Image courtesy of Bergmeyer

OneUnited Bank plans to relocate its headquarters out of Boston’s Financial District and into the traditional heart of Boston’s Black community.

The lender, the nation’s largest Black-owned bank as well as a CDFI, is currently headquartered at 100 Franklin St. Its new headquarters would be at 54 John Elliot Square in Roxbury’s Fort Hill neighborhood, a few blocks from Nubian Square. Nubian Square has long been seen as the heart of Boston’s Black community.

“We understand the importance of locations like downtown and their importance to the business community, but our company’s legacy and history is rooted in Boston,” bank CEO Kevin Cohee said in an interview.

The move would show the bank, which was founded in Nubian Square in 1968 as Unity Bank & Trust Co., to be an example of Black economic success, Cohee said.

The roughly 10,000-square-foot, 3-story building designed by architects Bergmeyer was granted zoning approval by the city in December, according to public records.

The $755.71 million-asset bank also recently launched an AI-based financial advice tool for its customers, called “WiseOne.” Cohee said the tool, which is integrated into OneUnited’s app, analyzes a customer’s spending habits, assets and debts to recommend steps they can take to save money and build wealth. It also generates monthly and quarterly reports that customers can use to take stock of their progress.

“Most importantly it helps you understand how money is flowing through your world. Historically if you didn’t have a half-million dollars to hire a private banker you wouldn’t be able to access this,” Cohee said.

Cohee said WiseOne’s development, created in partnership with another company he declined to name, was driven by a perceived need to build financial literacy in the Black community and elsewhere.

“You have this whole generation of new products that are going to be affecting net worth – all these gaps, racial gaps, inequality gaps, will become magnified if not everyone has the ability to participate,” he said. “You’re talking about the most significant economic phenomena facing the country and possibly the world. The most limiting factor for our society is the lack of financial literacy. The haves and have-nots are now determined by who is financially literate and who isn’t”

Massachusetts’ Biggest Black-Owned Bank to Relocate HQ

by James Sanna time to read: 1 min