Tennessee Techie

By Cook, Timothy | Independent Banker, January 1999 | Go to article overview

Tennessee Techie


Cook, Timothy, Independent Banker


Making a Statement-Security Bank executives and staff gather around an image sorting machine that processes 1,000 checks per minute. The Dyersburg, Tenn., bank started leasing the machine in 1997 as a means to lower item processing costs for itself and four other correspondent banks. Denise McKnight, vice president of bank operations, far left, explains how image statements are made to Judy Walker, senior vice president and cashier; David Nunn, vice chairman; David Hayes, president and CEO; and Warren Nunn, chairman.

Community banker David Hayes' wake-up call arrived in his home mailbox about a year ago. It came in a slick marketing package from First Union Corp. The megabank invited him to become a customer, even though its closest branch was a three-hour drive from Hayes' hometown in rural Tennessee.

But that physical distance between bank and customer wasn't a problem-at least not for First Union. The bank's invitation came with a computer disk. Hayes only needed to pop the disk into his personal computer, hit return and flicker a few keys. Almost with those few steps, he could be a First Union customer, doing all his personal transactions online. He would never have to visit the bank's lobby, in theory anyway.

"It reminded me that no matter who you are or where you are, somebody's got the technology to focus in on your customer," says Hayes, president and CEO of Security Bank in Dyersburg, Tenn.

That's when Hayes decided his $125 million-asset community bank would get into the PC banking game. Four months ago Security Bank unveiled its 24-hour Internet retail banking service, which is loaded with interactive bells and whistles. Through a 65-page Web site (www.bankatsecurity.com), customers can pay bills, transfer funds and apply for a loan. They can also buy and sell stocks, calculate whether they qualify for a loan and, of course, check their account balances.

Best of all, Security Bank, through astute outsourcing, spends less than $1,300 a month for Internet banking (not including a $4,000 one-time startup fee). That's impressive work, considering that some big banks spend millions to develop their own proprietary system.

A computer systems expert and former bank data processor, Hayes is unabashedly bullish about technology. And Internet banking fits his banking credo of balancing people and technology, a philosophy that shapes how Security Bank provides everything from retail investment services to statement imaging.

"We have a strong asset and that asset is people," Hayes says. "However, that asset alone is not going to take us to the next millennium. Banks that forget about people or ignore technology will be left behind."

Riding a Revolution

The son of a clothing department store manager, Hayes started in banking more than 30 years ago as a check sorter operator at Union Planters Bank in Memphis. He quickly moved into the operations side of banking, steadily rising to the top of the budding software field through technical and on-the-job training. At the time, bank operations departments were in the early stages of computer automation. He had entered the ground floor of the electronic revolution that is still transforming the way banks operate today.

Hayes had responsibility for installing some of the first ATMs and helped develop one of the first regional ATM networks for correspondent banks. He also helped create one of the first telephone bill paying systems.

"I come from a technology background so I look at things a bit differently," Hayes admits. "I love technology. I love to see it. I love to acquire it."

After working for Union Planters Bank for nearly 25 years, during which he served as Security Bank's third-party data processor, Hayes approached a personal crossroads in 1991. He had to decide whether to stay at Union Planters or pursue a fresh start. He opted for change. Embraced by the family atmosphere of community banks all across Tennessee, his first choice was to become a hometown banker, he says. …

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