Jeffrey A. Banks, the vice president of commercial services at United Bank in the District, has been volunteering with District-based community organizations for decades and continues to be amazed at how serving others can be so fulfilling.
“I have been blessed,” said Banks, who’s been employed in the banking industry for 30 years. “I have had success in life and have long been committed to giving back to the community. It’s part of my makeup to look after those less fortunate.”
And while he realizes that volunteering remains a person decision, he believes employee volunteerism can help United Bank become recognized as a financial institution that cares about the people in the community where its branches are located.
“I am always looking for opportunities to enlighten the community,” Banks said. “Through our work with the D.C. Financial Literacy Council, we are encouraging wealth management for all District residents and seeking to teach children financial literacy. As far as the DC Career Academy is concerned, we want to provide pathways for D.C. high school students to enter the financial services industry.”
Banks said when speaking to youth, he routinely stresses developing sound financial habits.
“We go to the schools and talk to kids about proper money management and budgeting,” he said. “Those in high school particularly need to understand how credit cards work, how to best utilize them and most of all, the importance of having good credit.
“If they learn now how to manage credit, when they become adults, they will be better informed on how to build a good credit score,” Banks said. “This knowledge will make purchasing items with a lower interest rate something well within their reach.”
Banks also works with the District’s returning citizens and finds them receptive to his advice.
“Many returning citizens want to do better in life and don’t want to get back into the penal system,” he said. “They listen very closely and most follow my suggestions when it comes to their personal finances.”
Banks serves as the chair of the D.C. Financial Literacy Council, co-chair of the Office of the State Superintendent of School’s DC Career Academy Network and holds several board memberships for organizations based in the greater Washington area. For his community work, Banks, who holds a bachelor of science from the University of Cincinnati, has been honored by local nonprofits including the National Urban League, the Collective Empowerment Group and Cease Fire.
He notes that his community service efforts continue to be complemented by equivalent programs at United Bank including their employee volunteer program, the Community Reinvestment Act Action Committee, which gained recognition last year by the American Bankers Association Foundation “as one of the strongest in the nation.”
“United Bank employees in the seven states and the District are strongly encouraged to get involved in their local non-profits and community organizations,” Banks said. “It’s even included on our employee evaluations which asks how much time we spend reaching out to the community.”
“We see this as benefiting both the employee and the bank because people know that United Bank is concerned about the communities it serves,” he said.