BOSTON — Dr. Nicholas Sarantopoulos is president and CEO of Community Credit Union. With its three branches in Lynn, Peabody, and Sommerville, MA, it has helped countless Greek-Americans purchase homes, buildings, businesses, and more. The institution offers all types of banking services and options.
Sarantopoulos recently discussed the economies of Massachusetts and the United States in an interview.
The National Herald: Let’s start with this question: what is the state of the US economy in 2022 given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic?
Nicholas Sarantopoulos: Mr. Kalmoukos, I believe that 2022 will be a year of further economic disruption for several reasons:
- The pandemic and the economic policy of printing trillions of new money have contributed to the inflationary pressures we are seeing.
- Mortgage rates have already increased.
- The Federal Reserve has announced that further interest rate hikes are expected in 2022.
- These pressures will continue due to the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces, which will cause energy prices to rise to unprecedented levels as supply chains are disrupted.
- In addition, the labor market crisis has had negative effects on various sectors of the economy.
TNH: How is the Massachusetts economy doing?
NS: The Massachusetts economy remains strong in the areas of economic activity, innovation, available capital and employment. On the other hand, Massachusetts is one of the most expensive real estate markets in the United States. As a result, middle-income households struggle to find affordable housing. We expect these pressures to continue.
TNH: If you were to hazard predictions for the next six months or even a year, what would they be?
NS: Without risking too many predictions, I would say that locally in Boston, the higher education and healthcare sectors will remain relatively strong, as well as the biotech and IT sectors. Additionally, assuming the situation with the coronavirus does not worsen, tourism is expected to return to near pre-2020 levels.
Macroeconomic factors will affect all sectors of the economy at different levels. It is very difficult to make forecasts in a completely new situation with many unknown macroeconomic and geopolitical factors.
TNH: So where is the Community Credit Union?
NS: Our credit union has several advantages, such as its strong financial position, our excellent staff, and the trust of the Greek-American community that has chosen and honored us for decades. It is our great pleasure to have the privilege of serving the thousands of Greek-Americans who live, work or worship in the greater Boston area. They are wonderful people.
TNH: To what extent has the pandemic affected the operation of the bank and how? Have the ways of dealing with your customers changed?
NS: The pandemic has affected us quite a bit, especially in terms of human resources and remote working. We improved our technology and created new incentives to retain our staff. A significant percentage of our staff have been working remotely throughout the pandemic with great success and without affecting the delivery of high quality service or their productivity.
Additionally, the pandemic has affected the delivery channels we use to do business with our members, who now more frequently use our technology and online/mobile channels for banking and money transfers, instead of visit our branches to transact in person. deal with transactions. There has been a significant change in the preferences and habits of our members, as well as in the member experience.
TNH: What are your customers telling you, what concerns them the most?
NS: Many of our members are concerned about skyrocketing real estate prices in the Boston area, combined with rising interest rates, which are making it very difficult to buy their first home in this area. . To help them, we offer free seminars for first-time buyers and we work closely with them. Small and medium enterprises are concerned about the difficulty they face in recruiting qualified staff, as their business models and distribution channels have been disrupted.
TNH: Explain to us why Greek Americans should prefer the Community Credit Union for their financial transactions, loans for the purchase of homes, businesses, real estate, etc. and not another “big bank” of the many that exist in Massachusetts?
NS: Mr. Kalmoukos, there are several reasons why our customers always choose us and prefer us, rather than going to big banks or brokers, such as:
- The Greek values and ideals that set us apart.
- The flexibility and speed we offer in home mortgages, investment property financing or commercial real estate loans.
- Because our depositors are also the owners of the credit union, we have the ability to offer favorable loan terms that the big banks are unwilling or unflexible to offer.
- The high-tech tools that we make available to individuals and businesses for their banking transactions.
- The convenience of carrying out all their transactions and banking activities, personal or professional, in the same financial institution.
- Our experience in residential mortgage loans and commercial real estate loans with very favorable and flexible conditions. We listen to our members and always try to meet their needs and preferences.
TNH: How is the housing market currently and what do you expect for the future?
NS: As I mentioned above, I foresee further pressures for consumers, due to high housing prices and rising interest rates.
TNH: Are you planning to expand into any new areas in addition to the three where you have your existing branches in Lynn, Peabody and Somerville, and if so, in which areas?
NS: At the moment, with the continued adoption of innovative technology solutions in conjunction with changing demographics, an increasing number of our members prefer to use our mobile and online banking services. As a result, we have not planned any new physical agencies. Instead, we will continue to invest in technology. To illustrate the changing patterns, we are seeing more and more loan applications submitted electronically, check deposits made via mobile devices, payments made securely via mobile devices, and more.
As we conclude this interview, I would like to thank you for your journalistic integrity and for the support you always give to the Hellenic-American community. Our community is distinguished by the values of entrepreneurship, innovation, academic progress, faith in God and Hellenic ideals that set us apart and lead us to continue to innovate and succeed in a highly competitive environment. Many Greek-Americans work as scientists, researchers, innovators, medical professionals, academics, or as entrepreneurs and business owners. They are all incredibly successful. Both the National Herald and the Community Credit Union stand proudly alongside our Greek-American community, and we are especially proud of the younger generations of Greek-Americans in the Boston area. They represent our proud heritage into a future of progress and success.