ServisFirst CEO Tells Strategy Students to “Invest in People”

BroughtonTom Broughton, Chief Executive Officer of ServisFirst Bank, made a return visit to the School of Business on October 2, 2012 when he spoke with students in the combined MBA and undergraduate capstone class “Strategic leadership through the eyes of the C-Suite.”

Broughton said that one of his core strategic principles is to “invest in people not in locations.” He believes that we have too many brick and mortar bank branches in the United States, and even calls them the “pay telephones” of the financial industry to predict their likely role in the industry in the future. Instead of bank branches, ServisFirst has used such new technologies as remote deposit capture, internet banking and even remote safes that allow merchants to get credit electronically for deposits of cash at their locations.

Broughton compared his strategy at ServisFirst, which he founded in 2005, to that of Southwest Airlines: keep your business simple.  Like Southwest, ServisFirst does not try to be all things to all people. Rather, the company aims to meet the needs of small to mid-sized businesses and their owners, as well as other private banking customers.

A group of students who had studied the strategy of ServisFirst Bank in depth made a presentation to Mr. Broughton and made several recommendations, one of which was that the bank consider more specialized industry lending, such as in the healthcare and retirement living industries.

ServisFirst Bank has approximately $2.5 billion in assets and operates in urban areas of Alabama and the Florida panhandle. It is headquartered in Birmingham. The parent holding company of ServisFirst Bank, ServisFirst Bancshares, is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission but its shares do not trade publicly. 

Mr. Broughton and ServisFirst Bank have received numerous awards in recent years, including Broughton’s being named the 2009 “Community Banker of the Year” for the entire United States by American Banker newspaper. He was the first Alabama banker ever to receive this prestigious award.

“Strategic leadership through the eyes of the C-Suite” is taught by School of Business professor Stephen Yoder and UAB Vice Provost for Administration and Quality Improvement Harlan Sands, and features visits from CEOs of public or other large complex organizations who discuss their organizations’ strategies and how they are developed and implemented.

[Pictured left to right: Monica Schroeder, Ashley Merritt, Jacob Cohen, Mr. Broughton, Jonathan Bowman, Mark Fisher and Garrett Gamble]