The President of Financial Federal Bank on "Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing"

Published on: September 23, 2013


William R. Tayloe, Memphis Business Quarterly's Beyond the Bio Blog: Featured Power Player

Our nation's economy is gradually improving, and while far from perfect, it is certainly better than it has been. As a result, the demand for commercial and residential lending is also ticking in the right direction, which is encouraging news for everyone in the financial services industry.

Like all banks, Financial Federal is emerging from under some dark clouds onto a dramatically different business landscape. The specific needs of our customers, the markets in which we operate, and the entire regulatory environment of our industry have changed profoundly in the last five years.

To me, these changes only underscore the equally profound need for businesses to stay focused on their core strengths. “Keeping the main thing the main thing” sounds facile, but in a business world that is prone to unpredictable — and frequently undesirable — shifts, doing so can be a crucial competitive advantage.

That is not to say that some evolutions and changes won't happen. They are inevitable. During this period of transition, Financial Federal has expanded our staff across all our divisions. We were approved to become a Tennessee state-chartered bank under the regulation of the Tennessee Department of Financial Institutions and the Federal Reserve after Dodd-Frank legislation eliminated our previous regulator. We also introduced our first money market account, which has greatly exceeded our performance expectations.

We have made significant investments in technology that will take all of our internal systems and roll them into one robust operating system. The new technology will allow Financial Federal to offer advanced checking services, such as online and mobile banking, without necessarily needing multiple retail locations.

A major part of my job is making sure that everyone on our team understands why we have made these decisions: to develop the tools we need to better service our customer relationships.

In other words, we know who we are: a locally owned and operated community bank that specializes in customized personal and business banking solutions. Moreover, we know who we are not: a bank that is going to move too quickly at the wrong time into the wrong lines of business for the wrong reasons.

Memphis has plenty of good retail banks with mobile banking capabilities and conventional checking products. After almost 30 years, we know why people want to bank with us, and it's not because we endeavor to be all things to all people. As we grow, we will do so strategically, methodically, and in a manner that is consistent with our customers' expectations.

These are lessons that transcend the financial sector. Think carefully about the unique value you bring to any business situation. Make serious investments of resources — including your most precious resource, time — to develop this value and understand how you can capitalize on it. Don't chase fads and avoid getting caught in a web of distractions or short-term attention-grabbing tactics. Make each achievement a stepping-stone to the next. Above all, remember the importance of maintaining and supporting your relationships over the long term.

We all hope that we will never see another economic downturn like the one from which we are now emerging. In the event that we do, however, the companies that will succeed are the ones that over-perform in delivering service and value.

This strategy requires time, discipline, and a strong internal culture. In our experience, it is the only way to succeed on your own terms and weather the turbulent times that may come.