Barret School of Banking

Barret School of Banking • (901) 321-4000 •

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Looking back…

Last night, my family and I celebrated my dad’s retirement after 47 years at the same bank. As most of you probably know, I grew up in a banking family. Banking and guitar. Dinnertime conversations were riveting, I assure you! There’s a gold star for Mom for enduring those conversations! For those of you that know me personally, you will also know that my dad is one of my closest friends and mentors. I know that I am extremely lucky to be able to say that and I thank the good Lord every time I think about it. Throughout the years that our careers paralleled each other (and it’s kinda spooky how similarly they actually did parallel!), it was great to be able to have someone there who completely understood what I was going through on a professional level. Again…I know that not everyone can say this and I am humbled that I can.

 But I don’t really want to go that direction today. Soon, after some time of reflection with a pipe on my porch, I may write an article about the “original rock and roll banker”. He’s a pretty cool guy. However, it was our conversation last night that really stuck out to me and I wanted to share that with you all today.

 You see, whenever I’m around retired bankers (or bankers that have slowed down…I have a theory that we never really leave the industry), I always find a way to learn what they miss the most about it. I try not to be weird about it (with varying levels of success), but I find it to be great insight into careers devoted to the industry we all love.


“The deals…the deals were merely the way I engaged with the customer. I’ll miss the people both inside and outside the bank”.


I thought that was incredibly insightful.

 Out of the dozen or so bankers with whom I have broached this subject, they have all expressed a similar thought. Without exception. If asked, we can probably all remember aspects of a deal that was really interesting or remember some action we or the bank took that was just…cool. But what do we miss? The people. Our friends at work…our friends that were customers…impacting people’s lives through the banking relationship that, honestly, outsiders don’t really understand.

Here at Barret, we talk a great deal about the holistic banker or that banking is both an art and a science or that it takes a fully developed right and left brain. As usual, Dad has a better way of saying it. The deals are the way we engage with our customers. That requires knowing how to do a deal, how to pitch a deal, how that deal will impact the customer’s business and/or family…it truly requires an holistic approach to the entire process.

 So, don’t ignore the deal at the expense of the relationship and don’t ignore the relationship at the expense of the deal. Sure, some deals don’t need doing and we have to protect the bank. That’s not what he was saying. Be the banker, though, that knows how to impact lives via something as technical as a loan or other banking product.



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Byron Earnheart is the Programming Director for the Barret School of Banking in Memphis, TN and the host of the “Main Street Banking” podcast…the only podcast solely devoted to community banks. He has over 15 years experience in the financial services industry; 11 of which have been in banking in various roles from teller work to branch management. He spends his time playing guitar and singing in Delta Heart (the “house band of the Mississippi Delta”), writing music, cooking, reading, and enduring the University of Tennessee Volunteers athletic seasons. He is married to his wife Kelly of 11 years and has two children, John Aubrey (11) and Mary Laura (7). If you'd like to hear Byron's music, check him out on Spotify:
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