Organizers lay out ambitious plan for New Orleans de novo bank

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A group in New Orleans is looking to form a bank that would eventually operate in eight cities across the country.

Organizers of ViZ Bank & Trust filed an application on Friday seeking deposit insurance from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. They will also seek a national charter from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

“The timing for us coming into this is spectacular,” David Anderson, who would be the bank’s president, said in an interview.

“Banks with less than a $1 billion in assets are declining in every town,” added Anderson, who was president of FPB Financial in Hammond, La., when it was sold in 2018 to First Bancshares in Hattiesburg, Miss. “We have a plan that is written for this environment.”

ViZ aims to open later this year with a branch in New Orleans and a loan production office in Houston. The goal over time is to open loan production offices in Denver, Dallas, Houston, Washington, Atlanta and Miami.

Each office would eventually convert to a branch, called a “ViZ Life Center.” The 500-square-foot centers would be open every day, feature a technology courtyard and operate next to businesses such as coffee shops, yoga centers or smartphone repair shops, according to a playbook circulated by the organizers.

ViZ Bank “will be a new bank with a dual mission to combine all the benefits of an internet bank with the commitment to community banking,” the document said.

“We’re looking at downtown locations at a time when everyone else is going to the suburbs,” Anderson said. “It gives us access the entire metro area through public transportation … and we can get in there cheaper now than we could have before.”

ViZ Bank would take a cautious approach to growth after entering a market.

“We won’t grow fast and we never have to have more than a billion [in assets] in any market to be successful,” Anderson said.
Organizers aim to raise $40 million to $71 million.

The de novo “was conceived and developed by a group of diverse professionals who are highly experienced in all aspects of banking, finance, and investments,” the playbook said. “ViZ Bank's commitment to provide unparalleled personal service coupled with leading-edge banking technology makes [it] a unique and inviting partner for today’s busy consumer.”

ViZ Bank would offer business loans, while also focusing on unions and union members, religious institutions with schools, physicians and government employees. It would offer a “reentry program” to provide auto loans to “customers reentering the workforce after incarceration.”

Anderson said he is excited to offer a program to help nonviolent felons get their finances in order. The effort, which would help ViZ Bank earn credit under the Community Reinvestment Act, aims to help former inmates build savings and eventually qualify for mortgages.

“We’ll take a hands-on approach to financial literacy, using AI to assess where they are in that area,” Anderson said. “They will be required to budget for savings. We plan to use a nonprofit to match those savings.”

ViZ aims to have $410 million in assets, $321 million in loans and $372 million in deposits at the end of its fourth year, the playbook said.

Joe Dorsey, who was part of a group seeking to form Coastal Community Bank in Hollywood, Fla., would serve as CEO. Coastal Community withdrew its application in May, about two months after receiving conditional approval from the FDIC.

Henry Coaxum Jr., a former McDonald’s executive, would be the proposed’s bank’s chairman.

The proposed bank has also committed to a minimum annual salary of $50,000 for every employee.

“We want to really be a broad-scale bank to every community we’re in,” Anderson said.

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