Philip Fons, 2021-2022 Credit Committee Chairman, Executive Vice President & Chief Credit Officer, InsBank, Nashville
Philip Fons has served as executive vice president and chief credit officer for InsBank located in Nashville, Tenn., since 2010. He oversees the bank’s credit underwriting processes and assists with credit analysis, loan documentation, and appraisal reviews. Prior to joining InsBank, he spent nearly 20 years in the Memphis area with BankTennessee and National Bank of Commerce. He
received his B.A. degree in economics and Business Administration from Rhodes College in 1991.
As the Credit Committee chairman, he has been hard at work with his fellow committee members preparing for one of TBA’s most anticipated events—Credit Conference. Fons spoke with The Tennessee Banker about his career, the banking industry, and Credit Conference, which takes place February 3 and 4, 2022.
In your years as a lender, what do you see as the biggest change or challenge in how banks meet the credit needs of the community?
Unfortunately, the myriad of regulatory restrictions continues to limit the creativity of community bankers and the product/solutions we could offer our clients. As InsBank is primarily a commercial oriented bank, I am concerned about the proposed 1071 Small Business Reporting requirements. Beyond the potentially broad scope of the rule that will, without a doubt, increase the costs of compliance, the unintended consequences of 1071 will more than likely limit choice and availability of credit to small businesses as banks are forced to create cookie-cutter programs in order to minimize the risks of fair lending compliance. It is critical that all Tennessee bankers monitor the CFPB’s proposed rulemaking and be sure to submit any concerns during the 90-day comment period.
What do you find to be the most rewarding part of your role at the bank?
Assisting small business owners with their financial needs. Seeing businesses grow from an idea into a successful company has always been a source of great satisfaction. As a chief credit officer, “no” can be the easy answer, but I pride myself in crafting solutions that work for both the customer and the bank.
How does your bank approach innovation and fintech when it comes to enhancing the borrowing experience and the bank’s ability to efficiently serve a diverse customer base?
Since its inception 20 years ago, InsBank has maintained a philosophy of “high-tech, high-touch” as it pertains to serving its customers. The bank seeks to leverage technologies, both customer-facing and back-office, in order to provide clients time-saving convenience when it comes to day-to-day banking transactions. By doing so, the bank’s lenders are able to efficiently manage portfolios of client relationships and, more importantly, are able to make themselves available to customers to discuss their needs. As a result of this unique combination of technology and relationship-focused delivery, InsBank has steadily increased its ratio of assets per employee in excess of $14 million. Innovation is another bedrock element of the bank’s strategic focus, and has included the development of niche business lines with a national footprint, such as MedQuity, the bank’s growing healthcare business line, as well as InsBank Online, the bank’s digital brand for gathering deposits beyond the bank’s original geography.
During the pandemic, banks and their customers were forced to make changes and adapt in many areas of our lives. What is one change in business process or policy that you expect to have
a lasting positive impact?
The pandemic has accelerated a number of trends that were already established prior to banks and their customers having to modify their behaviors for the sake of safety. The most pronounced business practice for which we expect to have a lasting impact is the remote delivery of products and services. As an example, during the pandemic the InsBank team developed new web-based portals for clients to upload application and supporting documents for PPP loans. Versions of this software innovation will continue to be used in the future for other client-related matters. In addition, the bank created an online appointment system for customers in order to manage the volume of traffic in the bank’s service locations.
You’re a big Rolling Stones fan. What do you think are their top 3 songs and why?
“Honky Tonk Women,” “Gimme Shelter,” and any song off “Exile On Main Street.” Given my years in Memphis, I’ve always loved the first line in “Honky Tonk Women”: “I met a gin-soaked, bar-room queen in Memphis.” “Gimme Shelter” has to be one of the very best Rock & Roll songs of all time, and the “Exile On Main Street” album is, in my opinion, the Stones at the top of their prolific song writing career.
As chair of the Credit Committee, you oversee the Credit Conference, which over the years has become the most attended event by Tennessee bankers. Speaking to the bankers who haven’t attended before, what would you say to encourage them to participate this year?
After my first Credit Conference back in 2009, I’ve attended every year thereafter. Please give the TBA Credit Conference a test drive, you’ll not be disappointed. If so, I’m sure Colin Barrett would be willing to give you a money back guarantee!