VOL. 127 | NO. 39 | Monday, February 27, 2012
SPECIAL EMPHASIS: Financial Services
Garrett Finds Banking Home at Metropolitan
By Andy Meek
Do something that makes you happy, and if it’s banking, always deliver on your promises. That sums up the professional philosophy of Maria Garrett, a recent hire at Metropolitan Bank who brought 12 years of industry experience to her new job as a senior managing director.
Maria Garrett recently joined Metropolitan Bank as a senior managing director.
(Photo: Lance Murphey)
She focuses on commercial real estate lending primarily and says she was excited about the opportunity at Metropolitan because it allows her to focus on building business relationships and has plenty of potential for growth.
Also, she describes the corporate culture at Metropolitan – which she joined in September – as friendly and professional.
“I do have the privilege of being surrounded by very high functioning and moral individuals” at Metropolitan, she said.
Garrett, a native Memphian, came to her current job from outside the bank, and she’s worked at institutions much bigger than Metropolitan, which doesn’t have branches and ATMs scattered around the city and which only recently opened its second location in Memphis.
Metropolitan topped $500 million in assets last year, but the bank – which has co-headquarters in Memphis and Ridgeland, Miss. – still lives the same way it started. It’s run by seasoned executives – its CEO, Curt Gabardi, is a former West Tennessee president for Regions Bank – who are following a careful growth plan built largely around intimacy with clients.
“Big doesn’t necessarily mean better or guarantee efficiency, clout or positive results,” Garrett said. “I think the personal touch and a generally pleasant attitude cannot be overstated. People do not forget it, and they keep coming back because they know they are important to you. This builds trust, and that good news spreads like wildfire.”
What she likes best about banking is helping people meet their goals and “realize the benefit of their investments.”
“I think how banks in general have done commercial business has changed over the last couple of years, and I believe it needed to,” she said. “We certainly need to take risks, but they need to be very well mitigated and with the right customer and the right project.”
Metropolitan has been doing a lot of that lately, meeting the needs of customers with other executives and professionals like Garrett – not to mention a growing expansion of services.
The bank recently solidified a long-planned foray into Nashville by announcing its first office location there and the hire of a senior managing director for the Nashville area.
The bank added senior managing director Sarah Johnson as part of the Nashville team that includes Nashville president Bill Menkel. Johnson is an 18-year veteran of Nashville’s banking industry who most recently served as a vice president and commercial lender for Reliant Bank after various roles at National Bank of Commerce and SunTrust Bank.
The month before its Nashville announcement, Metropolitan expanded its Memphis presence. The bank for the first time brought a mortgage team to the Bluff City.
Beyond the bricks and mortar, Metropolitan also recently expanded its mobile banking service offerings including a mobile banking application and SMS text banking for all account holders.
Garrett said she fell into banking as a career through knowing a friend in the field, and she enjoys the industry’s challenges that “keep me on my toes and astute about the intricate details and possibilities” that exist in the business.