James H. Sills III, The CEO Of M&F Bank, Is Reinventing The African-American Community Bank For A New Era.
Revitalizing and rethinking any institution to keep up with the times can prove a daunting task for even the most worldly CEO. Doing it at a community bank with more than a hundred years behind it? That’s a truly daunting task.
Not, it would appear, for James Sills, who since his placement by Diversified Search as CEO of M&F Bank has placed the institution on solid financial footing. In 2017, the bank turned the corner, building its loan portfolio and exceeding projections to return to profitability. Sills’s shrewd management is no surprise who know his background, including his service as COO at First Tuskegee Bank, which was founded by Booker T. Washington in 1894. (First Tuskegee merged with Liberty Bank in 2015.) In just three years under his leadership, M&F has rebranded (from its original incarnation as Mechanics & Farmers Bank), expanded the diversity of its clientele (about 70 percent of the bank’s assets are from minorities), and initiated a marketing campaign to target the lucrative 35-to-55-year-old consumer: new online accounts, mobile banking, and check-scanning through smartphones. With seven locations in North Carolina and more than $300 million in total assets, M&F is the eighth-largest financial institution in the U.S., an impressive stature in an age where the number of black-owned banks is about half of what it was at its height.
“The greatest value the past has to offer is not just a historical record,” Sills said in an interview in 2016. “It is how history lights the way for the future.”