First Niagara Financial

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First Niagara Financial Reviews

Updated Jun 30, 2014

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2.3 44 reviews

32% Approve of the CEO

First Niagara Financial President, CEO, and Director John R. Koelmel

John R. Koelmel

(22 ratings)

31% of employees recommend this company to a friend
44 Employee Reviews
Relevance Date Rating
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    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Disapproves of CEO

    1 person found this helpful  

    Lies, Lies, Lies

    Product Manager (Current Employee) Buffalo, NY (US)

    ProsParties are fun, Senior Management pumps you up with motivational fluffery.

    ConsExecutives, Leadership Council, and Managers can not be trusted. They promote the CULTURE as outstanding. They need to stop talking to themselves. If anyone tries to provide constructive advice or make real change - they are silenced. Look at the long list of outstanding leaders who have been let go for no reason and with no notice.

    John Koelmel, the CEO is out for himself and that permeates the organization. Mr. Koelmel has FNFG pay for company events that are personal parties for him. He is a bully that is not capable of listening. As soon as someone as a different idea than his, that person is escorted from the company. I have seen it time and time again.

    The lack of integrity permeates the management ranks. They make promises they do not live up to. They are dishonest people. The Management Committee members on down will tell you how great they work together and the great culture. Then behind closed doors they put themselves first - time and time again. Do not be fooled!!

    Advice to Senior ManagementThe Board of Directors needs to wake up and replace all the lying, dishonest, promise-makers who take care of themselves at the expense of customers and employees.

    Management and all employees - keep your resumes updated as you are all replaceable and your "teammates" are plotting your exit that could occur at any time.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Disapproves of CEO

    1 person found this helpful  

    Leadership catastrophe

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)

    Prosgreat logo colors; decent PTO; community involvement

    ConsWeak Leadership; Weak Organizational Development and HR departments; extremely political environment; little accountability; no infrastructure (although they are spending some major $$ just to catch up to competitive market) poor stability and portfolio ratings, ESOP plan decreased by>60% during 2012, stock price is pitiful.

    Advice to Senior ManagementRecognize that the organization can only progress to the level of the leader--the organization has been set up to become a case study for learning by neglecting to properly assess talent and culture before executing M&A activity--listen to your employees before pulling the trigger, they are your greatest assets and have the ability to fill the gaps and blindspots of management. Also, competence levels of execs needs to be evaluated--many are in way over their heads.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Disapproves of CEO

    3 people found this helpful  

    Philly region

    Customer Service (Former Employee) Harleysville, PA (US)

    ProsThe people I worked with daily. My vacation and flexibility since my supervisor was in Buffalo.

    ConsThey lay people off left and right.
    They don't know the market they got into when they bought Harleysville National Bank.

    Advice to Senior ManagementKnow your market and stop putting fluff in your employees ears about the culture and how great it is. Not really that great if you're laying off employees all the time. If they would have done proper due diligence they wouldn't need to lay good people off.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Disapproves of CEO

     

    No Room for Advancement. Cutthroat, High Pressure Sales Environment

    Assistant Branch Manager (Former Employee) Allentown, PA (US)

    ProsGreat Benefits. 100% coverage. Decent vacation package.

    ConsManagement plays favorites from top down.
    Fired some people for "policy violations" but not others for same "violations".
    Cutthroat environment.
    "Diversity" value prevents the company from firing under-performing employees"

    Advice to Senior ManagementGet your act together or I wouldn't be surprised to see reverse discrimination lawsuits on the horizon.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Disapproves of CEO

    2 people found this helpful  

    Horrible Place to work

    Professional (Current Employee) Buffalo, NY (US)

    ProsPay is fairly decent though there are some slugs who are way over paid.

    ConsManagement by fear. CEO is a bully, and other senior people are intimidated by him. He's a dictator. A lot of scared and angry people running the joint. Joyless place to come into every day. Like a morgue. CEO too emotional, not steady. Makes decisions to grow so he can lap up the attention. HSBC acquisition was a mistake. Growing too much - chaos ensues. Because of fear culture, and the chaos from growing too fast, everyone plays the blame game. Most of top execs are not qualified to run a bank this size. Ditto for the board of directors. Amateur hour.

    Advice to Senior ManagementLeave.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

     

    The company has merged with too many Banks in a short period of time, and needs to get a handle on the processes work

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)

    ProsGreat people to work with

    ConsUpper management should be more organized with processes

    Advice to Senior ManagementBetter organization and communication to all levels of company

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities

     

    Good company but trying to grow too fast

    Branch Manager (Current Employee)

    ProsThe people you work with and for want you to succeed. They have assembled a team of people from a ton of great organizations and they are attempting to build a new leader in banking. They put lots of focus around organizational development, engagement, and transparency. I am a top performer and I get constant regonition for my production and leadership.

    ConsThe problems are around the fast expansion of the company. They had four purchases within four years and went from a savings thrift bank to a top 25 within that time. As a result, everything is constantly changing and no one can keep up. The communication is terrible and the incentive program does not reward. Although you get recognitinon, if money is a concern this is not the place to be. Due to all the purchases the budget is tight and they don't pay for performance. It often feels like the people at the top want to be running a large bank so badly that they don't care how their employees are affected and how much they have to deal with from the public.Lastly, there is little room for advancement since the company is still generally small and doesn't have a range of available positions.

    Advice to Senior ManagementReward employees and don't make them feel like sales machines. Sometimes the goals can stay relatively stagnant from year to year. Raising a goal and then unofficially raising it by 20% more puts employees in a stressful position.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities

    1 person found this helpful  

    Immature

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee) Lockport, NY (US)

    ProsTop compensation for the area
    Great package overall
    Potential flex hours and emoting
    Excellent culture, at least on paper
    Decent building

    ConsOld technology
    Old mentality
    Poor coordination among different groups/business units
    Overall extremely immature in process, IT, etc
    Blind choice of technologies by the business
    Held together by bubble gum
    Nowhere to grab lunch

    Advice to Senior ManagementFocus on your direct reports, not your career aspirations

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Disapproves of CEO

    1 person found this helpful  

    Up and Down

    Customer Service Representative (Current Employee) Albany, NY (US)

    ProsGreat coworkers. At one time, our department had their own corporate culture, and it was fantastic. Advancement within your own area is extremely possible, despite what others say here.

    ConsSigh... well, having lived through the HSBC conversion and coming out (mostly) intact: the micromanagement of employees, the fact that we were outright told to LIE to customers, the policies that are broken one minute and enforced the next... all very horrible.

    Additionally, the bank has begun using a temp agency to fill certain positions, leading to training groups of twenty that have no idea what to do, and that can easily dispose of half themselves within a months time.

    Also? The pay is not nearly enough.

    Advice to Senior ManagementTry actually evaluating the quality of the people you hire instead of just mass hiring. It might help. Also, before promoting people, see how they do with employee engagement.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • No Opinion of CEO

    1 person found this helpful  

    IT: Nice People, Clueless Management

    Software Developer (Former Employee) Buffalo, NY (US)

    ProsIT is young and vibrant at FNFG. The people are friendly and supportive. Times are tight for everyone, but if you have a good idea, they will usually find a way to fund it.

    ConsThe other side of the "young and vibrant" coin is their inexperience. For an enterprise IT environment, it's still a pretty small organization and yet they want to be grown ups so bad, they tend to adopt unnecessary bureaucratic procedure just because that's what the big banks do.

    Advice to Senior ManagementSlow down growing the org chart, and focus on the people you already have. Say "no" to the lines of business when they want more work done than you have the people or experience to accomplish.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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