NEWBURYPORT – The Institution for Savings achieved the highest operating earnings and net income in its 198-year history last year, President and CEO Michael J. Jones reported at the bank’s 199th annual meeting.

The meeting was held March 11 at the Black Swan Country Club in Georgetown with approximately 300 corporators and employees in attendance.

In his report, Jones said the bank’s assets reached $3.47 billion, increasing by $169 million, or 5 percent, over last year and fueled by a growth in loans. Total loans increased $210 million, or 8 percent, reaching $2.7 billion, he said in a press release.

Commercial loans increased $81 million — 16 percent — and now exceed $600 million, the majority of which are high-quality commercial real estate loans. Residential loans increased 6 percent and reached a milestone of $2 billion as the bank continues to offer the lowest mortgage rates in the marketplace while maintaining sound underwriting standards, he said.

Deposits increased $167 million, or 6 percent, in 2018, reaching $2.8 billion, which Jones attributed to “the highly competitive rates offered on term certificates and money market accounts.”

The bank’s record net income of $39 million represents an increase of 4 percent over the previous year. Net operating income of $21.4 million increased $2.5 million, or 13 percent, and was also the highest in the bank’s history, he said.

Total capital increased $5 million and remains strong at $336 million, providing opportunities for additional growth and expansion, Jones added. Strong earnings resulted in a return on average assets of 1.15 percent, which once again places the Institution for Savings at the top of Massachusetts banks, he said.

“This was another banner year for the bank as we remained focused on our long-term strategic initiatives of profitability, growth and expansion,” Jones said. “Despite the significant volatility in both the stock and bond markets as well as the uncertainty surrounding interest rates, we properly managed our balance sheet growth, made prudent investment decisions and controlled operating costs.

He said the bank’s strong earnings “allowed us to continue to pay our depositors the best interest rates in the marketplace, charge the lowest fees and offer our borrowers the lowest loan rates.”

He noted the bank’s ongoing charitable giving “will greatly benefit many individuals who live and work in our local community.”

Among milestones in 2018, Jones cited:

Completion of a new full-service office in Amesbury;

Plans to open a full-service office this summer in Vinnin Square in Salem;

Ranked second out of 46 mutual savings banks in Massachusetts;

Grants of more than $2.1 million made through the bank’s foundations to local nonprofit organizations;

Banker & Tradesman Banking Choice Awards/Northeastern Massachusetts: first for overall quality; second for customer service and third for technology;

Named Best Bank (10th consecutive year) and Best Customer Service by The Daily News of Newburyport;

Chosen for the 11th consecutive year as a Boston Globe Top Place to Work (17th);

Chosen for the third year as a Boston Business Journal’s Top 100 Charitable Giver (32) and Best Place to Work (11);

During the meeting, four new corporators were elected: Lyndsey Haight, executive director of Our Neighbors’ Table, Amesbury; Catherine Toomey, principal, Stoneridge Properties, Amesbury; Brian Downey, attorney, Downey Law Group LLC, Ipswich; and Jay Goldberg, owner, Goldberg Properties, Lexington.

Jones also announced the 2018 recipient of the President’s Award, given annually to an employee who consistently goes above and beyond his or her duties to serve the bank and its customers. The award was presented to Jennifer Velez, a senior accountant in the finance department.

“Jenn is not only highly regarded and respected by the employees that work in her department but by those who work in other departments of the bank,” Jones said.

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