July 31, 2014

Banking Trends & Trendsetters

Banking: The Big Picture

Themes from Federal Reserve research and FLORIDA TREND'S interviews with senior bank executives in Florida.

Mike Vogel | 10/1/2010


Brett D. Couch
Regions Bank
president, Florida
Tampa

Always wanted to be: A banker. "I did. Growing up in a small town, the two banks in town were certainly so much a part of the community. Banking is a great way to be involved in your community at so many levels."

Lessons: "My dad taught me how to take ideas and turn them into reality, and my mom (who taught high school business education) taught me all parts of the business have to work for it to work."

Michigan will be calling: After Couch moved his family back to Alabama, the Tide won a national championship. After they moved to Tennessee, the Volunteers won the national championship. After they moved to Mississippi, Ole Miss won 10 games. After moving to Florida, the Gators have won two national football championships.

[Photo: Mark Wemple]
Early in his career, Brett D. Couch was telling his father — a farmer and small-businessman who did everything from making corrugated boxes to boats — how tough banking was. A few days later, Couch received a package from his father. Inside, he found a miniature hay baler and a note: "If banking gets too tough, we could really use you back on the farm."

"I've actually got (the baler) in my hand right now," says Couch, by phone from Tampa, where he runs Florida for Birmingham, Ala.-based Regions Bank.
A native of 5,000-population, Fayette, Ala., and a University of Alabama graduate, Couch spent five years at the beginning of his career with SunTrust in Atlanta before returning to Alabama to what's now Regions. In his nearly 20 years with the bank, he has worked in Alabama and Tennessee and has been Regions president for west Florida and Mississippi.

Couch, 47, notes that Regions is fourth in small-business lending in Florida, according to the Small Business Administration. "Our company likes small business, and that's certainly going to be one of the focuses as we continue to be going forward," he says.

The economy is stabilizing in several cities in Florida, he says. "That stabilization is not nearly as much fun as growth," he acknowledges, but "stabilization is the first part of growth."

Tags: Trendsetters

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