Partners Raymond James and Androscoggin Bank are aligned in their aspirations to be a different kind of financial institution.
For Androscoggin Bank, becoming a Certified B Corporation (B Corp) was never the end goal. Rather, it was the natural outcome of striving to be an intentionally mission-driven and values-focused organization. As Androscoggin Bank approached its 150th anniversary, President and CEO Neil Kiely and his fellow board members recognized that the world was changing and the industry along with it, and that keeping pace would require a refreshed alignment to make their business sustainable for another 150 years. To shape themselves into the organization that could meet their vision of the future, the leadership team broadened its focus from great financial outcomes to include great human outcomes as well. In a bid to meaningfully benchmark their efforts against other organizations, Androscoggin Bank turned to B Labs, the organization that awards B Corp certifications.
B CORP BUY-IN FROM ACROSS THE BANK
After reflecting on the future of Androscoggin Bank, the team got to work. “We rebuilt our mission, vision and values with our employees,” said Neil. “And in a short period of time we saw our efforts were leading to real, positive business outcomes. Employees were more engaged, they were recruiting in new hires to the bank and both our client satisfaction and net promoter scores were going up.” Adding the pursuit of B Corp status to the bank’s revolution has only helped solidify those positive business outcomes. After a review process that Neil said was just as rigorous as any other bank audit, Androscoggin successfully qualified to become a Certified B Corp – on the first try. In doing so, Androscoggin became the first Certified B Corp Bank in Maine. “Just like a LEED certification or organic certification can help people understand the care taken in creating buildings and foods,” Neil noted, “B Corp Certifications can help people understand the kinds of businesses they are engaging with.”
THE PROCESS AND ITS IMPACTS
Androscoggin Bank will need to recertify every three years, creating a need to be strategic and innovative in the ways its leaders continue to think about their social and environmental impact, their commitment to their stakeholders and the transparency they provide to the broader public.
The bank is also striving to lead with culture, currently engaging more than 40% of its employees across multiple teams that will identify areas of improvement and empower employees to shape the direction of the company.
“The process of becoming a B Corp clarified for all of us the importance of meaningful work and the incredible fulfillment that can come with it,” Neil said. “But it’s more than that. We are creating a resilient model for our bank’s success and better positioning ourselves to handle any hard times ahead.”
A LONG-TERM PLEDGE
While Androscoggin Bank is still early in its B Corp journey, being the first bank in Maine and the ninth bank in the country to achieve the certification has been a positive step in building an organization-wide framework of accountability. The certification also demonstrates to similar organizations that a bank can be driven by its purpose, values, quality – and most importantly, its people. And this involves people within and outside of the organization.
“Our objective now is to create alignment around success, which includes establishing common language and definitions, meaningful metrics, building a resilient model for success, and striving to pioneer how to run a human-centered business that’s well-marketed and can withstand the tough times,” said Neil. “This approach is not unlike how a lot of smaller, family-owned businesses operate – the difference we see is that it affords us the ability to scale our business and our culture at larger levels.”
“However,” Neil added, “culture has to be a grassroots movement, it can’t be prescribed from the top. We trust our people. We value their guidance in helping our business have a significant impact in our community. When employees help shape the human outcomes, the organization can maneuver into a far stronger position to achieve the financial outcomes.”
Alongside empowering employees to shape the direction of the organization, Androscoggin Bank has rebuilt its approach toward philanthropy and service to positively impact its communities more widely. Helping to invest in the transition to renewable energy, committing to assist “new Mainers” or immigrants to Maine and prioritizing environmental sustainability are just a few of the initiatives currently in the mix. Collaboration, multiyear funding and comprehensive planning to attract talent and experience remain key aims for the future. This too is further bolstered by the support of seven partner organizations.
“Diversity, equity and inclusion will also be a particular focus for us in the coming years, as we take an innovative approach to philanthropy and service,” Neil said. “Our priority revolves around impact. In fact, innovative philanthropy has already begun to inspire others. We’ve been approached by other funders asking about our approach.”
CONNECTING, PARTNERING, BUILDING
It’s no secret that Androscoggin Bank leads with culture – and much of that begins by aligning with organizations that share similar values. Just as leadership worked with B Labs to build a more intentional, sustainable vision for growth, another partnership has played a key role in the bank’s success.
“When we were in the process of searching for an investment program partner, I flew down to the Raymond James headquarters in Florida to see what the firm had to offer,” said Neil. “Team after team talked about the firm’s capabilities, but during each of the discussions I had, there was an incredible
clarity around culture and that Raymond James was a people-first and values-based organization. I was really struck by the way everyone was speaking the same language, making it extremely clear that Raymond James – with its mission-focused and values-driven approach – would be a strong and valuable partner.”
Written by Raymond James. Securities offered through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC, and are not insured by bank insurance, the FDIC or any other government agency, are not deposits or obligations of the bank, are not guaranteed by the bank, and are subject to risks, including the possible loss of principal. Androscoggin Financial Services and Androscoggin Bank are not registered broker/dealers, and are independent of Raymond James Financial Services. Investment advisory services offered through Raymond James Financial Services Advisors, Inc. 23-FID-1189 KS 7/23