When was the last time your bank asked that?
Centuries ago, banks were responsible stewards who took minimal risks with their customers’ funds. Today the world of banking and finance is completely different.
Banks risk their customers’ hard-earned savings in toxic industries, toxic securities, and whichever investment fad maximizes the bank’s profitability at the expense of the customer experience.
Hardly a month goes by without a major banking scandal– a major institution caught lying, cheating, and robbing the very customers who have entrusted them with their savings.
We think this model is in desperate need of improvement.
When our depositors entrust us with their savings, we view this relationship as a sacred bond. We treat our customers, and their savings, with the utmost care and respect.
And our approach is based on three fundamental pillars:
Banks typically make money by taking risks with their depositor’s funds and investing them in shaky financial instruments to generate profit– black box financial derivatives, and complex, risky instruments like Collateralized Loan Obligations.
They seem to have forgotten, however, that they’re taking these risks with other people’s money. It’s a strange system indeed that banks make risky bets with your money, pocket the profit for themselves, and then charge you additional fees on top of it all.
The world saw firsthand back in 2008 how risky this can actually be. One day everything is fine. And the next– years of risk-taking causes a bank balance sheet to collapse overnight.
We think this model is unacceptable.
At Strategic Bank, we prioritize safety above all else. And we do so by maintaining exceptionally high levels of liquidity, and capital, that vastly exceed typical levels at major banks, as well as minimum regulatory requirements.
We keep at least 40% of your deposits in high-quality liquid assets, so that your savings can be easily withdrawn even in times of a financial crisis.
Many large banks have reserves below 10%, and some even below 2%. This means that up to 98% of your savings has been loaned out and gambled away somewhere without your knowledge.
Strategic Bank often maintains a Tier 1 Capital Ratio in excess of 100%, vs. around 10% for a major bank.
We only invest in conservative, low-risk assets. We only make loans backed by marketable, liquid collateral that vastly exceeds the loan value with a substantial margin of safety.
And unlike most banks, we will never own any mortgage-backed securities, risky derivatives, or any other high-risk asset that puts depositor funds at risk.
Modern banking is a black box with extremely limited transparency. Financial statements only provide scant information about what a bank is actually doing with your money.
For example, a large bank may show $100 billion in loans on its balance sheet. But what loans? How creditworthy are the borrowers? How much collateral is there? What’s the quality and value of that collateral?
Remember, every investment carries risk. And they’re taking these risks with YOUR money. The least they could do is be transparent with you about it.
We believe you have a right to know where every penny of your money is at all times.
This is why we strive to provide maximum transparency and have made our daily balance sheet available to the public, so you know EXACTLY where your money is — down to the penny.
If we have invested our depositors’ savings in US Treasury Bills, you would know the precise CUSIP numbers of the T-bills, their maturity dates, and the amount.
If we make a short-term loan backed by real estate, you’ll be able to see the loan terms, the collateral, and even a link to the Zillow page for the property so you know how much it’s worth relative to the loan amount.
There is very little ‘relationship’ remaining in the modern banking relationship today. To most banks, you are just a number– at best, your account number; at worst, the amount of profit they can make from you.
Amazingly, many large banks tend to treat their customers like criminal suspects. They lie, cheat, and steal. They’re closed to any out-of-the-box thinking.
We have an entrepreneurial culture and understand business in the 21st century. We can customize solutions to fit our customers’ needs. And we strive to treat all our customers, and their money, with dignity and respect.
And we strive to build real, personal relationships with our customers.
Our liquidity vastly exceeds industry standards in North America.
Tier 1 capital ratio well in excess of industry averages
All loans must be backed by collateral; ≤70% Loan-to-value ratio
Zero exposure to risky derivatives and toxic assets
Open an account from anywhere in the world
We are fanatic about your privacy and information security
Personalized solutions no matter your timezone
We open accounts for both US and Non-US citizens, and legal structures from around the world
We have an experienced and involved board – a Board Member who is a former government minister, a reputable and capable CEO, a highly competent COO and highly qualified staff.
We are a team experienced in finance, legal, administration, customer service, technology, and value creation.
James J. Hickman, Founder and Managing Director
Global entrepreneur, investor, and leader with over 20 years of investing and business experience on several continents.
James is an experienced entrepreneur and investor. He has launched or invested in dozens of businesses internationally across numerous industries from financial services to, real estate, publishing, manufacturing, retail, eCommerce, technology, agriculture, advertising, and more.
He has founded numerous global businesses including a publishing company, which brings actionable insights and information to hundreds of thousands of readers; Agricultural Land Corporation, one of the largest blueberry and walnut growers in the Southern Hemisphere with over 5,000 acres of farmland; and Strategic Bank.
James is a former US Army Intelligence officer. He graduated from the United States Military Academy (West Point) in 2000 with a degree in Mathematics, and he holds a Masters Degree in Accounting and Information Management from the University of Texas at Dallas.
Julia Whippo, Corporate Secretary and Chief Operating Officer
Ex Goldman Sachs – over 10 years entrepreneurial experience and 8 years experience in financial and investment services.
Julia formerly served as a risk manager at Goldman Sachs in New York in the firm’s Risk Management department, where she also served as secretary of the department’s Career Development Committee and the Society of Women Engineers Recruitment Committee.
She has founded or invested in a number of private businesses internationally.
Julia attended the University of Colorado and graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Applied Mathematics, a Quantitative Finance Certificate, and Minor in Economics.
At Strategic Bank we have few hard and fast rules, and we do make exceptions on a case-by-case basis. But typical account minimums are currently as follows:
This will likely be revised higher in the future.
We can open US dollar Demand Deposit accounts for any of the following:
We can open accounts for citizens, or companies registered, in nearly every country around the world, including the United States.
The only exceptions include North Korea, Cuba, Iran, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico.
As we have designed Strategic Bank to be a private bank– a safe repository for our customers’ savings– and not a retail bank for day-to-day transactions, we do not presently offer checks or ATM cards.
Our customers can send and receive domestic and international wire transfers directly from our online banking portal.
Global interest rates at this time worldwide are essentially zero. And rather than offer a near-zero interest rate on deposits (like 0.02%), which creates far more of a tax burden and reporting hassle for our customers than it provides any financial benefit, we’d rather devote our energy to providing you the best possible service.
Once the interest rate environment changes, however, we will absolutely offer this.
We’ve designed the onboarding process to be straightforward and as simple as possible while still complying with our regulatory requirements.
The process can be completed remotely from anywhere in the world. After submitting your online application, we’ll review the information and see if we’ll need anything further.
For company accounts, we’ll collect information about the company, its owners, and controlling parties.
Once everything is in order, your account will be opened immediately, and we’ll reach out to you with account details.
You can open an account anywhere in the world; you do not need to come to see us in person.
We do have offices in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and invite customers to visit us there. But it’s absolutely not required.
Strategic Bank is a US domestic bank and has an ABA Routing Number just like any other US bank.
We model ourself on traditional, private banks. Unlike modern banks that maintain millions of accounts, our intent is to provide bespoke, private services to a small number of customers with whom we can maintain a close relationship.
No. We are not FDIC insured. Rather than a taxpayer-funded insurance scheme, Strategic Bank deposits are backed by the capital of the Bank, which is reported transparently to the public.
Our safety is based on old-fashioned banking: finding the safest possible places to hold our depositors’ savings, maintaining exceptionally high levels of capital and liquidity, and reporting that information transparently to our customers.