Community Bank’s window of opportunity came in the 1980s when the organization was faced with three distinct challenges that many banks face even today: how to create big bank services and economies of scale while maintaining the advantages of being a true, local community bank; how to find an innovative way to continue to improve in customer service; and how to compete with the aggressive expansion of competitor banks’ branches. Community Bank’s ultimate answers to those challenges helped fuel tremendous growth that today spreads the organization’s reach across four Southern states.
A FAMILY OF LOCAL BANKS
First, to create big bank synergies, Community Bank decided to establish separately chartered banks that operate independently but share services within a common holding company. Unlike most banks which have a central office that dictates policy to branches, this structure gave Community Bank the best of both worlds — pooled resources that can afford expensive technologies and services and local decision makers empowered to act with the community in mind.
This structure not only helps Community Bank offer true community banking, but allows for better trained management as well. Many banks have their quality people serving as branch managers or division directors under the direction of a central office where these people gain little true executive experience in running a bank independently. At Community Bank, CEOs operate their banks independently as true executives — overseeing their bank’s loan portfolio, managing deposits, directing different bank functions, providing leadership in their community, making strategic competitive decisions in their marketplace, working with their own board of directors, and negotiating shared services with their sister banks. This creates a highly effective training ground for leaders.
In an effort to allow all of the bank CEOs to participate in the decision making process for the system and as a way to foster creativity, a combined management meeting is held once a month. At this meeting, holding company management and all bank CEOs are represented. Policy is debated, decided, and delegated at these meetings, and CEOs are given the opportunity to not only represent their individual bank interests, but also to shape the direction of the entire banking system.
OWNERS WORK HARDER
Second, in an attempt to gain a unique edge in the never-ending battle to outperform the competition in the area of customer service, Community Bank took an extraordinary step. Unlike some banks whose retirement programs require an employee contribution before providing a match, Community Bancshares established an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). Under this plan, all staff members are fully funded a percentage of their total compensation each year which is invested in the bank’s stock. The move not only provides a comfortable nest egg for Community Bank staffers, but also gives them a vested interest in bank performance — particularly in how their own customer service delivery could enhance the bank’s bottom line and, therefore, their own bottom line.
BUILD IT AND THEY WILL COME
Lastly, when faced with bank competition whose strategy was to build branches on every street corner and ﬁnd employees to ﬁll it, Community Bank’s response was simple — do the opposite. Community Bank answered by building community headquarters in a few strategic locations, providing customers a superior staff, and taking the money saved and translating it into better rates for customers. The strategy has helped Community Bank surpass its competitors in efficiency by routinely carrying more assets per office than other banks in the South.
Ask Thomas W. Colbert, Community Bancshares Senior Chairman and author of its growth model, what is the secret of the bank’s success and the answer will be quick and simple: “people.”
The bank takes extraordinary steps to identify and recruit topﬂight bank talent. Once in the organization, in addition to being owners in the bank, staff members are allowed to earn higher than normal levels of authority and independence in bank decision making. And if that weren’t enough, the bank goes the extra mile to keep their staff happy at work, including the ESOP, bonuses, beneﬁts, clothing allowances, and other incentives. Community Bank even pays for undergraduate courses for staff members who want to pursue degrees — even if they are not ﬁnance-related.
The underlying theory in this business model is that good people in a happy workplace are the most effective instrument a bank can have in generating income. This philosophy is one of the reasons Community Bank was named one of the “Best Banks to Work For” by American Banker magazine. People are never identiﬁed as employees at Community Bank. The thinking goes that “employees” are merely “managed,” but “people” are “nurtured.”
Community Bank also prides itself on creating community leaders in the areas it serves. Bank staff is encouraged to be involved in local activities and given the freedom to do so easily. Community Banks participate in their communities in ways no other chain banks do. Staff members coach Little League teams, serve as volunteer ﬁremen, work with local chambers of commerce, sing in church choirs, give to local charities, host senior activities, and preside over civic clubs. You will ﬁnd them in their neighborhoods helping to build a better community.
Community Bank believes if you are going to invest in having the best people you should show them off in the community. Community Bank is proud of its people and believes their involvement in their community is not just good for business, it’s simply the right thing to do.
Community Bank takes great pride in the values embraced by its bank family. Community Bank leaders believe simple values — all too often ignored by today’s society — can lead to a better quality of life for their staff and customers. Values like fairness, integrity, honesty, respect, humility, self-sacriﬁce and simple kindness are all hallmarks of the type of organization Community Bank strives to build everyday. From rejecting popular bank products thought to be unfair to customers to fostering a respectful and edifying work environment for staff members, Community Bank puts its values into action every day.
We continue to invest in the latest bank technology to provide our customers the most efficient and secure tools to manage their ﬁnancial needs in an ever-changing world. Community Bank’s state of the art Operations Center is designed with the best technology, managed by experienced professionals, which provide the support for our core operating system and our electronic banking products. These products include Mobile Banking and Deposit, Remote Capture, and Internet Banking to name a few.
We will continue to invest in emerging technology provided that it creates value for our customers and meets our high standards for safety and security. We believe old fashioned personal service and technology are mutually important. To that end, we will always have someone answer the phone when you call and there will be a staff member available at each of our locations to personally assist you with your banking needs.
NEW APPS AND MOBILE BANKING
Improving our technology means making our customers’ life easier and less complicated when it comes to banking. Secure access to your bank information is literally at your ﬁngertips with our CB2GO mobile banking feature. With CB2GO, you can access your accounts using any web-enabled mobile device. Check your balance, transfer funds or pay bills with the smart, simple, secure and free CB2GO product of Community Bank.
With our new Community Bank iPad app, safe and quick access to your bank accounts will be even better than ever.
Community Bank’s remote deposit system, called myDeposit, lets you easily scan and electronically deposit checks to your business accounts right from your desk. This saves you time and the expense of driving to and from the bank. With myDeposit, you can make a deposit, not a trip.
Images of your checks are sent safely and securely to the bank to be processed just like they were delivered in-person. Customers can use their existing computer to connect to the Internet and one of our check scanners. The myDeposit product is making it easier and faster for our customers to do their banking business so they have more time to focus on their own business.
Community Bank opened the doors to its ﬁrst office in 1905. All of that history might explain why so much of the organization’s future plans center around its past. The management team at Community Bank believes the strategy that helped the bank not only survive but grow over the last 100 years is a good model to follow in the future. That model includes recruiting topﬂight bank talent, staying in stride with emerging ﬁnancial technologies, keeping a strong focus on local customer service delivery, maintaining credit quality throughout the system, and pursuing a sound expansion strategy into emerging growth markets across the South.
There are plenty of success stories in American business and in the banking industry in particular, but it is hard to ﬁnd a success story with more fascinating chapters than the ones written by Community Bank. Our team is focused on making history in our community’s future.
Thomas W. Colbert
Senior Chairman of the Board, Community Bancshares, Inc.
Freddie J. Bagley
Chairman of the Board, Community Bancshares, Inc.
Charles W. Nicholson, Jr.
President and CEO, Community Bancshares, Inc.
David M. Hughes
Chief Operating Officer, Community Bancshares, Inc.
Vice Chairman of Administration, Community Bancshares, Inc.
Vice Chairman and Chief Credit Officer, Community Bancshares, Inc.
Timothy P. Gray
Vice Chairman and Chief Financial Officer
Chairman of the Board, Community Bank, Ellisville
Chief Executive Officer, Community Bank, Ellisville
Gregory A. Moore
President and CEO, Community Bank of Mississippi
Oliver Latil IV
President & CEO, Community Bank Coast
President and CEO, Community Bank of North Mississippi
R. Jonathan White
Chief Information Officer, Community Bancshares, Inc; President, Community Operations, Inc.
President - Mortgage
Thomas W. Colbert is named president and CEO, becoming Mississippi’s youngest bank CEO at the age of 28.
Farmers and Merchants Corporation is incorporated as Mississippi’s first-ever bank holding company.
Thomas W. Colbert becomes chairman of the holding company.
Freddie J. Bagley is named president of the holding company.
The holding company changes its name to Community Bancshares of Mississippi, Inc.
Farmers and Merchants changes name to Community Bank of Mississippi.
Community Bancshares acquires Merchants and Manufacturers Bank of Ellisville, Mississippi.
Community Bancshares acquires Peoples Bank of Mississippi based in Indianola.
Community Bancshares forms Community Bank, Coast in Biloxi, Mississippi.
Community Bancshares forms Community Operations, Inc., a whollyowned subsidiary of the holding company that serves the operations needs of its member banks.
Community Bancshares forms Community Bank, DeSoto County in Southaven, Mississippi.
Community Bancshares is named one of Mississippi’s fastest-growing private companies by the Mississippi Business Journal’s annual survey.
Community Bancshares forms Community Bank, Meridian in Meridian, Mississippi.
Community Bancshares surpasses the $1 billion in assets milestone.
Community Bancshares acquires First National Bank of Lucedale in Lucedale, Mississippi.
Community Bancshares acquires Security Bank in Amory, Mississippi.
Thomas W. Colbert is inducted into the Mississippi Business Hall of Fame.
Chuck Nicholson named chief operating officer of Community Bancshares.
By combining Community Bank, DeSoto County and Community Bank, Indianola, Community Bancshares moves into Tennessee by forming Community Bank NA (National Association) and opening an office in Memphis.
Community Bank is named one of the “Best Places to Work” by the Mississippi Business Journal.
Community Bancshares joins with local investors to open a bank in Destin, Florida.
Community Bancshares surpasses the $2 billion in assets milestone.
Community Bank is named one of the “Best Places to Work” by the Mississippi Business Journal for the second year in a row.
Community Bank, N.A. in Indianola and Community Bank in Amory join forces to create Community Bank, North Mississippi.
Community Bank is named one of the “Fast 40″ by the Mississippi Business Journal for being one of the top privately owned businesses in Mississippi.
Community Bank, National Association, headquartered in Lucedale, joins with Community Bank, Coast, headquartered in Biloxi.
Community Bank, National Association, opens office located in Mobile, AL.
Community Bank is named one of the “Best Places to Work” by the Mississippi Business Journal for the third year in a row.
Community Bank is honored with the Better Business Bureau Integrity Award.
Community Bancshares opens state-of- the-art operations center in Brandon.
Community Bank is named one of the “Best Places to Work” by the Mississippi Business Journal for the fourth year in a row.
Community Bank, National Association opens office located in Daphne, AL.
Community Bancshares joins forces with Investment Professionals, Inc. to form their own investment group Community Investment Professionals.
Community Bancshares, Inc., acquires 100% ownership of Community Bank of Florida.
Community Bank, National Association in Alabama and Community Bank, Destin, in Florida merge with Community Bank, Coast.
Community Bank is named one of the “Best Places to Work” by the Mississippi Business Journal for the seventh year in a row.
Community Bank, Coast, opens new headquarters office in the Springhill area of Mobile, Alabama, and opens new office in Fairhope, Alabama.
Community Bank, Coast, purchases and opens a full–service banking office in Crestview, Florida.
Community Bancshares, Inc. Board of Directors announces succession plan for senior management of the holding company. Plan names Thomas W. Colbert as Senior Chairman of the Board, Freddie J. Bagley as Chairman of the Board, Charles W. Nicholson, Jr., as President and Chief Executive Officer, and David M. Hughes as Chief Operating Officer.
Community Bank of Mississippi opens Lake Harbour office in Ridgeland, Mississippi.
Community Bank, Coast, opens a banking office in Panama City Beach, Florida.
Community Bank of Mississippi opens Spillway office in Brandon, Mississippi.
Community Bank, Coast, moves an office to a new location in Mobile, Alabama.
Community Bank Mortgage opens an office in Oxford and Ocean Springs, Mississippi.