by Alexis Ann
photos by Kate Barrett
Hardworking” and “community-minded” would describe Tom Borner, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Putnam Bank in Putnam and principal of the Law Offices of Borner Fraser and Aleman, Putnam.
The law office needs as much attention as the bank and Tom Borner praises his colleagues, saying, “I have the three best lawyers in the world working for me.”
Tom says of his banks, “We are the community,” which shows through donations like Putnam Bank’s gift of $5,000 to Three Rivers Community College. This donation will be used for one of the college’s scholarships.
“We’re here to stay.” Putnam Savings Bank opened its doors in 1862. An avid history buff, “The bank has survived the Civil War, World War I and II, the 1929 stock market crash and a few other marked points in history.”
Putnam Bank has eight full-time branches and utilized its locations on I-395 to expand. “We are pretty fortunate, 395 has done a lot to bring us together with Norwich.”
In the way that Connecticut was once connected by its railroad and trolley system, I-395 connects all of Eastern Connecticut, today. An example of Putnam Bank’s usage of I-395 is reflected in the October 14, 2009 opening of a new branch in Norwich.
Since giving back to the community is always important, Putnam Bank also donated $1,000 to the Norwich Fire Department on the same day as the grand opening.
On the bailout, “Unfortunately, it was essential because of bad practices of big banks.” Small community banks like Putnam are more careful in choosing who they loan to. “We’ve always had conservative lending.”
Banks are completely different from when Putnam Bank first opened over 160 years ago. “People now see us all the same due to the fact that many don’t know about the evolution that banks have undergone. For example, for the first 120 years we couldn’t have checking accounts.”
People always relied on two different banks for their financial needs, one was for savings and the other was for checking. In 1980, commercial and investment banks were finally able to merge after years under the Glass-Steagall Act, which separated bank types.
Today’s financial atmosphere is still shaky and people aren’t as comfortable as they were but that seems to be turning around. “People are feeling better,” about their financial situations.
Although many have hit on tough times, New England seems to be doing better than many other parts of the country. This is due to the fact that we are, “No longer dependent on any one sector.”
In speaking with bankers from other towns across America, “Dearborn, Michigan, is an example of harder times elsewhere, where I was told, “You don’t know what it’s like. We have people coming in, in tears. They’ve paid their mortgage for 20 years, only have 10 years left, but say there’s no way.”
Extending his hand to the community beyond the bank, Tom and his wife, Katalin are involved with Habitat for Humanity making regular trips to help build homes for needy families, and a 20-year record of helping out with the Woodstock Fair.