Sunrise Banks' CEO David Reiling, already leading what aspires to be "The World's Most Socially Responsible Bank," is pursuing that vision on a larger platform as the new chairman of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV).
Reiling was named the organization's board chairman as Sunrise Banks hosted the 13th-annual meeting of the GABV. The alliance of 66 international banks and financial cooperatives works to build sustainable, economic, social and environmental development. The meeting took place as a virtual event over two days in March.
"My role as chair is to grow the organization, to make the movement of values-based banking larger and more inclusive and stronger," Reiling, previously a GABV board member representing the North America chapter, said in an interview.
Financial-technology companies — or fintechs — that use technology to transfer, lend or store money, and their ability to promote greater economic inclusion were a primary topic of the GABV meeting, said Reiling, who has positioned Sunrise Banks a fintech ally.
The climate — and financial services' influence on it — also was a focus, Reiling said. Sunrise Banks is tracking the carbon emissions of its loan portfolio as one of 28 banks signing on to GABV's Climate Change Commitment program. "Financing a company or making a real estate loan, we share a little bit of the carbon footprint for doing that," Reiling said.
Under Reiling, who has been in banking for more than 25 years, Sunrise Banks became the first Minnesota bank certified as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), a designation for financial services organizations serving low-income communities and people who lack access to financing.
Family-owned Sunrise Banks, with about $1.1 billion in deposits, also is a public benefit corporation and a certified B Corporation, based on its social and environmental performance, corporate governance and actions toward employees, customers and the community.
Q: What do you hope to learn in tracking the carbon emissions of the bank's loan portfolio?
A: We would know where we stand. Then we can start to figure out the strategies to mitigate such impacts if necessary or improve upon them. We're starting to engage in conversations about doing solar finance, geothermal and other conservation types of products and services.
Q: Why does Sunrise partner with fintechs?
A: Fintech has the capability and the capacity to scale good, to make things more accessible, more convenient, easier to use or transparent at a fair price. Technology can be very powerful in providing that access and ease of use and at a fair price. But the process and the product need to have a values lens to it. … For the Global Alliance, it may allow us to create a system of connectivity globally, to move, store and lend money globally if you have a connection, the right infrastructure and security to connect all these banks.
Q: Why have you made your career in banking?
A: I saw it as a means of helping people. Nobody wants a car loan. They want a car. I always had that in mind, that I was playing an assist role to the person who wants to score the goal. You can finance projects that make a difference in the community, that make it look better and make it safer. It was that sense of community and purpose that really attracted me.
Todd Nelson is a freelance writer in Lake Elmo. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.