New Year’s Resolution: Reconnecting

By Colin Barrett, President/CEO, Tennessee Bankers Association

Mark Twain said 90% of a man’s life is lived between his ears, and assuming that is the case, I stay fairly content in that space. I don’t get too caught up in the doom and gloom of the current state of the world and whatever might be trending in the latest news cycle. But that said, I’d be lying if I didn’t say a part of me was glad to see 2021 come to an end.

In all honesty, the past year did not live up to the hype. A year ago, as the pandemic was predicted to be winding down, there was discussion of the “Roaring 20s” and the post-pandemic economic recovery that would propel the decade. However, as the year progressed, the reality hit that it wasn’t going to be that easy. We came to grips with the idea that inflation wasn’t “transitory,” re-entering the workplace wasn’t going to be the same for everyone, and COVID variants were going to be a part of our future.

But for all the unrealized expectations of 2021, I am cautiously optimistic about the year ahead, especially for the banking industry. Tennessee banks continue to perform well and customer satisfaction remains at a 20-year high. And as we have learned over the past two years, there are no challenges headed our way that we cannot handle as a unified industry.

I’ve said it often, but what made the early stages of the pandemic so successful for Tennessee bankers and their customers was the way the industry came together to learn from each other. Bankers engaged and supported their peers, many of whom they had never met. And many of whom they still haven’t.

As you look forward at 2022, and the unknown that the year will bring, I would encourage you to think back on the value derived during that time and recommit to making sure your employees have the education and network to be successful for years to come. And there are several opportunities in the coming months that will allow you to do just that.

Credit Conference

Bankers from across the state will gather in Nashville from February 3-4 for Credit Conference. This program draws more than 500 attendees who learn about the latest credit trends and build a network of peers across the state. This year’s agenda includes top speakers, including economist Dr. Elliott Eisenberg, Commissioner Bob Rolfe, who will discuss the Ford Blue Oval project, and more.

Graduate School of Banking at LSU

The education and networking gained from the Southeast’s premier banking school has laid the foundation for the success of thousands of Tennessee bankers throughout their careers. And with registration trending ahead of past years’ enrollment, the 2022 school is on track to be the strongest yet. As the recently appointed Chairman for GSB at LSU, I’d enjoy speaking with you more about this opportunity.


The pandemic proved the value of a strong peer network, and the significant increase in enrollment in TBA forums over the past year is a result of that connectivity. CEO, CFO, Senior Lenders/Credit Officers, HR, Compliance, Retail Banking, and IT/Ops Forums provide opportunities to build professional networks.

The Southeastern Schools of Banking

Outside of the forums, our next largest area of growth is The Southeastern Schools. The Southeastern School of Consumer Lending, Commercial Lending, and the general banking school have seen an uptick in enrollment as banks invest in their future leaders. Once again, the education from the TBA schools is unmatched and the relationships established will last far beyond the week together.

Annual Meeting

As a member of the Tennessee banking community, make plans to join us from June 12-14 at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs for the 132nd Annual Meeting of the Association. As one of the largest state conventions in the country, this is an opportunity to build relationships and learn about trends impacting the banking industry. And being in one of the most beautiful locations in the country, I fully expect this year’s convention to be one of our largest in years.


If we have learned anything over the past couple years, it is that we don’t know what is around the corner. Giving your team the education and network to navigate the future is the best way to ensure your bank will be able to serve your customers no matter what comes our way.

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