ABA Banking Journal - July/August 2016 - (Page 38)
> JOHN HAIRSTON
As head of ABA's midsize bank peer group, John Hairston
explains why America's communities need banks of all sizes.
BY BRIAN NIXoN
ohn Hairston believes in the powerful economic
role banks provide in serving their customers and
communities. He saw it firsthand watching his father,
who left high school before graduating to enter military
service in the U.S. Navy following the Japanese attack
on Pearl Harbor.
management member of an insurance agency and open
a boat store."
The president and CEO of Gulfport, Miss.-based Hancock
Holding Company describes his father, Mitchell Hairston,
as "a great man-very intelligent, very articulate-but he
didn't have a few documents that were very important. He
didn't have a high school diploma. He didn't have a college
degree. And he didn't have those things that get you in a
door really quickly. But he instilled in all of my family a great
sense of personal responsibility and accountability towards
service, whatever that may be."
Today, Hancock Holding Company is a $23 billion financial
services company that operates a single bank with two
brands-Hancock Bank, founded in 1899, and Whitney Bank,
founded in 1883. Hancock serves Mississippi, Alabama,
Florida and Tennessee; Whitney serves Louisiana and Texas.
Following the war, Mitchell Hairston managed several
businesses throughout his lifetime that put food on the
table for his wife and four children. "He was able to do that
because bankers looked past his education and loaned
money based on the character of the man and the fact that
in good times and bad times, he always paid them back,"
says Hairston. "Those sorts of people constituted the fabric
of our nation. Banks were the facilitators for them to create
jobs and offer educational opportunities for their own kids."
Hairston worries that those days may be slipping away.
"Banks today are looked at as just engines to make a profit,
but they're so much bigger than that," he says. "I saw that
in my own dad. I'm proud to be a banker and it causes me
personal pain and anxiety to see us painted as bad guys
when in reality what we do all day, every day-and most
nights!-is help people like Mitchell Hairston with literally
an eighth-grade education operate a shrimp boat and be a
ABA BANKING JOURNAL | JULY/AUGUST 2016
That experience shapes Hairston's view of his role as a banker
today. And coincidentally, Hancock was one of the banks that
made loans to his father so many years ago.
Together, the two "operate like a very old, genteel organization
whose values are rooted in the need to create opportunities for
people and for businesses and communities," Hairston says.
"We put the two banks together in 2011 at what probably was
the worst possible time from a regulatory perspective. While we
were basically doing a doubling of the size of the company, we
had the burden of all the regulatory changes that had occurred
Much of the successful pairing of the two brands can be
attributed to sticking to the fundamentals of good banking.
"We've enjoyed extremely good loan and deposit growth, the
last five quarters have been among the best core revenue
growth periods in our long history," Hairston says.
The bank brands are also very engaged in community affairs.
"I can think of no bank that better exemplifies community
involvement than Hancock Bank, and no banker who does
this better than John Hairston," says Mac Deaver, president
of the Mississippi Bankers Association. "He is outspoken on
important issues and he does more than just talk-he acts. His
enthusiasm is contagious."
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ABA Banking Journal - July/August 2016
HOW BANK STARTUPS BUILD LEADERS
LEADERSHIP LESSONS FROM THE WORST JOB I EVER HAD
BREAKING THROUGH $10 BILLION
PLATFORMS AND PARTNERS
EXCEEDING CUSTOMER EXPECTATIONS STARTS AT THE CORE
ABA COMPLIANCE CENTER INBOX
FROM THE STATES
CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
INDEX OF ADVERTISERS
ABA Banking Journal - July/August 2016