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VOL. 7 | NO. 51 | Saturday, December 13, 2014

Making a Statement

Trustmark underscores commitment to Memphis

By Andy Meek

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One of the regional banking players in Memphis is Jackson, Miss.-based Trustmark Bank, which took a big step that made a statement in Memphis this year.

Trustmark Bank's Memphis regional President Gene Henson.

(Memphis News/Andrew J. Breig)

The bank opened a new regional headquarters location earlier this year inside the Interstate 240 loop, a move that gives the bank a high-profile, heavily trafficked perch compared to its traditional suburban footprint. And by relocating to Trustmark Centre, at 5350 Poplar Ave. in East Memphis, the bank demonstrated a long-term commitment to the Memphis market, one of several key areas for the bank that’s been around since 1889 and expanded into Tennessee in 2001.

That’s according to Gene Henson, Trustmark’s Memphis region president, who said Trustmark had been looking for a prominent Poplar space for years – in fact, for almost the entire time he’s worked in Memphis. Previously, Germantown was home to Trustmark’s regional headquarters, but the out-of-the-way location didn’t necessarily help elevate the brand in the way Trustmark’s leadership wanted.

Henson, though, said that once he saw the space now home to Trustmark Centre, it was a light bulb moment.

“I said to myself, ‘This is it,’” he recalled.

Originally built for Crump Insurance in the 1970s, the building later served as the Memphis headquarters of Sedgwick James Inc. The building underwent $3.8 million of capital improvements in 1997 when CBRE Memphis began managing the property.

Trustmark scored naming rights as part of the lease it signed in 2013, so the space includes Trustmark’s logo visible from the signature triangular cap atop the building.

The space also represents Trustmark’s first branch inside the 240 loop, with the configuration reflecting what Henson described as a prototype layout indicative of how his and other banks see branches of the future being designed.

So-called “teller row” tended to be the center of more traditional bank branch design, back in the pre- and early smartphone era when most transaction activity and customer behavior patterns tended to involve actually visiting a brick-and-mortar location to conduct business. Things, of course, slowly migrated outside. Drive-thru lanes proved more convenient, and the proliferation of mobile apps with increasingly robust capabilities made it unnecessary to visit the branch at all in many cases.

Trustmark’s branch inside the regional headquarters includes less area than a traditional branch – because, again, it’s not needed – and a smaller-than-usual teller row that includes only a few tellers. The branch also is complemented by additions like a financial services representative and drive-thru lanes outside.

No such banking “supermarket” here that tries to be all things to all people, in other words.

“The way we try to stand out is by having people that you trust, advice that works, the capacity the customer wants, the touch of a community bank and quality associates who can provide that advice customers need,” Henson said. “I have a staff of professionals I would hold up against anyone. That’s our differentiation.”

By way of underscoring what Henson said is Trustmark’s growth story, the bank as a whole in the third quarter saw its net income grow slightly.

Trustmark reported $33.6 million of net income, up 2 percent from the prior quarter and third quarter of 2013. During the first nine months of 2014, Trustmark’s net income totaled $95.5 million, up 6 percent from the prior year.

Trustmark president and CEO Gerard Host attributed the results in part to the bank’s strong capital base, which allowed it to see its sixth straight quarter of growth in its legacy loan portfolio, improvement in its efficiency ratio and growth in its insurance and wealth management businesses.

PROPERTY SALES 23 23 1,365
MORTGAGES 21 21 1,068
BUILDING PERMITS 117 117 3,173