Webster Financial Corporation is the holding company for
Connecticut-based Webster Bank, the largest independent bank
headquartered in New England. Webster's four lines of
business are retail banking, commercial banking, consumer finance,
and wealth and investment services.
Webster was founded in 1935 by Harold Webster Smith, then just
24 years old. Smith borrowed from his relatives to open First
Federal Savings of Waterbury, a lending institution dedicated to
providing home loans at low rates to Connecticut citizens. It
soon focused on expanding its commercial business, and in the
process grew beyond Connecticut.
Today, the Webster footprint extends to the suburbs of Boston,
through southern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and into New
York. The bank offered its first shares to the public in
1986. First Federal was renamed Webster Bank in honor of its
founder in 1995. Ten years later, in March 2005, Webster
acquired the Wisconsin-based State Bank of Howards Grove, which it
now operates under the name HSA Bank. In October 2006,
Webster closed its stock-for-stock acquisition of Connecticut
savings bank NewMil Bancorp, in a deal valued at $172.5
How Webster works
Retail banking has historically been Webster's biggest line of
business. This segment serves about 400,000 consumer
households and 60,000 small business customers in New England and
New York; its distribution network includes nearly 500 ATM
locations, 180 banking offices and online banking services.
Retail also includes HSA Bank and home equity loans, mortgage
lending and investment products offered through Webster Investment
The consumer finance division provides first mortgages, home
equity loans and direct installment lending programs through
Webster Bank and its wholly-owned subsidiary, People's Mortgage
Wealth and investment services are two business units operating
as one division. Webster Financial Advisors (WFA) targets
high-net-worth individuals, nonprofits and business clients.
Webster Investment Services (WIS), a registered investment advisor,
offers securities, brokerage and advisory services.
A level playing field?
In the diversity sphere, the firm may be wise to concentrate more
on the big picture, some insiders say. "While there may be
diversity in the branches, the corporate areas do not appear to
have much minority diversity." Though one insider notes, "I
don't believe they discriminate in hiring," the company "doesn't
really seek out a diverse workforce, either." Women within
the firm may be slightly better off than minorities, however.
Sources tell us that, "There are a decent amount of women in
positions. Women are respected, and promoted based on skills and
experience, but minorities appear to be lacking." Adds
another insider, " To boost diversity, "Webster should look
more into MBA programs for minority applicants to fill more
corporate positions," one contact suggests.