BALLSTON SPA — Ballston Spa National Bank will open two new branches in Albany County this year, as it continues to expand beyond the Saratoga County market.
The 179-year-old community bank has acquired two former First Niagara offices — at 1973 Western Ave. in Guilderland and 13 Maple Road in Voorheesville — that closed last year, after First Niagara and Key Bank merged and eliminated redundancies among the combined bank's roughly 70 Capital Region branches.
BSNB President and CEO Christopher Dowd said his bank saw an opportunity in the closures.
Industry changes triggered by advances in technology — cashless transactions, online bill payments, web-based banking and numerous smartphone apps — have led to some predictions that storefront banking will shrink, but BSNB is expanding because it feels the brick-and-mortar bank is still indispensable, Dowd said.
“Our model is really focused on developing relationships beyond just providing the convenience of technological advances,” he said, though adding that the bank has also been expanding its digital offerings, because the market demands them.
“The use of technology to transact business has grown exponentially,” he said.
In 2015, BSNB opened its first branch outside Saratoga County — on Route 7 in Latham. The two new branches will push the bank's physical footprint farther south, giving it a total of 13 locations. Further expansion is likely, as opportunities arise, Dowd said, though probably not in 2017.
“We have other things going on from a planning perspective,” he added.
With the technology upgrades it has undertaken, Dowd said, BSNB has for several years considered its market to extend beyond its network of branches, stretching from Albany to Glens Falls. It has gained new customers through technology and expects to gain more with the new branches, he said.
The two former First Niagara branches have been closed for a few months. When BSNB gains regulatory approval to operate them, it will hire about 10 people and reopen them, Dowd said.
He said BSNB is expanding in an environment where competitors are numerous and strong, which isn’t a bad thing.
“The Capital Region benefits from a strong financial institution infrastructure,” Dowd said. “It encourages us to be on top of our game.”