Betty Chan says face-to-face relationships with customers have been a top priority during her career as a retail banker.
As manager of Santander Bank’s branch in Boston’s Chinatown neighborhood, Chan said it’s not unusual for clients to continue banking there even after they move to the suburbs.
“A lot of my clients come from miles away because of the customer trust and loyalties we establish here,” Chan said. “Customers go where they feel comfortable. In this industry right now, where there’s a lot of turnover in bankers, a customer looks for familiar faces.”
Chan has been in retail banking for 22 years, including 15 years working in Chinatown. Previously she was employed by BayBank, Fleet Bank and Sovereign Bank.
Santander’s acquisition of Sovereign in 2009 has intensified the branch’s emphasis on customer service, Chan said.
Chan said she knows her team is succeeding when multiple generations of the same family do business at her branch and attain their financial goals, such as paying for college or buying a first home.
“I have [had] clients cry in my office a lot because they appreciate what we do and what we provide, and those moments are priceless,” Chan said.
Outside of the office, Chan is involved in programs benefiting a wide range of age levels as a guest speaker at dozens of community organizations. She visits local elementary schools to introduce students to banking concepts. She volunteers for the nonprofit Action for Boston Community Development, counseling low-income households and recent immigrants on banking services and financial advice. On behalf of the Asian American Civic Association, Chan tutors students on job searches and interview preparedness.
She also travels to retirement communities to talk to senior citizens about personal finances.
“As a banker, we are in a very powerful position to improve lives for many,” Chan said. “If we are active listeners, we can match the products and services to help customers improve their lives.”
Chan’s family moved from Hong Kong to Boston when she was 9. As an undergraduate at Boston College, Chan majored in finance and interned at Bank of Boston during her summers. After college, she worked in mutual funds for The Boston Company. She also shares with clients an entrepreneurial perspective, as part owner of the Mr. Chan’s restaurants in Burlington and Milton.