An Interview With Tim Douglas, Nashville, Tennessee Market President
What’s your story? Where did you grow up and have you always lived in Tennessee?
I grew up in Nashville, on Craighead Avenue off Whitland, in “Peach Blossom,” a pre-Civil War mansion built by Charles Dickenson. The home was built in 1801 on an original 650 acre land grant estate, but the estate property was sold off over the years – and we only had 3 ½ acres when it came into my family in 1935. Dickenson was killed in a duel with Andrew Jackson in 1806; so the home had historical significance. The rooms had 12-foot ceilings, a massive two story entry hall with a cantilevered staircase, triple hung windows, pocket doors and no central air conditioning or heat. We lived there until I was 12, and my family decided to sell it because we could not afford to pay the substantial costs necessary to rewire, plumb and install HVAC and modern conveniences. Growing up there in the 1960s forever impacted me and my life – positively, I believe.
I went to engineering school at Tulane University in New Orleans, graduate school at the University of Kentucky and moved to New York City in January, 1979 to work in the financial markets, later commuting from Long Island. I moved back to Nashville with my wife and family in 1985.
How did you get into banking?
Allen Oakley called me in early 2016 and asked me if I would consider being Market President in Nashville for FirstBank. I had worked in the bond department of Bankers Trust Company in New York, been a principle at a Merchant Banking firm in Nashville, owned, operated and sold a manufacturing/distribution company to a private equity firm, worked in the healthcare industry and was then in the insurance business when he called.
What is your favorite part about your job?
My favorite part of my job is meeting with business owners, learning about their companies and then working with our Relationship Managers and Portfolio Managers to structure financings for the borrowers.
Describe a typical day at the office.
I review overdrafts and past dues for all branches in our market. I then respond to emails requiring immediate attention. I read Chris Goodson’s Daily Market Report and review the pricing matrix. I then discuss with the Senior Portfolio Manager any issues related to loans that are time sensitive. Invariably, there are administrative emails and time-consuming management matters that need to be addressed. I have 15 direct reports; so there is always something that needs attention. I review CLADs and CUFs as they are presented.
I try to schedule meetings with prospective or existing clients. I travel to the branches on Mondays and Fridays; but when I’m in the office, I find that in addition to the above, my workstation and email tend to take over.
I exercise every morning before work; so I typically stay late until everyone else has gone home – which is my most productive time.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I never wanted to grow up – I was one of Peter Pan’s Lost Boys. You have to keep a young heart. Like the song says – “Don’t Let the Old Man In.”
FirstBank operates as a community bank, with the services and resources of a large bank. What advantages does this give to your customers?
Local decision making for me means being able to make a decision and be responsive to the client. I may only need to make one call. That’s good for the customer and gives me a competitive advantage.
As a Market President, what’s your vision for FirstBank in Nashville?
I would like FirstBank to seek to become more engaged with millennials – through various social media channels. The future is with the next generation. We need to tap into this demographic to be relevant 20 years from now. And Nashville has many young people moving here who have no tie to any other financial institution.
Describe Nashville, Tennessee in three words.
Dynamic, diverse, competitive.
What is Nashville best known for?
Music City USA, Healthcare Capital of America, State Capital, distribution center, Universities and colleges, financial center, diverse economy and expensive housing.
What do you like best about life there?
My family, great restaurants, and young people seeking professional opportunity.
What’s your favorite lunch spot there?
If we got in your car and turned on some music, what are some songs that would be on your playlist, CD or favorite radio station?
Chopin Nocturnes, Preludes and Waltzes … or, Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan or Wilco.
If you could give your 20-year old self one piece of advice, knowing what you know now, what would it be?
I should have gone to UVA Darden School of Business at age 22 versus going to UK Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce at age 20.
Have you ever had a mentor who made a difference in your life? How so?
Yes – Ed Nelson, former Chairman of Commerce Union Bank (now Bank of America in TN). He and I managed a merchant banking firm for ten years. He loved people, was fun to work with, had a great sense of humor – and character was key.
Describe your perfect vacation.
Green Turtle Cay, Bahamas – Linton’s Cottages. A private 4,000 ft. beach, rustic setting, fishing, snorkeling, Goombay Smashes.
Do you prefer indoor or outdoor sports?
Outdoor sports – golf – because it’s a “walk in the park.”
FirstBank has been named as one of Middle Tennessee’s Top Workplaces by The Tennessean for four years running, winning the 2018 Hall of Fame award. To be a Top Workplace, FirstBank met high standards for a healthy workplace culture as ranked by its own employees.