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FirstBank Has Stayed True to its Community Roots

A customer-centric, community-specific focus is central to the bank’s culture.

By Cindy Sanders on December 23, 2020

Courtesy of FirstBank

Creating a better way to bank has been FirstBank’s mission since its inception in 1906.

Although it is now one of the largest financial institutions headquartered in Tennessee, the bank has stayed true to its community roots, where decision-making remains local.

That customer-centric, community-specific focus is central to the bank’s culture.

When Founder and Board Chair Jim Ayers launched the company by acquiring Farmers State Bank in 1984, it was with the belief that all banking should have the familiarity found in that small, rural bank in Scotts Hill, TN, that has served its neighbors for more than a century.

“Most people want to do business with a bank that wants to do business with them and shows them that,†Ayers explains. “I think that’s what makes us different, relationship-building and really caring about our customers – going that extra mile.”

Ayers adds that those strong relationships extend to associates and the cities they serve.

FirstBank manages more than $6 billion in assets across more than 80 locations in Tennessee, Kentucky, North Alabama and North Georgia.

“We know we need good people, and good people have choices,†he says of creating a culture that values work-life balance and encourages and empowers associates to act on behalf of their customers and communities. “I want FirstBank to have the reputation of being the most philanthropic organization that spends more time, more energy, effort and money being a good corporate citizen.”



Jim Mosby, a senior vice president based in Middle Tennessee, says that mindset enables bankers to do their jobs well.

“We can be creative and flexible in the financial solutions we bring to our customers,†he explains. “Our bankers are empowered to make decisions.”

Community bankers at the local level know and understand their customers’ business needs and can quickly be responsive to changing circumstances. At the same time, FirstBank’s size and scale bring industry-specific knowledge to the table to enhance corporate and private banking.

For customers, that means the best of both worlds – small-town service with big-bank expertise.

Karen Clark, senior vice president in private banking, works with customers throughout Middle Tennessee but specializes in the fields of music and health care.

“I think we have a culture of teamwork where the customer is placed with the banker or location where they are best suited,†she says. “When they call, they aren’t dialing a 1-800 number; they are calling me.”

Both Mosby and Clark appreciate FirstBank’s philanthropic nature and say that community spirit begins at the top and filters throughout the organization. Whether helping raise funds for local nonprofits or caring for their own after the recent tornadoes, Clark says FirstBank encourages and expects associates to be involved in their hometowns.

“The best part of being a banker is helping your community grow, adding jobs and helping people achieve their dreams,†Mosby says. “The energy here and the family-oriented culture is just really unique.”

Learn more at FirstBank.

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