Banking & Finance Roundup: Professional Bank leverages technology to improve client experience – South Florida Business Journal – South Florida Business Journal

The digital age of commercial banking is well underway, and Professional Bank is leveraging its in-house tech lab to stay competitive in the market.
The Coral Gables-based community bank launched its Digital Innovation Center in 2018 with Ryan Gorney and Chris Rice at the helm. Located in Cleveland, the lab has multiple team members, including cloud engineers and developers, based in Miami and throughout southeast Florida.
The Digital Innovation Center is tasked with creating solutions to keep Professional Bank ahead of the curve on technology. In October, its team rolled out a feature that enables bank customers to open a personal checking account online in about three minutes with just a mobile device and driver’s license.
When it came to creating Professional Bank’s approach to digital development, executives determined years ago they would build an in-house operation focused on banking technology and cybersecurity, rather than bring in a third-party firm to lead the initiative.
“We wouldn’t outsource our branch experience, so why would we outsource our very first digital impression?” said Gorney, who serves as executive VP, chief information officer and chief digital officer of the Digital Innovation Center. “We felt like we should own it, and that’s what we did.”
Professional Bank is ramping up its digital strategy in conjunction with its statewide expansion. This year, the bank opened loan production offices in Tampa Bay and Jacksonville, marking its first Florida expansion outside of the tri-county region.
The banking industry’s yearslong shift toward digital services was only accelerated by Covid-19 and temporary branch closures at the start of the pandemic. But while some of South Florida’s financial institutions are opting to shutter specific branches in the name of a more digital-first approach, Professional Bank has no plans to eliminate in-person locations, Chairman and CEO Daniel R. Sheehan said.
“There are a handful of internet-only banks, and there are a lot of branches that are sticking to the old model. The bank that will be in the best position to capture the most market share in the future is going to be able to do both well,” he said. “Many of our current clients have developed relationships with our front-office staff, and we think it would be awfully damaging, from a reputation standpoint, to cut that off.”
Federal jury convicts Broward woman in PPP fraud scheme
A federal jury in Fort Lauderdale found a woman guilty on multiple counts for fraudulently obtaining a Paycheck Protection Program loan guaranteed by the Small Business Administration under the CARES Act.
Keyaira Bostic, president of Pembroke Pines-based company I Am Liquid Inc., was convicted of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, and three counts of wire fraud. She was found not guilty of bank fraud.
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Bostic allegedly used false information about employees and average payroll, as well as fraudulent tax and bank documents, to secure a $84,515 PPP loan for her company.
Investigators said Bostic paid more than $21,000 in kickbacks to alleged co-conspirator James Stote for his assistance in preparing and submitting the loan application. Bostic also, in exchange for kickbacks, allegedly referred to the scheme other co-conspirators who sought Stote’s help submitting their own fraudulent PPP loan applications. Those applicants sought more than $3.3 million in fraudulent PPP loans and obtained nearly $2 million in loan proceeds, according to the investigation.
Bostic is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 3. She faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for each count of conviction.
HE SAID IT
“Opening an office in Miami brings us closer to clients in the region and provides new opportunities to expand our efforts and expertise.”
Craige Stout, CEO of investment bank and advisory firm Stout, on his company’s decision to open a downtown Miami office at 201 S. Biscayne Blvd. Chicago-based Stout has 24 locations across the U.S., Europe and Asia, with professionals specializing in corporate finance, valuation, financial disputes and investigations.
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