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Greenville Business Magazine

#1 Midsize Company Pinnacle Financial Partners Designed to Focus on People

May 11, 2022 05:14PM ● By David Dykes

Pinnacle Financial Partners, the No. 1 Midsize Top Workplace for South Carolina for 2022, doesn’t think of itself as just a commercial bank.

It wants to be the financial partner for its clients. And to do that, bank officials say they have built a culture where associates are excited to come to work each day and they, in turn, take care of clients.

“We don’t have layers of management throughout the firm,” said Rick Callicutt, Pinnacle’s chairman of the Carolinas and Virginia region. “It’s a really flat organization. So that communication doesn’t get filtered as it drifts all the way down to someone sitting in an operation area or someone sitting in a branch somewhere. When you have that sort of direct communication, then you can keep everybody pulling together in the right direction.” 

That, he says, also puts you in a better position to pivot quickly in the midst of such challenges as a pandemic.

Pinnacle Financial Partners provides a full range of banking, investment, trust, mortgage, and insurance products and services designed for businesses and their owners and individuals interested in a comprehensive relationship with their financial institution. 

The firm began operations in a single location in downtown Nashville, Tennessee, in October 2000 and has since grown to approximately $38.5 billion in assets as of Dec. 31, 2021. As the second-largest bank holding company headquartered in Tennessee, Pinnacle operates in 15 primarily urban markets across the Southeast.

It has 43 locations and 205 employees in South Carolina. 

Pinnacle is listed by Forbes among the top 25 banks in the nation. American Banker recognized Pinnacle as one of America’s Best Banks to Work For nine years in a row and No. 1 among banks with more than $11 billion in assets in 2021.

Pinnacle’s three founders, Terry Turner, Rob McCabe, and Hugh Queener, sat down with a blank sheet of paper to design the exact bank they would want as employees and clients. It focused on people. It relied on local decision-making and a geographic focus instead of lines of business. It was full service to meet every client need. It treated everyone with respect and had a culture that attracted the best of the best. It was a place where people looked forward to coming into work every day and that bred loyalty in its clients.

“What we ended up with was a deliberate effort to be a challenger brand,” Turner said. “If the big national and regional banks were turning into faceless bureaucracies far removed from the people they served, we would get up under them and compete by doing the exact opposite.”

The vision they came up with was simple, but bold: To be the best financial services firm and the best place to work. And they stress they have successfully shown size does not matter. Attitude and intention are everything.

In a recent message to shareholders, Turner, president and CEO, and chairman McCabe said that as challenges from 2020 lingered throughout 2021, “never was the power of our culture more evident.”

“While many are experiencing a ‘Great Resignation,’ we attracted new associates from vulnerable competitors at a record pace, driving growth, and we retained roughly 94 percent of our existing associates, making that growth sustainable,” the two said.

They added that while many companies battled against accelerating declines in service quality thanks to concurrent crises, “we continued to top our markets in many of the service metrics that define client loyalty and advocacy.”

And they noted that while economic uncertainty has tested many areas of the market and at times made the Fed’s response difficult to predict, Pinnacle’s share price set records and hit a significant milestone in the face of headwinds for the banking industry as a whole.

Every non-commissioned Pinnacle associate can receive an annual cash incentive based on meeting firm-wide goals. Also, every Pinnacle associate is awarded restricted stock upon being hired and again annually. 

Pinnacle offers a robust wellness program with a holistic focus on physical, emotional/mental, financial, and spiritual well-being. Associates can participate in fitness and non-fitness activities and challenges coordinated by wellness champions who volunteer to help encourage other associates to make healthy choices. 

With the isolation and stress of the pandemic, Pinnacle added numerous mental health opportunities, including free counseling through the HealthJoy smartphone app Pinnacle provides to all associates and their households. 

Associates are eligible on their first day to be covered under Pinnacle’s insurance plans and 401(k). Pinnacle contributes financially to associates’ HSA accounts and makes 100 percent of the associate’s total annual HSA contribution available on Jan. 1 each year. And Pinnacle’s insurance offerings include pet insurance for associates’ pets.

Pinnacle, one employee said, “Allows me to do my best every day to help clients improve their lives.”

Said another: “I am not micromanaged, yet I have all the direction and support I need.”