What does a zero carbon, climate-focused community bank look like? FinTech Futures spoke to Climate First Bank's founder, Ken LaRoe, and CTO, Marcio deOliveira, about the US entrant's ethos, technology, and plans, including its mixed views on fintechs. The climate crisis is only too apparent in Climate First Bank’s home state of Florida, with the threat of ever increasing storms and super-charged hurricanes, sea level rises, and record-breaking heat days, among other climate impacts. The bank claims to have been carbon neutral since day one, commits to never investing in extractive industries, and makes every decision through the lens of achieving Drawdown.
LOCUS is seeking a Senior Analyst to join its growing Investment Advisory team. LOCUS is a national organization with staff in Colorado, Georgia, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. This position is remote/home-office-based with limited travel related to team gatherings and/or client visits. LOCUS' Investment Advisory team provides services that enable its clients to make effective and efficient impact investments, including fund design & development, investment sourcing & evaluation, and portfolio management & servicing. This Senior Analyst will primarily support the Fund Management business line, which helps LOCUS clients create, deploy, and manage impact investing vehicles. Additionally, this Senior Analyst will support the Transaction Services business line, which provides structuring, due diligence, and underwriting services for specific impact investments. This position, and these business lines, are critical to the success of LOCUS. Click "read more" for a full description of the post and application instructions.
Unions are rare in financial services, but there are exceptions, including Amalgamated Bank in New York, which was founded by a labor union in 1923. The $870 million-asset Bank of Labor in Kansas City, Kansas, was founded by a labor union in 1924 and has been affiliated with the United Mine Workers of America since August 2011. A more recent example is Beneficial State Bank in Oakland, California, where employees voted to form a union in March 2020 after CWA representatives approached the $1.5 billion-asset bank’s executives about the possibility of forming a labor organization for staff. The bank agreed upon a finalized contract last September. “I think the biggest thing was that people [were] not being listened to and our experiences not taken into account on how to be treated,” said Michelle Hunt, a relationship banker at Beneficial. After signing, the bank instituted changes in its minimum wage, training, retirement programs and more. It also created a labor-management committee to give union members a forum for voicing concerns and suggesting changes.
Why minority professionals are often directed to community development jobs, rather than the more lucrative commercial real estate and private-equity fields. Community development has provided good-paying jobs to minority professionals at banks and nonprofits, such as CDFIs. But can it build broader breakout generational wealth, which is mostly possible at the developer level? And are there even enough people of color in those developer ranks to carry out the work? With access to capital such an impediment, large numbers of minority developers and entrepreneurs aren't lining up to rebuild the neighborhoods, experts say.
Banks that operate more like fintechs outcompete their more traditional competitors on certain financial products, researchers at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. found. The study used a new measure of technology adoption at banks to look at Paycheck Protection Program loan volumes in the second quarter of 2020. Banks in the top 15% for tech adoption made more loans than similarly sized competitors by 9 percentage points — and they gained customers outside their usual markets more often, the data showed. The findings prove the importance for community banks of adopting technologies fintechs use, such as cloud computing and online loan applications. In responding to the findings, analysts say banks that have not integrated those technologies should devise a strategy for doing so.
Can a social media site help stanch the flow of community banks selling themselves? Independent Bankers Association of Texas President and CEO Christopher Williston thinks his group's Bankers Helping Bankers service just might. The IBAT is pitching Bankers Helping Bankers, which matches banks with similar technology profiles, to other trade groups, primarily state associations like itself that are affiliated with the Independent Community Bankers of America. It aims to make Bankers Helping Bankers available to every community bank in the country. "We can unabashedly, unequivocally say we want Bankers Helping Bankers to be part of what saves community banking," Williston said in an interview. The platform's basic value proposition lies in giving bankers a straightforward, free means of evaluating technology options — a task small institutions often struggle with.
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Acting Chairman Martin J. Gruenberg released last week the following statement and summary of the FDIC's priorities for the coming year: "The FDIC's core mission is to maintain stability and public confidence in the U.S. financial system. The FDIC carries out this mission through its responsibilities for deposit insurance, banking supervision, and the orderly resolution of failed banks, including systemically important financial institutions. Banking supervision encompasses safety and soundness and consumer protection, both of which are essential to this important mission. While there are many pressing issues the FDIC will have to address this year, key priorities are: the Community Reinvestment Act; climate change; the Bank Merger Act; crypto-assets; and the Basel III capital rule. All of these priorities will require close collaboration among the federal banking agencies. I also want to acknowledge the extraordinary dedication of the FDIC staff who will be critical to carrying forward the work on these priorities. In addition, I want to recognize Chairman Jelena McWilliams for her contributions to the FDIC, in particular for her commitment, which I share, to diversity and inclusion and minority depository institutions."
The recent decision by Twin Cities-based Sunrise Banks to sell two of its former branch buildings to local nonprofits illustrates the commitment of the company and its CEO David Reiling. Sunrise Bank announced in December 2020 that it would close two branches — one on University Avenue and Vandalia Street, the other on the city's east side — and transfer customers to its University Avenue branches on Marion Street and Como Avenue. The $1.9 billion Sunrise also has a pair of offices across the Mississippi in Minneapolis. The bank worked closely with the nonprofit Creative Enterprise Zone on the sale of the Vandalia location. That space will be shared by two nonprofits: Habitat for Humanity of Minnesota and the Northcountry Cooperative Foundation. The other former branch, on Arcade Street near Johnson High School, was acquired by the Twin Cities Community Land Bank on behalf of 30,000 Feet, a nonprofit arts and culture organization serving Black youth. The site will be used for after-school programming near Johnson High School, where more than 4-in-5 students receive free and reduced lunches.
Rohit Chopra, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, raised hackles by launching a broad inquiry last week into so-called junk fees charged on run-of-the-mill financial products such as loans, mortgages and credit cards. "Service charges inflate ticket prices, resort fees hike our costs to stay in hotels, and our phone bills are often laden with mystery charges," Chopra said in a Jan. 26 press call. "These junk fees make it harder for us to choose the best product or service, since the true cost is hidden. Banking is no different." But this initiative has led bankers, consumers and policy experts to ask what exactly makes a fee a junk fee? Many bankers and lenders insist that fees they charge are related to specific types of work or services performed, and existing laws and regulations already prohibit excessive fees, so it isn't clear what problem the inquiry is designed to solve.
Darrin Williams, an attorney and former Arkansas state representative, wasn't interested when Southern Bancorp, Inc. approached him about a leadership position in 2013. His wife, however, reminded him of how rewarding he'd found it to facilitate a financial principles course at his church. Williams reconsidered and became CEO of Southern Bancorp, a group of three community development financial institutions (CDFI): Southern Bancorp Inc., the holding company; Southern Bancorp Bank, a $2 billion-asset community bank headquartered in Arkadelphia, Ark.; and Southern Bancorp Community Partners, a $40 million nonprofit loan fund. Since then, Williams has developed a strong vision of how community banks and CDFIs can partner to build more prosperous communities. "CDFIs are economic and financial first responders for people who are not well served by traditional banks," he says. "I'm issuing a call to action for community banks and CDFIs to work better together."