Through the Fire - Page 5 of 5

Through the Fire

of about 55%. But Wright explains that the “median efficiency ratios for banks our size in our region are close to 70%. High performers are in the 50% to 60% range, but we have a higher cost structure as we’re in a high-cost metropolitan area.” It’s also difficult to find people qualified to take the bank to the next level who are willing to work on 125th Street and accept the salaries small banks like Carver can offer.

“It’s been a very interesting process to recruit people to work for a black institution,” Wright says. “The person has got to know what they’re doing because there is no one else here who can do it for them. We don’t have the luxury of having six guys who know the same thing. The guy who runs the division has to be the guy.”

Carver’s Manhattan address compounds the challenge, Gladue says. “Carver is in a very competitive and expensive market. The challenge is to get good lenders and a lending platform that can make a large enough volume of good quality loans to help grow the bank. That’s a continuing challenge.”

These days, Wright is thinking about Carver’s future. She expects the bank to grow regionally, which means more acquisitions of all types of institutions-black-owned, commercial banks, and thrifts-to increase assets, write more loans, and attract deposits. With that type of growth in mind, she is clear about one thing: Her commitment to the community she serves.