World’s Best Banks 2021: US Regional


America’s top regional banks have surged to meet the needs of customers and the community throughout the tough times of the year.

As the Covid-19 pandemic emerged, “the extent of the uncertainty” was unclear, says Jerry Sargent, chairman of the Citizens Bank and executive of the Massachusetts and Northeast region. At first, no one could predict how the pandemic would impact banking, credit and operating risks, or how financial institutions were supposed to move forward as the world at large got out of hand.

Several steps were essential at Citizens, Sargent says, including initiating ongoing communication with employees and customers and the rapid exploitation of technology. Many bank employees worked long hours to help clients and non-clients access Paycheck Protection Program (P3) loans so they could keep their businesses running. “The nobility of the bank” has arisen, says Sargent.

Then, as businesses and individuals began to grasp the scale of the pandemic, the murder of Breonna Taylor on March 13 in Knoxville, Tennessee, followed by the murder of George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, drew attention. pay attention to the problems. regarding systemic racism.

Once again, many banks have stepped up and dedicated funds to often neglected communities, including minority-owned businesses. The Minneapolis-based US Bank is committed to rebuilding places that were damaged or destroyed during the days of unrest following Floyd’s death. It also pledged to double its partnerships with black-owned suppliers within 12 months.

Even in the midst of the upheavals of 2020, the challenges and decisions that businesses face each year continued: deciding how best to innovate, which technologies to invest in, which services to add, and which markets to expand into. . “Today, banking services are being reinvented to welcome customers on their terms,” says Bob Weiss, regional manager of the Community Central division of US Bank.

The six banks that won Global finance The best bank awards, representing nine regions, have met these challenges perfectly.

Citizens Bank: New England

Weeks after the emergence of the pandemic, Citizens Bank grew its SBA department from around 20 employees to over 1,000, while developing technology that allowed it to connect to the Small Business Administration electronically.

“We processed $ 5 billion in loans with 50,000 customers in just a few weeks,” says Sargent. Citizens Financial Group, headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island, and with $ 183 billion in assets, took top honors in New England.

Citizens have committed $ 10 million to foster social equity and advancement in underserved areas and $ 500 million in additional funding and capital for small business, housing and other types of development in communities. majority minority communities.

Interest on citizen point-of-sale loans – an offer to buy now, pay later that provides fixed monthly payments and a lower interest rate than many alternatives – has surged during the pandemic, according to one. report. Many customers see this option as more responsible than increasing their credit card balance.

PNC Bank: Mid-Atlantic

At the start of the pandemic, PNC Bank built an online portal to streamline PPP applications for its clients, while more than 4,000 PNC employees worked to secure more than 74,000 small business loans. And in mid-2020, PNC committed $ 1 billion to help tackle systemic racism and support the economic empowerment of low- and middle-income communities. PNC Financial, with approximately $ 467 billion in assets, took top honors for the Mid-Atlantic region.

Using part of the proceeds from the sale of its stake in global asset manager BlackRock, PNC financed its acquisition of the US operations of Spanish financial institution BBVA. Combined with its existing footprint, PNC is now present in 29 of the 30 major metropolitan markets in the United States.

Regions: Southeast

With nearly $ 133 billion in assets and operating approximately 1,400 banking establishments in the Southeast, Midwest and Texas from its headquarters in Birmingham, Alabama, Regions Bank has won the title of Best Regional Bank. from the south-east.

As a participant in the Paycheck Protection Program, the bank made about $ 5 billion in PPP loans to its business customers in 2020 and canceled about $ 1 billion of those loans by the end of the year. year.

The Regions Bank and Regions Foundation also made an initial commitment of $ 2.5 million to help organizations that have helped small businesses overcome the pandemic, and committed $ 12 million to advance programs that promote the racial equity, including $ 1 million to the National Urban League and $ 2 million to support minorities. owned by banks.

Union Bank: Far West

MUFG Union Bank, part of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, operates around 350 branches which have around $ 136 billion in assets. He won the highest honor for the Wild West region.

Throughout 2020, the bank embarked on several social justice initiatives, including the March launch of ‘WE CAN’, Women’s Entrepreneurship Capacity Building, Advocacy Support and the Nurturing Initiative. growth. This two-year, $ 500,000 commitment is focused on building the capacity of small business centers for women in California.

In June, MUFG Union Bank committed $ 10 million to launch a community recovery program to address social and racial injustice in the United States. These funds are dedicated to the recovery efforts of small businesses. Also in 2020, the bank began to do due diligence on the impact and risks posed by climate change and reduced its exposure to coal-fired power generation.

In early 2021, MUFG Union Bank launched Green Deposits, offering its clients the opportunity to invest in ESG (environmental, social and governance) projects such as energy efficiency, renewable energy projects and sustainable food initiatives. .

US Bancorp: Great Lakes, Plains, Southwest

With approximately $ 530 billion in assets, US Bank won awards in three regions: the Great Lakes, the Plains and the Southwest. When the pandemic hit, the bank turned to drive-thru operations and digital technology, while helping around 100,000 PPP applicants get $ 7.4 billion in loans, said Bob Weiss, regional director of the Community Central division of the bank. The bank continues to process new loans.

In 2020, US Bank committed $ 60 million to employees and communities for Covid-19 relief and recovery efforts, including paying bonuses for frontline workers.

The bank’s investment in technology and digital tools has continued, giving “business owners the power of time, choice and convenience,” Weiss says. This included streamlined loan applications, expedited decision making for credit needs, and a full product line for SBA loans and deposit products, among others. The innovations give “business owners the opportunity to tinker, but also have a team at the US Bank to help them,” he adds. More than half of loan sales and three quarters of transactions are done digitally, the bank reports.

Zions Bancorp: Rocky Mountain

Since its founding nearly 150 years ago, Zions First National Bank has grown to 122 financial centers in several Western states and has amassed over $ 65 billion in total assets.

The bank ranked ninth in the United States for PPP approvals, with more than 46,000 loans approved, preserving the payroll of more than 600,000 workers. About 82% of the loans were less than $ 150,000; 70% went to companies with less than 10 employees and about 21% to companies that previously did not bank with Zions. More than a quarter of loans were made to businesses in low to moderate income regions.

The bank subsequently canceled $ 1.3 billion in PPP loans for nearly 10,000 borrowers, which represented more than 95% of the loan balance.

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