Q&A with Jay England

Chairman, Independent Bankers Division,
Tennessee Bankers Association

President & CEO, Decatur County Bank, Decaturville

Jay England chairs the Independent Bankers Division Board, which is responsible for designing the programs for TBA’s Community Banking Conference and the Bank Directors Retreat. The focus of the Community Banking Conference, scheduled for October 26-27 in Nashville, is to provide tools and information necessary to preserve the strong future of independently owned community banks in Tennessee. This conference will be held directly prior to the Bank Directors Retreat, October 27-28, to optimize bank leaders’ time away from the office.

Decatur County Bank is headquartered in Decaturville, which has a population under 1,000. What role does the TBA’s Independent Division play in preserving the community banking model so that a town that size can continue to be home to a banking headquarters?

I am very proud of the fact that there are still a handful of banks headquartered and operated in towns of this size, and the Independent Division plays a vital role. Its two main areas of focus are The Southeastern School of Banking, which educates and trains some of the best and brightest bankers in Tennessee, and the Community Banking Conference, with an agenda specifically geared toward operating a successful, independent community bank.

Communities such as Decaturville, Lobelville, Frankewing and Ooltewah rely on the banks that call those places home and we rely on them just as much. The Independent Division provides a lot of the tools that help us make the decisions, train the staff and engage the community, so that this continues to be the case for years to come.

The Community Banking Conference takes a deep dive into the challenges of independent banks. What is the greatest challenge that you anticipate for a community bank like yours in 5 or 10 years that is not a significant issue today?

Keeping deposits in our communities and independent community banks. The largest banks in the United States and throughout the world are very much focused on growing consumer deposits, while embedded finance, digital currency and alternative investments have become mainstream options as well. The better job we do now explaining to our customers and communities just how important it is that deposits are kept local in order to fund local growth and initiatives, the better chance we have to meet that challenge and be the leaders of that local growth, as banks have for generations.

You have led your bank into new markets and through significant growth over the last few years. What are some leadership traits or advice that you rely on to guide the bank through those transitions?

My father is celebrating 50 years in banking this year, and he always made sure that I attended TBA events, so I could hear firsthand the passion and expertise that fellow bankers have for what they do. By spending time and visiting with great bankers, who were even better people, I heard a lot of great advice. Almost all of it came down to the importance of taking care of people. My grandfather played college football, fought in the Pacific in World War II and finished second in his Law School class at Vanderbilt. He was my hero and gave me a lifetime worth of leadership advice, just by his interaction with other people.

Those two men, and the people that they made sure were in my life, taught me that if you love and take care of people first, the rest comes easy.

As a member of the Board of Trustees for the Southeastern School of Banking you spent some time with the students during their week of school in July. What do you think students who are early in their banking careers should be most excited about ahead of them? 

The most exciting part of banking, and being a banker, is the impact that your work can have on your community, your state and your industry. No matter what role you hold in the bank, throughout your career, the things you do, projects you help with and decisions you make have an enormous impact on so many lives. That is incredibly rewarding and will make you excited to get to the bank every day!

Tell us something about you that most people might not know.

Outside of my family, my high school basketball coach has been one of my greatest supporters, friends and mentors. Coach Sam Fisher, who is a member of the TSSAA Hall of Fame, gave all of his players a different kind of playbook, called The Winning Edge, which is more about attitude, leadership and commitment than basketball.

Even though I was a below average player, at best, the influence of Coach Fisher made me want to be a coach as well, and I have been fortunate enough to do so. Now I get to help coach my kids, Jase, Blair and Ross, which is by far the most rewarding job I have ever had.

Which committees are you interesting in joining?

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