November 2021

Why this former Fifth Third Bank president is coming out of retirement to launch a Black-owned bank in Columbus

Courtesy of Columbus Business First
By Haley Colombo
November 11, 2021

Jordan Miller is coming out of retirement to launch his passion project: opening a Black-owned bank in Columbus.

The former regional president for Fifth Third Bank has joined a group of Black civic leaders, including former Mayor Michael Coleman and Franklin County Commissioner Kevin Boyce, to launch Adelphi Bank, which they hope will better serve the Black community.

Adelphi Bank has filed its application with the FDIC and Ohio Department of Financial Institutions, expecting it will take as long as six months to receive approval. Miller said he hopes the bank launches by the end of next summer. The planned location is in the Adelphi Quarter development in the Bronzeville neighborhood.

Miller, who retired from Fifth Third in 2019, said that while he is still active in the community on various boards, “I wasn’t planning to do something this active.” But now he is the proposed CEO for the bank.

“It’s a calling,” Miller said. “To me, it was a commitment to our community to try to bring services to a community that hasn’t had services like this before. For the most part, the African American story is linked very closely with poverty.

“Many Africans Americans have a very difficult time getting on the economic ladder to success.”

Miller knows firsthand that traditional banks haven’t served the Black community well. He said while traditional banks aren’t looking to discriminate, “everybody’s out to make money.”

“They’re going to focus on if they can make money,” Miller said. “I think the African American community gets overlooked a little bit.”

Increasing access to banking services for Black residents is a priority. Black adults tend to be unbanked and underbanked compared to their white peers, according to the Brookings Institution. Some 46% of Black adults are unbanked or underbanked, compared with 14% of white adults, according to Brookings.

And bank branches in majority-Black neighborhoods are decreasing at a disproportionate rate, Brookings found.

Meanwhile, there are few Black-owned banks in the United States, and the number has been shrinking for years. There were fewer than 25 Black-owned banks as of 2015, according to the FDIC, down from 48 in 2001. That number shrank to 18 as of 2020.

Miller said Columbus community leaders have been toying around with the idea of launching a Black-owned bank for some time, but the events of 2020 were a catalyst, “with Covid-19 and George Floyd and issues like that.”

“It seemed to disproportionately impact the minority communities,” Miller said. “We decided that opening a community bank would be the best response we could have. That’s how it started.”

The bank will not just serve Black residents of Columbus though, Miller said. Adelphi Bank’s business plan will rely on deposits from a diverse group of Columbus residents and businesses. However, he said, being Black-owned means that “we understand the lens of that community.”

“We don’t take for granted that trust,” Miller said. “The goal is to try to serve the needs, by listening and offering (needed) products and services.”

Adelphi Bank will focus on both commercial and residential customers.

Miller did not share exactly how much it takes to start a bank, but he said “it’s a significant amount.” The bank’s partners are currently raising money from the private sector to get the project off the ground.

“It’s no small feat,” Miller said. “We’re getting great response from the business community. We’ve got to grow our balance sheet. We’ve got a lot of balls in the air.”

The bank will be a for-profit entity. While Miller said only one physical branch is planned in the Bronzeville area, the bank plans to have a “robust digital experience” including mobile banking.

“It’s about serving a community,” Miller said. “It starts with Franklin County and we hope to expand beyond that.”

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