Joseph R. Ficalora, New York Community Bancorp

Joseph R. Ficalora

“Now Your Community Bank”

Editors’ Note

Joseph Ficalora is also a director of New York Community Bancorp, Inc. He joined New York Community Bank in 1965 and has held positions of increasing responsibility across all lines of operations. Named President and Chief Operating Officer in 1989, he spearheaded the establishment of New York Community Bancorp four years later and has served as its President and Chief Executive Officer since its inception. From January 2007 through December 2010, Ficalora also served as Chairman of the company, a position he had held previously. A graduate of Pace University with a degree in business and finance, Ficalora serves as a Member Director of the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, having previously served as its Vice Chairman. He is a former member of the Board of Directors of the American Bankers Association (ABA) and is currently a member of the ABA’s Government Relations Council Administrative Committee, as well as a director of the New York Bankers Association (NYBA), serving as Chairman of its Metropolitan Area Division. He is a member of the Boards of Directors of Pentegra Retirement Trust and Pentegra Services, Inc.

Company Brief

New York Community Bancorp, Inc. (mynycb.com) is the 20th largest bank holding company in the nation with assets of $52.8 billion, and is the parent company of New York Community Bank. NYCB has evolved from a mutual savings bank with seven branches in Queens and Nassau Counties to a publicly-traded multi-bank holding company with over 230 branch offices serving consumers and businesses throughout Metro New York, New Jersey, Florida, Ohio and Arizona.

Will you highlight the history and heritage of New York Community Bancorp?

The company became a public company in 1993. Over the course of time, we have split our stock around nine times and our total return to our shareholders dramatically exceeds the total returns of others within the banking sector. The general return was around 600 percent for that 25-year period; for us it’s more than 3,700 percent. Depositors, who we have encouraged to buy our stock and hold on to it, have seen a great return.

We have been a very conservative bank going back to 1859 and we have remained true to this as a public company. Our lending model didn’t change at all after we went public.

We’ve created value by buying banks under circumstances that were highly beneficial to our proforma company and to our shareholders. Every deal that we have ever done has brought the stock price up dramatically.

New York City

The word “community” is in our name
and we try to keep our local identity
in each community.

New York City

As NYCB has grown, how critical has it been to maintain its culture?

We are a bank with nearly $53 billion in assets, but our culture is not one that you would find in a big bank. Our culture remains more like the small bank that we were, rather than the big bank that we are. Our culture is such that we operate like a stable, very consistent community bank that is customer orientated.

We try to maintain the local identity of the bank in each market that we operate in. So, while the name of the holding company is New York Community Bancorp, in our individual markets we are the local bank. In Queens, we’re known as the Queens County Savings Bank. In Ohio, we’re the Ohio Savings Bank. On Long Island, we’re the Roslyn Savings Bank. The word “community” is in our name and we try to keep our local identity in each community. NYCB could actually be known as “Now Your Community Bank,” because we are in so many markets outside of New York and always work to maintain that local community feel.

How do you balance the need for technology from younger customers while still providing older customers with the human touch?

There is a big distinction between how the young and the old do their banking. Old depositors are people that have hundreds of thousands of dollars, even millions of dollars, in deposit with the bank and are very loyal. Young customers at the bank today are very fluid; they don’t have the money to make large deposits and will leave quickly if their life circumstance changes.

But we still need to recognize that young people represent a different kind of business model and we must have all the necessary bells and whistles for them. At the same time, we have to take care of the grandmother who has had a savings account with us for 40 years with no bells and whistles – just money.

We appreciate the priorities and the goals and the resources of all of our customers and can accommodate those different needs to meet their expectations.

NYCB has a diverse customer base. How important is it that your workforce mirrors that diversity?

We have human resource practices that enforce that all operating branches should reflect the community they are in. We go out of our way to make our branches reflective of the communities in which we operate.

Is corporate responsibility and community engagement a responsibility of leading companies today and how important is this to NYCB?

I personally have the Ficalora Family Foundation. When we became a public company, I decided to allocate stock to my capacity to give to the community, so the Ficalora Family Foundation makes donations to the communities that we serve. We encourage all of our employees to be community participants. We like for our employees to participate in those repetitive, year-after-year events that occur in the community where their branch is located. Last year our employees put in more than 3,000 hours into community events.

We have the ability as a company to give money to the communities we serve, and when you’re giving money you give it in many different ways. The bank also has several foundations such as the New York Community Bank Foundation, previously the Roslyn Savings Bank Foundation, and the Richmond County Savings Foundation, which give away millions of dollars to local worthwhile causes in communities every year.