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Part-time Teller Takes Over the Whole Bank

Under Elizabeth Hance, Magyar has gone public and moved into commercial loansBIZ SPOTLIGHT – BANKING / FINANCE

Elizabeth Hance has worked her way to the top at Magyar Bank. She started as a part-time teller in the 1970s and was named president and CEO of the New Brunswick-based savings and loan in January 2005.

Hance has already made a lasting mark on the company: Earlier this year, the 51-year-old Hance took Magyar public with an initial public offering of 2.6 million shares at $10 apiece. The cash from this sale of 46% of the bank will be used to jump-start Hance’s growth strategy that includes increasing the number of branches. A fourth branch is slated to open in Branchburg later this year.

Meanwhile Magyar is having a good run. Net income for the third quarter ended June 30, 2006, was $276,000 on interest-and-dividend income of $6.1 million. Total deposits were $318, 592. For the prior-year quarter, net income was $110,000 on interest-and-dividend income of $4.0 million. Total deposits were $259,081.

Magyar shares, which went public at $10 at the Jan. 24 offering, were selling for around $11.20 last week.

Hance started her relationship with Magyar as a New Brunswick schoolgirl. “When I was 7, 8 years old, dropping my nickels and my dimes into my school savings envelope, never did I ever picture that I would be president of the bank,” she says.

After graduating from New Brunswick High School in 1972, Hance took a part-time job as a teller at the bank. That’s when the community-banking bug bit her. “This is a bank that really … served the community,” she says.

Hance got her bachelor’s degree in economics in 1976 from Boston University. While a student, she continued working at Magyar on her breaks, cycling through various jobs. She worked as a loan officer, and held positions in the accounting and finance, bookkeeping and reconciliation departments. This menu of experience has helped her over the years.

“As a CEO it’s important that you have the ability to have the big picture,” she says.

After graduation Hance left the bank and got married. She returned to Magyar in 1987 as comptroller, and made her first big change at the bank: She brought it into the age of computers. On being hired, Hance demanded a computer, becoming the first officer to go digital.

Hance’s insider perspective has worked for the bank. Joseph Lukacs, chairman of the board of directors, calls her a “dynamic, visionary individual who has great management skills.”

Hance’s reputation extends beyond New Brunswick. “She is recognized as a go-to person for advice not only for the League but for her peers as well,” says Jim Meredith, executive vice president of the Cranford-based New Jersey League of Community Bankers. “Liz has a wonderful reputation in the industry for her insight on issues facing the community-banking industry and [for] asking the questions that others may be thinking.”

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