At the heart of community banking is the people. Christopher “Chris” Neros was drawn to First Fed for their long legacy of commitment to their communities and pursuit of innovative ways to expand banking services. This April, Neros joined the executive team at First Fed in his new role as Executive Vice President and Chief Lending Officer.
One of the rewarding aspects of lending is the relationships that are built in the process. A lender gets to share a small piece of the customer’s journey, whether it’s a family buying their first home or a business expanding their product line.
“I get a lot of joy out of seeing the positive impact a loan can have for a business,” shared Neros. “And in turn, those businesses build up our communities. It’s a privilege to share in their stories and First Fed truly values building those relationships.”
Neros discovered his passion for lending by chance, when a family friend hired him for a role as a loan officer in a local bank in Sitka, Alaska. The role, originally a two-year commitment, turned out to be the start of a successful career in banking. During 11 years at First National Bank Alaska, he worked his way up to Vice President and Branch Manager.
Neros also met his wife in Sitka. Originally from Southern California, she had moved to Alaska with the Public Health Service on a two-year military commitment. Just one month into her Alaskan adventure, she and Neros met. They married in 1997 and a few years later had a daughter.
After spending their first 11 years together in Alaska, they were looking for a change, somewhere in between their two home states. On their many road trips between Alaska and California, Bellingham had caught their eye as an ideal place to raise a family. With their daughter about to start kindergarten, the family settled into their new Washington home.
Neros continued his banking career while in Bellingham, spending almost 16 years at Peoples Bank. As Chief Lending Officer at Peoples, he oversaw bank-wide lending strategy of all commercial and marine lending activities.
“Chris is a well-respected leader with a successful track record of business development, relationship management, and team leadership,” said Matt Deines, President and CEO of First Fed Bank and FNWB. “He brings valuable experience and strategic direction to our lending initiatives.”
In addition to his passion for working with customers through lending, Neros is also inspired by the opportunities innovative technology can offer banking.
“First Fed is on an exciting growth trajectory, anchored by a 100-year legacy of outstanding service,” explained Neros. “It’s exciting to discover ways to incorporate technology that can make us more efficient, while still maintaining our personal touch.”
Bellingham is a great fit for Neros. In his free time, he loves taking in the natural beauty of the area while hiking with his family and their three rescue dogs, mountain-biking, and playing golf. A healthy work-life balance is another aspect of First Fed culture that Neros looks forward to enjoying.
“It’s been an exciting start,” said Neros. “The First Fed culture encourages building positive relationships among our team members, with our customers, and in our communities.”
First Fed is a member FDIC and equal housing lender. Learn more at ourfirstfed.com.