East Hartford – M&T Bank deputy manager Izzy Serrano said he was delighted on Tuesday.
It was a big day for staff at the East Hartford branch bank as they celebrated the grand opening of the new multicultural banking center. Serrano said he and the staff are very excited about serving the city’s diverse community, which, for example. may need translation services when entering the banking system.
“My motto here is that a language barrier is not an obstacle. It’s an opportunity… people come in, and I always greet everyone in English, and I see their faces,” Serrano said.
“And then when I speak Spanish, they tell me ‘Oh my God’ and you see the wall comes down. I’ve had people open accounts, just because there’s a Spanish speaker here,” did he declare.
Serrano said they also look forward to helping community members who may be just beginning their new journey in the state.
“I am very happy to be part of the community, to help people who have no [security]who only have their passport and start working [with] get their first direct deposit, never had a debit card before [with] set up their online bank… Do this and translate. I’m very happy to be part of the team…” he said.
On the importance of having a multicultural banking center, Serrano said it is essential for those coming to the state for a fresh start and to lay a good foundation for their future.
“My main goal is just to let people know we are here. We are here to help you. We are here to build relationships,” he said.
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Buffalo-based M&T said it has created about 118 multicultural branches over the past three years. The branches include posters with images of particular cultures. Signs are in other languages in addition to English, and digital appointment scheduling offers different options to eliminate language barriers. In East Hartford, the predominant bilingual language will be Spanish.
At the inauguration, M&T branch manager Heydi Sifuentes said she was happy to be back with a new bank and staff she works with.
“I love this community. I couldn’t be happier to be back with a brand new bank, great management team and multicultural staff who have been hired to provide great service. They are also able to speak different languages: Spanish, English and Vietnamese. It’s like a dream come true for me. And I’m sure for my staff as well,” she said.
Mayor Mike Walsh said he welcomes the branch to the city and looks forward to future business partnership opportunities.
“Not only is a bank in East Hartford important, but that’s why we’re here. But this particular bank is even more important. It’s called a multicultural branch for a reason. He meets people where they are in the community. In East Hartford, we have an extremely diverse community. So this bank is a testament to M&T’s commitment to our community…This bank will meet the community where they live,” he said.
State Representative Henry Genga, D-East Hartford, presented Sifuentes and M&T staff with a congratulatory citation for opening the multicultural branch providing “banking and financial services for their customers’ preferred languages and employing community bankers who will understand cultural differences.”
“I look forward to partnering with them in the future. And I know they have great staff here. It’s so great that they recognize [the] the greatest asset of diversity in East Hartford, planning…making it convenient and easy for people to do some of the toughest financial work,” he said.