First Commercial Bank has announced that veteran regional banking executive Curt Gabardi has been elected to the bank’s Board of Directors and has been named Executive Advisor, President and CEO in Wait, effective May 1, 2020. Under this planned, transitional management succession arrangement, Gabardi will assume the role of President & CEO and Alan Walters, President & Chief Executive Officer will become Chairman of the Board effective May 1, 2021.
Gabardi brings to First Commercial a rare depth of top financial services leadership and experience, including serving as Regional President of Union Planters Bank of Greater Mississippi and South Alabama preceding the bank’s merger with Regions Financial; in early 2006, Gabardi was named President and CEO of Regions Bank of Memphis and West Tennessee. Following the merger between Regions and AmSouth, and in the midst of multiple bank mergers, acquisition activity, and the onset of the Great Recession, Gabardi believed it was an opportunistic time to start a new bank. In the Fall of 2007 he left Regions and in 2008 founded Metropolitan Bank, a simple, talent-driven, client centric boutique bank, which was very similar in operating strategy to First Commercial Bank’s business model.
Over the next nine years Metropolitan Bank’s assets grew to roughly $1.5 Billion, ultimately operating two offices under the Bank of the South brand in Copiah County, two offices in metro Jackson, and two each in Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee. Most recently Gabardi served as President and Chief Banking Officer with Tupelo-based Renasant Bank following its July, 2017 purchase of Metropolitan Bank, until departing in 2018 to pursue other business interests.
“Curt and I have maintained a decades-long friendship and mutual trust, so his role with First Commercial is truly energizing both personally and professionally,” Walters said in a statement. “This is a unique strategic combination that leverages our history of client centric focus and solid reputation with Curt’s proven executive leadership and unique knack for executing a talent-driven strategy that fuels consistent growth.”
“Everything begins and ends with possessing talented associates, and Alan and I agree that this core belief is our primary point of differentiation, the ingredient that elevates a bank from ordinary to extraordinary, both culturally and in its performance,” Gabardi said. As part of that strategy he noted that a number of his former Metropolitan Bank colleagues joined First Commercial Bank earlier this year, further bolstering the bank’s highly regarded existing team of business banking and private client professionals.
First Commercial Bank currently operates strategic Mississippi locations in Jackson, Ridgeland, Oxford, and Southaven. “We’re going to enhance our existing client delivery channels to make sure our clients are able to easily choose the simplest way to bank,” said Walters. Gabardi added, “Going forward, we will focus on attracting seasoned talent, leading us to new growth markets and future expansion.” Gabardi noted that two-thirds of Metropolitan Bank’s client base resided in Memphis and Nashville.
“I look forward to Curt’s initial support from an advisory standpoint, and ultimately his proven leadership as President and CEO. His association represents a powerful pooling of expertise, insight and experience,” Walters said.
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