Denise Garry, CRCM
Vice President, Compliance Advisory Lead
NATE WAS SIX-YEARS-OLD when he
helped his mom stuff back packs for kids at his
school who didn’t have enough to eat on weekends. Nate’s mother Denise felt it was important
to teach Nate the significance of giving back to
his community and how we can all do our part.
At the time, Denise didn’t realize how this project between the Rotary Club and the local food
bank would help transform not only her future,
but help the community on a larger scale.
As an employee of Investors Bank, Short Hills,
New Jersey, Denise applied for a grant with the
Investors Foundation to help fund the Rotary
Club project. The grant application asked whether the project was eligible under the Community
Reinvestment Act (CRA). That little check box
gave Denise an idea that grew into a much larger
project and process improvement for her bank.
Thinking outside the box.
Denise had been an underwriter and always
thought of CRA as it was related to loans, but
when she thought about CRA-related investments and services, she had to dive into this
new world. Denise wanted to leverage the
bank’s growing size and capabilities to make a
difference on a larger scale, while empowering
employees to get involved. I caught up with Denise and Nate and asked her more.
When you moved into Compliance, what
did you want to achieve?
I knew we could do more as a bank, particularly in the Compliance Department with
tracking all the good our employees were doing—whether that was financial, educational,
or otherwise. It should all be recognized and
considered for CRA. These discussions within
the department sparked us to enhance our
policy and form a committee.
Our CRA committee now meets quarterly
and discusses ways to reach out to our branches
and share what they can do in their communities, and how they can report this information
to our department. .
Do you find there is an increase in
community outreach in the branches?
We see that more is being done because
branches catalog this information and send it to
the Compliance Department. However, I think
that more is being done not only because we
are tracking the information, but because our
branch employees know what opportunities
there are to reach those in need.
How is Investors Bank involved in the
The bank is very involved in supporting charities. Our department helps the branches understand how to get the bank to support them
in their charity work. The bank’s foundation,
Investors Foundation ( www.myinvestorsbank.
gives grants to charitable organizations to invigorate their local communities with civic-minded initiatives focused on the arts, education,
health and human services, youth programs
How did you make process
We raise awareness of what can be done. We
use tactics such as morning email blasts, company newsletters, and more.
What else are you doing to help the
I have been included on a project plan with the
goal of updating our financial literacy train-
ing modules and rolling out a financial literacy
program. This program can be utilized by our
employees as well as our customers and others
we’re hoping to reach within our assessment
area. While CRA focuses on low- to moderate-
income individuals and areas, financial literacy
applies to all individuals. During CRA exams,
I feel the regulators should consider the bank’s
efforts to educate low, moderate, middle or up-
per income individuals in the community. I’m
hoping this is one area that will be considered
as CRA efforts are modernizing.
Is there anything else you would like to
Just another quick comment I feel is most
important…one of the bank’s core values is
“community,” which is one of the values I live
by as a mom, a customer, a banker, and an instructor at the ABA schools. It’s all applicable
and related to CRA; after all “community” is in
Denise has continued to seek out ways to
get involved in the CRA field. She serves on the
ABA’s Compliance Schools Advisory Board and
teaches CRA at the ABA Compliance Schools.
She also noted, “Much of what I have been
able to accomplish wouldn’t have been possible
without the support and backing of my manager
and mentor, Kevin (Kevin Georgetti, Esq., Head
of Compliance). When I wanted to obtain my
CRCM designation, Kevin not only supported
me, but we earned our certifications together.” ■
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
LAINE CROSBY is editor of ABA Bank Compliance.
For more information on the CRCM certification and the three levels of ABA’s in-person
compliance training and education, please
PROFILES IN COMPLIANCE | BY LAINE CROSBY