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Atlanta de novo inspired by craft beer movement has 'IPAs' on tap

Atlanta's newest de novo wants to serve customers what it calls IPAs — individual personal accounts.

Craft Bank plans to offer a new community bank business model, in which customers will be able to mold the kind of banking experience they want, much like the personal, local feel of craft beer, according to proposed CEO Ross Mynatt.

"We are going to handcraft solutions and products for our clients and we also want our customers to feel empowered to craft the kind of way they want to be banked," Mynatt said in an interview.

Commercial lending to small and medium-size businesses with up to $20 million in revenue will be Craft Bank's primary focus, though. It plans to use a "bank anywhere" strategy by only having one branch location and sending loan officers to its customers.

The length of time it takes to get approved for a loan and not knowing where they are in the process were the biggest complaints Mynatt heard from commercial borrowers.

To expedite the commercial loan process and foster personal relationships, Craft Bank's traveling loan officers will go wherever the customer wants to meet, whether that is the customer's office or business or a local coffee shop.

Mynatt said Craft Bank wants to leave behind the traditional loan officer meeting in a bank branch. The lender's goal is to be collaborative, he said.

"In real time, [loan officers] can show them the products, get feedback and refine it," Mynatt said. While the underwriting and approval process will still take time, the customer will be aware of where they stand in the process and what their loan structure will most likely look like, he said.

Craft Bank will advertise the average time it takes the bank to close small business administration loans on its website.

"We want to get them to the closing table as quickly as possible," he said.

The proposed bank will also offer a web service for its commercial customers to request and share business referrals, such as attorneys and architects.

While the idea of increasing touch and speed is good, the success of the proposed bank's strategy depends on hiring the right talent, Stephen Scouten, a managing director at Sandler O'Neill, wrote in an email.

Craft Bank started the de novo process before BB&T and SunTrust announced their merger of equals, but the proposed bank is excited for the possibilities it presents, Mynatt said.

The MOE moves a large bank from being headquartered in Atlanta, presenting an opportunity for community banks to gain customers and employees from attrition at the new bank. The combined Truist Financial Corp. will be headquartered in Charlotte, N.C.

Craft Bank plans to open in May 2020, subject to regulatory approval and raising $22.5 million to $30 million in capital.