HSBC Bank customers who havent been reading the news might be taken aback when they visit branch offices Monday morning.
While the same bank tellers will greet them with a pleasant smile, their once familiar HSBC name tags now will say Community Bank, along with new signage posted outside their branches.
Closing at 3 p.m. Friday, five HSBC branches in Jefferson County will be taken over by Community and will reopen Monday with normal business hours: one each in Adams, Lowville and Alexandria Bay and two in Watertown, on Washington and Arsenal streets.
The takeover is part of a $1 billion deal made this year in which First Niagara Bank bought out 195 HSBC branches in New York state 64 of which then were sold to Community Bank.
In a move that may surprise customers, Communitys new spot at 120 Washington St. bought from HSBC will be open be for business Monday morning even though Community owns another building about 100 steps down the sidewalk at 216 Washington St.
The branch on Washington Street will open as Community Bank Monday with normal business hours, said Harold M. Wentworth, senior vice president of sales and marketing. Longer-term facility utilization is still under review.
What Community eventually will do with those two locations is still anyones guess, said Donald G.M. Coon III, one of the nine partners from 200 Washington Street Associates LLC who own the building at 120 Washington St. But whatever happens, Community still will have to make good on a lease signed by HSBC through 2017.
With that in mind, its really plausible that the branch will stay open, he said, adding that both locations likely will stay open for at least a year.
Another feasible move in Communitys playbook might be to keep the drive-through window at 216 Washington St. open the 120 Washington St. building doesnt have one and downsize or transfer its staff to its main location.
Or it could eventually close the four-story building it owns at 216 Washington St., which has vacant office space on the second, third and fourth floors. The law firm Hrabchak, Gebo & Langone P.C. occupies about half of the third floor and has six employees, and certified public accountants Stackel & Navarra P.C. occupies about half of the fourth floor and also has six employees.
From a customer standpoint, HSBC customers who chose to stay with Community instead of switching banks shouldnt see any major changes, Mr. Wentworth said. Customers loans, deposit accounts, direct-deposit agreements, bill pay for vendors, and automatic payments will be converted automatically.
Customers already have been sent new debit cards, checks and coupon books that they may begin using Monday. Online customers will be able to make their first log-in Monday using information packets sent in the mail. For staying with Community, former HSBC customers received a free starter order of checks and a $25 credit for their next order.
If all goes as planned, Mr. Wentworth said, the transition should feel like everythings on auto pilot for customers. Weve been working to make this process as seamless as possible, he said.
In addition to Communitys five branches in Jefferson County that will open Monday, four former HSBC branches in the north country opened as First Niagara Bank locations May 21. Those branches are in Evans Mills, Carthage, Massena and Potsdam.