‘We are focused on growing with our customers’

By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

Phil Pantano, Commercial Services Market Manager with F&M Trust in Chambersburg, is the Crossroads Business Journal Coffee Break featured person of the month.

Philip A. Pantano with F&M Trust

Philip A. Pantano was an award-winning athlete in college and has become an award-winning banker with F&M Trust.

Pantano received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, Pa., where he was a scholarship athlete on the baseball team and co-captain. He was USJ’s scholar athlete of the year in 2004. He went on to earn a master’s in business administration from Shippensburg University in 2010.

Pantano has been with F&M Trust since 2005 and has served in a vice president’s role since April 2011. He recently was named commercial services market manager for the Franklin, Fulton and Huntingdon county, Pa., markets.
He has earned several awards during his time with F&M, and was inducted into the F&M Trust’s President’s Club for extraordinary sales performance in May.

F&M is a regional bank with $1.1 billion in assets, specializing in community banking in parts of Pennsylvania.
Pantano also has served with Chambersburg, Pa., Chamber Foundation and the American Heart Association Adams and Franklin/Fulton Counties Division. He currently is chairman of the finance committee for the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter.

Pantano is married to his college sweetheart, Melissa. Their daughter, Zoe, is just shy of 3 years old. They live in Chambersburg.

On a break, is it coffee, tea, soda, water …. ?

Typically, it’s coffee, for two reasons. First, for the caffeine, and second for the taste. My father-in-law is the individual who got me interested in coffee years ago. Ever since I have known him, he takes the time to select and roast his own coffee beans to make fresh coffee. There is nothing better than a fresh cup of coffee, especially a light roast in the morning and an espresso blend in the afternoon.

An average day for you includes … ?

There is no average day in commercial banking, which makes the job both challenging and rewarding at the same time. Our customers operate in different industries, are in different stages of the business life cycle and management succession, and have different financing needs. This provides us the opportunity to learn about each customer’s business and provide tailored solutions to meet their situations. Therefore, every day is different depending on what customers we are serving that day.

What are the biggest opportunities and challenges in your new role at the bank?

The number of independent community banks industry wide has declined by 14 percent from 2007 to 2013. Our markets were not immune to these mergers and acquisitions. As the commercial services market manager for Franklin, Fulton and Huntingdon counties, I find the largest opportunity is cultivating and developing new customer relationships with those who wish to do business with a community bank like F&M Trust. Independently owned and operated since 1906, we are focused on growing with our customers and building genuine, honest and trusting relationships with them.
The biggest challenges of my new role will be time and capacity. Presently, we are looking to add another team member to our commercial lending team. We also continue to evaluate and invest in processes to enhance our infrastructure and make application processing more efficient while managing risk. Our team will need to be intentional and focused in our approach to balance these challenges.

How has community banking changed in the last decade or so, and what should people watch for in the coming years?

Several things have changed in banking over the past decade as a result of mergers and acquisitions, new technologies and regulatory challenges. Despite a decrease in the number of community banks, the technological age has brought vast changes in how customers interact with the bank. The benefits of online and mobile banking have lowered the amount of foot traffic in many community offices, which makes some people question the need for a physical presence. I think community banks will see this change in customer interaction as an opportunity to reinvent their physical presence (community offices) to meet customers’ evolving needs. We have recently implemented changes in many of our community offices and have completed renovation projects in both the Boiling Springs and Waynesboro community offices. Finally, regulatory changes have impacted community banks. In 2010, the Dodd-Frank legislation was passed to prevent another financial collapse like 2008 and was initially targeted at large banks (those with over $50 billion in assets); but in reality, this legislation also impacted community banks on a variety of levels. The costs to comply with the increased regulation required community banks to dedicate staff and devote capital to meeting government regulations, resulting in more expenses and slower growth. Things continue to improve each year, and I anticipate in the future there could be some positive changes to the Dodd-Frank legislation.

Outside of work, what are your ambitions and aspirations?

When I am not at work, I enjoy outdoor adventures with my family. Our hobbies include hiking, camping, biking, paddle boarding and (of course) anything at the beach. In addition, I enjoy CrossFit training in the morning before I go to work, which helps me get a good start to my day. Ultimately, my ambitions and aspirations outside of work are pretty simple — to be a great husband and father to my wife and daughter.

Want to share a cup of coffee with our readers? Send an email to facetime@crossroadsbizjournal.com or call reporter Mike Lewis at 301-791-7482.