Southeastern finance students recently served our regional banking community while engaging in challenging, motivating, and relevant academic experiences. Under the guidance of Dr. Danielle Lewis, student Community Banking Project team members, Lonica Wallace, Greyson Labasse, and Sage Mulkey, competed in a semester-long, nation-wide case study competition hosted by the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) and the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank. The team partnered with Liberty Bank & Trust, the largest African American-owned minority bank in the U.S., to examine how Liberty responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and addressed its commitment to diversity and inclusion.

The students provided the bank with quantitative data demonstrating the substantial economic impact of its loan program supporting underserved communities. External judges from the Federal Reserve System, CSBS, FDIC, OCC, and bankers’ associations judged Southeastern’s Team in multiple rounds, ultimately ranking them third in the country out of 56 teams.

For the project, students worked directly with bank representatives to write a case study. The process included meeting with bank representatives to understand their unique challenges and perspectives, conducting interviews with external bank stakeholders, analyzing bank financials using statistical tools and software, writing the case study, and presenting to bank representatives and stakeholders as well as to the CSBS judges, including representatives of the Federal Reserve and FDIC. Southeastern’s Community Banking Project seamlessly ties together the finance degree program’s academic goals with the College of Business’s mission to positively impact the community.

In addition to providing an outstanding learning experience for students, the Community Banking Project helps to support banks in the region (who do not have the same resources as national banks) by providing them with research, analysis, and inspiration. Participating in the CSBS case study competition serves as a conduit for community banks to help tell their individual stories.

Working with Liberty Bank & Trust, the Southeastern team learned about what inclusion and diversity truly means. Not only did the team have the opportunity to tell an inspirational story about their African American owned partner bank’s struggles and achievements, but by helping the bank quantify their performance and the economic impact on their communities, they found that Liberty Bank’s commitment to lending to underserved communities has a large economic impact on the entire community, not just African Americans.

Having ranked nationally in the top five for five out of six years, Southeastern students have met an impressive number of highly successful people in the industry, including Jerome Powell, the current Federal Reserve Chair; James Bullard, St. Louis Federal Reserve President; Charles Evans, the Chicago Federal Reserve President; countless bank executives and regulators; and Steve Scalise, U.S. House of Representatives. In prior years, Southeastern’s students worked with local banks to address other topics, including small business lending (2016), succession planning (2017), financial technologies (2018), regulatory relief law (2019), and the Bank Secrecy Act (2020).


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