The Women to Watch: No. 15, Bank of America's Sharon Miller

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Managing Director, Head of Small Business, Bank of America

When Sharon Miller was tapped to lead small business banking at Bank of America in June 2016, she says it was her dream job.

Miller, who joined Bank of America in 1996 as a financial adviser, now leads a 2,500-person unit that plays an increasingly important role in the $2.4 trillion-asset company's combined operations.

Small business banking generated revenue totaling $4.4 billion in 2018, up 11% from 2017. More recently, Miller's group pushed its way into the top spot as the number-one small business lender in the country, according to Bank of America.

"There's nothing more rewarding than knowing we're making the dream of owning a business possible for millions of people," Miller said. "I'm honored to be in the business of helping them succeed."

Given Bank of America's size and 4,300 branches, it's no surprise Miller's customer list is extraordinarily lengthy: 11 million business-owner clients — including 1.2 million women. Miller would like to see more women customers, so she is using her position to expand opportunities for female entrepreneurs both inside and outside Bank of America.

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For example, Miller helped develop a program that refers women entrepreneurs who aren't ready for bank financing to a network of 260 community development financial institutions around the country, many of whom are supported by Bank of America's $1.5 billion portfolio of loans and investments to CDFIs.

Miller and Bank of America also teamed with Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., to launch the free, online Institute for Women's Entrepreneurship in Sept. 2018. It has set a goal of instructing 5,000 women by 2023. The waiting list for the Summer 2019 session topped 13,000.

Miller scored one of her biggest successes last year when she adapted Bank of America's consumer rewards program to small business banking. Her Business Banking Relationship Rewards program offers perks like special deposit and loan rates, fee waivers, free stock trades and priority service for clients with at least $20,000 on deposit. Barlow Research recognized Miller's rewards program with a Monarch award. More importantly, perhaps, about 385,000 business owners enrolled in the first year, depositing $67 billion and receiving $175 million in benefits.

"Our intent with this program was to provide meaningful ways for businesses to benefit from their relationship with us, and we are pleased it has been received so favorably," Miller said.

Miller also spearheaded the launch of Business Advantage 360, a digital cash-management dashboard available to all clients.

"In my three years in this role, I feel I've helped elevate our small business capabilities beyond what I envisioned," Miller said.

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Small business lending Commercial banking National banks Bank of America Women in Banking