Florida banker and longtime Wellington local James Seder is bringing the services and values of First Bank of the Palm Beaches to Wellington.
First Bank is a Palm Beach County owned and operated local bank. Its only current existing location is in the historic First Bank building in downtown West Palm Beach, and its second branch is currently under construction in Wellington.
Joseph “Jay” Shearouse, First Bank’s chairman and chief executive officer, and John Ahrenholz, First Bank’s president and chief operating officer, are some of the key leaders who had large roles in bringing First Bank to life back in 2010, and, ultimately, aspired to bring the locally grown financial institution to Wellington. They both have banking careers in Palm Beach County dating back to the 1970s.
Shearouse and Ahrenholz asked Seder to join their team as soon as they began discussing the idea of building a branch in Wellington. Shearouse said that, in regard to the Wellington location, there was no one as qualified to lead and manage the branch as Seder.
“Not only did we know from the beginning that we wanted to build in Wellington, but we also knew we wanted James to be our leader out there,” Shearouse said.
Seder is now First Bank’s vice president and market executive, and will be the branch manager of the upcoming Wellington branch.
Seder moved to Wellington in 1982, attending Palm Beach State College and Florida Atlantic University. His banking career began in 1993, when he worked for First Federal, now known as First Bank of Florida. He later moved to Fidelity Federal Bank & Trust, where he opened his first bank account as a teen. At Fidelity Federal, which has since become PNC Bank, Shearouse and Seder worked closely together for many years.
Fidelity Federal was one of the first banks to start lending money for housing communities and commercial buildings in Wellington.
“[Fidelity Federal] was one of the first banks to recognize that Wellington is a great place,” Seder said. “They made it possible for the community to know their bankers and for bankers to know their clients.”
Shearouse and Seder gained ample experience in community banking working for and — each of them — managing the Fidelity Federal bank branch in Wellington. They are both proud of the work they did helping the community develop and flourish into what it is today.
They both gained a sense of building personal relationships with families in Wellington. Until last year, when Seder joined the First Bank team, he was still providing banking services for the same people and families that he worked with closely for nearly 20 years.
“I am a community banker at heart,” Seder said. “I love the feel and reward of being part of a community bank.”
Seder, Shearouse and Ahrenholz look forward to bringing a local bank to and for Wellington’s community. First Bank’s core value is to listen and serve its clients. The bankers’ fulfillment stems from supporting their clients and serving them as a vital resource in building their small businesses, buying homes for their families and serving as a helping hand to their community.
“We looked all over Palm Beach County to decide where we wanted to build our second branch,” Shearouse said. “But we knew we wanted to build a branch in Wellington.”
Seder’s goal as the future manager for the Wellington branch is to connect with his clients in the same way he did during his past two decades as a Wellington banker. He aims to create a bank that is different from other banks, and one that generations of families in Wellington can depend on and feel supported by.
“A lot of banks talk about customer service being the way to make business, and that is true to an extent, but I think here, we really focus on taking care of our clients and doing what is right,” Seder said. “Wellington is a place where you know your clients, they know you and you become a little family.”
First Bank of the Palm Beaches’ Wellington branch is scheduled to open next month in the Wellington Plaza at the corner of Forest Hill Blvd. and Wellington Trace. For more information, visit www.firstbankpb.bank.