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Towne Financial Services sets up shop downtown

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The staff at Towne Financial Services includes (l-r) Russ Hull, George Thomas, Bob Kraniak and Andrea Bernard. The office is on the ground floor at 200 North Water Street.

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By William F. West
Staff Writer

Sunday, July 29, 2018

A Virginia-based bank with a long presence in Camden and Currituck counties has opened a wealth management office in Elizabeth City’s downtown.

Towne Financial Services opened in the Trimpi and Nash law office building on North Water Street in June. Towne Financial’s staff include vice president and financial adviser Russ Hull, Towne Bank senior vice president George Thomas, Towne Mortgage loan officer Bob Kraniak and Towne client services assistant Andrea Bernard.

Towne Financial Services is a service of Towne Bank, which is based in Portsmouth, Virginia. Its services include wealth management, commercial lending and mortgage lending.

Hull, an Elizabeth City native and graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, joined the Towne Wealth Management Group in February after eight years with Wells Fargo Advisers. He also previously worked for Smith Barney in Elizabeth City.

"I saw a good opportunity here to be part of something big," Hull said of his decision to join Towne.

Hull’s job is to help Towne’s clients ensure they have a solid financial plan that works for them.

"I think that most clients want to know that they’ll be OK. And our goal is to assure them a sound plan that allows them to sleep well at night and reach their financial goals," he said.

Thomas, a native of Farmville and graduate of Methodist University in Fayetteville, joined Towne after a career that has included stints with Wachovia Bank and Gateway Bank.

Thomas began his career with Wachovia in Elizabeth City in 1972. He went on to work for the bank in Morehead City, New Bern and Wilmington.

At the start of the 2000s, he returned as Wachovia’s top banking official in Elizabeth City. After 35 years, he left Wachovia to work nearly seven years as president of what was Gateway Bank.

After Towne Bank recruited him, he worked in commercial lending in the bank’s mortgage office.

Thomas, whose expertise is business development, said he enjoys getting to learn about a client company's business.

"It’s just incredible how much those guys work and how much risk they take," he said. "To see ones that are very successful, it's just a lot of pleasure in thinking you may have had a small part in helping that out over the years.”

Kraniak, a Lubbock, Texas native who earned a business degree from East Carolina University, also got his start with Wachovia, working first in Greenville before transferring to Elizabeth City where he worked with Thomas for a time. 

Kraniak went on to work as an investment broker with what was then Wheat, First Securities before beginning his career in the mortgage business. He worked for Customer First Mortgage about a year and a half before establishing Beach Mortgage in Dare County, which he operated for nearly 30 years. Prior to joining Towne, he worked for about a year as a mortgage loan officer for North State Bank.

Kraniak described his job as “helping people.”

"Helping them get their home can be a very cumbersome, a-lot-of-paperwork process,” he said. “So if you can kind of make people feel warm about that, you feel real good."

Bernard is a native New Newfoundlander who first came to the region in 2005 when her husband was stationed at Base Elizabeth City. When her husband was stationed in Florida, she also worked as a paralegal for about six years.

"So client service and client care is something that I have basically centered my career around," she said.

Bernard joined Towne in February. Prior to that, she worked for about a year for Long and Foster as marketing and listing coordinator.

Towne Financial Services is located at 200 North Water, Suite 1-B, and is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

Hull can be reached at 253-7009, Thomas at 253-7010 and Kraniak at 253-7012.

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