The president and CEO of United Bank of Philadelphia (No. 14 on be 100 banks list has relinquished daily control of the bank she founded in an effort to save an institution with a proud history of community investment in the City of Brotherly Love.
Opened by Emma Chappell in 1992, United Bank of Philadelphia is the first full-service commercial bank controlled by an African American in nearly 70 years. But Chappell stepped down in May soon after the bank signed an enforcement agreement with the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
“As a state-chartered bank that elected to be part of the Federal Reserve System,” says Herbert Taylor, vice-president and secretary of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, “we are their primary regulator and we routinely examine the bank for safe and sound business practices. Our concern was with the overall management of the bank, and not with a particular individual.”
He added that a written agreement is the least severe of formal actions that the Federal Reserve can take when they feel an institution needs to improve its financial situation.
Once named “Bank of the Year” by the U.S. Small Business Administration, United Bank has nearly $150 million in assets and $7.7 million in Tier 1 capital that guards against sudden losses. But in the 1999 calendar year, United Bank reported net losses of $1.2 million with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
On February 22 the Federal Reserve System gave United Bank 90 days to review how the company was being managed, 60 days to disclose the bank’s capital, and 60 days to craft a strategic plan and formulate procedures that would strengthen its internal controls.
Three months later, Chappell announced that a trio of financial veterans was to take over the bank, and that she was stepping down as chairman of the board. However, she would remain on the panel as a director.
“My mission was to do everything I could to get this bank funded and opened to serve the special needs of African Americans and other city groups,” stated Chappell in a prepared statement.
“First Union sold four branches to the bank and there is some speculation that United Bank bit off more than it could chew,” said Joseph Gladue, director of research for The Chapman Co., a Baltimore investment bank.
Last year United Bank acquired four branches from First Union Bank Corp. as part of a merger deal between First Union and CoreStates Financial Corp.
Chappell said that James F. Boldine and L. Armstead Edwards were elected to serve as co-chairs of the bank’s board of directors. Both men are charter members of the board and investors in the bank. Chappell named Evelyn Smalls, a 27-year banking veteran, as president of the bank, and Brenda M. Hudson-Nelson as the chief financial officer.