Business Spotlight: Community First Westfield Branch
Bonnie Riley, Assistant Vice President & Branch Manager
Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing
Photographer / Ellie Sophia Photography
“Wow — I find it hard to believe that I’m approaching 25 years in banking,” says Bonnie Riley, Assistant Vice President & Branch Manager at the new Community First Bank in Westfield, which just opened its doors in April.
“I started as a baby teller in small-town USA at Kentland Bank in Kentland, Indiana, learning the industry from the ground level,” says Riley, who spent 10 years working in various capacities, including the lending department as an Assistant Credit Supervisor in the Ag & Commercial division. That was her first introduction to lending. Then she took a job in Lafayette for a large mass market bank where she learned very quickly that decisions weren’t made locally.
When her daughter was expecting her first baby, Riley moved to the sunshine state to help out during the transition period. She worked at a large bank in Tampa before relocating to Austin, Texas and later to Indianapolis where she became Assistant Manager in the Westfield & Carmel market. In 2017, she was named Assistant Vice President and Banking Center Manager where she served as operational leader, actively participating in the marketing and development efforts.
“When I moved to Indy, I thought It was a temporary stop, but here I am 11 years later,” says Riley, who couldn’t be happier about joining the team at Community First.
“Local banking is my wheelhouse,” Riley says. “There’s a huge difference between commercial and local banking.”
She’s been at commercial banks during mergers, which she describes as unnerving.
“You don’t know what’s happening,” she says. “But with community banking, I know and love my clients.”
Having built a reputation on excellence in client service and fostering strong relationships with her business partners, at Community First, Riley takes the time to understand her clients’ needs. When she first met with the team at Community First, right from the get-go, she felt valued.
“Taking the job at Community First, I felt like I was going home,” says Riley, who appreciated how involved the bank was with the community.
For instance, Community First is getting ready to make a large contribution to the local YMCA. As someone who graduated from the Hamilton County Leadership Academy, was ambassador at One Zone Chamber and has been a student mentor with the Starfish Initiative, which encourages academically promising but economically disadvantaged high school students for college and career success, Riley is eager to dive into more community-building relationships. Actively involved in the local Chambers of Commerce, Riley is also a former board member of Prom Genie, Inc., a local non-profit organization.
The explosive growth that is happening in Westfield excites Riley.
“I love Community First Bank of Indiana and the fact they chose Westfield to establish their local presence,” Riley says. “I’m excited to build new relationships and to help clients with their financial service needs.”
As automation moves more into the mainstream of everyday life, Riley feels even more passionate about making genuine connections with people.
“I can’t imagine going into a bank where machines are guiding you through transactions,” Riley says. “I can’t even stand when you call an office and get an impersonal recording. Sometimes your need doesn’t fit in the bucket of five options that are given. I think others feel the same. They want to see and talk to a live person. That’s what we’re able to offer.”
Community First even has a Travel Club that is hugely popular, especially among the elderly. Riley attended their first meeting, which filled an arena.
“The person heading that up greeted everyone by name as they came through the door,” Riley says. “It was very personalized, which is special.”
In her free time, Riley loves everything outdoors — especially mountain biking and running. She has participated in two full marathons and typically does two half-marathons a year.
“I live on the Monon Trail,” says Riley, who loves to go running with her adorable dog Max. “I’m all about health and wellness.”