Originally from Charlotte, Ashley Cumberbatch returned home to lead the local expansion efforts of the US bank
In a banking town long dominated by a few financial giants, US Bank, a relative newcomer to Charlotte, could be seen as an outsider.
Although US Bank employs more than 900 back office staff in Charlotte, dating back to an acquisition in 2005, it did not open its first branch in Charlotte (on Tryon Street in the downtown area) until October 2019. One second branch, on Pineville-Matthews Road, was opened a year later.
But while the Minneapolis-based bank faces stiff competition from Charlotte, Ashley Cumberbatch, a Charlotte native who launched a banking career while still a student at Howard University and now plays a major role in the plans. of the bank’s expansion in Charlotte, said she was confident in success. .
As the Charlotte District Director of the US Bank, Cumberbatch’s portfolio includes the bank’s retail branches, retail expansion, digital strategy, and coordination of retail banking with management of wealth, mortgages and business banking.
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“I’ve always been a hard worker,” Cumberbatch said in an interview inside the Tryon Street branch, which she managed immediately after returning home in 2019.
With two branches now open and two more underway – in the SouthPark and Blakeney areas south of Charlotte – Cumberbatch said the US Bank’s current plans call for at least 10 branches to open in his district.
The competition, she knows, will be fierce.
In addition to Bank of America and Wells Fargo, two behemoths with roots deep in the Charlotte market, the city has seen an explosion of new banking rivals in recent years – smaller institutions such as Ally, Truist, Regions and First National Bank – all compete for money and retail customer loyalty.
Just last week, digital-only Varo Bank announced that it had selected Charlotte for its hub on the east coast, The Charlotte Observer reported.
Cumberbatch said she believes the U.S. bank can stand out. The bank, she said, will attract and retain new customers using a combination of the latest digital technologies and old-fashioned customer service, but with a modern twist.
“Our approach is very proactive,” she said. “So when our customers come in, we go upstairs and greet them, greet them at the bank. It is very different from the tradition of a customer who comes in and finds his way. “
Cumberbatch said the US bank will proactively call on its clients “to help them achieve their financial goals and plans.” At branches, she said, bankers will consult one-on-one with walk-in customers to demonstrate the bank’s latest high-tech banking tools to consumers.
Charlotte to DC
The daughter of small business owners, Cumberbatch grew up in Charlotte with the dream of becoming a lawyer. She attended a series of Catholic schools – St. Gabriel’s, Holy Trinity, and Charlotte Catholic – before her parents moved to another part of town and she was enrolled in Butler High School early in her senior year. .
At Howard, she majored in political science.
Howard, she said, “was really where I wanted to be, being in Washington, but I also wanted to go to a historically black university. “
Cumberbatch said she was first drawn to the law out of a desire to help people, but while a student at Howard she landed a part-time job as a bank teller and was quickly promoted personal banking services. Too bad for her plans to be a lawyer.
“As a banker, I realized I had this unique opportunity to help people, but in a way that I didn’t expect,” she said, “to be really able to ” help people with their financial planning, with their financial goals. “
Part-time work, Cumberbatch said, has also helped her become smarter about managing her own money.
“I had a lot to learn, especially as a young black woman,” she said. “I would say my parents were very successful, but there was still a lot that I just hadn’t been exposed to. And so that was another reason why it was important to me, because I saw in the community that I served how few people knew how to create credit, save for the future, plan for retirement. . And luckily there was an investment in my training and my knowledge, and it allowed me to be able to have these conversations with other people who needed it.
After college, Cumberbatch worked for a range of banks, in personal banking as well as small business banking, before learning of US Bank’s expansion plans in Charlotte.
“I said, ‘sign me up; Sign me up for it. It sounds good – sounds exactly like what I prepared for, ”she recalls.
As well as being close to her family, Cumberbatch said she loved Charlotte’s affordability – she and her husband recently bought their first home – and the traffic in Charlotte is much lighter than in Washington, so makes his daily trips more tolerable.
“I have to say I have recovered hours of my life,” she joked.
Despite the slower pace, Cumberbatch said she finds Charlotte’s banking climate both competitive and exciting.
“A ton of people move here every day,” she said. “I noticed it not only with the banks, but… even with the restaurants. When I left it was pretty much just traditional places. Now every time I turn around there’s a new restaurant popping up, a new activity, a new thing to do. People are open to something new.
Charlotte’s growth, she said, was one of the main factors behind US Bank’s decision to expand here – that and the fact that US Bank already had over 40,000 customers in this market. who owned US Bank products such as mortgages, credit cards and auto loans.
Since expanding to Charlotte, US Bank has committed more than $ 4.5 million in various forms of loans and grants to address the city’s affordable housing shortage. He recently announced a $ 50,000 grant to the West Side Community Land Trust.
Across the country, in its 26 states, the US Bank has launched a series of initiatives to address economic disparities and help black-owned businesses.
For his part, Cumberbatch has joined the board of directors of the Alexander Youth Network, which focuses on children’s mental health. She also sits on a Habitat for Humanity Charlotte area advisory committee.
When asked how she decides where to invest her volunteer efforts, Cumberbatch said she has to be wise given the demands of her job.
“The things that fascinate me the most are involvement with women, involvement in the black community and involvement with our young people,” she said.
When it comes to diversity in her industry, Cumberbatch said there is still work to be done, but she also said that banks have made inroads and she is encouraging young people who might be interested in banking to think broadly about industry.
“I would say, think of banking as a huge industry. There are a lot of positions out there, ”she said. “… Really consider your skills, what you’re good at and how those skills can be applied to a position that you think might be of interest to you. If you don’t have LinkedIn, I would recommend setting up a LinkedIn account, and don’t be afraid to network, engage, and reach people and connect.