Dear Community Bank of Bergen County, NJ Customers and Shareholders,
Sustainable Growth and Progress was our focus for 2014. Heading into the year, we knew we had to eliminate the Other Real Estate Owned Properties (OREO) and the non-performing loans that continued to reduce the Bank’s bottom line. We made every effort to work our way out from both, while at the same time continued to focus on operating efficiently. By mid-year, we sold off nearly $5 million ($5,697,000 down to $780K) in OREO properties – lifting a big burden off of the balance sheet. We also continued to make progress reducing our non-performing loans. We were able to establish a strong, stable base for good profitability and we’re firmly planted for continued growth and success.
As a result, we experienced an overall improvement in core operating earnings. We grew our loan portfolio by more than 10 percent for the year and improved our non-performing asset metrics. The Bank’s share price increased 65 percent – starting the year at $5.75 and ending at $9.50.
We attribute much of our growth to our investment and development in our residential lending products and, specifically, the roll-out of the Online Mortgage Center – a convenient resource that offers customers the opportunity to apply for a consumer mortgage, research rates, terms and products all through the Bank’s website. Our commitment to lending was reinforced with the expansion of the Bank’s bench strength through the hiring of two seasoned loan originators.
Additionally, we launched our mobile banking app making the online banking experience even more convenient, and we introduced the Prestige Statement Savings account. This year, we look forward to continued innovation, specifically in the e-banking space.
As always, our commitment to the community remained strong through our support of various charitable and educational initiatives including the Community Garden, the NJ Business Volunteer Council’s Project Homeless Connect, River Road Improvement Corp., the Annual PBA Holiday Toy Drive, Read Across America, the Summer Food Drive, the Senior Housing Crime Prevention Foundation and our bi-annual Shred Day.
Once again, we hosted the local Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts, Brownies and neighborhood schools for a tour of the local branches including a session on the importance of saving money. Additionally, we encouraged and supported local businesses by sponsoring two CPA Continuing Education Seminars as well as other local branch programs and initiatives.
We are happy to announce that we began working with Habitat for Humanity last year, with our staff helping to build a house in Neptune, NJ. We also launched a program, “Preventing Elder Financial Abuse,” which was delivered to local senior clubs.
It’s already a few months into 2015, and we can see that the strong footing we established in 2014 has uniquely positioned us to achieve solid growth and development this year.
We are encouraged by our strong management team that always strives for superior results. We are encouraged by our staff for their commitment to delivering excellent service. We are encouraged by our team who consistently innovates through the development of new products and services. Most importantly, we are encouraged by you, our customers, for your ongoing support. As always, thank you.
We truly believe that success is about people, process and product. These three things, coupled with continued growth and progress, will help us not only improve but achieve sustainable success.
We look forward to serving you in 2015.