Most Powerful Women to Watch: Sharon Miller, Bank of America

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Head of Small Business

Small business has always meant big business for Bank of America, going all the way back to its roots with A.P. Giannini and the Bank of Italy at the dawn of the 20th century.

Today, Sharon Miller, the $2.4 trillion-asset company’s head of small business, leads a 2,500-person unit that serves 12 million customers and oversees a loan book that totaled nearly $39 billion at the end of 2019, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

“We serve one of every three business owners in the United States,” Miller said.

That vast reach magnified the challenges Miller faced helping lead BofA’s effort to roll out the Paycheck Protection Program amid the coronavirus crisis.

But after some stumbles, BofA established itself as the leading PPP lender in the country, booking more than 345,000 loans worth $26 billion to small businesses affected by the pandemic.

During PPP’s hectic first phase, when bankers around the country distributed more than $342 billion in just 13 days, BofA employees worked around the clock, Miller said.

“It wasn’t just us,” she said of her team. “It was 10,000 of our teammates, coming together, redeployed to our space. Whether you were a mortgage loan officer, a financial adviser in training, a small-business banker, working in the contact center, everyone was focused on this.”

Miller plays a central role in managing BofA’s growing partnership with the Tory Burch Foundation’s Capital Program, which aims to increase access to capital for female business owners.

The original commitment dates to 2014. Bank of America pledged a fresh $100 million last year.

“The culture of our bank is one of ‘This is what we stand for,’ ” Miller said. “We want to promote racial equality and women equality.”

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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