When Bryn Mawr Trust wanted to open a Princeton-area branch for its wealth management division, it didn’t start from scratch. Instead, the company hired a team of financial professionals who were already well known in the central New Jersey financial world.

Bryn Mawr’s new specialty banking location opening July 1 on Hulfish Street is headed up by Elizabeth Protage (Beth) Walsh, a 29-year veteran of PNC Bank, along with Francis J. Keene, Paul J. Gaudio, and Kimberly G. Kingsland. The team has worked together for years and will now continue doing so under the Bryn Mawr name.

Frank Leto, CEO of Bryn Mawr Trust, said he was thinking of expanding into the area, and that his decision was cemented when he met Walsh and company. “When you have high quality people already there, it made it easier,” Leto said.

The move coincides with Bryn Mawr’s acquisition of Royal Bank America, which has a Nassau Street office, for $127.7 million.

Walsh grew up in southern California and went to Prince­ton University, Class of 1988. She says she fell in love with the area after school and never left. She has worked in wealth management her entire career, and at PNC’s Princeton office since 1992.

“I’ve been absolutely immersed in the community, living and working here and going to the grocery stores, and attending charitable events,” she says. Walsh is on several non-profit boards including the Princeton Public Library Foundation and the Princeton Area Community Foundation.

Being local has its business advantages, Walsh said. “It’s not a revolving door situation, like many companies have when they try to begin a new project. We’re already very well connected and know lots of people in the community who might serve as referral sources.”

Bryn Mawr Trust, headquartered outside of Philadelphia, is a commercial bank that has an $11.5 billion wealth management group serving clients in the $1 to $20 million range. It has 43 locations in total, including 25 full service retail branches.

Leto says Bryn Mawr’s expansion is driven by a banking environment that favors large institutions. New regulations that came along after the financial crisis impose costs that small banks cannot manage. “It is very difficult to meet a lot of the regulatory burdens,” Leto said. “You take that, coupled with a low interest rate environment that we’ve been in, and it’s difficult for banks. We’re not making money like we used to.”

Leto said that bringing Walsh’s team on board for a wealth management office was an effort to maintain “small bank” customer service, while taking advantage of Bryn Mawr’s larger size and more diversified revenue streams. Bryn Mawr has varied businesses under its roof including insurance and mortgage divisions. It also leases critical equipment to other companies, such as chairs and other equipment to dental practices.

Leto says Bryn Mawr’s other main advantage, which has allowed it to thrive, is its personnel with deep local connections.

“Our people eat, sleep, and breathe the community,” he said. “As Beth said, she goes to the grocery store there, and it’s that way throughout the company. It makes us really unique versus the large companies where clients get lost.”

Walsh leads a team that has been based in the area for many years — all of them working at PNC with Christine Lokhammer, now retired. All four have the title senior vice president at the new company. Keene, an investment advisor and certified financial planner, was with PNC for 15 years and before that worked for Merrill Lynch for 19 years. He is on the board of the Princeton Nursery School.

Gaudio, a wealth planner and certified financial planner, worked at PNC and a predecessor bank for 28 years. He is an adjunct teacher of income tax at Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Kingsland, a certified trust and financial advisor and fiduciary specialist, worked for PNC Bank for 13 years and was previously with United Trust Bank and a lawyer in private practice.

Bryn Mawr Trust, 47 Hulfish Street, Suite 400, Princeton 08542. 609-683-1022. Elizabeth Walsh, senior vice president. www.bmtc.com.

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