Charitable Partnership with Liberty Bank

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Underrepresented communities throughout the South have benefited from this team-up since 2016 with home loans, small business loans, and other cost-effective financial products and services.

Celebrating a mutually beneficial partnership that reaches back to 2016 and was renewed in 2021, Cadence Bank and Liberty Bank and Trust provide cost-effective financial products and services to underserved communities.

Robert Harris, SVP and outreach and emerging markets executive for Cadence Bank, and Todd McDonald, president of Liberty Bank and Trust, shared more about their partnership, the benefits to underrepresented communities and success stories over the years.

Two banks partner to bring benefits to the South

The partnership between the two banks began when former Liberty Bank CEO Alden McDonald and Chairman and CEO Dan Rollins of Cadence Bank, formerly BancorpSouth Bank, got together to support Liberty’s growth trajectory with an $8.5 million investment from Cadence.

“It was an opportunity that was able to take root over some time,” Harris says. “There were synergies that we mutually recognized, so we formed an agreement in principle to partner and move this forward.”

In 2021, Cadence and Liberty renewed their relationship to the benefit of residents and businesses across the South.

“With this partnership, Liberty Bank was able to expand its branch network into new markets, increase its customer base and extend its product range,” McDonald says.

The investment has allowed Liberty to create specialized programs tailored toward the needs of communities of color, McDonald says, as well as to provide the resources necessary for people from all walks of life to become homeowners.

Underserved communities receive more than loans

Cadence and Liberty have provided a number of opportunities to underserved communities.

“We work together on participation loans, allowing our customers to choose from a broad selection of loan options tailored to meet their specific needs,” McDonald says. “This collaboration has helped small businesses expand, given individuals an opportunity to purchase or upgrade their homes, and enabled borrowers to reach their financial goals easier and faster.”

Harris says the partnership has meant more than home and small business loans.

“We’ve also been able to assist them in the last year with disaster preparedness and disaster relief,” Harris says. He emphasized the New Orleans-based Liberty Bank’s heritage as the largest African American-based institution in the country, celebrating its 50th anniversary in December 2021.

“As a New Orleans-based bank with a significant presence in the Southeast, they have weathered every disaster you can think of since 1972,” he says. “So back when we had the series of floods and hurricanes in 2020 and 2021, we were able to provide them with disaster relief in the form of diesel and fuel.”

The bank was also able, with Cadence’s help, to move primary operational functions from New Orleans to a secondary headquarters in Montgomery, Alabama after Hurricane Ida in August 2021.

“Because of our relationship,” Harris says, “we were able to deploy those assets and resources to them pretty quickly in a way that was critically important to them in servicing their customer base, which oftentimes is one of the hardest hit by the impact of natural disasters.”

Success stories from this partnership

McDonald says Liberty Bank has also generated successes in the everyday lives of its customers. For example, he says the bank has made significant strides in addressing the affordable housing crisis.

“One way is that we have been creative with offering zero-down payment mortgage loans with competitive interest rates for first-time homebuyers who meet certain criteria,” McDonald says. “This has helped families with limited budgets become homeowners for the first time, opening up more opportunities for economic growth in their communities as well as increasing diversity within those neighborhoods.”

Harris is proud of Cadence Bank’s assistance in the wake of Hurricane Ida and back-to-back floods in the area. By providing assistance to Liberty Bank, Cadence Bank stepped up as a good neighbor to a hard-hit area with urgent needs.

“That’s something that’s not written up in an agreement,” Harris says. “It doesn’t show up in any documentation. We did it because they are friends and neighbors, and it was the right thing for us to do. It shows the level of mutual respect we have between our two organizations, and it speaks to the character and integrity of our company that we provided that level of support.”

Harris says the relationship fits well with Cadence Bank’s values.

“Our vision statement is about helping people, communities and companies prosper,” he says. “In engaging with Liberty and other partners, we get to accomplish all three pillars of that statement. We are absolutely helping people, we are strengthening the position of the organization to continue to be an employer of choice within its respective markets and communities, and by extension, we’re helping a company that is a customer and partner of ours thrive and succeed.”

Most importantly, Harris says, is that Cadence is helping to build those communities.

“We don’t feel their communities are mutually exclusive from our own communities,” he says of Liberty Bank’s customers. “We recognize there is shared value and shared benefit, and that their success is linked to our success. So we find great value in living out the vision for our organization through our daily business practices.”

The future for Cadence and Liberty

McDonald says Liberty is committed to creating meaningful partnerships with Cadence in the future.

“This will allow us to continue to expand our presence in new markets and further our community development initiatives,” he says. “Through these collaborations, we would like to work together to help combat the affordable housing crisis that impacts so many of our communities.”

Harris says Cadence is identifying other ways that underserved communities can be helped.

“We’ve recognized the impact that service fees can have on customer bases,” he says. “We’re talking about organizations that have limited operational capacity, and they are servicing a consumer base for whom every dollar counts. So one of the things we’ve been working on is identifying critical partners we can help by providing them access to our ATM network.”

Cadence Bank is proud to partner with Liberty Bank and looks forward to new opportunities to serve their mutual communities. To learn more about how we’re helping people, companies and communities prosper, visit our Stories page.


This article is provided as a free service to you and is for general informational purposes only. Cadence Bank makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of the content in the article. The article is not intended to provide legal, accounting or tax advice and should not be relied upon for such purposes.

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