Francisco Herrero joined Signature Bank of Arkansas in November 2021 as president of the bank’s multicultural banking division, Banco Sí. The bilingual bank branch is scheduled to open later this summer in downtown Rogers and will be focused on providing a full range of banking services to Hispanics and Latinos. Herrero, 51, was born in Puerto Rico and raised in Madrid.
Herrero earned a bachelor’s in business administration from the University of Puerto Rico and is a certified public accountant.
He spent 17 years as an executive with Walmart Inc. of Bentonville, the last five as a director of supply chain finance, before Signature Bank CEO Gary Head hired him to run the multicultural banking division.
Why is multicultural banking important?
We live in an increasingly diverse country, state and community, and we need to ensure we offer equal access to banking services and financial growth opportunities to all segments of our community. The vibrant multicultural community, particularly the Hispanic/Latino population, is fueling a large portion of the population growth, and being a true community bank means that we need to fulfill the specific banking needs of a diverse population. A one-size-fits-all approach is not a good answer for the needs of the multicultural community. When we pair the multicultural population growth with less-than-ideal banking services for them, coupled with their traditional doubts about the banking system, we can start to understand the relevance of a well-planned and executed multicultural bank.
What did you think when Gary Head approached you about a Hispanic bank?
I was immediately excited by Gary’s passion for doing the right thing for our diverse community. As we started thinking about the challenge ahead and how to make it happen, my initial thoughts were about truly understanding our customers, their needs, and the approach we should take to fulfill those needs. A few concepts immediately came to mind, such as offering true bilingual services (English-Spanish), focusing on financial education, creating credit building tools, and supporting and sponsoring the events that reflect the culture and interests of the multicultural population and, particularly, the Hispanic/Latino community.
How will Banco Sí overcome misconceptions the Hispanic/Latino community have about banking?
All the leaders and the team members of Banco Sí are an integral part of the multicultural community we intend to serve, including our newly formed advisory board. We all have family or friends with the same needs as the multicultural market; hence, we truly believe that we understand what is needed for us to offer the banking services our diverse community deserves. We are here to serve with full attention to detail, person to person, using the language of your preference, whether it is English or Spanish. We value true relationships and communication with our customers, not quick, impersonal transactions. Quality interactions over quantity of transactions.
Why are personal relationships so important to the Hispanic/Latino community and how will Banco Sí foster that in employees and customers?
Your team needs to reflect the diversity and values of the community you live in. Once you share the values, interests and needs of the community you intend to serve, you will have the sensibility to understand the needs of your customers, and you will be invested in helping to fulfill those needs. Because you care, because you understand how important it is to create fair, equal opportunities for our vibrant, diverse population, the trusting relationship will follow.
What is the financial argument for multicultural banking?
Signature Bank of Arkansas has a great community banking model, based on very close and personal relationships with our customers. For me, the financial argument is not the justification for Banco Sí. For us, it is doing the right thing for an underserved segment of the population that is, largely, driving the overall population growth of our community. When you strive to meet the needs of an underserved, rapidly growing community you will succeed.
What kind of businesses are most in need of financing among multicultural clients?
I believe there is a wide variety of multicultural businesses we can support, some in traditional industries and others closely related to the culture and values of their multicultural owners. From traditional real estate/construction businesses owned or operated by Hispanic/Latinos to specialty food supermarkets or restaurants. Other examples we are seeing include tailoring services, translation services, a wide variety of professionals, consultants, agents, brokers, and let’s not forget individuals, including housing-related needs. In any case, Banco Sí is here to be your partner, and we take one customer at a time to fully evaluate their needs.