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Operation HOPE: Empowering Communities Through Financial Education

Financial Literacy

At seven Cadence Bank branches, customers can receive personalized financial counseling from Operation HOPE. Learn more about the impact of this financial literacy program.

Financial hardships can impact nearly every aspect of your life—and without an understanding of personal finance best practices, it can be difficult to get back on your feet. That’s why Operation HOPE is dedicated to providing free financial education to emerging communities across the United States.

With services such as financial planning, credit counseling and HUD-certified homebuyer counseling, the organization inspires individuals to take control of their finances and secure a brighter future.

Cadence Bank is proud to be a longtime partner of Operation HOPE, with HOPE Inside locations found in seven Cadence Bank branches to date. These HOPE Inside offices provide Cadence Bank customers with easy access to Operation HOPE’s financial education services.

An expanding partnership

Cadence Bank, then operating under the name BancorpSouth Bank, formalized its relationship with Operation HOPE in 2017 with the launch of its first HOPE Inside location. This pilot location was established at one of BancorpSouth’s Memphis, Tennessee locations.

Since July 2021, the bank has added six additional HOPE Inside locations and has committed nearly $1.5 million to support Operation HOPE’s financial literacy programs.

Currently, there are HOPE Inside locations at seven branches:

  • Memphis, Tenn.
  • Mobile, Ala.
  • Pensacola, Fla.
  • Gulfport, Miss.
  • Jackson, Miss.
  • Dallas, Texas
  • Houston, Texas

“Even before we established our first HOPE Inside location, Operation HOPE was on our bankers’ radar,” says Robert Harris, Outreach & Emerging Markets executive at Cadence Bank, who has been with the company since 2012.

“A number of our mortgage teammates routinely referred customers to the HOPE program. So when we got the opportunity to establish a formal partnership with Operation HOPE, it was a natural fit,” he says.

What does a HOPE Inside counselor do?

Customers who come to Cadence Bank often need to raise their credit score before they can qualify for a mortgage or personal loan. That’s where Operation HOPE steps in.

“By working with Operation HOPE, our goal is to elevate our customers’ qualifications and eligibility, giving them access to better products and pricing,” says Phil Sandoval, senior vice president and community development lending manager at Cadence Bank.

Harris elaborates, “The HOPE Inside team co-locates within our physical locations, so our customers can speak with a banker and a HOPE financial counselor without having to travel to two separate locations. Our teammates are educated and trained on the services HOPE provides and how these services can be leveraged for our customers.”

Services provided at Cadence Bank’s HOPE Inside locations include:

  • Credit counseling
  • Money management education
  • Homeownership counseling
  • Small business coaching

The services that each HOPE Inside location provides are tailored to the needs of the community. If a customer is in need of a service that isn’t available at that location, the HOPE counselors can provide them with a reference to another counselor within the HOPE network who can assist them virtually.

Harris says one of the great things about HOPE Inside is that there are no specific qualifications customers need to meet in order to participate in the program. “The HOPE counselors are there to serve the general population of customers in the market,” he says. “Even some of our own employees have accessed services provided by HOPE counselors. It’s a great resource to have for both the community and our organization.”

How financial education makes a difference in customers’ lives

Cadence Bank’s Memphis HOPE Inside location has assisted as many as 2,000 customers in a given year. After a six-month timeframe, the average individual who goes through the Operation HOPE program may see a net savings increase of about $1,000 and credit score increase of up to 50 points.

“When you consider that the average American does not have the funds to cover a $400 financial emergency1, a savings increase of $1,000 is tremendous. It helps protect the financial security of many low- to moderate-income families,” says Harris.

Harris explains that a 50-point increase to your credit score can make the difference between not qualifying and qualifying for a loan. It can also help individuals secure a better interest rate, which will ultimately save them more money in the long run.

“Our belief is that by giving our customers a better grasp on personal finances, they are able to maintain economic stability moving forward,” says Harris. “They can also encourage others to take control of their finances by sharing what they’ve learned in the program with family members, friends and neighbors. It’s one way we can fulfill our company’s vision of helping people, companies and communities prosper.”

“What Operation HOPE does extends beyond the individual,” says Sandoval. “Communities as a whole benefit from having members who are financially empowered. That’s one of the reasons we believe so passionately in this program.”

Learn more about Operation HOPE’s mission

Harris and Sandoval agree that Operation HOPE has become an integral part of what Cadence Bank does in the seven markets with HOPE Inside locations. They are excited to see how the partnership will continue to expand in the coming years.

Operation Hope Founder John Hope Bryant added: “We’ve been honored to work with the leadership of Cadence Bank since 2017 and appreciate their commitment to improving the lives of their customers, employees and the communities where they operate. They understand that financial wellbeing is the foundation of community stability, and when our more challenged communities are strong, we are all stronger.”

Find out how you can get involved with Operation HOPE’s financial literacy initiatives by visiting their website.

If you would like to learn more about how Cadence Bank is helping people and communities prosper, read our Stories.

 

1 Source: Federal Reserve Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking, May 2020

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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