M&F Bank CEO James Sills on Wealth Gap Reduction and Community Building

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M&F Bank in Durham North Carolina was formed 115 years ago in 1907, which makes it the second oldest Black-owned bank in the United States. It has been profitable 113 out of 115 years, and even had a 108-year streak of profitablility.  Such an amazing story, and as we launch season 4 of the podcast, we bring on M&F’s CEO James Sills to share the company’s story, his views on relationship building in banking, and how we can reduce the wealth gap.


Donald Thompson: I’m really excited to be here in a very sincere way. I get a chance to spend some time with Jim Sills. And Jim, we know one another, we spent time, we’ve done business. But it’s hard to get an hour with your schedule and my schedule together. And so today is going to be about me asking a bunch of questions, cause I’m super curious, but I get to spend time with a market leader in the financial industry. welcome to the show, Mr. Sills. 

James Sills: Thank you, Donald. It’s great to see you. You know, I’ve not seen you since the beginning of the pandemic, in person. So this is a first. It’s great to be here. 

Don: So let’s jump in, but before we get into kind of business and I want your opinion on what’s going on with the economy, with all the different things that are happening in the world.

Talk to us a little bit about you. Give us a little background. Where’d you grow up? Do you have brothers and sisters? Talk to me about how you ended up in the finance space. Anything that you feel comfortable sharing that lets people know a little bit behind the covers of you? The stuff that’s not on LinkedIn.

Jim: Yeah, great question. You know I’m the oldest of three. I grew up in Wilmington, Delaware. I never thought my career would actually start in the finance business I was a public administration major. My father was a college professor and also a public school. He was the first African-American mayor of Wilmington, Delaware.

So I always thought I was going to be in a, kind of a political role or a public service role. And when I graduated from college and graduated from graduate school, my first job was a statistician. Okay, so I would just crunch numbers all day, just constantly, you know, eight hours a day, just crunching numbers.

And I was sitting in an area of this organization and systems and programming. And so eventually I became a programmer, programmer analyst, network analyst. So my first six or seven years in the banking business, I actually was in IT. 

 And they call it a data processing service. I’m kind of dating myself a little bit. Carried a lot of cards and paper and green bar paper, things that a lot of the younger people they don’t even know anything about. It was all on mainframe computers. But that’s how I started my career. I never thought I would be the president, CEO of a bank or, you know, any of the things that I’ve accomplished over my career.

So I would just sum it up by saying, you never know who’s watching you. You never know where your career may turn, even though my undergrad and my graduate school was all public administration. You just never know. 

Full Episode Transcript

Full video filmed from the Earfluence Studio at American Underground

The Donald Thompson Podcast is hosted by The Diversity Movement CEO and Executive Coach Donald Thompson.


The Donald Thompson Podcast is edited and produced by Earfluence. For more on how to engage your community or build your personal brand through podcasting, visit Earfluence.com.

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