Minority bankers from across the country gathered in Washington D.C.’s Embassy Suites by Hilton Washington-Convention center for the 90th Annual National Bankers Association Convention on Oct. 5-6. This year’s theme was “Helping to Build Legacy Wealth” where bankers congregated to discuss strategies to sustain the banks’ growth and help build a legacy of wealth for future generations.
Keynote speaker and current United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Ben Carson, suggested that bankers should work together to revitalize the minority banking industry and that it was vital to the improvement of minority communities. No one energized the convention though, like Statesperson of the Year Recipient, Congresswoman Maxine Waters. She echoed the importance of working together but also urged the bankers to start working with the next generation of customers. It is no secret that millennials are the largest demographic in the United States; thus, they are essential to helping the minority banking industry return to prominence.
Carver State Bank President, Robert E. James, was in attendance and shared similar sentiments as the Congresswoman. James agrees that it is extremely important for Black-owned banks to tailor their marketing materials to attract millennial customers. James took the time to speak with two twenty-six-year-old gentlemen, Marcus Howard and Charles Hands, who recently started a company called Engage Millennials. Engage Millennials is a millennial consulting company that helps minority-owned businesses develop product and services to attract millennial customers. Engage Millennials had its start working with the second oldest minority-owned bank in the country, Mechanics and Farmers Bank, located in North Carolina. The President of the National Bankers
Association, Michael Grant, is confident that Engage Millennials’ work in North Carolina will serve as a model for all Black-owned banks. Thus, Howard and Hands were invited to the 90th annual convention to offer their services to every Black-owned bank in the country. James believes that Engage Millennials will serve as a great resource for Carver State Bank to sustain growth by getting millennials in the Savannah, GA area to bank with them.
The Wall Street Journal highlights that the number of black-owned banks have steadily declined for the past 15 years; it is projected that by 2028 there will only be seven Blackowned banks in existence. James wants to make sure that Carver State Bank is able to survive the future and thus has shifted his focus on attracting the millennial demographic.