ExChanging Places - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

Deborah C. Wright, Chairman and CEO of Carver Bancorp Inc. (No. 1 on the be banks list with $764.9 million in assets), recently rang The Nasdaq Stock Market ceremonial closing bell in Times Square to celebrate Carver’s listing on the exchange. Carver had previously been traded on the American Stock Exchange. Carver Federal Savings Bank is the nation’s largest African and Caribbean American-operated bank, and one of only two black banks on the Nasdaq. “Being associated with the Nasdaq brand is a real advantage for Carver,” says Wright. “It is a high-growth, high-profitability electronic platform, which allows for quicker and less expensive execution.”

Experts advised Carver that in a move from Amex to the Nasdaq, trading volatility could initially increase but should stabilize over time. The recent listing is one of several indicators of growth for an institution that will celebrate its 60th anniversary next year. “Unlike other companies that are experiencing severe credit issues, our portfolio is performing very well,” says Wright. Carver has increased dividends every year for the last four years. Even after spending $11 million to acquire Community Capital Bank in September 2006, Carver boasts a net income of $2.6 million ending fiscal year 2007. The purchase afforded Carver the capability to enter the small-business lending arena. “It was something our customers wanted us to do for some time, but we did not have the expertise,” Wright reflects.

Joe Gladue, equity analyst with B. Riley & Co., asserts that Carver is poised to jump in on a hot market: “There is a ready market for SBA loans, and in the secondary market a lot of investors like to buy SBA packages because they carry a guarantee from the federal government.”

Carver currently operates 10 full-service branches in New York City. Wright says the management team will also focus on expanding its geographic reach, customer base, and new lines of business for its customers in the inner city. She identified other regions in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut as possible branch locations. “We are constantly looking at acquisition possibilities that are the right fit,” says Wright.

Gladue disagrees with such a strategy. “I wouldn’t encourage them to actively look at other acquisitions,” he maintains. “I’m sure they still have some work to do integrating the various systems from the Community Capital acquisition.”

However, he applauds Wright’s turnaround plan over the past decade. “[In 1999], Wright inherited a bank that was habitually underperforming and had a very bloated cost structure,” says Gladue. “She did a good job of getting rid of some underperforming branches before starting to expand. The bank is more efficient than it used to be, but it could stand to improve further.”

However, Gladue says that Carver’s commercial and industrial lending portfolio should be beefed up. “That is really key to the profitability of the bank,” he says. “For a small bank like Carver in a big competitive market, that is going to remain their biggest challenge.”

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, SocialWayne.com chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining BlackEnterprise.com as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and BlackEnterprise.com helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.

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