Bob Fignar values hometown banks

PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot

There is a niche for community banks, so Bob Fignar, president and CEO of First Community Bank of Mercersburg, is optimistic that people will continue to support local financial institutions in light of many bank mergers.

“Everybody wants to deal with somebody they know,” he told guests at the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce breakfast Tuesday morning.

Based on Main Street in Mercersburg, the bank has five branches - the North End  in Mercersburg, Fort Loudon, Chambersburg, Scotland and Greencastle.

First Community was doing well, and hoped to increase its presence in Greencastle, Fignar said. He had great people working at that office.

Many banking systems were consolidating, which he attributed to excessive regulations versus the economy of scale. Some costs were fixed no matter the size of the company. And The Dodd Frank Act especially put a burden on mortgage paperwork. Hence, the trend for banks to join forces.

“The mergers put more and more stress on the banks with local ties that remain,” he said.

First Community made a significant change in December 2014, when it converted from First National Bank of Mercersburg to a state-chartered institution, resulting in a new name. Few banks with national associations  existed any more, Fignar said. With customers still protected by FDIC, the oversight was more relevant.

He asked, “Who knows more about what’s happening in central Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Department of Banking or the feds?”

Because First Community Bank of Mercersburg had a huge agri-business base, the board of directors believed examiners from Harrisburg would be of better service than those representing Washington DC.

Career path

Fignar graduated from Greencastle-Antrim High School and earned an AA in business administration from Penn State Mont Alto. He transferred to Shippensburg University for a degree in finance. Hailing from a blue-collar family, he worked his way through school, never intending on a banking career. However, “it was the job that was available at the time.”

Entering his senior year, he interviewed at First National Bank of Greencastle and First National Bank of Mercersburg. The latter work hours were more accomodating to finishing his education on time, so that was how he ended up in a neighboring town for his career.

Fignar acknowledged it was not common for anyone to stay with one employer as long as he has, 29 years. Starting as a teller, he realized there were advancement opportunities, and he made a commitment to the bank. In 2008 he became president.