Renae Sigall will take on a new role at Park Bank as assistant vice president of branch banking on May 1. Sigall joins the Madison-based community bank after 13 years at UW Credit Union, most recently as a branch manager.
She said the new role, in which she will oversee the bank’s eight branches, was created with her in mind.
“I’m kind of a whiteboard right now, which I really appreciate,” Sigall said in an interview Friday. “Some of the objectives of the role are to create a different experience for branch banking, and kind of move away from the traditional retail banking space and make it a more positive experience, more inviting and less transactional, more relationship-based on that side.”
As more people do their day-to-day banking online and via mobile devices, they tend to visit bank branches for more specific, and sometimes more complex, needs. Sigall said she would like to help the role of bank teller evolve into something more akin to a financial concierge – and to make that job one where people stay.
“People start as a teller, much like I did, and they grow and develop and they move out of the position,” she said. “That leads to the teller position not being desirable, and then not getting the type of talent we want to create the experience that we’re looking for.”
Sigall said one of her primary responsibilities at Park Bank will be to create a financial wellness program and execute it for the bank. This is an area where Park Bank has not played much in the past, but Sigall hopes to build a program that the bank can offer both its employees as well as community organizations.
Sigall said she appreciates Park Bank’s intentional effort to diversify the C-suite and give lower-level employees of color representation in the higher ranks at the bank.
“So often in the financial industry, the entry-level position is the teller role, and that’s where we see the most diversity,” Sigall said. “And those aren’t necessarily the folks that are the change makers.”
Sigall is also passionate about making banking more accessible and inviting for communities of color. “We think about the communities of color that aren’t as comfortable walking into a financial institution,” she said. “How can we make it inviting for them, when they have the largest uphill battle to climb when it comes to getting their finances in order? And if they know that the company is being led by people of color, it’s going to bring them and make them feel safe.”
Better relationships between people of color and their banks can, in the long term, chip away at wealth disparities, Sigall said.
“We know that the way to wealth is homeownership,” she said. “A lot of those systemic barriers are still very real for people of color trying to purchase a home. That is very real here in Dane County.”
After a long stint in the nonprofit credit union world, Sigall said she appreciates that Park Bank has a similar community focus.
“The culture, the community aspect,” is one of the main drivers for the change, she said. “And the size. I like the fact that there’s less than 200 employees, and there’s some intimacy to that that I’m looking forward to.”