Alumni in Finance Network on the Jersey City Waterfront
The Saint Peter’s University Alumni in Finance Network hosted a networking event on Wednesday, June 8 at Battello on the Jersey City Waterfront. Alumni from a wide variety of class years gathered to mingle, discuss industry news and listen to a presentation from two financial professionals.
Chris Economides ’91 had not been to an event recently, and his reason for attending was to reconnect with friends. He also commented on the age diversity of the event, “There is a great mix between young alumni and established alumni, and that’s important,” he said.
Charles A. Weening ’16, one of the most recent graduates at the event said, “I’m catching up with fellow Peacocks. It’s never too early to get involved.” Weening is starting a job at BASF in September, and plans to travel to Europe this summer.
The night’s guest speakers were Thomas Coughlin ’81, founder, chief executive officer, president and chief operating officer of BCB Community Bank, and Robert Fehn, managing director of FinPro, Inc., a full service management consulting firm. Coughlin and Fehn led a discussion, “The Story of a Start-up.”
What made the presentation unique was that it was formatted as a conversation. Coughlin and Fehn had a candid discussion with each other about banking practices then and now. When Coughlin started his bank, he needed $6 million: $2 million from founders and $4 million from the Bayonne public. Today, to start a bank, an entrepreneur needs $25 million in start-up capital, according to Fehn.
“Getting a founder group together is key, but also getting the community involved is important,” said Fehn.
The connection to community is what makes BCB Community Bank unique, and the bank now has $1.7 billion in assets. Coughlin says he always has the community’s best interest in mind, and he shows this by not charging fees.
“We never made our money on nickel and dime fees,” Coughlin stated. “We are trying to maintain what our roots are, and not charge fees. Any companies who are charging fees for deposit accounts, we get their customers all day long,“ Coughlin continued.
Coughlin ended the discussion by saying, “We have never lost our roots in Bayonne.”
Joseph J. Kollar Jr. ’74 enjoyed the discussion. “[Starting a bank] was an incredible adventure, especially with all the big banks in the area. It took a lot of courage,” he said. In addition, Kollar was impressed by Coughlin’s commitment to the community.
Aashish Shrestha ‘10, who works at PSE&G said it was interesting to hear a new perspective on community banks, because he mostly hears about big banks. In addition, Joe Skillender Jr. ’11 ’12 enjoyed the candid format of the conversation. Skillender is back in New Jersey after studying law in D.C., and he is taking the Bar Examination soon. Skillender said he attended the event to catch up with friends and network with Saint Peter’s alumni.
The Alumni in Finance Network was designed to provide individuals with the opportunity to participate, learn, exchange ideas and explore professional relationships while connecting and engaging with the University. The host committee includes Andres Cifuentes ’04, director, fx sales, Bats Global Markets, Inc.; Annette Corbin ’84, partner, Madison Consulting Group; Robert A. Cutro ’75, managing director (retired), Barclays Capital; Thomas J. Jordan ’63, president and CEO, Jordan & Jordan; Justin McKeon CPA ’97, regional finance director, Asia-Pacific, Pfizer Consumer Healthcare; Rojendra Pradhan ’11, financial analyst, KCG Holdings; and James G. Rizzo ’81, managing director (retired), Dahlman, Rose & Co.