May 28, 2020—Portsmouth, NH – By Paul Briand – seacoastonline.com
How people manage their money in the post-pandemic economy depends as much on people’s psyches as it does on the COVID-19 contagion itself, according to a local banker, insurer, accountant and money manager.
Even if the spread of the virus is contained, each of these financial industry representatives has an expectation of what the consumer might be doing differently compared to six months ago.
As it was during a stay-at-home economy, expect online interaction to continue as a primary way of conducting business like banking, said Rick Wallis, our president and CEO of Piscataqua Savings Bank.
“Customer relationship building is very important; you can’t just do it online,” Wallis said. “I think we try to blend the two together – electronically, but at the same time individually. Call, talk to, come in and see us – I don’t think that’s going to go away; I’m hoping it won’t.”
The lobby of Piscataqua Savings Bank on Pleasant Street in Portsmouth currently is closed to the public. Outside walk-up and drive-through services are available to customers. Rick envisions what he called a “tip-toe” approach to re-establishing the economy by re-opening businesses like his slowly and with safeguards such as sanitizing and plastic shields between employees and customers.
“There’s a lot of material that we’re trying to bring into place so that we can do it and do it safely,” Wallis said. “I would love to have us by end of summer being fully open again, but I think it’s really going to depend on where the virus goes from here.”
One important effort cited by Wallis to help get the community and its economy back on its feet is the bank’s participation in tax credit programs for non-profits backed by the N.H. Community Development Finance Authority. New Hampshire businesses, such as his bank, support selected projects by purchasing tax credits, resulting in the nonprofit receiving a donation and the company receiving a 75% New Hampshire state tax credit against that contribution.
“It’s a scary time,” Wallis said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen down the road, but we want to be supportive.”
Piscataqua Savings Bank is among the highest capitalized banks in the state. The only mutual bank based in Portsmouth today, Piscataqua Savings Bank is dedicated to serving local individuals and families and has been a cornerstone of the Portsmouth community since 1877. More information is available at www.piscataqua.com.