VOL. 131 | NO. 21 | Friday, January 29, 2016
Bank of Fayette County Looks To Grow Trust Services in 2016
By Andy Meek
There’s a reason The Bank of Fayette County’s still-growing trust division doesn’t carry the name of, well, the bank or its home county.
The bank’s division, called Poplar Trust, is headed up by estate planning attorney Mike Parham, who was recruited to the post by bank president and CEO McCall Wilson. And Parham had definite ideas about the name, which he wanted to reflect a bigger geography than that of the county immediately east of Shelby.
“Most of our business right now is actually in Memphis,” Parham says of the division, which the bank launched last year and is making a push to grow in 2016.
Among other things, Parham is aiming for the trust division – already at about $45 million under management – to grow to $50 million. And hopefully, by year’s end, $100 million.
Part of getting there is spreading the word about the business – a fundamental part of which, of course, is getting the name right. Which is why, with help from Trace Hallowell of brand identity firm Tactical Magic, the name that emerged combined allusions to a major thoroughfare in Memphis as well as the official tree of Tennessee (the Tulip Poplar).
“We didn’t want to have West Tennessee in the name, because when you hear that you think of everything west of the Tennessee River but outside of Memphis,” Parham continued. “And you didn’t want to do Greater Memphis and have the emphasis just be on Memphis.”
The result: a name and a business that Parham, a veteran estate planning attorney who had launched his own estate law firm in 2009, is now happy with and ready to grow.
He has an office at the bank’s main space in Piperton, which suits his sensibilities about size and culture just fine.
“The Bank of Fayette County, I felt they were the ones where I could do this kind of business the way I think it should be done,” said Parham, whose title is senior vice president and trust officer with the bank. “I’ve known McCall for a while. They’re small. I don’t like bureaucracies. They’re small enough where you can still be flexible.”
Parham earned his law degree from Vanderbilt Law School in Nashville and chose estate law after initially working for a Knoxville law firm that had a heavy focus on litigation – which Parham couldn’t stand. “I didn’t like the conflict,” he told The Daily News not long after opening his estate planning firm.
The bank’s trust and related services include estate planning and estate settlement, and issues around personal trusts – everything from family, marital and charitable trusts to conservatorships and individual retirement accounts, among other things.
“We’ve had trust powers since the bank was founded; we just upped it a notch by bringing Mike on board as part of our long-term strategy,” Wilson said. “We think trust provides another level of service for clients – another long-term revenue source that also helps keep us independent. So we went out and got the smartest person we could find.
“So many people need somebody they can trust, that will do the right thing for them. And when we meet with clients and Mike gives them planning advice, you can tell they appreciate it and it means something to them.”