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Citizens Bank creates new role to focus on Buffalo, Rochester markets

Citizens Bank has created a new position to give the bank a tighter focus on Buffalo and Rochester, with an eye toward increasing its commercial business in those markets.

The Rhode Island-based bank now has a Western New York market executive, and hired Ted Smith, an M&T Bank veteran, to fill the job. He started with Citizens this week.

Smith, who lives in the Rochester area, will oversee Citizens' Rochester and Buffalo markets, said Jerry Sargent, Citizens' Northeast region executive. "I would expect Ted to be in Buffalo one or two days a week."

Ted Smith, Citizens Bank WNY market executive (Citizens Bank photo)

Citizens' New York president, Paul Taffe, has overseen the major upstate markets of Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Albany. Citizens decided to hire an experienced leader to concentrate on its growth efforts at the western end of the state, Sargent said. "It's pretty difficult to get from Albany to Buffalo on a consistent basis."

Taffe remains New York president, but he will be able to focus more on the Albany region, where he is based, said Frank Quaratiello, a Citizens spokesman.

Citizens has 4.6 percent deposit market share in the Buffalo Niagara region, according to the most recent Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. data. It ranked fifth, virtually tied with No. 4 Northwest Bank. Citizens has 41 branches in the Buffalo area, many of which are in Tops supermarkets.

"I don't think we've scaled our commercial bank [in this market] to the scale of our retail bank," Sargent said. "That's why I look at this and say, there's a real opportunity, but I think we're going to have to do things a little bit differently than we have in the past."

Smith was with M&T for 23 years, most recently as a group manager, overseeing a team of bankers in the Rochester area. Sargent said Smith has a strong track record of working with corporate clients.

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