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In the bank: A conversation with Johnny B. Moore Jr.

Johnny B. Moore Jr. is the president and CEO of SunTrust Bank-Memphis. When he took on that position on June 1, 2009, he became the first African American to reach that level at SunTrust. Johnny B. Moore Jr. is the president and CEO of SunTrust Bank-Memphis. When he took on that position on June 1, 2009, he became the first African American to reach that level at SunTrust.

 
 Carlee McCullough

Carlee McCullough:
As the first African-American to hold this office, do you think the expectations of you from the community is different than if this position was held by someone not of color?

Johnny B. Moore: That’s always a good question. I think the level of scrutiny is a little higher because I think everybody is watching, just to see how you do or how you are performing in that role. So, I would say expectations are expectations, and if you are running a bank you have to make money and drive shareholders values. At the end of the day, there are probably more eyes on you because you are a little different than what has historically been seen in that role.

C.M.: From a career perspective, what attracted you to banking?

J.M.: I kind of fell into the business. After college I worked at Ernst Young as a certified public accountant and the bank was one of my clients. I had worked with the bank as a senior accountant and on the job for about 3 years. One day they just offered me the job of Community Reinvestment officer for the bank.

C.M.: What advice can you provide for young people interested or working in banking with the hopes of moving to the next level?

 
Johnny B. Moore Jr.
 
J.M.:
It would be helpful to have a background in business administration so they can understand the financials and the general economy. Banking is about relationships. They have to have good people skills but understand the fundamentals of banking. We take deposits from one individual and loan it to another individual and try to make a spread. You have to understand business in order to make good credit decisions because we don’t make enough money to lose and have loans go bad. Over the past two years bad loans have really derailed banks. Mainly the mortgage business being too aggressive on their credit criteria has come back to haunt us.

C.M.: What sets SunTrust apart from other banks in the area?

J.M.: We’re betting on our people. We want our people to be the best prepared to address the client’s needs and bring solutions. We’re not about pushing products. We’re about building solid relationships. That means asking them a lot of open-ended questions, to find out their paying points and identifying their needs in order to match them up with our services and products to make their life easier.

C.M.: A little known interesting fact of SunTrust is that the bank owned a small part of the Coca-Cola Company, which yielded some pretty nice dividends annually.  Is that true?

J.M.: Yes, we were a part of public offering that took Coca Cola public. And for payment of those services we got some stock. Which we held on for many, many years, the value increased significantly from the time we earned it.

C.M.: So, does SunTrust still own those stocks?

J.M.: We own some. But we have used some to fund our foundation work.

C.M.: What is SunTrust’s business loan specialty or preference?

J.M.: We cover the whole gamut, from small business to the large public trading companies in Memphis. That means your small law firms to general businesses that need SBA loans. You will see SunTrust is one of the leaders in the state of Tennessee in SBA lending this year. So, we’re doing anything from SBA lending up to the large corporate commercial stuff that would be required by companies like your FedEx and Auto Zone.

(Please send your questions to Carlee McCullough, Esq., Contract Compliance Officer, City of Memphis-Office of Contract Compliance, 125 N. Main St., Suite 546, Memphis, TN 38103 or e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .)

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