VIP Innovator 2022: Oliver James

Story by Liesel Schmidt


Photo by Jonathan Thorpe

While banking may not be the industry that first springs to mind when one thinks of innovation, banks must make massive shifts in their practices to accommodate ever-advancing technology. Online banking, mobile deposits and video tellers are only a few of the innovative ways that banking has joined the technology age, and people like Oliver James have been at the forefront of many of these changes, ushering banks into tomorrow. Since joining Burke & Herbert Bank (B&HB) as Senior Vice President, Regional Director of Commercial Banking for the Greater Washington Metro Region and Loudoun County, James has been responsible for leading the bank’s growing team of commercial relationship managers in developing a stronger presence in the region—especially with regards to government contracting. Technology is also a large part of James’s charges.

“Part of my joining B&HB is to help the bank become more progressive and on-track to meet the market expectations for tech innovation,” he explains, “including the ease of moving money around electronically. The landscape is changing rapidly with fintechs often touting themselves as alternatives to traditional banks.”


“I’m passionate about creating progressive, leading edge solutions, industry leading systems and services and maintaining a competitive edge despite ever-evolving technology.” - Oliver

With more than 20 years of financial industry experience at firms including Wachovia, BB&T and Eagle Bank, James’s last position saw him as Director of Commercial Lending at FVC Bank in Reston, Virginia, where he managed a team of lenders and portfolio managers. As much as has changed in those two decades, James sees the need to keep innovating and using technology to better the banking experience. “Digital banking is the next frontier, and we’re currently working on our platform to offer that next generation virtual banking experience,” he says. “Our customers are looking for real-time payments and the ability to accept and transmit payments instantly. We stay on top of the trends and customer demands through market intel shared internally as well as with our vendors and partners. That is what will keep banks like ours relevant and lasting institutions, even in the age of fintechs that threaten to outmode us.”



Based in Alexandria, B&HB is indeed an institution, serving Virginia as the oldest continuously operating bank in the Washington, DC area. The bank’s 20-plus branches offer a full range of business and personal banking products and services designed to meet all of their customers’ needs in banking, borrowing and investing. In his work at B&HB, James works with a wide variety of clients in a broad range of industries, building relationships that will last. “I especially enjoy working with customers in the government contracting arena,” he says. “The client relationships I’ve built and continue to develop are something about which I am very passionate. I love providing customized solutions for our clients and meeting their financial needs.”

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