This month, representatives from BankPlus joined the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas and local dignitaries to award over $40,000 in Partnership Grant Program (PGP) funds to three local nonprofits. "BankPlus takes pride in its commitment to the community, and contributing to different groups and causes," said Mark Ouellette, first vice president and director of affordable housing at BankPlus. "What better way to do this than to exercise our partnership with FHLB Dallas to make positive impacts to the lives of many."
As CDBA grows, we would like to extend a warm welcome to Cassandra Brzezinski, our new Public Policy Director. Cassandra comes to CDBA after working as a Legislative Aide for the Office of Senator Joe Donnelly, where she handled banking, tax, trade, and labor issues. In May of 2018, she completed her Master's in Economics from the University of Maryland. Prior to that, she spent five years in the banking industry, in commercial treasury management sales, and in mortgage operations. Cassandra, alongside Hayley Roth, will work with CDBA member banks on advocacy and government relations.
This week's CDBA Storybank video highlights Pan American Bank & Trust in Chicago, Illinois. Its featured client, Evans Electric, is an electrical contractor specializing in providing high-tech, quality solutions to its commercial, industrial, and residential client base throughout the city. "This has been a dream realized for me," says Evans Electric co-owner Mike Evans.
The current worry around artificial intelligence technology is that it will allow banks to replace employees, leading to massive job loss. However, Accenture's Paula O'Reilly argues that this mindset is incorrect. Studies show that investment in AI will come with an average of 14% job growth. So AI will not replace, but augment much needed human workers. O'Reilly notes how technology can fundamentally change how banks work and benefit employees by automating more rote tasks so they can focus on more personally fulfilling and challenging ones.
As technology changes many aspects of our lives completely, many are also making strides in introducing groundbreaking innovations in the financial sector. These new developments include "regulatory sandboxes" allowing firms to test innovative products with regulators, new "regtech" advancements promising to simplify regulatory procedure and reporting, changes in the cryptocurrency space to bolster their legitimacy and bring them into the regulatory fold, as well as the entrance of big tech companies such as Amazon into the finance space.
During the most recent government shutdown, many banks felt cornered into playing defense. While the banks are not at fault for the government closure, Americans are certainly relying on them to help them get through it. And at a time when faith in the banking system is low among Americans, this is a difficult challenge to come out on top of. To be sure many banks have taken effective action to help their customers, but will it be enough to reverse the negative stigma?
During the long government shutdown, Southern Bancorp announced that it would provide assistance to affected customers by waiving overdraft fees and providing immediate access to a no fee, no credit check, zero interest loan of up to $1,500. Emergency loans were stated to be payable within six months or upon the resumption of government operations. "Southern Bancorp stands ready to assist our customers in this stressful time," said Darrin Williams, Southern Bancorp CEO.
Many impact oriented banks are now looking to restrict their investments to only environmentally sustainable companies. This includes Amalgamated Bank's refusal to invest in companies that harm the planet, Sunrise Banks seeking high financial and environmental returns, and Beneficial State Bank's distribution of profits to environmentally conscious community projects. Supporting banks like these are a great way the average consumer can play their part.
During the long government shutdown, small business owners in Minnesota and nation-wide faced difficulties getting approval for new SBA-backed loans. Chris Albrecht, Senior Vice President and Director of SBA lending for Sunrise Banks, explained that the shutdown prevented them from getting government confirmation, despite businesses desperately needing the capital. The government has since re-opened, but now catching up may take some time. "No one is quite sure what the backlog could be," said Albrecht.
Join leaders in banking, philanthropy, impact investing, and community development to engage in action-oriented dialogue around addressing the financial service gaps that limit economic mobility for many rural people and places. Speakers include Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors Jerome H. Powell, the Emerson Collective's Anne Marie Burgoyne, and many more. Register here by February 1st.