“We want to create a different bank that makes a difference,” Cummings said of his company's commitment to the community, adding that such an initiative starts with the customers and employees.
“Great organizations have a great and noble sense of purpose,” he said, “a significant purpose that inspires and creates excitement and commitment.”
Cummings said the bank aims at creating a similar environment among its investors: “that you're part of a team, that you're part of something special.”
However, he said it is an overall bad time for banking.
Cummings referred to America's “lost decade,” which he said began in 2006.
A large part of this is because consumer debt is through the roof, and first time home-buyers find it difficult to navigate the current market.
“In 1984, when I bought my house, there was a sense of urgency because houses were going up 10, 15 percent a year,” Cummings said. “Today, why would I buy a house today? I think prices are going to be down.”
He added that 20 years ago, first-time home buyers were between the ages of 27 and 28, now they are 33 and 34.
“So it's certainly a very, very difficult environment,” he said.
But the breakfast event overall focused on the positive.
Junior student Nadia Abbasi received a $2,500 scholarship to put towards her academic studies at the breakfast. Abbasi was born in Bengladesh but grew up in Hicksville, Long Island.
She is now a math major with a double minor in business and liberal arts at Queens College. Abbasi, who wants to go into actuary work or risk management, said she won the award because of her academic achievements and civic engagement.
She spends her time hunting down internships and doing well in her courses, Abbasi said, adding that she currently interns at the United Nations.
“This is just another example of engaging in professionals and taking what you can to learn,” she said of her internship.
To apply for the scholarship, Abbasi had to submit her transcript and write a personal essay.
“I really feel that a scholarship is an investment in a person,” she said. “It's really kind of passing down the torch and seeing what am I able to offer and bring to the plate.”