Most Powerful Women to Watch: Kate Danella, Regions Financial

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Head of Strategic Planning, Consumer Bank Products and Origination Partnerships

After being named co-chair last year of a Regions Financial initiative to serve the underbanked, Kate Danella wanted to see what it was like to have no banking relationship.

So she brought in the nonprofit Financial Health Network to put Regions bankers in the shoes of the underserved. In an immersive experience called FinEx, they cashed checks, bought prepaid cards and applied for non-bank loans.

The project spurred Regions to make pricing changes to its prepaid cards, improve check-cashing approval rates, launch a down-payment assistance program and enhance Western Union services.

“While spending a few hours navigating the nonbank financial world is clearly no substitute for living it every day, the FinEx experience did quickly bring to light the pain points for consumers,” Danella said.

Danella has risen quickly through the ranks at Regions after coming aboard in 2015 as a strategy and effectiveness executive for Regions Wealth Management. In 2018 she was named head of strategic planning, and last year added responsibility for consumer bank products and origination partnerships. On her watch, Regions has generated close to $3 billion of loans through partnerships with fintechs.

In her role as head of strategic planning, she oversaw Regions’ August 2019 acquisition of the Birmingham, Ala.-based institutional investment firm Highland Associates. And in managing fintech partnerships, she helped strike deals that to date have generated nearly $3 billion of loans.

Danella is also committed to improving economic conditions in Regions’ hometown of Birmingham. Representing Regions, she helped found a local nonprofit called Birmingham Prosper whose goal is to develop an inclusive, citywide economic development plan in partnership with the Brookings Institution in Washington.

For the first time, American Banker's Most Powerful Women in Banking celebration is open to the whole financial community. Join us virtually October 6-8 to hear our 2020 honorees' stories and experiences. Register here.

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