Wilton resident takes chief financial seat at Bankwell

Penko Ivanov has lived in Wilton 20 years and knows what it takes for a business to be local.

His business happens to be Bankwell Financial Group and its subsidiary, Bankwell Bank, both headquartered in New Canaan. After a career in finance and banking, he was recently named by the bank as its new executive vice president and chief financial officer.

“This is truly a community bank. We all live in New Canaan and Wilton and surrounding towns,” Ivanov said at the spacious Bankwell in Wilton branch, on Old Ridgefield Road, in the town center.

The bank’s modus operandi is to offer the services of a big bank with a personalized, local touch. He said his goal for 2017 is to amplify the presence in the community.

“We value the relationships we have with local residents and businesses, and we are committed to giving back to the community through volunteering, mentoring and financial support,” he said.

For example, Bankwell sponsors a community document-shredding drive.

“We want to get the word out about us, that we are here and open for business,” Ivanov said. “Commercial loans, personal loans. We want to engage more with the community.”

He loves Wilton, calling it a fresh air and open space town, and it shows. “Both my children go to school here, at Wilton High School,” he said.

The difference between the CFO and the CEO is that the CFO is “the numbers guy,” Ivanov said, responsible for all the financial basics in the bank’s business. The CEO steers the entire operation and provides strategic guidance.

Ivanov will be a strategic partner and responsible for the overall fiscal management of the organization, said Chris Gruseke, who is president and CEO of both the bank and the holding company. “He brings extensive corporate financial experience to Bankwell and we are fortunate to have someone with his talent and expertise on our senior management team. He will be a tremendous asset for the continued growth of our organization,” Gruseke said.

Ivanov comes to Bankwell with more than 24 years of experience in accounting and finance. His more recent roles included CFO for the U.S. operations of Doral Bank, where he created a scalable finance organization to support the rapid growth of several business units from infancy to $3 billion in assets. He was also CFO of Darien Rowayton Bank.

After earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business from the University of South Florida, where he lived when he was younger after emigrating from Europe, he began his career with Ernst & Young and held various accounting/finance positions at PepsiCo, GE Capital and Bridgewater Associates.