Of course the president of the Young Bankers section of the Mississippi Bankers Association is a young banker, but the organization’s new president, Matt McCraw, 36, already has quite a bit of banking experience, too. That’s because he began his banking career while he was a student at the University of Mississippi. That banking start was at First National Bank of Oxford where he has come back full circle after working in other banks and today serves as senior vice president, loans.
“I met my wife, Brigham, as a freshman and started saving to get married,” McCraw said. “I started working part time at the bank and asked to observe the loan process because I wanted to learn it.”
After graduation in 1998, he worked for Sun Trust Bank in Nashville where he participated in the management training program. That position was followed by a stint with Trustmark Bank in Jackson where he worked in commercial lending. The McCraws then moved to Tunica, Brigham’s hometown, for an opportunity to work with Covenant Bank. “I learned a lot working there in a community bank with consumer lending,” Matt McCraw said. “It was an eye-opening learning experience.”
The McCraws have been back in Oxford 2 1/2 years, a move he describes as “the right fit and right opportunity at the right time.”
The son of Ed and Jan McCraw, this young banker grew up in Yazoo City where his dad worked many years for Mississippi Chemical Company.
“I was always impressed by my dad’s work ethic,” he says.
McCraw was attracted to banking and continues in it because he likes being able to help folks and businesses. “I like being an integral part of helping someone get a business going or realize a dream,” he said. “I see lots of different businesses and learn something every day. It’s a very relationship oriented line of work and I treasure that.”
Although his main job is commercial lending, McCraw is involved with a lot of things at this community bank where the word “community” is taken seriously.
“The government and compliance regulations that we must deal with daily are a challenge but we must deal with them,” he added. “There’s also a lot of banking competition and we must set ourselves apart. Being a locally owned bank is an advantage.”
The current interest rate environment is an additional challenge at this time, making it necessary for banks to be creative and more efficient. McCraw is optimistic about the economy and the future and sees positive things in Oxford.
As he leads the Young Bankers for the next year, McCraw is mindful of the group’s two main objectives – helping provide financial education and awarding scholarships. “Our challenge is to keep up with who’s doing what and who they’re talking to regarding financial education,” he said. “We know that 120,000 people were reached in some form in 2012 by bankers, but we know that can be improved.”
In conjunction with the MBA, the Young Bankers formed a foundation to allow them to receive tax-deductible donations for scholarships. In March 2012, the Young Bankers made an initial donation of $50,000 to get the fun started. An additional $60,000 has been raised since that time by the two groups.
The McCraws are the parents of an eight-year-old son, Matthew, and they enjoy spending time together, much of it outdoors. This banker also likes to relax by hunting and playing golf.
“If I weren’t in banking, I’d probably be doing something having to do with golf; maybe the manager of a country club,” he said. “However, I think I’m doing what I’m supposed to do.”