W e had the opportunity recently to meet and get acquainted with Arthur DuCote, the new Mississippi state president for Regions Bank. In a sense, he says moving to Mississippi is like coming home.
“I grew up in a small town near Baton Rouge,” he said. “It wasn’t quite Mayberry, but it was close,” referring to the fictional town in North Carolina where Andy Taylor was sheriff.
After graduating from LSU, he went to work in banking, beginning with Barnett Bank in Florida and then moving on to AmSouth, where he spent many years in various roles. Ultimately, that lead to Regions.
“You might say that we woke up one day and realized that we had become a top 20 bank. We had to gear up to our size,” he said. Today, Regions is Mississippi’s largest bank, with more than 140 branches throughout the state and deposits in excess of $6.5 billion.
Arthur’s appointment represents a change from the past executive structure for Regions in Mississippi. In the past there were two separate executives, one for the northern region of Mississippi, and one for the southern. Both of those are still in place, but Arthur is now in charge of all operations in the state.
What is his vision for Regions in Mississippi?
“Very simply, we want to be the bank of choice in Mississippi. We want to be the employer of choice in Mississippi. And we want to be the leading bank partner for Mississippi’s communities. We want to serve both the large and small communities alike.”
Is Regions looking for acquisition opportunities to continue its growth in Mississippi?
“We’re always interested in exploring opportunities that are strategically significant. But at the moment, we’re not actively talking to anyone. Right now, our focus is on growing within the communities we serve.”
When asked whether banking is now over-regulated in the wake of the financial crisis of 2008-09, he said, “Yes, we’ve seen a significant increase in regulation, and it’s probably true that the pendulum has swung too far in that direction. Obviously, there needs to be more fine tuning of some of these rules and regulations.”
Arthur sees many opportunities in Mississippi in the coming years. He sees great potential for imports, growth in the Mississippi Gulf Coast region, excellent prospects for oil & gas exploration and development, and agriculture.
“We have some of the best dirt in the United States,” he said. “There is something special happening here, and Mississippi is looking at a bright future, because we have so many great resources.”
One of the resources he talked about is human resources.
“We can hire great people who want to come to Mississippi. Some may have grown up here and want to come home. We have a great community of people in this state who choose to live here, and more who want to come.”
Asked what he considered some of the challenges facing business in the coming years, he pointed out among other things the uncertainty surrounding Obamacare and what that will mean to business.
“One thing that business leaders hate is uncertainty,” he said. “They want some kind of decent picture of what time will hold, and right now, nobody seems to have the answers on that.”
He thinks that one of the answers to the health care may be in effective wellness programs sponsored by employers.
“We started a wellness program at Regions and got our employees involved and motivated to pay more attention to their lifestyles. As a result, our overall health care costs have stabilized, and that makes us happy,” he said.
Asked what he likes most about Mississippi, he said, “I’d have to say it’s the sincere, welcoming nature of Mississippians.”
For Arthur DuCote and other CEOs we’ve talked with, that seems to be one of Mississippi’s most valuable assets.
» Contact Mississippi Business Journal publisher Alan Turner at email@example.com or (601) 364-1021.