Montgomery Business Journal

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Renasant Bank Matches Larger, Smaller Competitors

January 2014

By Jennifer Kornegay

Photography by Robert Fouts

Renasant Bank may be a new option for Capital City customers, with its main branch opening downtown in July 2011, but Montgomery City President Pete R. Knight Jr. and the three other principals at the bank’s Montgomery office are not newcomers to the business.

Their combined banking experience totals more than 100 years. And according to Knight, the understanding of how to run a successful bank that comes with this amount of expertise is only one of the positives Renasant has going for it. “Renasant Bank is 111 years old, so it has a long history and strong foundation,” he said. Based in Tupelo, Mississippi, the bank currently has approximately $4.2 billion in assets and 125 branches across Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee.

In those states, Knight pointed to the diversity of the markets served as another of the bank’s strengths. “We are in every little town in north Mississippi, but also in large cities in that state and in Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee like Atlanta, Memphis, Nashville, Birmingham, Huntsville. That means we are made up of both small community banks and large urban-area banks, and this balance has helped us fare better in the economic downturn than most,” he said.

With no concentration in any one area of banking, Renasant can boast a stock price that is above what it was prior to the recession, and the company never accepted any TARP funds and never missed a dividend payment. “Not many banks can say that,” Knight said.

The size and specifics of its various locations help determine each market’s scope, and in Montgomery, Renasant Bank puts emphasis on its small-business, commercial banking offerings. In other markets, such as small communities, it is mainly a retail bank.

While its areas of focus may differ in different locales, Knight stressed that every Renasant Bank branch adheres to the same high standards. “We have excellent personal products, loans, investment options, accounts, and in bigger cities, we are proud of our strong commercial products,” he said. “What really sets us apart is, depending on your needs, we have a complete menu. Even though we are a smaller bank in Montgomery, we have a large bank behind us, so we can compete with mega banks on commercial products and can compete with the community banks on personal banking and service; we can comfortably be both.”

Knight also stressed that good people make a good bank. “We have a very experienced staff, and we’re all from here and have a vested interest in this community. We’re all very active in local community organizations and our local schools, and we have 100 percent participation in The United Way,” he said. Knight sits on the boards of the Montgomery Area Council on Aging and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts.

Knight makes up a large portion of the experience that Renasant Bank’s staff shares; he’s been in the industry for 32 years and has stayed in it so long because he likes what he does. “I enjoy seeing people achieve their hopes and dreams and like to be a part of that,” he said. “It is unbelievably satisfying to have someone come in with a dream and get a loan and then make that dream a reality. I like being a part, even if it is a small part, of people’s success stories.”

Montgomery’s Renasant Bank is young, but it is already growing; its second branch, located in East Montgomery, just opened last fall.

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