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Benefit Offers No-Combat Zone for Provident, Investors Bancorp Execs

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Even banking enemies can call an occasional truce.

Their respective employers are bitter rivals in northern New Jersey, but that did not stop Domenick Cama, the chief operating officer of Investors Bancorp (ISBC), from introducing Christopher Martin, the chairman and chief executive of Provident Financial Services (PFS), at a benefit Wednesday night.

The American Jewish Committee of New Jersey honored Martin at its National Human Relations Award dinner at the Hilton Hotel in Short Hills, N.J. Martin was recognized for his volunteer efforts, including serving as president and treasurer of the 200 Club of Middlesex County, which provides financial assistance and scholarships to families of public safety officials who are killed or disabled in the line of duty.

The two New Jersey thrifts share many ties. Investors' president and CEO, Kevin Cummings, grew up in Jersey City, where Provident's headquarters is located. Cummings is the basketball coach for the daughter of John Kuntz, Provident's general counsel. When he worked for the accounting firm KPMG, Cummings counted Provident as one of his clients.

Still, competition is fierce. Provident and Investors have become like "Macy's and Gimbels," Cummings says, referring to the onetime Manhattan department store rivals. Drive on the New Jersey Turnpike near Newark Liberty International Airport, and you'll see billboards for The Provident Bank and Investors Bank nearby each other.

So it was surprising that an Investors executive helped pay tribute to the top boss at Provident.

Cama says he and Martin have been friends and golfing buddies for more than two decades and Martin asked him to do the honor of introducing him. The two have never worked together, but their families are tight, Cama says.

So, for one night at least, Investors' execs had nothing but good things to say about Provident.

"Provident is a great bank," Cummings says.

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