochester in 1931 and Rochester’s own Cab Calloway, a Grammy award-winner and gifted entertainer. We acknowledge the accomplishments of Kathryn Green Hawkins, the first Black woman to join the Rochester Police department. Hawkins served first as an officer in 1956 and was subsequently promoted to lieutenant in 1964.

In Syracuse, the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park recognizes one of the Underground Railroad’s most iconic figures. Syracuse also celebrates Sarah Loguen Fraser, the daughter of Underground Railroad conductors and the first Black woman to graduate from the Syracuse University College of Medicine. Syracuse Stars baseball player Moses Fleetwood Walker was actually the first Black man to play professional baseball. In 1884 he played for the Toledo Mud Hens and later the Syracuse Stars. After Moses, professional baseball remained segregated until Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947. Syracuse University also boasts the accomplishments of Ernie Davis, the first Black player to win the Heisman Trophy in 1961.

Activities to Celebrate Black History Month

We know that our Western and Central New York cities would not be the diverse ecosystems they are today without the perseverance of Black leaders who chose to contribute their considerable talents in the communities we call home. In celebrating the past, we hope to find the inspiration to continue moving forward.

If you are interested in attending events to celebrate these and many more incredible leaders, we encourage you get involved in local events that highlight local and national thought leaders including those hosted by the University of Rochester, Rochester Museum and Science Center, and Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, as well as by Syracuse University and other activities suggested by Visit Syracuse.

Check back on GRB’s social channels throughout the month for great local destinations to help celebrate Black History Month.


First-time Homebuyer Mortgage Program Launches for 2023 – Offers Up To $10,000 in Grants

Homebuyer Dream Program logo

As a bank, GRB is able to work with the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York (FHLBNY) to provide grant assistance to qualified first-time homebuyers. The Homebuyer Dream ProgramTM provides grants of up to $10,000 towards the purchase of a home in New York.  This is a program that is only available to banks, mortgage brokers are not able to access grant funds for this program.

The FHLBNY uses an allotment program, providing lenders with a set amount of funding.

The program begins accepting applications for funds on March 27, 2023.

Homebuyer Dream Program* (HDP) eligibility requirements

  • Must be first-time homebuyers**
  • Reside and purchase a home in New York
  • Have a household income at or below 80% of area median income (i.e., in Monroe and Onondaga county, 1 or 2 person households, up to $69,680. In households of more than 3 people, the maximum income level is now $80,132)
  • Complete an accredited homeownership course
  • Meet the income and credit requirements for the program
  • Have the minimum equity contribution of $1,000 toward purchase of the home
  • Remain in the home for five years or repay a portion of the grant funds back to FHLBNY

Important information

  • Up to $9,500 in grant funding is available to be applied to down payment and closing costs
  • Up to $500 in grant funding is available to offset the cost of the homeownership course

Find out if you qualify

For more information, contact our mortgage professionals.

Please note, the information in this post refers to the 2023 HDP. The Federal Home Loan Bank of New York assesses the HDP on an annual basis and the program is subject to change. Please go to our Mortgage Loans page for more information on the HDP and other grant and lending options.

*Homebuyer Dream Program is a trademark of the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York.

**First-time homebuyer as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”), is an individual who meets any of the following criteria:

  • An individual who has had no ownership in a principal residence during the 3-year period ending on the date of the purchase of the property. This includes a spouse (if meets the above test, they are considered first-time homebuyers).
  • A single parent who has only owned a principal residence with a former spouse while married.
  • Individual who is a displaced homemaker and has only owned a principal residence with a spouse.
  • An individual who has only owned a principal residence not permanently affixed to a permanent foundation in accordance with applicable regulations.
  • An individual who has only owned a property that was not in compliance with state, local or model building codes and could not be brought into compliance for less than the cost of constructing a permanent structure.


Putting Consumers in Control of their Data

We live in an ever-changing digital landscape where one data breach can be devastating for you and your personal information.

Data Privacy Week image. Jan. 22-28, 2023.

This week marks the start of Data Privacy Week, an annual campaign that educates individuals and businesses about the importance of online privacy. To keep your data safe, it helps to know more about the ways it can be used and how you can protect it.

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How Companies Leverage Your Data

Some of the top firms in the world built their empires on the data collected from our personal gadgets, electronic transaction history, and search histories. Personal data is also the foundation for millions of small businesses and innumerable startups, who use it to provide individualized digital services, market forecasts, and customer insights.

The commercial use of personal data has grown like wildfire in the last twenty years. But fortunately, the changing tides of public opinion are putting data privacy into the forefront of social consciousness.

The Trend Toward Additional Data Privacy Protections

While we are not safe from all digital attacks, especially from criminal organizations and professional hackers, private organizations are slowly losing their grip over the data stored on their platforms. Selling data such as spending habits, high traffic times, and time per page was acceptable in the recent past. Today, that information is often protected as personal data.

This is not to say that the companies who collect this data are suddenly trustworthy. But the convergence of consumer mistrust, government action, and market competition is forcing their collective hands. The trend is in favor of more protections for consumer data consumer data.

Be Aware of Privacy Policies

Increasingly, consumers have the ability to take control of their data and how it’s used. Consent is key with data allowances and what users agree to in terms and conditions agreements will be what dictates how even the largest online companies can use, store and protect your data.

Reading through those agreements and understanding what you agree to is more critical than ever. Often, that agreement is all that holds online companies to enforceable codes.

Protect Your Data

This week, pay extra attention to who has, and uses, your data. From there, you can decide to make changes so you are in the best position to continue to manage your private information on an ongoing basis. At GRB, we take data privacy seriously. Read more about the bank’s approach in our Privacy Policy. Other resources available related to data privacy include:

National Cybersecurity Alliance – Wide range of resources related to phishing, hacked accounts, MFA, etc.

Federal Trade Commission – Privacy resources for businesses related to children, health information, consumers, data, and more.

Federal Trade Commission – Identity theft and online security information for consumers.


Three Steps to Financial Wellness in the New Year

New year. New goals. When planning out your next 12 months, don’t forget to consider your financial wellness and what steps can be taken to strengthen your financial health. Get started with theses three simple, but crucial steps to help make 2023 a financially fantastic year.

Save More

Financial Wellness illustration with plant growing from coin with a dollar sign.

Saving more is something we all say we will do every time the ball drops on the New Year’s. But budgeting and setting achievable goals for yourself can help that plan become a reality. By next year, you’ll be able to put yourself in a better financial positon. Start by increasing your 401(k) contribution, setting up transfers to high-yield accounts, and simply being more aware of your spending. Use an app to track spending categories or try a Certificates of Deposit (CD) to save money and help combat inflation. 

Prioritize your Credit

If you have less than stellar credit (score of under 670), improving your credit should be high on your financial to-do list. Your credit score has a significant impact on your ability to obtain loans at a competitive interest rate. Paying down and paying off credit cards and other debt can raise your score. Keep paying bills on time and in full, set up autopay, and pay off long-standing debt. Doing that consistently will raise your score and boost your credit health. Look for additional tools that can help you understand which credit cards and other debt should be paid first to provide the biggest boost to your financial health.

Build a Budget – and Stick to It

Budgets can at times feel constricting. But tracking your spending, and knowing how much you have to spend, is critical to meeting long-term financial goals. A clear budget sets you up for success by actively monitoring how much you have available to save and spend.  Starting with your fixed expenses and working out from there allows you to stay in control of your spending while being able to see where your money is going each month.

For more tips and tools on building financial strength in the 2023, go to GRB’s Financial Wellness page.


GRB Earns Gold Award from U.S. SBA for Small Business Lending

Genesee Regional Bank (GRB) is pleased to be recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) with a Gold Award for its small business lending activities for the period from Oct. 2021 through Oct. 2022.

GRB's Commercial lending team accepts the Gold award from the U.S. Small Business Administration

GRB accepts the U.S. Small Business Administration Gold Award from the U.S. SBA. From left, Commercial Credit Manager Stacey Szabo, Commercial Relationship Manager Ian McLeod, SBA Rochester Branch Manager Virginia Smith, Chief Lending Officer Timothy Jones, Commercial Banking Team Lead Sam Gueli, Chief Credit Officer Randall Cardon, and Commercial Services Manager Cathy Doran.

Commercial Relationship Manager Ian McLeod receives the 2022 individual SBA Spark Award. From left, Chief Credit Officer Randall Cardon, Ian McLeod, and Chief Lending Officer Timothy Jones.

The bank closed 28 SBA loans totaling more than $10 million. According to the SBA, those loans supported 700 jobs in our community.

We are also proud to announce that Commercial Relationship Manager Ian McLeod received the SBA’s individual Spark Award for his extraordinary efforts in bringing in nearly half of GRB’s SBA loans last year.

Congratulations to the entire GRB Commercial lending team and a special shout out to Ian McLeod!


New Conforming Loan Limits for 2023

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has announced new maximum conforming loan limits for 2023.

Conforming Loan Limits for 2023

Wooden blocks with a home and 2023 spelled out.

In Central and Western New York:

  • The maximum conforming FHFA loan limit for one-unit properties will be $726,200. This is an increase of $79,000 over the 2022 limits.
  • Multi-family property conforming limits also increased. Two-family properties are up to $929,850 and three-unit homes are up to $1,123,900. The new limit for four-unit properties is $1,396,800.

The Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA) requires that the baseline conforming loan limit be adjusted each year for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The adjustment reflects changes in the average U.S. home price. The percentage increase in the maximum conforming loan limit follows the Housing Price Index for the prior four quarters.

“The annual FHFA adjustment is an important tool for homebuyers,” said GRB’s SVP, Residential Mortgage Manager Mike Pulver. “The additional boost in limits provides better financing options for loans that would traditionally have fallen into the ‘jumbo’ category.”

For new loan applications or applications already in process, the loan amounts will be subject to 2022 limits as long as the loan closes by Dec. 31. Loans closing on Jan. 1 or after will fall under the 2023 limits.

FHA loan limits are expected to increase as well. We will post updates as they become available.

Contact GRB’s Mortgage Team with any questions.


Cyber Monday Fraud Could Reach All-time High

With more and more people shopping online for the holidays, Cyber Monday is setting up to be the largest fraud day of the year. We all love a deal during the holiday season, but no red tag is worth compromising your digital security.

SEON, an organization specializing in online fraud prevention, predicts that during the upcoming Black Friday weekend, cyber scams will be up more than 100 percent over a typical weekend. The company is forecasting that bots and fake profiles will play a major role in the fraud uptick.

With Americans expected to spend north of $10 billion this year on Cyber Monday, shoppers should follow a few basic rules to help keep their accounts secure as they snag great holiday deals:

1. Do your holiday shopping with reputable retailers

When it is possible, stick to big name retailers whose check out process is more likely to be highly secure. If you are shopping small this holiday season, go directly to the retailer’s website instead of buying through a third party.

2. Learn to spot holiday shopping scams.

It can be easy to look past red flags when you’re rushing to check out, but that is when a scam is most likely to hit. Take your time and if something seems too good to be true, trust yourself and verify it with the retailer before releasing any personal information.

3. Safeguard store accounts with strong passwords.

If you are creating accounts instead of checking out as a guest, make sure that the passwords associated are unique and strong. Avoid reusing passwords from other websites. Password managers can make it easy to create strong passwords and keep them all in a secure place.

4. Actively monitor your acccounts.

If yyou don’t typically use text and email notifications to monitor your accounts, this is a great time to start. Setting up real-time notifications can stop potential fraud quickly. For joint accountholders, talk to each other about where you plan to shop so you are both prepared to monitor charges.

5. Slow down on the click-thrus.

As purchase confirmations hit your email account on Cyber Monday, it’s tempting to click now and ask questions later. Remain vigilant. Take even more time to review the text in confirmation emails, especially if they ask you to click on a link, fill out a form, or provide additional personal information.

This holiday season keep yourself and your information safe, and if you suspect fraud contact your bank and report it as soon as possible. If you are concerned about other digital security issues, please go to our Security Resources page.


GRB’s Megan Antonitto Honored in Forty Under 40 Class of 2022

It is with great pride that we recognize VP, Risk Management Officer Megan Antonitto as a member of the Rochester Business Journal’s (RBJ) Forty Under 40 Class of 2022.

RBJ Forty Under 40 Awards, Megan Antonitto, 2022

“This year’s award recipients join a long list of professionals who are changing the business landscape in Rochester and beyond,” noted RBJ Associate Publisher and Editor Ben Jacobs.

With more than 15 years of experience in accounting, auditing and financial services risk management, Megan is responsible for leading GRB’s comprehensive Risk Management and Compliance program. This includes managing the Bank’s interactions with its regulatory bodies on the state and federal level, including the New York State Department of Financial Services and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

Megan holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in accounting and business from SUNY Geneseo, as well as a Master’s in Business Administration from Saunders College of Business at Rochester Institute of Technology. She is a Certified Banking Information Security Officer, NAFCU Certified Risk Manager, Certified Internal Auditor, and a Certified Fiduciary & Investment Risk Specialist. Megan is a current Board Member of the Rochester, NY Chapter of the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA), a member of the Risk & Insurance Management Society (RIMS) – Upstate New York Chapter, and a member of the Association of Continuity Professionals. She remains focused on learning and is currently enrolled in the American Bankers Association Stonier Graduate School of Banking at Wharton Business School.

Passionate about volunteering and helping to build the Rochester community, Megan has been member of the United Way Emerging Leaders Society for more than a decade and currently sits on its advisory council. At GRB, she takes the lead in supporting the Bank’s fundraising efforts for the United Way Annual campaign and organizing volunteers for the annual United Way Day of Caring.

Congratulations, Megan!


GRB Celebrates Appearance on 2022 Top 100 List

GRB is pleased to announce it was named no. 49 on the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce “2022 Top 100” list.  GRB is the only bank on the Top 100 list.

To be eligible for the Top 100, businesses must be privately held, headquartered in the nine-county Rochester region, and have earned at least $1 million in revenue in each of the three most recent fiscal years. The Top 100 is computed based on revenue growth, taking into account both dollar and percentage growth.

We are also proud to note how many GRB customers and partners are on the Top 100.  The exciting new ideas brought to market by newer companies on the list and the consistent growth of those who make the list year after year are a testament to the strength and innovative spirit of this region. 

Congratulations to everyone on the list for 2022! The full list can be found on the Chamber’s website.

And a sincere thank you to our GRB employees. Your hard work and commitment to serving our customers made this achievement possible. We are happy to be recognized as part of the Top 100, but we continue to work hard to ensure Rochester continues to provide opportunities for individuals, families, and businesses. Today, we take some time to celebrate. But we know there is a lot of work still to be done. We love this community and look forward to supporting its growth!


#BanksNeverAskThat – Every Day Cybersecurity Awareness

Can You Spot a Phishing Scam?

Graphic with sample phishing text messages like "Urgent! We need your account PIN to verify..."

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Every day, thousands of people fall victim to fraudulent emails, texts and calls from scammers pretending to be their bank. And the problem is only growing worse.

In fact, the Federal Trade Commission’s report on fraud estimates that American consumers lost a staggering $5.8 billion to phishing scams and other fraud in 2021—an increase of more than 70 percent over 2020.

It’s time to put scammers in their place.

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Look Before You Click

Online scams aren’t so scary when you know what to look for. And at Genesee Regional Bank, we’re committed to helping you spot them as an extra layer of protection for your account. We’ve joined with the American Bankers Association and banks across the country in a nationwide effort to fight phishing—one scam at a time.

We want every bank customer to become a pro at spotting a phishing scam—and stop bank impostors in their tracks. It starts with these four words: Banks Never Ask That. Because when you know something sounds suspicious, you’ll be less likely to be fooled.

Cybersecurity Awareness Red Flags

These four phishing scams are full of red flags:

  • Text Message: If you receive a text message from someone claiming to be your bank asking you to sign in, or offer up your personal information, it’s a scam. Banks Never Ask That.
  • Email: Watch out for emails that ask you to click a suspicious link or provide personal information. The sender may claim to be someone from your bank, but it’s a scam. Banks Never Ask That.
  • Phone Call: Would your bank ever call you to verify your account number. No! Banks Never Ask That. If you’re ever in doubt that the caller is legitimate, just hang up and call the bank directly at a number you trust.
  • Payment Apps: Beware of text messages from someone claiming to be your bank saying your account has been hacked. The scammer may ask you to send money to a new account they’ve created for you, but that’s a scam! Banks Never Ask That.

You’ve probably seen some of these scams before. But that doesn’t stop a scammer from trying. For tips, videos and an interactive game to help you keep phishing criminals at bay, visit www.BanksNeverAskThat.com. And be sure to share the webpage with your friends and family to help them stay safe during Cybersecurity Awareness Month.

GRB also has a number of Security Resources available on its website. You can also report fraud related to a GRB card or account online.