A Deeper Appreciation for Atlanta
When Randy Koporc, President of Fifth Third Bank Georgia, returned to Atlanta in 2017, it was with a deeper appreciation for the city that he had left only a few short years before to start a payment division at the bank’s headquarters in Cincinnati. “The role I held where I was responsible for leading our payments business gave me a far greater understanding of how metro Atlanta was on track to be the global center for Fintech,” he says. “And when you combine that with the wonderful people and business community, you understand why people new to Atlanta feel like they just joined the winning team.”
Born in Dayton, Ohio, Koporc moved to the Sunshine state with his family at the age of four. His father was in the building materials business and Walt Disney World Resort was debuting. “I was able to see Orlando change drastically from a small citrus town to what it is today, and from this experience I have always been interested in business development and growth, and how if it’s done right, the power it can bring to a community.”
Koporc credits his father as his greatest influence. “He was extremely dedicated to his profession and took great pride in his work, while always keeping our family as his greatest priority,” he says. Playing baseball from youth years to high school, Koporc vividly remembers his dad making it back for every game despite his busy work schedule that required him to visit different cities every week. “My dad would get up extra early to get to work and find his way back so that he could spend time with his family. This has always grounded me in the importance of work-life balance as a leader.”
For Koporc, sports provided a core foundation of success, and translated well into business. “Being a good teammate is an important part of achieving excellence in any organization. Being accountable to your teammates and working together to reach common goals and achieve outcomes can be learned at an early age.”
Attending the University of Florida, Koporc was a Finance major and was exposed to a banking course where he gained an interest in the business. “I was attracted to the idea of leveraging my degree to help companies grow, and impacting communities. Today, I am still motivated by the same principles and as regional president, I am charged with helping our clients prosper, growing Fifth Third in Georgia and working with local partners to strengthen our community.”
Immediately after college, Koporc was selected for a one-year corporate leadership program at First Union in Orlando. Four months into the program, he was given the opportunity to manage a middle market commercial portfolio. After approximately seven years as a commercial banker, Koporc was asked to take on a role in human resources at First Union’s headquarters in Charlotte. He accepted the role, and with it he gained the opportunity to expand his knowledge and development as a leader. The role led to another opportunity as head of general bank recruiting for Wachovia.
In this role, Koporc discovered the need for a structured system to use for recruiting, and created a high-volume recruiting process grounded in the sales management discipline. “From this opportunity, I gained an appreciation on how different functions and lines of business work together, and grew to understand the intricacies of leading with influence and securing cooperation outside of an organizational structure.”
“After five years in this role I realized I likely could have gone to any other organization as an HR leader,” he says, “however I remained passionate about financial services and was ready to take on the next challenge.”
Koporc explains that his career approach – moving up to positions that are very different – helped to both diversify and strengthen his credentials. “I subscribe to a ‘spider web’ approach to career progression versus a traditional corporate ladder,” he says, “implying a larger career geography that takes you in different directions yet meets and connects in the middle.”
When he was ready for a change he went to the bank President, who said “I thought I’d be seeing you about now.” The President suggested that he move to Charlottesville, Virginia to become the Regional President of Greater Virginia for the bank.
Koporc served in this position at Wachovia until an opportunity came to move to Atlanta and plant the flag in Georgia for Fifth Third Bank in 2010.
“2010 was still quite a challenging time for banks,” he says, “and the charge was to grow Fifth Third in Georgia during the most difficult financial environment since the Great Depression. From my perspective, however, that was what made it the best time to enter the market and build out a team. There were definitely things to feel good about, I love those entrepreneurial opportunities, I have always been drawn to them,” he continued.
“The business model was to essentially take all that Fifth Third, the 13th largest bank in the country, had to offer and make it available to the Georgia market,” he said. “And we were able to offer a fresh perspective – be more accommodating.”
“Much of the legacy payment knowledge transitioned with Vantiv, but very important components remained and future opportunities were ahead of us and our industry. My thought was why not put all remaining payment and electronic transmission together and work to strengthen our position in this evolving digital payment migration?”
This concept led Randy to leave Georgia and head to the Bank’s headquarters in Cincinnati to create the division and start the operations. He was named Executive Vice President & Head of the Enterprise Payments Division. “The job was essentially to pull all the remaining payment assets together into one P&L, look for efficiencies in the business, build a process for innovation and set our strategic priorities,” he said.
During this time, Koporc and his team renegotiated the bank’s agreement with MasterCard and successfully extended its agreement with Vantiv as its merchant processor.
“Running payments for Fifth Third was a tremendous and valuable experience and it put me at the forefront of the technology issues that all financial service providers were and are currently facing,” he said.
Fifth Third soon took the decision to partner with fintech organizations in order to provide the best products to its customers. “We decided not to fear partnerships but to embrace them instead, and keep the customer at the center of our decisions.”
In 2016, the bank formed a groundbreaking partnership with Atlanta-based GreenSky that was designed to add significant strategic value to both organizations and their customers. The agreement enabled Fifth Third to originate loans through GreenSky's existing merchant network and allowed Fifth Third to offer GreenSky's financing solutions to merchants with whom it already did business, improving credit access to those merchants' customers. The arrangements also included a $50 million investment from Fifth Third in the financial technology company.
The bank also partnered and invested in ApplePie, an online lending firm that makes loans to franchisees of popular retail chains.
Koporc’s recent experience in payments, together with the ongoing transformation of banking, culminated nicely with his return to Atlanta. “I came back with a greater appreciation – a greater respect - for what Atlanta had to offer in payments and fintech and all the entities that support it,” he says.
As President of Fifth Third Georgia once again, he will be focusing on accelerating business to continue the upward trajectory for the bank in the region. “What is unique about Fifth Third is that our regional delivery model allows us to bring national capability down to the grassroots,” he says, “and we will continue to focus heavily on innovation –it’s in our DNA.”
As an example, he cited the Fifth Third MomentumTM app to help college graduates pay off student loans faster by automating frequent micropayments toward the balance on student loan accounts. “We have found that millennials especially want apps that help them achieve their financial goals and also feel good while doing it,” says Koporc.
Fifth Third also recently debuted card-free ATMs for all its Georgia locations. Customers can now use all ATM functions with their Fifth Third mobile banking app instead of a physical card.
For his return to Atlanta, Koporc has reengaged with the community in a big way. He has recently joined the board of the Fernbank Museum of Natural History as well as the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors, United Way Finance Committee, Metro Atlanta Board of Advisors and the Atlanta Sports Council board. Notably, the Fifth Third Foundation made four grants of $25,000 each to the Urban League of Greater Atlanta, Georgia Advancing Communities Together, Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs and the Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership to support homeownership, affordable housing, small business development and financial stability for individuals and families.
“Both my family and I have enjoyed reconnecting with friends here in Atlanta,” he says, “and it’s great to be back. I look forward to continuing to accelerate Fifth Third Bank’s growth, as well as working with many dedicated local organizations to strengthen the community where I live and work.”