What began as a childhood love of farming grew into a banking career for Michael Miller.
He was able to combine two passions: supporting the farming community while delivering financial solutions to help farmers succeed over time.
Now, his career has reached another milestone. Recently, Regions Bank elevated Miller to serve as market executive for Northeast Arkansas, including Jonesboro and surrounding areas. Miller succeeds Jim Tubbs, a 32-year banking veteran, in this leadership role. Tubbs retired in January.
We caught up with Miller to learn more about changes he’s seen in the financial services industry, his leadership role with a global youth service nonprofit and how his love of the land yielded a unique and equally loved specialized role in banking.
What’s your vision in leading Regions’ Northeast Arkansas market?
Our market has a long history of community partnerships with nonprofits like the Food Bank
of Northeast Arkansas. Food insecurity has always been a pressing issue in Arkansas, but the pandemic has elevated it to an entirely new level with thousands of families being first-time agency clients.
Along with continuing to support our neighbors in need during these difficult times, my goal is to expand our team’s focus on the bank’s three strategic community priorities: economic and community development; education and workforce readiness; and financial wellness. I believe it’s essential to work closely with nonprofits as we best leverage Regions’ resources – both financial resources and the community-minded spirit of our associates. In this role, it’s important that I clearly and effectively communicate our mission to make life better for our communities and encourage our team members to demonstrate it. We have opportunities to connect our associates with initiatives that support education and workforce readiness initiatives reflecting these strategic priorities.
What nonprofits do you serve? What do you enjoy most about them, and are there lessons they’ve offered during the past year related to COVID-19?
I’ve been involved with Kiwanis for six years. Kiwanis’ focus involves serving children in need. The Kiwanis Club of Lawrence County is very active in serving the community. Serving as club president last year during the pandemic was quite challenging and required some unique planning to continue providing that service. We transitioned our weekly meetings and our largest fundraisers to virtual events. Our in-person pancake breakfast became a carry-out event, and our live auction moved to a radio auction. Both were still successful. They offered valuable lessons about the importance of adapting during challenging times and the value of teamwork in making things happen!
I’ve also been involved with the Black River Technical College Foundation Board, a nonprofit that provides financial assistance for students to attend college. We award more than 35 scholarships each year to students who might not otherwise be able to pursue their education.
Both of these organizations offer a chance to give back. Helping people in the community not only offers a “great feel,” but it also provides a sense of purpose.
Your expertise is in agriculture banking. How did you get into this specialized field?
I grew up wanting to be a farmer and spent time working for my uncle on his 1,500-acre rice and bean farming operation during my teenage years. After many conversations with my mother and stepfather, both lifelong community bankers, I decided banking was the best-suited direction for me. So, I became an ag banker and I still get to be involved in farming. I absolutely love what I do for a living, and I appreciate our Ag team at Regions and of course all of our clients who make that possible.
What’s your approach to serving customers?
Regions is more than a ‘regional’ bank; we’re also very much a local resource here to help. We understand that one size does not fit all for our customers. We focus on listening to the unique needs of our customers and then connecting them with team members from our different business groups, whether it’s Consumer Banking, Commercial Banking, Private Wealth Management, Mortgage, or others. It’s an approach that allows us to bring added years of experience to the table as we develop holistic solutions. We call it Regions360, and it’s a key part of our commitment to personalized service.
What’s been the biggest change you’ve observed in the banking industry during your career?
Advancements in technology. When I started my career in the late 80’s, the only way to conduct banking business was by visiting a brick-and-mortar location. Today, people can bank digitally, by using person-to-person payment platforms and through video banking technology options – all in real time. It’s amazing how much things have changed, and it will be interesting to see how they continue to evolve in the next 20 years. In saying that though, I think it’s important to remember that banking is still a people business. Our team members are committed to providing support far beyond standard banking transactions. We’re a resource where customers can turn with questions as they think about their long-term goals and plan for their financial future.
Tell us a bit more about yourself. What are your hobbies?
I enjoy hunting, fishing and playing golf. My favorite hobby, though, is spending time with my four children, no matter what activity we’re doing. At ages 17, 15, 14 and 11, they’re growing up, and time is quickly passing. As they get older, I realize spending time with Dad will become less important – unless they need money, of course! They know they can always count on Dad.