A long-time Jackson resident, Penny Lee has lived in her current home for more than 20 years. But over time, the home where she consistently hosted her family began to need repairs she couldn't afford. The roof leaked, porch rails were broken and there were holes in the walls from years of grandchildren playing within the home. Miss Lee had handymen patch things until a $7,000 Special Needs Assistance Program (SNAP) subsidy from BankPlus and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas) funded more substantial repairs including a new roof, trim, porch railings and repairs to interior walls. “FHLB Dallas offers many programs that help us make a meaningful impact on our neighbors and communities,” said Mark Ouellette, first vice president and director of affordable housing at BankPlus. “The SNAP subsidy enabled Miss Lee to make several needed improvements to her home.”
Someday soon, if not today, you may be able to find a banking platform that's designed specifically for you and those like you. A growing number of banks and fintechs are using digital banking platforms to meet the unique challenges and needs of individual communities. There are banks and fintechs that offer banking platforms for Black Americans, the LGBTQ+ community, disabled Americans, doctors, freelancers—the list goes on. Some of these institutions are newcomers on the scene. Others have been around for decades but are now able to leverage digital technology to help their communities and drive real financial change. “That’s what’s important about digital banking,” says Kevin Cohee, chairman and chief executive officer of OneUnited Bank. “Yes, it offers all of these very important benefits to consumers to make their lives easier and to make them better stewards of their money—it certainly does that—but the big deal is this changing our overall society,” he says.
Sunrise Banks is proud to introduce the NextGen Banker podcast, which will launch its first episode on Monday, June 14. Hosted by Sunrise CEO David Reiling, NextGen Banker focuses on the future of finance in a world that's increasingly tech- and values-driven. Reiling will talk with the changemakers leading the way to a more equitable, environmentally conscious and transparent banking future. The show will be hosted by Provoke FM, which is also home to the Breaking Banks podcast, and will air twice a month. Find NextGen Banker on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and everywhere else you get your podcasts.
Darrin Williams, CEO of Southern Bancorp Inc. in Little Rock, Ark., has been appointed to the board of directors of the Little Rock Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Williams will fill the unexpired portion of a three-year term ending Dec. 31, 2023. Members of the St. Louis Fed's board of directors and those of its branch boards in Little Rock, Ark., Louisville, Ky., and Memphis, Tenn., are familiar with the economic and credit conditions of their respective regions. Their observations—along with the economic data and information gathered and analyzed by St. Louis Fed staff—help ensure that conditions of Main Street America are represented in Federal Open Market Committee deliberations in Washington, D.C.
OneUnited Bank, the largest Black-owned bank and first and only Black-owned digital bank in the country, is proud to announce its OneTransaction Conference. The free state-of the art virtual financial conference is focused on closing the racial wealth gap and will be held on June 19, 2021 or Juneteenth, a holiday celebrating the emancipation of those who had been enslaved in the United States. Over 20,000 have already registered for the conference. The #OneTransaction Campaign encourages Black families to select One Transaction to accomplish in 2021 and provides action steps to accomplish that transaction. “The reality is the racial wealth gap for each family can be closed by one strategic transaction,” says Kevin Cohee, Chairman & CEO of OneUnited Bank. “By encouraging our community to accomplish One Transaction in 2021, we can make financial literacy a core value of the Black community and create generational wealth.”
New Orleans bankers plan to buy Tri-State Bank, ending the Memphis firm's 75-year run as the city's high-profile Black-owned bank. Liberty Bank and Trust Co., the nation's third largest Black-owned bank, and Tri-State released a statement Thursday night disclosing the proposed deal. Regulators and Tri-State shareholders must approve the merger for the deal to proceed. Tri-State, founded in 1946 by insurance executives, stood out as a bank smoothing the way for Black Americans during the period of integration in the 1960s and 1970s but struggled in later decades as a Downtown-oriented bank. Tri-State cut back on its all-important church lending as middle-class wage gains stagnated, Black residents dispersed to neighborhoods throughout the city distant from Downtown, new bus routes bypassed its Main Street location, and many Black families shifted to banking with bigger institutions.
Creating a diverse, inclusive and equitable workplace is the right thing to do — and research shows it's good for business. These leaders have championed DEI in their organization as CEOs, chief diversity officers and VPs, operations and human resource directors and as advocates and volunteers. They've done the work to help people have uncomfortable conversations, implemented creative and effective trainings and focused on equity and justice in their communities. Included is Kenneth Kelly, Chairman and CEO of First Independence Bank.
More banks are pursuing nonbank acquisitions as they hunt for new sources of income at a time when rock-bottom interest rates are suppressing revenue from lending. Though traditional merger-and-acquisition activity has picked up of late, some banks are steering clear of buying other banks, instead eyeing deals for asset managers, insurance firms and other businesses that generate the bulk of their income from fees. United Community Banks in Blairsville, Georgia, for example, this month agreed to buy FinTrust Capital Partners, an investment advisor in Greenville, South Carolina, in a deal that will more than double its assets under management. These types of acquisitions are not new, but banks are clearly interested in doing more of them in an effort to boost profits.
When you put your money in a savings account, it doesn't just sit there waiting for you when you need it. Banks are actively investing that money to finance other ventures to keep growing their funds. What they put your money in might not always be super clear—and different banks have different reasons for investing. But, in general, many of them are still bankrolling fossil fuels, despite the industry's impacts on the health of people and the planet. Well-established green banking option are Atmos, National Cooperative Bank, and Southern Bancorp. Mighty Deposits also has a detailed resource with tons of options, and Green Deposits has a tip sheet on the how-tos of moving your money.
To address the racial wealth gap resulting from institutional racism and under-investment in Black communities, social entrepreneur Tim Lampkin started Higher Purpose Co. in 2016. Now his team supports a vibrant and growing membership of Black entrepreneurs, farmers, and artists across the Mississippi who, together, are shifting economic outcomes of Black communities in a sustained way. Forbes spoke to Tim about how he and HPC are reimagining loan collateral and business funding and creating community wealth, plus new developments on the horizon.