PNB, the oldest Filipino bank in NYC, has a new general manager

‘Once a banker always a banker,’ said Eric Bustamante when he accepted the PNB position.

By Cristina DC Pastor

Philippine National Bank, the oldest Filipino bank in New York at 102 years, just got a new general manager.

Eric B. Bustamante  is a battle-scarred banker known for his turnaround smarts as a manager. He managed staffing issues he inherited, and now reports the New York office has seen a steady increase in remittance volume since he took over in February 1, 2018. 

“Remittance services has been steadily increasing over the years,” said Eric quietly downplaying his role.  “This is due to the increase in wages and income of FilAm communities in the U.S. where our sector has the highest gross annual income.”

The rise is also seen in home loans, he said. “There’s this bigger desire of FilAms to purchase and invest in residential real estate properties in the Philippines through the Own a Philippine Home Loan (OPHL) program.”  PNB has branches and remittance centers around the world.

Eric had bid goodbye to his enduring yet fast-moving career as a banker when he came to the U.S. in 2012 to join the family business in Brooklyn. He worked for the tax consultancy company founded by his father and brothers. As a Professional Tax Consultant, he was eager to learn more. He eventually passed the forbidding Internal Revenue Service’s exam for Enrolled Agents and became a licensed agent of the IRS representing clients in tax-related cases. 

“I couldn’t say no to my family,” he said.

Receiving one of many awards for PNB New York during PNB’s Gabi ng Parangal: 2018’s Most Profitable Overseas Branch.

In the Philippines, he got his start as a Loans Assistant at Far East Bank and Trust Company and later promoted to Loans Supervisor. He joined Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company as a Management Trainee and became Branch Head in three years. Another round of promotion made him Cluster Sales Head, where he assumed supervision over several contiguous branches.

The invitation for a comeback came in 2018 when a  top executive of PNB offered him a position to manage two branches in Manhattan and Queens. Eric welcomed the opportunity, convincing  himself, “Once a banker always a banker.”

It was tough start. He faced a severe manpower shortage caused by circumstances that have been there even before he joined PNB. From 17, he inherited seven employees.

“We were armed with tested managerial techniques and ably equipped with administrative skills,” he said. “I felt my career was put through a test.”

The Cainta-born and raised Eric said he is the type of manager who is a positive thinker. This has allowed him to “triumph over trials and challenges.” He was able to find “efficient and capable” people from the ranks of fresh college graduates.

Eric with wife Jedy, a registered nurse, and children Charles Jeric and Camille Erica.

“I coached, guided and molded the young team and transformed them into a coherent and fighting team,” he said. “I instilled in their hearts and minds the mantra that in order to win a war, we have to stay together. We don’t win a war by fighting each other.”

Today after a year, Eric is reporting that PNB New York has 12 people in its two branches, 10 of them working out of the Manhattan office located on Seventh Avenue. As Faith is important to him, he said  he makes sure his employees always say start the day with morning prayers.

“Eric is a charismatic, passionate and extraordinary leader who puts his heart and soul into his job,” said one of his customers.

Eric’s New York team effort did not escape notice. They were awarded 2018’s Most Profitable Overseas Branch at PNB’s annual Gabi ng Parangal held in Manila last March 2019. PNB’s top management also conferred on Eric the PNB Service Excellence Award both in the categories of Customer Service and Extraordinary Leadership this year.

“It was truly a fitting recognition of our efforts and  ‘never say die’ spirit in spite of all the challenges and obstacles,” he said. “A testimony that prayers and hard work pay off.” His dream is for PNB  to become ‘bank of choice’ among FilAm communities in the United States, and to bring it closer to the people.

Eric lives in Matawan, New Jersey with his wife Jedy, who works as a Registered Nurse, and their two children Charles Jeric and Camille Erica.

“Everything has been truly a blessing, and we give back all the glory and thanksgiving to our Lord God,” he said.

© The FilAm 2019

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