I met with Arthur Ducote, state president for Regions, to learn more about the award and how Regions managed to achieve it.
“Well, it’s a tremendous honor for us,” he told me. “Like many other banks, we went through some truly tough times in the Great Recession, and it’s so gratifying to see where we’ve come since then.”
I asked Arthur how the bank could achieve such outstanding results.
“It really all has to do with a philosophy of doing business,” he said. “Our CEO, Grayson Hall, chose to adopt a concept we call Shared Values.”
And what does that mean?
“Well, in simplest terms, it means we are absolutely committed to doing right by our customers, our communities, and our associates. We’ve learned that when we really practice what we preach, our communities, our customers, and we as a bank will prosper.”
Arthur says that this is truly a long-term commitment and focus, and that they’ve seen definite and concrete results, as evidenced by their results, and confirmed by Gallup surveys among their customers.
“Five years ago, those surveys placed us in the bottom quartile, and now? We’re in the top quartile. All as a result of adopting the Shared Values philosophy and making sure that we practice it,” he said. “From our perspective, it has a kind of viral effect on our customers, our communities, and our associates.”
In addition to the Reputation award, Arthur suggested that their most recent quarterly results confirm how effective the bank has been in adopting this methodology as a way of doing business.
“Our tier 1 equity number is at 11.2%”, he said. “That’s the best capital position we’ve held in 150 years. Overall, the bank earned $269 million in the most recent quarter, and we paid $67 million in dividends, all while improving our credit quality and generating $1.9 billion in loan growth. We’re definitely confident that Shared Values was one of the key reasons for this kind of success.”
In Mississippi, Regions is ranked at the top of the list for banks, with $12.5 billion in assets and 1,500 employees working at 140 locations.
I asked Arthur what his strategic goals are for the bank in the next few years.
“Our focus is going to be on being the best little big bank we can be,” he said. “We want to be the bank who knows your name when you walk into your local branch, and yet is big enough to meet the sophisticated service needs of our commercial and consumer customers alike. We are confident that we can grow all parts of our business in the next few years.”
Does he feel that banking in general, and Regions in particular, are positioned to weather another financial crisis, if we should experience another one similar to the 2008-09 period?
“Absolutely,” he said. “We are in a much stronger position now than we were then, and that holds true for most of the banking industry.”
Does he see good things on the horizon for Mississippi’s economy in general in the coming years?
“I certainly do,” he replied. “I’m very confident that our state is going to continue to recover and gather momentum as a great place to do business, and I’m really confident that we’re going to see major new business coming to our state in the next 3-5 years.”
From his perspective, as a state we need to be very focused on workforce development, “paying close attention to the need for skilled and technical people”.
“I’m really optimistic that if we can work together in Mississippi, we can achieve really great things,” he suggested.
I also asked him if he thinks interest rates will rise in 2015.
“Well, that’s a hard one to predict,” he said with a smile. “Let me say this—when and if they DO rise, it will be a sign that the economy is healthy and functioning the way it should be.”
That’s something we could all be happy about.
» Contact Mississippi Business Journal publisher Alan Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org or (601) 364-1021.