On November 10, new Urban Partnership Bank opened a full-service branch in Austin at 5253 West Madison Street with several familiar faces on board. Urban Partnership, successor to the failed ShoreBank, was chartered in August 2010. The new institution has $1.4 billion in assets and declares its mission to be: “To build vibrant urban neighborhoods and promote economic and environmental sustainability in urban Chicago, Illinois, Cleveland, Ohio, and Detroit, Michigan.”
Urban Partnership Bank was created when a group of investors acquired deposits and assets of ShoreBank from the FDIC. The bank is led by William Farrow, President and CEO. The investors and management team include experienced financial services professionals. Their commitment is to provide a renewed focus on transforming underserved and distressed urban neighborhoods with an emphasis on sustained growth.
According to Urban Partnership’s President, William Farrow, “Our new branches offer responsible, affordable services and products that make banking more convenient and an exceptional value for customers. Our goal is to provide an alternative to high fees and high cost banking along with exceptional service and products,” he explains.
Farrow told THE VOICE that a goal of his bank is to lure people out of the currency exchanges with low-fee services they can understand and trust without fear their money will be eaten away by back-end fees they aren’t expecting. He says he understands that people know they are paying exorbitant fees to conduct their financial transactions at currency exchanges, but pay those at the front end and accept them as costs of doing business. Plus, these are fees they pay directly and they know what it leaves them.
“The additional drawback to this practice,” explains Farrow, “is that it keeps the currency exchange clientele in a cash economy, building no equity, establishing no savings, and building no credit. This keeps the entire community poor.” He says it will take time and effort, but Urban Partnership will be working to change this mindset and build a financially literate community wherever the bank has branches.
The Austin Micro-Branch and all Urban Partnership locations provide 24/7 access to bill pay kiosks and ATMs, and will be compatible for mobile banking. Urban Partnership identifies as its target clientele working individuals, including those currently not utilizing any bank services, persons seeking to buy or renovate real estate, small businesses, not-for-profit organizations, and faith-based institutions.
Although Urban Partnership is chartered as a Community Development Bank, a major difference between it and the old ShoreBank in Austin is that Urban Partnership offers a full range of retail banking services to residents of the entire West Side. ShoreBank in Austin provided mortgage and real estate services only to residents of Austin and its local branch provided no retail banking services.
Among familiar faces at the Urban Partnership Austin Micro-Branch are Michele Collins in Real Estate Lending and Branch Manager Sharron Troupe. Collins was Branch Manager of ShoreBank in Austin and Troupe is former Manager of Austin Bank of Chicago’s Lake Street facility.
For information about Urban Partnership Bank, stop in at 5253 West Madison Street, call 773/420-5050, or log onto www.upbnk.com.