At 32, Ryan Blake already is the chief operating officer at BCB Bank, making him one of the youngest — if not the youngest — C-suite executives at banks in New Jersey when he was elevated to that position last week.
Blake’s youth, however, should not be viewed as a novelty. It is an asset to the role, as he not only understands how technology can help the bank, but help it attract the next generation of customers, BCB officials said
ROI-NJ asked him three questions about banking and himself (he is the first person in the LGBTQ community to serve on the board).
ROI-NJ: How are you helping BCB Bank use the latest technological advancements?
Ryan Blake: We are working every day to ensure our digital and mobile bank offerings are on par with what a customer would receive at a national bank. This means making our customers’ lives easier, either through:
· our ITMs, which will allow our customers to conduct a whole host of banking transactions with the assistance of a live teller, via video;
· our partnership with Q2, which provides a state-of-the-art digital and mobile banking experience for our commercial and consumer customers and the ability to conduct most bank services (including opening accounts, messaging with reps, etc. right from their phone or computer);
· or our partnership with ZSuite, which allows our attorneys, municipal customers, and landlord/tenant accounts with advanced escrow management services – completely integrated within Q2 for a single-sign-on holistic banking experience.
ROI: How can BCB Bank help navigate future generations’ participation in their financial journeys?
RB: Community banks need to perform outreach to younger generations on how integral they are to a given community. I’ve cited this example before – I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve heard from small business owners who were turned away by the bigger banks during the pandemic and the PPP loan process. Community banks were able to step in and help them get the funding they need, even if they weren’t a customer at the time.
The conversation needs to shift to put community banking in a better light – so much is rightly said about the need for small businesses. We’re a small business, too.
In addition to this, community banks need to ensure their bank’s offerings are shifting with the culture, that is its ease of access, staying on top of technology, making the whole banking process easier for everyone. It’s expected at this point.
ROI: You are the first LGBTQ board member. How significant do you view that?
RB: For me, the significance is incredibly important. Something like this would have been nearly unheard of 10 years ago. Thankfully, times have continued to change and businesses around the country have become more progressive in their support of the LGBT community.
I’d like to stand as a role model, example, and mentor to those in our community who are just starting their careers and to let them know that, despite the hardships of life and the prejudice they may encounter, there are incredible opportunities available for them in the future.