During his 34 years with Regions, the bank’s Montgomery Market Executive and local head of Private Wealth Management Robert Birmingham can reflect on multiple memories and experiences. Yet he’s got a quick answer when asked what he enjoys most about his job: working alongside his colleagues.
When did you start with Regions? I began in 1987, when it was still First Alabama Bank. (The name was changed in 1992 when we expanded outside of the state.) I started in the management program and then went into the private wealth and trust segment, where I’ve been ever since.
What first got you interested in banking and wealth management? I graduated from Lanier High School here in Montgomery and went to Huntingdon. I got a business degree in marketing, and banks were high up on the radar for people coming out of that lane in college, so it was the first job I considered, and I got an offer from First Alabama. That meant I got to stay here at home, so I took it. I felt really fortunate to have the opportunity.
What is your role at Regions now? As the Montgomery-area market executive, I am basically the quarterback for our lines of business in this market: business banking, consumer banking, mortgage and wealth management. I lead the collaboration between our teams to work together to serve our customers and clients and offer them the best solutions and results we can. I also head up our local community engagement efforts, which focus on creating more inclusive prosperity in the area.
What is the most rewarding part of your work? Working with people, especially our team members. We have so many very bright, very smart and very hard-working people here at Regions. Every team has people who have a strong background and a lot of expertise in their specialty. It’s really fun to serve with people who like to serve; we all have a desire to do our best for our clients.
How has banking changed in your time in it? Technology has changed how people bank. Convenience is crucial, and we always seek to empower people to conduct their banking business when, where and how they want. Technologies, such as mobile banking, that used to be seen as a differentiator, are now an expectation.
What is the main challenge in your industry right now? Combating fraud. Fraud tears at the confidence fiber of our society, and it can impact anyone. At Regions, we believe the best defense is an education offense. Our bankers are constantly educating clients and the public about fraud and ways to spot it and prevent it.
What are some of Regions current priorities in the community? Education, economic and workforce development and financial wellness. When you look at what we support with community sponsorship, we are not just sponsoring an event with a check. We are focused on opportunities that improve the overall quality of life, address community challenges and move us forward. In terms of financial education, like helping people understand topics such as borrowing and saving, I think we take a real proactive approach in a way that banks haven’t historically always done.
What is your impression of Montgomery’s current business climate? The scorecard on our local business environment is high. I’d challenge anyone to find a better business climate. We have a very strong Chamber with very diverse membership. Whether it’s bringing new industry, supporting existing businesses, giving us a voice with the legislature and all of it combined, the Chamber does a great job representing business here. And we all know, if business does well, the entire community does well.
Bring Back the Band
“I love music of all kinds. I play the guitar and play at my church, Saint James Methodist. I will be so happy when concerts really start back up in full force. I have missed live music. We have some great venues here, and I can’t wait to have bands back playing.”