As President of Bank of America, Atlanta, Al McRae serves as Bank of America’s leader in the local market, responsible for delivering responsible growth for shareholders, clients and communities. That includes driving business integration and local market share growth by connecting our capabilities across our eight lines of business to people and companies. It also includes deploying Bank of America’s resources to build strong communities. And it includes making our company a great place to work by connecting employees to the broader enterprise, championing our culture of diversity and inclusion, and fostering opportunities for our employees to develop and grow.
In addition, Al currently serves as Managing Director and Diverse Segments Business Development executive for Bank of America’s Private Bank. He has held various positions with Bank of America focusing on the wealth management needs of high-net-worth families in the areas of investment management, estate planning, banking, and credit.
He is responsible for identifying and implementing strategies for the Private Bank to drive responsible growth within the diverse high-net-worth client segment. Key areas of focus include data analysis to cultivate marketplace opportunities, creating business development strategies, developing marketing plans tailored to diverse communities, and establishing partnerships with key internal and external stakeholders.
He’s an active leader in his community, serving on the boards of the Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs, Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, Georgia Bankers Association and Georgia State University Foundation. He’s also an active member with the Rotary Club of Atlanta, 100 Black Men of Atlanta and is class of 2023 participant with Leadership Atlanta. Al earned his undergraduate degree in finance from Georgia State University. He holds the Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA® ) designation and is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®).
Connect with Al on LinkedIn.
What You’ll Learn In This Episode
- History of Neighborhood Builders
- His background and role at Bank of America
- Other ways that Bank of America serve Atlanta communities
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix.
Intro: Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX studios in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s time for Atlanta Business Radio, brought to you by On pay. Atlanta’s new standard in payroll. Now, here’s your host.
Lee Kantor: Lee Kantor here another episode of Atlanta Business Radio. And this is going to be a good one. But before we get started, it’s important to recognize our sponsor on pay. Without them, we couldn’t be sharing these important stories. Today on Atlanta Business Radio, we have Al McRae with Bank of America. Welcome out.
Al McRae: Thankfully. Happy to be here.
Lee Kantor: Well, we’re here to talk about Bank of America’s kind of initiatives in and around serving the Atlanta communities. How important is it for Bank of America when you are in a locale like Atlanta to really immerse yourself in serving the local communities in a variety of ways?
Al McRae: Well, this is one of those situations where as an organization, our company that has such a significant footprint in a city like Atlanta, we have there’s a business imperative and a moral imperative to say that for our existence, we want to understand that communities that do well in our very it’s in our best interest to make sure that communities do well and we support and address help address some of the challenges that that may exist. Because once again, this is a situation where a rising tide lifts all boats. And for us, we want to be a great corporate citizen and partner in a city like Atlanta that does have some challenges. It’s incumbent upon us to be a participant in the solution.
Lee Kantor: Now, as the leader of the Atlanta market, how do you go about kind of choosing which are the appropriate partners and which is going to give you kind of I don’t want to say the most bang for your buck in terms of anything other than doing the most good for the community? Like because I would imagine there’s a lot of folks out there, a lot of organizations that are doing good, and it must be difficult task for you to choose the right ones to partner with.
Al McRae: Yeah, completely. So to your point, there’s a there are a number of challenges that our communities face, and some of those are not so unique to just Atlanta. It’s across the country. And the way that we go about it is we, as we say, where can we have the most impact? And for us, it’s really trying to bridge that gap that we see. I mean, we recently have some articles that were published in some local periodicals talking about the the income equality gap, the gap between the the most achieving and least achieving in our in our city and also the affordability of housing issue. And so those are some those are just two examples of when we think about our investments, and I use that word very intentionally because this isn’t for us, this isn’t charity, this isn’t a giveaway, this isn’t donation, this is real investment with the expectation that our return is not necessarily a financial one, but one of societal return. We want to put it towards one of those those most pressing issues. And so the understanding that having a community, yes, that’s healthier, but also from an economic perspective can thrive is where we, we we direct those. And I know we’re going to talk a little bit about neighborhood builders. And when we make those selections, it’s definitely in the vein of saying the laser focus around making sure that from an economic or resource and a wealth building perspective, we’re doing our part and helping drive those results for our communities.
Lee Kantor: So let’s start talking about neighborhood builders. For those who aren’t familiar, can you tell us a little bit about, you know, mission of neighborhood builders?
Al McRae: Yes. So this is actually an effort across Bank of America, across all of our our markets, where we are looking to be a participant in helping lift both from a philanthropic I’m sorry, from a financial resource perspective and from technical expertise, those organizations that are doing the great work in our communities. And so Neighborhood Builders is a program that’s been around since 2004 with Bank of America. And so since the inception of this, we have contributed over $300 million across 92 markets, our money to communities, to the to the goals of advancing and addressing some of the most pressing challenges. So for the winners of these particular awards in Atlanta, we have to each of the organizations receives a 200,000 unrestricted grant that they or maybe they use for flexible funding for their organization. And in addition to that, to that financial support, they also receive leadership training. And that’s for two of their usually the executive director and an emerging leader within the organization, because we have a vested interest in ensuring that these partners and the winners of these awards are sustainable. So we not only invest in them, right, with the understanding that they’re going to contribute to solving some of the biggest challenges in our community, but we also want them to be sustainable and want them to grow. We want them to grow in their impact. And the way that we do that is not only, yes, providing them with financial resources that they can leverage, but also that technical expertise and training, which is key. A key component of this and one of the largest philanthropic efforts that any corporation or organization have in our country now.
Lee Kantor: So it sounds like not only are you trying to address the situation today, but you’re also trying to create some continuity for tomorrow as well. So you’re trying to grow maybe the future leaders as well as the current leaders.
Al McRae: That’s and that’s that’s a great that’s a great comment, Leigh, because it’s about sustainability. When we think about sustainability. We understand that there’s going to be an evolution of over time and we want these organizations that we select as these neighborhood builders and neighborhood champions to have an existence, an impact that grows. And that is going to be a key part of the community. So effectively, when we think about the prior awardees, we create this community and this family within that subset to say, Hey, how can we leverage with even within this group, how can they leverage each other so they can continue to grow and expand? So some of the past winners, we’ve been proud to see their influence grow within the community, and it’s because of the support that Bank of America and quite frankly, other Atlanta based corporations provide. And we see them continuously having a larger and larger influence to do the work to provide that positive societal return that I talked about earlier.
Lee Kantor: Now, when did you first have a clue of the impact that your contribution and your efforts were making? Did something kind of speak to you in terms of, Wow, you know, that story is really compelling or Wow, I didn’t realize the impact we were making. Did something Can you share a story maybe where this came alive to you personally? Were you able to see how important this is?
Al McRae: Yeah, I think and it’s probably not just one example, but I can tell you I’ve been in the market president role for just over a year now and having the opportunity to have the proximity to these organizations and seeing how transformational it is for them to receive both a grant of that amount, which is which is spread over two years. But the the size of the grant for these organizations, which a lot of them are relatively smaller, you see the size of that. And then also to the lift that they receive from the training. You know, it’s just in the in the conversations of talking to the folks in leadership. And for some of these nonprofits, you get the sense of the impact and the change that it makes, because to be a winner of one of these awards is not just, you know, and within like Bank of America providing that. But then the word gets out and I’m sure the periodicals and all the all the write ups and it gets the attention of our corporate partners in the market to say, okay, that organization must be doing something well. And then once again, it kind of leads to kind of a snowball effect for them. So when we talk to those folks one on one and we invite them in for their training and we and we make sure we keep in contact with them, they are able to give us testimonials around the impact that they were able to to achieve. Some of the things that they were able to do knew as a result of the funding and the text and technical expertise and all of that for me is something as an individual, I guess, both personal satisfaction and satisfaction for the organization.
Lee Kantor: So how are the organizations selected?
Al McRae: So we have to go through a process where it’s an invitation only process where we invite a select number of nonprofits to apply. And it’s a very rigorous process, as you might imagine. But we receive these applications and the way that we review those, we have both an internal team, but then we also invite previous winners in our external community and our partners to come in and give us their views and who they believe might be worthy of receiving our award. And once again, it’s a rigorous process. We have great, robust conversations when we think about this. And and for us, it’s looking at it and saying, what organizations do we want to place our next investment? Who do we want to invest in next that has a level of scale that can be impactful in our community, but then also that has a level of sustainability that as we look at some of the challenges that we focused on in this particular arena, who who are the people that’s going to move the needle and move the Dow and really make a difference and change. And so I’m proud to say that we have great excitement with the external partners that join us in this process, and they’re always happy to do it. And it’s a very rewarding process at the end when we make those announcements and those selections.
Lee Kantor: So who are the latest organizations that were selected?
Al McRae: But we have to. So we have the Automotive Training Center and East Lake Foundation. And so these are two organizations. Once again, all of our applications were impressive and we saw a great need and work. But these two stood out for us for 2022, an award was awarded. We’re awarded our neighborhood builders. The Automotive Training Center is a program that provides technical training for entry level entry level employment and the automotive repair industry. And so you think about them providing students with opportunities and around technical and entrepreneur skills. I don’t know. Lee A lot of your listeners probably have gotten a car repaired in the last 12 to 24 months, and you know how hard it is for us to find capacity and and also the expense of it just because of where we are right now with things like inflation and our supply chains. And so if you think about jobs and places where people can earn a really good living, automotive repair is a great is a great area for for our young people to go into. An automotive training center is an innovative program that not only teaches that but also provides a great learning environment. So they’re going to leverage their funds to build a new facility and also purchase new equipment to train their students. So getting back to that, you know that trying to soften some of the income disparities we see in our city, we can do that by having partners that promote skills, that allow people to go into jobs, that pay above minimum wage.
Al McRae: Eastlake Foundation, I’m sure a lot of your listeners are very familiar with East Lake, the Foundation. We have been a founding partner since the existence of this foundation and also was one of the first corporate members for the East Lake Golf Club. And, you know, the work that East Lake provides is kind of wraparound services. They do a lot for their community and a residence there. But this particular effort that they apply for with around their initiative to provide mixed use, mixed income housing and affordable housing in the East Lake area. So housing continues to be a challenge. Housing affordability continues to be a challenge for a lot of residents of the city of Atlanta. And organizations like East Lake are looking to solve for some of that. And they’re working in partnership with the Atlanta Land Trust to provide 40 units of townhomes for sale. These are not rental units. These will be for sale so that their residents can participate in the appreciation and the wealth building activity that you and I know home ownership affords a lot of folks that are able to own their own home. And so it’s been a great partner of ours for a number of years, and we were very proud and happy to see them as a winner this year for our Neighborhood Builders Award, which will grant them that $200,000 over a two year period and also the leadership training.
Lee Kantor: Now in order, like you mentioned, that this isn’t something you apply for, that you’re selected for, how do organizations get on your radar to even be considered?
Al McRae: So, you know, the good thing is that we have a vast list of partners in the market that we already have relationships with. So we take a look at those folks. And then also we take introductions from individuals that are looking to tell their story, particularly as it pertains to their work around economic mobility and economic opportunity in the market. And so usually when we look at our list of partners and we and we take a select few from there and maybe either we’ve been introduced to some throughout the year that we also want to include in that process.
Lee Kantor: Good stuff. So if somebody wants to learn more about this program, what’s the website? What are the ways to connect with you? Somebody on your team?
Al McRae: So it’s very easy to to to look into the process or looking through the website Bank of America, just Google Neighborhood Builders, Bank of America, and it’ll take you to the site where it explains the program. And like I said, this is a national program, so you’ll get all of that explanation on the existence of the program, the the the operations of it. And then it provides contact information which can be leveraged there for for understanding how those organizations actually get more information when it comes to this.
Lee Kantor: Well, our congratulations on all the success. And you’re doing important work and we appreciate you.
Al McRae: Well, thank you so much for the platform, Lee. And once again, we are happy to be participants and solving for some of Atlanta’s largest challenges and we will continue to do so. I thank you for the time today.
Lee Kantor: All right. This is Lee Kantor. We’ll see y’all next time on Atlanta Business Radio.
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