Organizers plan women-owned bank in Houston

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A group in Houston is looking to form a digitally focused bank.

Organizers of Agility Bank applied with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. on Wednesday. The bank would be nationally charted and regulated by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

The proposed bank would be women-owned, said Terry Harrison, who is set to serve as chief financial officer. The de novo’s chairman and president would be Lauren Sparks, who is president of 3PR, a Houston risk management firm that has bank and nonbank clients.

“We’re trying to pull technology forward in community banking,” Harrison said. “We don’t have the legacy issues so we can start right on the edge.”

Agility already has two tech platforms in mind.

The bank would offer interactive videoconferencing where customers can work on loan applications. It also plans to offer small, automated loans to commercial customers.

Harrison said Houston is a good market for a de novo because many of the city’s community banks have been sold to larger companies. A number of small banks in the market were acquired in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

Agility plans to have one branch, in a neighborhood just northwest of downtown Houston. Organizers plan to raise at least $30 million in initial capital and open in the fourth quarter.

Harrison, a former executive at Lakeside Bank in Lake Charles, La., said the group continues to work with the OCC during the coronavirus outbreak. The big challenge will involve replacing a field exam with a virtual one.

“We’ve already gotten feedback from the OCC indicating that they want to move forward,” Harrison said. “They haven’t indicated that there will be a significant delay.”

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