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.

PPP Loan Closings Begin at GRB

Phil Pecora, president and CEO Leadership Team Genesee Regional Bank GRB
President and CEO Philip Pecora

We are just a little more than 10 days into the launch of the Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and I am proud to announce that GRB has already closed its first 80 PPP loans. That means we are getting much-needed funds into the hands of our community businesses.  This initial group represents the first of more than 420 loans we expect to fund in the coming days and weeks.

For me, the importance of what we do as a community bank is always top of mind.  I have watched ideas become businesses, and businesses become pillars of the community.  As a community bank and SBA Preferred Lender, it is our job to help ensure the recovery of these organizations.  We are focused on doing it right – and doing it fast.

To make this happen our employees responded with inspired ideas, volunteered to learn new skills and implemented new technologies. They have displayed a commitment to helping our customers that is simply unmatched. Those efforts are appreciated more than you can imagine.

While there will still be challenges ahead, these first loan closings mark another step in the right direction.  I am proud of our employees and proud to be part of this community.  At GRB, we remain Here. For You.

Graphic featuring Rochester skyline and two people shaking hands representing SBA PPP loan closings

Making Progress on Helping Our Business Community

SBA Paycheck Protection Program graphic with Rochester skyline

In uncertain times, being able to help others can often be our greatest comfort.  Since this crisis began, GRB has implemented a number of protections for consumer customers to ease their financial burden.  I am proud to add that over the last 72 hours we have also been able to offer our small business customers some much-needed relief.

Phil Pecora, president and CEO Leadership Team Genesee Regional Bank GRB
President and CEO Philip Pecora

Our team members worked all weekend to secure APPROVED Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans for more than 250 Rochester businesses totaling more than $80 million.  Our entire Commercial banking team, along with many others throughout the bank who volunteered to help, navigated the requirements and the technology hiccups to secure the loans for our customers. The work will continue over the coming days as we finalize the process of getting funds in our clients’ hands. We could not be more proud of our team members for all their hard work and the role they’ve had in providing these businesses and our community with a little good news.

We all know this is just the beginning, but it is a step in the right direction.  At GRB, we are committed to helping our customers find the solutions they need to survive, recover and thrive.  We are Here. For You.

GRB President and CEO Phil Pecora Talks Community Bank Competitiveness with the Rochester Beacon

We’re proud to have GRB President and CEO Philip Pecora interviewed in the Rochester Beacon about the competitiveness of community banks.

Phil Pecora, president and CEO Leadership Team Genesee Regional Bank GRB
President and CEO Philip Pecora

Of particular note, the article points out that smaller banks are actually outpacing the growth of larger institutions:

“Despite the size differential, the smaller banks—which make up 92 percent of FDIC-insured institutions—continue to do well as a group. As of Sept. 30, community banks nationwide reported a total net income of $6.9 billion, a 7.2 percent increase from the same point in the previous year. By contrast, all FDIC-insured institutions reported a 7.3 percent decline in income during that period.”

“Our competitive advantage is that we’re local, and that we have a keen interest and knowledge of our local markets,” says Philip Pecora, president and CEO of Genesee Regional Bank. “Within that, we just feel that we can provide a higher level of service, both on the commercial banking side and on the residential mortgage side, and also retail banking.”

Read the whole article >

GRB Named to “Best Companies” List for Sixth Consecutive Year

GRB is pleased to announce it has once again been named to the “Best Companies to Work for in New York” state awards. This is the sixth consecutive year that GRB has made the list. The awards are decided based in large part on responses from employee surveys and is sponsored by the New York State Society for Human Resource Management (NYS-SHRM).

COO Allana Lazeroff Featured in Article on Bank Innovation

We’re pleased to recognize GRB’s Chief Operating Officer Allana Lazeroff as a contributor to a recent article on banking technology in the Rochester Business Journal. Nice job, Allana!

10 Tips to Make Sure Your Business is Ready for Saturday’s #ShopSmall Customers

With Small Business Saturday just around the corner, the U.S. Small Business Administration has provided a list of 10 tips to help business owners take full advantage of the opportunity to connect with local shoppers.

More than two-thirds of every dollar spent at local small businesses stays in the local economy, so Small Business Saturday makes a real impact. Last year’s Small Business Saturday sales reached an all-time high of $17.8 billion.

Photo promoting Small Business Saturday with tag, "Think Big. Shop Small."

Use these last few days before Nov. 30 to make sure your business is prepared to capture the attention of shoppers and turn them into repeat customers with these SBA tips:

  1. Give yourself a digital makeover. Check your website, social media accounts, and review sites to make sure all online information about your small business is accurate and up to date. Focus on what you offer, where you’re located, and how customers can contact you.
  2. Show what sets you apart. As a small business, it’s tough to compete with big box stores. In your marketing efforts, make sure customers know what makes your small business special. This can be a unique product or service or simply creating an inviting space for shoppers. Whatever that may be, communicate it to customers.
  3. Get social on social media. Promote Small Business Saturday deals and share how you’re preparing your store. Use #ShopSmall on your social media posts to join the overall conversation. Encourage shoppers to snap a selfie and tag your business. This can increase engagement of your posts, potentially reaching new customers.
  4. Plan an event. Organize a Small Business Saturday kickoff with food, drinks, and promotional items to draw shoppers in. Consider special discounts or free offerings for loyal customers. Set up an in-store activity that demonstrates your products or services.
  5. Partner up. Contact other small businesses in your area and see how you can team up to provide special offers. Consider highlighting a local charity at your business. It’s a great way to embrace the spirit of the season and give back.
  6. Leverage local events. Identify other holiday events and determine how your business can participate. This could lead to repeat customers and help you become a bigger part of the community.
  7. Promote gift cards. Many holiday shoppers buy gift cards or gift certificates for family and friends, representing a huge opportunity for your small business.
  8. Stay open longer. Small Business Saturday will most likely be your busiest day of the year. Extending your hours by opening earlier and closing later could have a big impact on sales.
  9. Chat with staff. Before Small Business Saturday, have a meeting with your staff. Reminding them to greet each shopper when they enter and exit your business. Thank them and show appreciation for their work. Making Small Business Saturday a win for your business is a total team effort!
  10. Track success. Take a few moments after Small Business Saturday to analyze what worked and what didn’t. This could help shape your strategy for next year.

Make a big splash this year as more people look to #ShopSmall! Good luck!

Never Forget

We all know where we were when we saw the events that would change our world forever. Our shared experience brought terrible, terrible grief. But it also brought us a collective strength that we use to remember this day with something positive.


WSJ Notes Lowest Mortgage Rates in Three Years: Is it Time to Refinance?

The Wall Street Journal recently noted that a window has opened for homeowners who may wish to refinance higher-rate home mortgage loans.  This follows an unexpected dip to below 4 percent in 30-year mortgage rates that started in May and has continued through the summer.  The end result is mortgage rates that are at their lowest level in three years. 

Photo of Mike Pulver
Mike Pulver
SVP, Residential Mortgage Manager

“Refinancing a mortgage can offer a number of benefits including reducing monthly payments, shortening the loan term (and the total interest paid over the life of the loan), and even taking cash out for other purposes like college tuition or home improvements,” said Mike Pulver, GRB’s SVP, Residential Mortgage Manager.

The difference of one percentage point between your current interest rate and today’s lower rates can make it worthwhile to refinance.  It pays to run the numbers and see if – or when – it may make sense to look refinancing your home loan.  The analysis only takes a few minutes and can help ensure you are getting the most from your home investment.

Find out more by using our free online mortgage calculator or reach out to someone on our team.

GRB President and CEO Featured in RBJ Article on Community Banks and Technology

Phil Pecora, president and CEO grb rbj rochester business journal
President and CEO Philip Pecora

GRB’s President and CEO Philip Pecora was featured in the Rochester Business Journal’s recent article on financial technology, and how community banks are able to keep pace with larger financial institutions.

Pecora noted that partnerships are important to community banks and GRB is always vetting new platforms and services to provide customers with technology solutions, while still maintaining a personal relationship with its client base.

“Twenty years ago, people used to think advanced technology would mean the end for community banks, but instead it’s been an enabler for community banks to keep pace with larger institutions,”said Pecora.

The full article can be seen in the RBJ’s July 19 edition.

FRAUD: Losses Rising as Scammers Leverage New Techniques

Employee Education and Awareness Keys to Prevention 

Fraud is on the rise and growing at an alarming rate among the small business community.  As scammers change their techniques, businesses need to raise their level of vigilance. 

According to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the number of suspicious activity reports (SARs) describing Business Email Compromise (BEC) incidents reported monthly has grown rapidly. They now average more than 1,100 per month in 2018 — that’s twice the amount reported in 2016.  The total value of attempted BEC thefts, as reported in SARs, climbed to an average of $301 million per month last year. 

Scammers are branching out, targeting construction and manufacturing companies, which typically deal in larger transaction amounts.  The average loss for these companies is more than $50,000 per incident. 

But This Doesn’t Happen in Rochester…Actually, it Does

“It’s tempting to look at the numbers above as a ‘national’ problem, and not one we’re having here in Rochester, but I can tell you first-hand that is absolutely not the case,” explains GRB’s Vice President, Risk Management Officer Brandon Beardsley.  “Rochester companies are being targeted and scammers are being successful.” 

Beardsley, who is part of a number of local security and risk management professional organizations, notes the following scams reported by local companies and financial institutions in just the last few months:

  • CEO Fraud – A fraudster impersonates an executive of a business and requests an urgent wire transfer or ACH transaction
  • Vendor Fraud – A fraudster intercepts communications between a business and one of its vendors and requests that in invoice be sent to a fraudulent account
  • Business Email Compromise – Targets employee direct deposit accounts, wires and ACH transactions, and IOLA accounts
  • Stolen checks/check fraud

“What we see is fewer scams targeting financial institutions. Instead, they are targeting the businesses directly,” says Beardsley.

Employees are Key

Beardsley also notes that technology, like enhanced firewalls and stronger passwords alone aren’t the answer to preventing fraud. He emphasizes that technical defenses need to align with employee awareness.

“Employees need to be trained to be suspicious of unusual requests and follow all verification procedures for any transaction.  Even everyday requests can be compromised, like Human Resources receiving a request to change an employee’s direct deposit account number.  There needs to  be a process for verifying requests that could allow for fraud to occur – preferably using a communication channel different from the one used to make the request,” says Beardsley.  “While technology is certainly helpful in fraud prevention, employees are still the most important factor in making sure a scammer cannot complete a fraudulent transaction.”

He also strongly encourages businesses to develop a comprehensive plan for raising fraud awareness. This should include employee training programs, and implementing additional tools for transaction verification.  GRB provides the Positive Pay solution as an additional protection against ACH and check fraud.

In addition, the Federal Trade Commission, the Small Business Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation provide resources that businesses can use to help create their own strategies for preventing financial losses from fraud.

“Financial fraud is a serious risk for businesses,” said Beardsley. “Everyone in the organization needs to be included in the prevention process.”

(more Fraud Prevention information is available on the GRB website)