Navigating Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank into the future

James Anthony gets ready to take over the helm at Island bank.

James Anthony will begin his job as CEO and president of Martha's Vineyard Savings Bank next month. Mr. Anthony was in Edgartown Friday meeting some of his new colleagues. — George Brennan

James Anthony was at the Edgartown headquarters of the Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank Friday to meet some of his new co-workers and get a first glimpse of the Island house he has rented. He will begin his new job leading the bank, as its president and CEO, next month. He visited the bank and the Vineyard to continue the process of moving with his wife, Kelly, and his children, Isabelle, 9, and Natalia, 2, to their new home.

“Excited, ecstatic,” Mr. Anthony said of moving to the Island. “My wife and I, in particular, are excited because the Vineyard is such a wonderful place to raise children. The pace that they are introduced to adulthood is probably a little more consciously controlled.”

The Anthonys are coming to Martha’s Vineyard from Annapolis, Md., another coastal community, but one that is more like a city. Earlier in his career, Mr. Anthony lived in Chestertown, Md., a small coastal town that was more like the Vineyard.

“It’s very similar, very water-oriented, and although not an island, it’s geographically isolated,” he said. “It takes you an hour to drive anywhere from Chestertown. It has that same sense of ruralness, together community, and population size.”

Mr. Anthony was drawn to Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank because it is a continuation of his career working for community banks. He was president and CEO of Chesapeake Bancorp and Chesapeake Bank and Trust in Maryland. Most recently, he served as Severn Bank’s chief operating officer and executive vice president.

“There were three things that drew me here — the place, the community, and the institution,” he said. “There are few community banks that provide the full banking, lending, wealth management, and trust services that Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank does.” Mr. Anthony sees himself as more than just a steward of the institution, and wants to help it advance and embrace technology to meet the needs of customers.

“[Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank] has a very long, very successful track record,” he said. “So there is that aspect of the stewardship, but the industry of financial services is in a massive state of transition, and so it’s about that stout and sturdy vessel and navigating it through the future.”

The bank has branches in Woods Hole and Falmouth, but expansion isn’t Mr. Anthony’s primary objective.

“The primary objective is to ready ourselves and execute that broader transition of what it means to be a financial institution today — the demands and expectations of customers,” he said. “We want to stay close to our customer base and provide the best service possible, which includes technology, services, human being experience — what happens when a customer calls, what happens when they’re online, the ability to execute banking and investment transactions on their smartphones.”

The Anthonys will arrive just as the tourists and seasonal homeowners return for the busy summer months. At one time, they were part of that crowd, here on vacation to enjoy beaches and sailing.

“Enjoying the summer on Martha’s Vineyard, of course, is A number one,” said Mr. Anthony of what he is looking forward to as his family settles in. “There’s a lot to enjoy. And then to really become a part of that community, establishing relationships, getting situated on the Island, all those things I’m looking forward to doing.”