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Lynn Wright of Regions on Keeping Loan Growth Within Reach

3 min read

Lynn Wright joined Regions Bank after its 1998 purchase of Little Rock’s First Commercial Corp., where he started as an accountant in 1984 and rose to CFO. He assumed his current role as Little Rock market executive in 2018.

Before he went to work for Regions, Wright was a staff auditor at Arthur Young & Co. He holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Harding University in Searcy and is a certified public accountant. He also serves on the boards of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arkansas, the Arkansas Bankers Association and the Little Rock Regional Chamber.

Wright was named to Arkansas Business’ Power List for the state’s banking and finance industry in 2016.

What has been the biggest change in banking during your career?
Without a doubt the biggest change is the way technology is transforming banking.

When I started in the early 1980s, computers were beginning to be used more widely, but not for individuals to conduct any type of commerce. As recently as the 1990s, there was debate about whether people would trust the internet to conduct financial transactions. Fast-forward to today and our customers have the power of Regions Bank right there in the palm of their hands.

Imagine if you told someone in the 1980s that they would take a picture of a check with a phone — and then the money from that check would just show up in their account. That is a monumental shift, and the digital realm touches every aspect of banking. This has us constantly evolving, and improving, the customer experience while making sure our digital options are secure and reliable, and our in-person services consistently deliver strong value through the benefit of our local-market expertise and highly trained personnel.

What has changed least?
Even with today’s technology, what has remained constant is that banking is still a people business. At its core, banking involves helping people accomplish their goals.

Whether it is securing capital for a new business venture, borrowing to buy a first home or discovering tools to help with budgeting, as a bank we see ourselves as partners in helping our customers achieve milestones.

What issues loom for the banking industry in 2019? For Regions?
The issues for our industry and Regions as a company are similar.

In addition to consistently evolving our technology, and staying at the forefront on cybersecurity, another issue facing banks as interest rates rise is the need to increase deposits in a cost-effective manner. During the extended period of very low rates, liquidity was parked in the banking system because of a lack of alternatives. This trend is now reversing, and deposit-generation ability will become a key differentiator.

A third issue impacting financial institutions is the ability to generate prudent loan growth given that many observers believe a recession may occur within the next few years. Generally speaking, credit metrics remain good, but the ability to manage your credit risk in the latter stages of the cycle will determine how well you fare during an actual downturn. We believe we are well positioned, and our focus is supporting and serving our customers throughout economic cycles.

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