Michael Serao has over 21 years of banking experience including time at Commerce Bank in Astoria, NY, Vice President of J.P. Morgan Chase in NY, and Quontic Bank also in Astoria, NY. He currently serves as Executive Vice President, and Chief Administrative Officer at First Central Savings Bank at the corporate center in Glen Cove, NY.
As Chief Administrative Officer, Serao brought First Central Savings Bank (or as the community knows them, FCSB) into the 21st century. Through his advocacy as a game-changing player of the nonprofit sector and a prolific LGBTQ activist, Serao ignited change for clients looking for a full range of personal banking services at a brick-and-mortar institution with the ability to bank anywhere, anytime. Elevating FCSB’s brand to a new level, Serao inspired the entire company to make a change.
We take banking back into the community. Serao formed a team of Business Development Officers (BDOs) with strong community roots to generate new deposits and loan growth. The BDOs were embedded into the fabric of the community by joining local nonprofit organizations to expand our reach and acquire new customers as well as to identify and capitalize on new business opportunities in the private and nonprofit sector. “We can make it work,” became a reality for customers. The BDO’s mission reflected the bank’s commitment to enriching communities, driving local economic growth, and cultivating lasting relationships by putting the best interests of clients first. With active participation in local organizations, the BDOs learned first-hand about the credit needs of nonprofit organizations and especially the people and missions they serve. As part of the response to community needs, FCSB began hosting financial literacy classes offering well-rounded, practical financial education with a custom curriculum designed to reach people wherever they are in life from students to working professionals. Inside the branch network, Serao recruited new and talented retail staff for their adaptability and outstanding customer service skills. “Tellers” became Universal Bankers, cross-trained to handle all account activity as a one-stop-shop for all customer needs. It didn’t take long before clients realized it was a great way to take advantage of higher yields with products tailored to their unique needs. News of the return to personal banking spread like wildfire. The bank’s deposits kicked into high gear allowing the institution to fund new local loans with increased foot traffic and the BDO team with their “ears to the ground” meeting people and businesses face to face.
A happy staff means happy clients. Improving staff morale led to organically enhanced customer experiences. Providing regular employee recognition became a priority. Boosting morale was a result of investing in his team through mentorship, coaching, and treating employees as the bank’s most significant resource. “Respect” goes a long way and recognizing staff achievements and celebrating milestones became the norm. Enhancing communication by increasing employee feedback and providing the right tools helped increased staff retention.
Clients appreciated all the new enhancements. Under Serao’s leadership, FCSB improved the ease of doing remote business with the latest in Remote Deposit Capture tech. The RDC team goes directly into your business for onboarding. Businesses love the minimal interruption to operations. Serao knew many customers still prefer their physical interaction with branches and their staff, so he renovated the network with a complete facelift. The Astoria branch was carefully restored and maintained with a Tuscan marble ceiling, granite columns, and original detailed cornice work. Serao implemented technology upgrades plus many more features customers have come to expect. The benefits were immediate: stronger community partnerships and for employees a sense of ownership of their branch that barely existed before. Under his plan, senior management began a renewed message to each employee to reinforce the brand by giving it a name, they called it a return to banking the way it used to be, but only better. We expanded mobile and online banking capabilities while still maintaining phone and branch channels for access and convenience that is key to making a customer’s life easier, whatever their banking preference may be. Employees championed this message to their customers. The branding strengthens the institution’s goals by communicating one basic idea—personal service—to all customers and employees.
While FCSB’s footprint has certainly grown, they take pride in playing an active role within the local communities they serve by knowing their customers and understanding their unique needs. Serao leads the philanthropic mission of FCSB by securing funding for nonprofits including: The NYC Children’s Theatre, The Metro Boys & Girls Club, Long Island Library Resources Council, Freeport Educational Foundation, Long Island Crisis Center, and The American Italian Cancer Foundation, plus many more. Serao believes in the value of giving back. In 2018, he personally donated over $100,000 in charitable contributions to nonprofit organizations including $10,000 to the Long Island Crisis Center. He has worked actively in the LGBTQ community as a former member of OUT Astoria and former President of the Western Queens LGBT Democratic Club. In 2018, Serao was nominated to The Long Island Press Power List as “Rainmaker” for his activism in business and “Person of the Year” by the Long Island Crisis Center for his philanthropic commitment to the LGBTQ community. His awards and honors include: HX Magazine Businessman of the Year, Business Leadership Award from the Powhattan Democratic Club, and Man of the Year from the LIC Kiwanis. In 2014, the Huffington Post named him “The Banker Everyone Loves.” Serao is the former Chairman of SHAREing & CAREing, former Board Member for QSAC and Chair of the HR & Finance Committee, the former Board Director for the Kiwanis Club of Astoria/LIC, and previously served as an Advisory Board Member to The Immaculate Conception School in Queens. He currently serves as a board member to the Freeport Education Foundation. He personally supports services for children with Autism through Quality Services for the Autism Community (QSAC) as well as senior citizens with disabilities. Serao is the Founder & CEO of Serao Enterprises and is also the President and co-owner of Guy Lombardo Properties, a multi-million-dollar real estate business. Serao is a graduate of Queensborough Community College and New York University.