Chairman, The Southeastern Schools of Lending, Tennessee Bankers Association
City President, Centennial Bank, McKenzie
The Southeastern School of Consumer Lending (March 22–25, 2021) and Commercial Lending I & II (May 24–28, 2021) are right around the corner. The Southeastern Schools of Lending Committee Chairman Chuck Sisson are hard at work to make sure the schools’ curriculum and student experience is relevant to today’s financial services landscape. Sisson spoke with The Tennessee Banker about the importance of bankers advocating for their career, what to expect from the 2021 schools, and more.
The rollout of the Paycheck Protection Program was a significant testament to bankers’ vital role in the economy and their dedication to taking on that role. What did you learn about yourself and your colleagues during those long, trying days?
When the SBA rolled out the PPP program, it presented a great opportunity for banks to help struggling businesses in our local communities. With that opportunity, came some tough challenges. As a bank, we found our lenders and staff more than willing to step up and do whatever was necessary to make the program work for our customers. We rose together as a team during an unprecedented time. I was impressed at my colleagues’ willingness to go above and beyond by working long hours and adapting to the ever changing procedures.
The banking schools create a strong lending foundation for bankers early in their careers. What is a guiding banking principal that has stuck with you in your career?
Our former bank president, Barry Cary, had five core values that he mentioned at nearly every meeting. One of those was to “Always do the right thing.” I have found over the years that if you always strive to do the right thing, whether in your work life or your personal life, you will always represent your organization and yourself in a good way.
Speaking to a banker that is attending their first Southeastern School, how would you describe to them the benefit they’ll receive by attending?
All of the banking schools provided by TBA provide a good foundation for those that are new to banking as well as to those that may have been around for a few years. However, the networking with peers from across the state is one of the greatest benefits you will receive from attending a Southeastern School. You will gain contacts that become not only business acquaintances, but also friends. I have found it very beneficial to be able to pick up the phone and call colleagues to gain a different perspective, receive career advice, etc. We are each other’s greatest resource.
We often tell bankers that are early in their careers that they need to serve as their own advocate—meaning if they’d like to further their career by attending a school, they need to approach their leadership and ask, not wait to be recruited. While each bank culture is different, what advice would you offer a banker that is unsure of how to advocate for their own education?
It is important to let your management know your professional goals. Look for educational opportunities and don’t be afraid to ask. Express to management why you would like to attend the school and what benefits you think it will bring to your job. You must advocate for yourself, and working hard and doing more than what is asked of you will make your bank want to invest in you.
If you were attending either of the lending schools in 2021, what session would you be most interested in, and why?
Advanced cash flow session of the Commercial Lending School. There have been a large number of commercial customers negatively affected during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their ability to borrow and repay debt will be contingent on their cash flow. Lenders will have to take into consideration non-recurring income obtained through State and Federal Assistance Programs as well as the current and forecasted economic state. The recent downturn in the economy will also have a lasting effect on our consumers as well. On the consumer lending side, I believe the asset management session of the Consumer Lending School would be beneficial to attend to help prepare for potential rise past dues along with increased bankruptcy filings.