Seniority has its privileges

Beverly Stawicki moved her savings to North Shore Bank from another bank after she moved into the Wilson Commons senior living community. Wilson Commons is the newest of three senior living complexes that North Shore Bank employees visit each week to provide banking services to residents who are also the bank’s customers.

"It’s a wonderful convenience," Stawicki said, after making a withdrawal recently from her North Shore Bank account. "I think it’s great."

Wilson Commons opened last year at 1500 W. Sonata Dr. on Milwaukee’s south side. The facility has about 200 independent living elderly residents and will soon welcome residents needing assisted living services.

North Shore Bank employees provide services at Wilson Commons on Tuesday mornings and Thursday afternoons. During those times, Wilson Commons residents who also are North Shore Bank customers, can open an account, make a deposit or withdrawal and cash checks without leaving the senior living facility.

"It’s a wonderful service for the residents," said Wilson Commons manager Michele Carlson. "It gives them that independence, which is very important. They don’t have to rely on their children to take them to the bank."

Brookfield-based North Shore Bank established a presence at ProHealth Care Regency Senior Communities in New Berlin, 13750 W. National Ave., 14 years ago. The facility, formerly known as National Regency, was renamed last year.

North Shore Bank has provided services for more than 10 years at the Village at Manor Park at 8621 W. Beloit Rd., West Allis. Bank managers noticed many North Shore customers who banked at an Oklahoma Avenue branch were moving into the senior living community nearby, said David Griffith, assistant vice president and district manager for North Shore Bank.

"We thought, why not open a window in there to serve them betterω" Griffith said.

"It’s a convenience for our residents," said Susan Cesar, director of community services for ProHealth Care Regency Senior Communities New Berlin. "They can do their banking right here without having to rely on their families. I really think it keeps them independent, helping them be able to take care of their finances."

Many of the senior living community residents ask North Shore Bank employees for advice about investment options.

"They ask, ‘What do I do with my pensionω’ or ‘What do I do with my retirement savingsω’" Griffith said.

North Shore Bank also provides seminars in the senior living communities on how to avoid identity theft and how to invest. In addition, the bank hosts bingo games at the senior living communities and gives gift certificates to the winners.

Some senior living communities include amenities such as restaurants, stores or hair salons. But Carlson said only a few have banks that provide in-house services for residents.

"It’s getting more common," she said. "But a lot of them in the area do not have (bank services) yet."

The senior living branches also have been beneficial to North Shore Bank. Griffith said the bank plans to add more branches in other retirement facilities, although no specific locations have been selected.

"It’s been very successful for us," he said. "We’re looking at hundreds of customers between the three locations."

The senior living communities benefit by having an additional amenity to offer potential residents.

"That’s a big marketing tool," said Debbie McComb, coordinator of independent living at Village at Manor Park. "You want to have as many services so (the residents) don’t have to leave."

"It’s a win-win for everybody," Griffith said.

North Shore Bank customers who live in the senior living communities have helped convince other residents to change their banks.

"They’re big advocates for us," Griffith said. "(They ask the other residents) why are you going across town to go to the bankω"

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