Carlos Zepeda always knew he’d be a Regions banker.
He still remembers the day he walked into what would later become a Regions’ branch in East Hialeah, Florida, and made a vow as a 7-year-old with bank lollipop in hand.
“I would see the personnel there and the manager dressed in a suit, and at one point, I looked up at my dad and said, ‘You know what? I’m going to be the manager here one day.’ My dad laughed and said, ‘I believe you,’” Zepeda said.
Twenty-two years later, Zepeda became a Regions branch manager – and as destiny would have it – at the same bank branch he’d told his dad he’d lead one day.
“I was blown away,” Zepeda said. “I walked around the office and it was remodeled, but basically had the same layout. It was surreal. I was committed to doing the best I could in my new role.”
Mission accomplished, said Julian Idarraga, Zepeda’s manager.
“Over the past 14 years with Regions, Carlos has managed five different locations, always making an impact on the market, business and the associates he works with. He’s a very outgoing person with contagious energy,” Idarraga said.
“This makes him a great team player who consistently engages, supports and develops his team. He’s a natural at authentically connecting with people. In this business, that strength and ability is extremely important for building trust with both associates and customers.”
Zepeda currently leads the Calle Ocho branch, and credits his lengthy tenure to the bank’s culture.
“We take care of our customers and associates,” he said. “Everyone asks me what I drink in the morning because I’m always so enthusiastic and energized, and it’s just that I love what I do. I live more than an hour away, and I drive to Miami every day because I love my branch, my team and my customers.
“We put people first and we have great benefits and a culture of recognition, especially with Evergreen Week and now Frontline First. We feel appreciated.”
When it comes to his Regions career, Zepeda is the proudest about helping make life better for customers and associates alike.
Promoting people is what gives me the most joy because it makes me feel that I contributed something good to someone else – it’s my purpose in life to help people.
He’s made it his mission to take the associates he works with and tap their unique talents, honing their skills and finding them the right opportunities to soar, grow and be their best – just like his peers who helped him learn the banking ropes.
“Promoting people is what gives me the most joy because it makes me feel that I contributed something good to someone else – it’s my purpose in life to help people,” Zepeda said. “I’m not selfish. Instead of keeping these great associates, I want them to grow. Some of the tellers I’ve hired are now branch managers.”
As for the impact of his career on customers, Zepeda says it’s the financial lessons he’s learned himself that resonate the most.
“I taught a young couple that didn’t think they could save how I learned to save by telling them how I quit my coffee shop habit,” he said. “It sounds simple, but it was enough to get their interest and allow me to walk them through their own account expenses and changes they could make – changes that saved them enough for a down payment on an apartment.”
Just a few months ago, Zepeda was touched when another customer stopped by to thank him for helping her rebuild her credit years earlier. “It’s the reason why we do this and why I take my job very seriously,” he said. “I give advice and it gives me great joy because I am able to help people live better lives.”
Banking in the Blood
Now a branch manager at the Calle Ocho location in Miami, Zepeda moved to the United States from Nicaragua with his parents as a child. Like many immigrants, his dad left life as a bank executive behind to pursue safety, freedom and opportunity for his wife and three children.
“We gave up everything we had built in Nicaragua for a better life,” said Zepeda.
Needing money right away to support the family, Manuel Zepeda took a job working for a small hotel. And his son saw him ride his bicycle 20 miles to and from work to clean rooms – rising through the ranks over the years to eventually manage the hotel.
Just like his dad, Zepeda said he gives “150%” to Regions and his teammates and customers every day – and his father couldn’t be prouder.
“My dad always told me there were four professions in life that people would always need and one of them is a banker,” he said. “I’m honored to have followed in his footsteps, becoming a banker, and accomplishing my childhood dream of working with Regions.”