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KeyBank Vice President – Small Business & Community Impact Branch Manager Judy Casperson spoke with MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager Nan Price about how KeyBank supports women and small business owners in the Hartford Region.

NAN PRICE: You’ve got “small business” in your title, so let’s start there. How does KeyBank help entrepreneurs and small business owners?

JUDY CASPERSON: Many entrepreneurs and small business owners lead with passion, but they don’t always have a firm grip on the business’ finances. We want to be their trusted partner, someone they can come to when they need help. We want to help them figure things out together and look at ways they can avoid utilizing their personal credit to launch or maintain their business. The goal is to create a firm foundation and form a partnership to help their businesses grow.

During the last year, I’ve focused on helping diverse businesses get into supply chains—helping them understand how to get certified, helping them get certified, helping them create a business plan, and helping them understand how they can raise capital without decimating their personal finances.

KeyBank also comes into organizations and visits employers to do financial wellness and empowerment check-ins. With our key@work program we strive to give employees financial peace and wellness, enabling them to be more focused on work instead of their finances.

I’ve been able to help people considerably by offering financial wellness seminars and individual sessions either in person or via Zoom that teach about budgeting and how to structure debt. I have conversations with entrepreneurs and small business owners about how much does it cost to be you?

The intent is to help them discern where they’re spending their money, where they want to be spending their money, and how they can learn how to tell their money what to do. It creates a sense of peace with people from all areas of life, especially those who are living paycheck-to-paycheck. I love helping them understand what budgeting is all about and create a financial plan.

NAN: Let’s talk about how KeyBank supports women business owners.

 JUDY: Key4Women is a great platform to help female business owners and entrepreneurs. It provides business resources and networking opportunities. There’s a place for mentoring or being a mentee as well.

Key4Women is a national opportunity. And you don’t have to be a KeyBank client to be involved. The main thing is that we try to support each other—it’s creating a community of women who are there to help each other.

In terms of empowering women, Key4Women is proud to present the 2022 United Way Power Of The Purse, an annual event that helps women achieve financial stability. I’m fortunate to Co-Chair of this year’s event, which will take place June 16 at the Connecticut Convention Center. Bishop Desmond Tutu’s daughter, race and gender social activist Nontombi Naomi Tutu is our keynote speaker.

Power of the Purse is one of United Way’s biggest fundraisers of the year. It’s a place where all women (and men, too) can join together and see how much we can raise with the power of our purses. That’s what I love about this annual event.

NAN: KeyBank supports United Way in other ways too.

JUDY: We also provide volunteer support in United Way’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, which helps with tax returns. We try to help in any way that will help build financial wellness and stability. And we do an employer match for our United Way contributions.

NAN: What’s the one thing you want people to know about the services offered by KeyBank?

JUDY: The biggest thing is that we’re here to partner. There’s no shame in bringing your finances in every part of what you have in your life to us, because we want to help you develop a strategy for success.

I always tell people, your banker should be like your doctor or your dentist, somebody you go to regularly and check in for a financial wellness review. That’s what it’s all about.

People often think it’s about investing or building, but sometimes it’s really about the basics. We want to get those straight. Let us help you do that.

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KeyBank Vice President – Small Business & Community Impact Branch Manager Judy Casperson instructs at the University of Hartford Women’s Advancement Initiative L.E.A.D. program.