2 min read January 2022 — In a conversation with Invest:, Dee O’Dell, executive vice president for consumer and business banking at U.S. Bank, discussed the dedication and tenacity of the bank and the financial industry throughout the pandemic. He shared how the bank has grown, the different strategies used to recruit and retain talent and elaborated on how the financial industry will be impacted by the utilization of technology.
What were the highlights that you experienced in the past year?
We’ve had an ongoing conversation about the power of combining the digital and human aspects of banking. The digital space is what has propelled us forward greatly. It allows us to collaborate with our clients in a virtual space while also allowing us to place the tools in the hands of our clients. This gives our clients the ability to accomplish a number of banking activities on their own in a remote environment. The investment into and usage of technology is incredibly important, but it is critical to maintain the human connection. This theme of human and digital collaboration is underscored as we bring both to our clients in the appropriate and most efficient moments. That has been paramount. We’ve adopted this at the level of the entire company and at the local level in Charlotte.
How has demand for your services shifted?
The demand for our services has continued to increase. There is great interest from both consumers and businesses as our clients consider the right way to invest, meet future needs and prepare for retirement. We had corporations for whom we provided liquidity when there was uncertainty during the pandemic. We’ve helped them to adjust to new realities, providing them with capital and a variety of services. We’re seeing an increased engagement and demand across all of our business lines across the country.
We invested a lot of our energy into the PPP program and a number of other initiatives that helped small businesses bridge through the earlier days and the challenging paths of the pandemic. Over 90% of our PPP loans were distributed to businesses that had 20 or fewer employees and our average loan amount was less than $100,000. We were heavily indexed toward those smaller businesses and are rapidly navigating our way through the forgiveness process. These loans have been a significant area of focus in both time and our resources to help us meet the needs within the community.
What strategies are used to attract, recruit and retain talent in the financial sector?
We lead with the value proposition that is the mission of U.S. Bank: “We invest our hearts and minds to power human potential.” When we recruit new talent, we’re conveying a set of core values and a purpose that drives our work. I believe this resonates with people. We have also increased our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in a number of different ways. One of those is our U.S. Bank Access Commitment, which includes a focus on closing the Black wealth gap. In many different ways, we’re able to showcase our values, and that is core to our talent strategy.
How do you see people approaching financial literacy?
There is a desire for financial literacy that’s incredibly strong. There is an opportunity for institutions like ours to assist people beyond the products that we offer. It’s an opportunity to help them become thoughtful about a financial plan. Financial literacy is ensuring that everyone understands the basics of personal finance. We have a few items we’re reworking at the foundational level. We’re approaching young people, talking to them about their financial understanding and paths that could be of interest to them.
How will technology impact the future of the financial industry?
We’ll have the tools available to execute most personal financial tasks. I believe commercial and corporate banking will follow and transform. Simultaneously, the need to have a human connection will remain. We are investing in the technology to provide clients the necessary support directly through our software applications. It’s precisely where we need to be headed, empowering individuals to complete tasks on their own, while also having instant access to a person when they need help.
At our best, we have that multilayered interaction in real time, alleviating stress to solve the problem. The building of personal connections between bankers and clients has been amazing. It has been powerful and emotional, and we plan on continuing that as we move forward.
What is your outlook and what are your priorities for the near term?
I’m incredibly optimistic for the financial sector, U.S. Bank, and Charlotte. I believe the economy will continue to grow, and we’ll adapt to the different environments in all facets of our industry. I’m optimistic about our growth and our ability to be at the intersection of what people aspire to achieve, helping them to reach it. We’ll continue to open branches in Charlotte. We are opening a SouthPark branch this spring, joining our locations in uptown, Pineville and Blakeney. We’ll also commit to deeper community work, creating a financial services connection for underrepresented populations.
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