Aligning Mission and Margin at Southern Bancorp
In October 2020, after spending almost a decade to turnaround Southern Bancorp, an Arkansan bank founded with the mission to provide financial services to rural, underserved communities, CEO Darrin Williams is wondering how Southern Bancorp should continue to grow. Since taking the helm of the bank, Williams has worked with his team to revamp the bank's finances, provide liquidity to its investors, raise new capital, and prove that the bank's operations (dubbed "the margin") reinforced its mission to provide financial services to underserved communities. Williams has several questions to consider in preparing Southern Bancorp's next phase of growth: Should he continue Southern Bancorp's efforts to grow in preparation for a traditional public offering? Or should he take advantage of the increasing public and private capital dedicated to racial equity to deepen the bank's mission and become a central player in the effort to close the racial wealth gap? Would listing Southern Bancorp in public markets disrupt the delicate balance between the mission and the margin? Was Southern Bancorp attractive enough to receive the dedicated capital flooding to close the racial wealth gap?