Webster Bank President Jim Smith with a portrait of his father, Harold Webster Smith

                                             By John Murray

   Webster Bank was founded in 1935 in the middle of the Great Depression by Harold Webster Smith, Seventy six years later the bank is traded on the New York Stock Exchange and Smith’s son, Jim Smith, is being compared to the mythic banker, George Bailey, from the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

  Jim Smith and Webster Bank were featured on ABC World News two nights ago for the bank’s efforts to support and work with customers experiencing difficulty paying their mortgages. Smith, the President of Webster Bank, told a national television audience of eight million viewers that the bank is continuing the tradition his father started in the 1930s.

   In a news segment entitled, ‘Wonderful Life’ Bank – small bank inspired by famous film gives back to struggling Americans, Smith said, “George Bailey was there to help his customers when they needed him, I think that’s a lot of what we’re all about.”

   ABC reporter Chris Cuomo asked Smith why Webster Bank isn’t foreclosing on mortgages at the same rate as other banks. Cuomo said Webster is a bank, not a church. Smith replied that, “We have a responsibility to our customers to work with them.”

   Instead of using foreclosure as a first option, Webster Bank uses it as a last option, and rewards it’s bankers for modifying mortgage loans to ease the burden on homeowners in this difficult economic time. Banks across the country modify loans at the rate of 1/3 of all loans. Webster Bank’s average is twice the national rate.

   Webster Bank is profiting by doing good in the local community, and for that, Jim Smith and Webster Bank were touted across America. To watch the entire ABC New report click on