Arkadelphia's Southern Bancorp Inc. has joined the ranks of Certified B Corporations, an Arkansas first. The $1.4 billion-asset lender is among 10 banks and thrifts in the nation to gain the designation, which denotes the highest standards of social performance, transparency and legal accountability, balancing profit and purpose. Southern Bancorp changed its legal structure to become a benefit corporation in 2017. The move solidified its legal empowerment to pursue societal impact alongside profit. Arkansas was among seven states to enact B Corporation legislation in 2013.
Few of us think about how our banking affects the environment but, in reality, putting your money with a green-minded financial institution may be one of the best things you can do to help conserve land, protect air and water, save endangered wildlife and mitigate climate change. Banks (owned by shareholders) and credit unions (owned by the customers) lend and invest some of the deposited funds they are holding, which is how they're able to pay interest back to you. A bank or credit union that limits its investments to sustainability-oriented companies and institutions is well on its way to being considered green. Responsible options include Amalgamated Bank, Sunrise Banks, City First Bank of DC, Beneficial State Bank, and Southern Bancorp.
Teri Williams is President & COO and owner of OneUnited Bank, the largest Black owned bank in the country and supporter of the #BankBlack and #BuyBlack Movement. She is responsible for the Bank's strategic initiatives, as well as the day to day operations, including all retail branches, marketing, compliance, lending, information technology, customer support, legal, and human resources. Ms. Williams brings 30 years of financial services expertise including Bank of America and American Express, where she was one of the youngest Vice Presidents.
The Credit Insecurity Index is a new tool that helps to provide a more comprehensive view of credit access and community credit health. By moving beyond metrics that traditionally focus on residents without a credit file or score, this Index incorporates an additional assessment of residents who are "credit constrained," that is, unlikely to obtain credit at choice to manage emergencies, take advantage of opportunities, or invest in one's future. The report, Unequal Access to Credit: The Hidden Impact of Credit Constraints, explains how the Index provides a more complete picture of communities' financial security by scoring credit insecurity for states and counties over time.
Sourced from the above New York Fed article, this map is a vivid depiction of credit inequality in the United States. The dark areas show counties where a large proportion of the population has no access to credit, while the lighter areas are considered "credit-assured" or "credit-likely."
Proposed changes to the Community Reinvestment Act could serve as a catalyst for banks to become more active in financing projects inside Opportunity Zones, according to some development experts. Opportunity Zones provide tax incentives to investors in development projects located low and moderate-income neighborhoods. Under proposed changes to the 42-year-old Community Reinvestment Act, any type of lending conducted in a low- or moderate-income census tract located within an in Opportunity Zones would qualify for CRA credit. Jeannine Jacokes, the CEO of the Community Development Bankers Association, said her biggest concern is that banks will focus only on projects that promise the highest and fastest return on investment. "This will encourage banks to do things in Opportunity Zones, but it will exacerbate the concerns about gentrification," she said.
A group of 6 CDFIs known as the Partners for Rural Transformation has released a paper detailing the work of CDFIs in persistent poverty areas. The report finds that those in persistent poverty areas are overwhelmingly in rural areas and people of color. Despite evidence of success by CDFIs in improving employment, housing, banking and infrastructure, philanthropic, bank and federal investment in development in persistent poverty regions continue to lag. The report details why this is as well as receommendations for advancing social and economic opportunity in distressed communities.
After nearly two years of anticipation, financial regulators unveiled a sweeping proposal Thursday to reform how they implement the Community Reinvestment Act. The plan, released at a Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. board meeting, will overhaul CRA assessment boundaries, criteria for activities earning credit in CRA exams and how banks are scored overall for their performance. If finalized, the proposal would be the first significant update to the 1977 law in over two decades. The proposal has been championed by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. Despite support from the FDIC, the Federal Reserve has been unwilling to sign on to the draft plan, raising concern about competing CRA regimes.
It’s no secret that racism has been baked into the American banking system. There are few black executives in the upper echelons of most financial institutions. Leading banks have recently paid restitution to black employees for isolating them from white peers, placing them in the poorest branches and cutting them off from career opportunities. Black customers are sometimes profiled, viewed with suspicion just for entering a bank and questioned over the most basic transactions. This year, researchers for the National Bureau of Economic Research found that black mortgage borrowers were charged higher interest rates than white borrowers and were denied mortgages that would have been approved for white applicants
Liberty Bank and Trust Company and its parent bank holding company (Liberty Financial Services Inc.) and Louisville Development Bancorp Inc. (the holding company for Metro Bank Inc.) announced their agreement that Louisville Development Bancorp will be acquired by Liberty Bank and Trust Company in a share exchange transaction. The cash transaction is subject to Louisville Development Bancorp shareholder and regulatory approval and is expected to close during the first quarter of 2020. Liberty Bank and Trust Company operates 16 offices in eight states: Louisiana, Mississippi, Kansas, Missouri, Michigan, Alabama, Illinois and Texas. On. Sept. 30, Liberty had approximately $628 million in assets and $541 million in deposits. Metro Bank operates a single office in Louisville, Kentucky. On Sept. 30 Metro Bank had approximately $26 million in assets and $21 million in deposits.