Three months after chairman’s death, Bank of Georgetown looks to expand

Correction: Due to an error in information provided to The Washington Post, an earlier version of this article incorrectly listed the square-footage of Bank of Georgetown’s new headquarters. The building is expected to total 17,400 square feet, not 25,000.

Three months after the sudden death of its 49-year-old chairman, the Bank of Georgetown continues to grow with the upcoming opening of its 10th branch and a new 17,400-square-foot headquarters.

Michael P. Fitzgerald, who co-founded the bank with Curtin Winsor III, took over as chairman late last year after Winsor died from a heart attack on Dec. 11. Since then, Fitzgerald said it has been a rough few months of adjustments.

“There were a couple of months of introspection and a lot of walking the halls and meeting with our folks,” Fitzgerald said. “It sort of threw everybody back on their heels.”

The bank ended 2012 with $782.1 million in total assets, a 24 percent increase from the year before. Although the bank’s overall focus has not changed much since Winsor’s death — it is still very much a business-focused institution — Fitzgerald says it is making a renewed push to target government contractors, lobbyists and nonprofits in the area.

“There’s a lot of concern about sequestration,” Fitzgerald said. “We understand that, but we think there will be opportunities for us to grow in the sector.”

This May, the bank plans to open its first branch in McLean, where it is preparing to hire an additional 15 employees. Eventually, Fitzgerald says he plans to expand throughout Maryland and Virginia — but not too fast.

“Brick and mortar [branches are] expensive and the people inside them are expensive, so we have to be strategically smart in the number of locations that we open,” he said. “As a bank that is primarily focused on the business community, our platform is not to have a branch on every street corner.”

Fitzgerald first met Winsor in the late 1980s, when they both worked at Riggs Bank (since absorbed into PNC Financial Services). They joined forces again nearly two decades later to open Bank of Georgetown in 2005.

From the start, they wanted the bank to appeal to young professionals.

“We know the world is changing, and young adults are the future so we better pay attention to them,” Fitzgerald said. “When we wake up tomorrow, they’re going to be the captains of industry.”

The bank hired District-based firm Core Architecture + Design to design nearly all of its branches, which come equipped with flat-screen televisions and coffee stations. It’s a way, the designers say, to keep younger clients involved.

“It’s all about unified bank identity,” said Ron Ngiam, a senior project designer at the company. He said the firm is also working on designing the bank’s new headquarters. “The branch might not be that big, but at least you know from looking from the outside that it’s a Bank of Georgetown.”

Abha Bhattarai covers local retail, hospitality and banking for The Washington Post. She has previously written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters and the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times.
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