Norwich – Anthony “Tony” Joyce got into banking about 40 years ago.
He was, he said, “a random banker.”
And a successful one, as evidenced by his rise to the helm of Chelsea Groton Bank, where on January 1 he succeeded as President and Chief Executive Officer to Michael Rauh, who retired after 12 years at the helm of the bank.
Fresh out of the UConn School of Business in 1983, Joyce wasn’t quite sure which path to take. With many of his colleagues having the insurance industry in mind, a family friend introduced him to banking and a job at the Norwich Savings Society, now People’s United Bank.
It was a random direction.
Dan Dennis, then President and Chief Executive Officer of the Norwich Savings Society, became a mentor and strongly encouraged Joyce to take a course in commercial lending.
“I fell in love with commercial lending,” Joyce said during an interview at Chelsea Groton’s Norwich branch, which will serve as the bank’s headquarters while its building on Poquonnock Road in Groton is being renovated.
“It gives you an opportunity to use your analytical skills, your education and your interpersonal skills,” Joyce said. “You might be speaking to an undertaker in the morning, a developer in the afternoon, and a car dealership in the evening. When a client has an idea and you help them make it happen, you feel like you’re helping to build something.”
“It’s the best job in the world,” he said.
A lover of the outdoors and an avid fly fisherman, Joyce said if he hadn’t gotten into banking he probably would have become a conservation officer.
Joyce, 61, spent 21 years at Norwich Savings Society/People’s, then six years at Eastern Connecticut Savings Bank and three years at Dime Savings Bank before joining Chelsea Groton in 2013.
“Tony and I first met 11 or 12 years ago when we were both on the NCDC (Norwich Community Development Corp.) board of directors,” Rauh recalls. “I knew right away that I was going to hire him somehow.”
At Chelsea Groton, Joyce served as Commercial Loan Officer and Senior Lending Officer and was appointed Chief Operating Officer in 2020, a role in which he was prepared to assume as CEO.
“He’s just a great person at his core,” Rauh said. “So start with that – and he has tremendous banking experience. You don’t have to bring someone on the outside when you have someone like Tony on the inside. It was a seamless transition.”
Born in New London, Joyce lived at Blackhall Court until his family moved to Waterford when he was 7 years old. He graduated from St. Bernard School in Uncasville and met his wife, Lori, in college. They have two adult daughters, Juli, a teacher, and Mandy, a medical assistant at Backus Hospital in Norwich.
His familiarity with the region will benefit Joyce as bank president, said Tony Sheridan, president and CEO of the Eastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce. Joyce has served as vice chair of the chamber board since 2021.
“He’s a perfect fit for the (Chelsea Groton) job,” Sheridan said of Joyce. “I rely on him to make sure our finances are in good shape. He not only knows the banking industry, but the entire financial world very, very well.”
Sheridan said the affable Joyce is “accommodating and thoughtful in his approach, making him easy for anyone to reach out to.”
“I expect Chelsea Groton to grow under his leadership,” Sheridan added.
After two years as COO, Joyce said he was “hands-on” in all aspects of banking.
“I think I’m a social person,” he said. “I spend a lot of time with the ‘team’. We have a great culture here and we all contributed to it.”
Chelsea Groton is a mutual bank that caters to customers rather than shareholders. According to Joyce, Chelsea Groton has 225 employees, 13 full-service branches and a loan application center, and is worth $1.5 billion. Its deposits account for 19% of the New London County market.
While the bank is poised for growth, it currently has no plans to expand its footprint, Joyce said.
“We want to continue to be a force in southeastern Connecticut,” he said. “Our commitment to our customers is to approach their goals as if they were our own. We have online banking, mobile deposits, debit card checks and online loan applications. The dichotomy is that people still value face-to-face interactions – commercial lending is a good example of this.”
“We have to make everything available,” Joyce said.