Hooked on banking
SunTrust's Brad White learns about business through banking
Published: Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, October 5, 2012 at 5:02 p.m.
After graduating from the University of Florida in 1983, Brad White went into banking as a way to learn about business while he decided what he wanted to do.
Occupation: President, SunTrust, Gainesville
Personal: Married, Cheri, 30 years; three children, Rachel, Daven and Emily; one grandson, Payton
Pets: One cat, Donovan
Dream partners for lunch: "Grandparents, chance to talk to them and thank them one more time."
Last book read: "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand
Favorite TV show: "Andy Griffith Show" reruns
Playing in his car: Local country stations or sports talk radio
Hobbies: Golf, cycling, swimming, basketball and hiking on the Appalachian Trail once a year
Education: Bachelor of arts, University of Florida, 1983; Florida School of Banking at UF, 1987; Graduate School of Retail Bank Management, University of Virginia, 2006
He decided to stay in banking.
After attending school and spending the first year of his marriage in Gainesville, White returned in 2010 as city president of SunTrust Bank and team manager over 12 business bankers in a North Florida region from Pensacola to Jacksonville to Ocala.
"I'm on the road a lot," he said.
While banking involves a lot of numbers, White said he learned that intangible aspects are a major part of the business.
"It has a lot to do with people, their lives and what's important to them," he said.
White started at a small holding company in Inverness before joining what was then Sun Bank in his hometown of Leesburg in 1985. Before coming to Gainesville, he spent 10 years as city president in Rome, Ga.
Sun Bank, a subsidiary of the SunTrust holding company, came to Gainesville when it acquired Citizens Bank in 1973. All subsidiaries took the SunTrust name in 1995.
SunTrust has five branches with 40 employees in Alachua County.
The Atlanta-based company has 1,641 branches and thousands of ATMs in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states with total assets of $178.3 billion and deposits of $128.4 billion.
White said there was not a lot of lending when he arrived in 2010, but 2011 was better and 2012 has been better than that.
He said a lot of businesses are keeping a watchful eye out as they consider loans for expansions, new facilities or refinancing, especially Gainesville's large professional sector such as medical, legal and insurance industries, or businesses associated with UF.
"Gainesville has done fairly well compared to some that relied on construction growth," he said.
White said SunTrust has adapted to customers by adding mobile apps and mobile check deposits, and reaching customers through Twitter. The bank has added financial education to its usual customer service offerings.
With the new technology, fewer people go into branches, so White said the bank is sending employees to client businesses through its SunTrust at Work program, meeting employees and conducting educational workshops.
"We're seeing a new normal in banking," he said.