With 27 commercial banks operating in metropolitan Chattanooga — and a variety of other online bankers and lenders handing savings and loans for many Chattanoogans — Jay W. Dale recognizes that keeping First Tennessee Bank's lead in the local market is no easy task.
""I recognize it is a competitive business and we have to earn people's trust and confidence every day," says Dale, the 46-year-old banker who took over as Chattanooga market president for First Tennessee Bank in September. "But I think First Tennessee has a rich tradition here of community involvement, service and treating its employees well and we recognize when our community does better, our bank does better."
Since entering the Chattanooga market with its purchase of the failed Hamilton National Bank in 1976, First Tennessee has grown to Chattanooga's biggest bank with more than 25 percent of the nearly $10 billion in local deposits. Dale is only the seventh president of First Tennessee's Chattanooga operations in 42 years, succeeding Jeff Jackson who was promoted to Florida market president for Capital Bank, which First Tennessee bought in 2017.
Dale concedes he has some big shoes to fill in his new role overseeing the 23 local offices and 225 workers First Tennessee employs in Chattanooga. But Dale, a 25-year banker who joined First Tennessee nearly nine years ago, has already helped the growth of First Tennessee's commercial loan portfolio, growing a loan portfolio to $8 million in annual revenue and earning a Diamond Circle recognition from the bank seven times.
Dale also brings an appreciation for other bank jobs, having done most of them when he began his career at First Union Bank in Nashville where he worked as a teller, made individual car loans, changed the ATM machine and accepted a vault shipment.
"I have a fond appreciation for our retail folks and how important they are to our business," Dale says.
Dale's father was a store manager for J.C. Penney, which brought the Dales to Red Bank when Jay was in 5th grade. With the exception of a brief stint in Nashville with First Union Bank, Dale has stayed in Chattanooga ever since, earning both a finance degree and MBA from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He also previously worked as a commercial loan officer in Chattanooga for both SunTrust and Regions banks, the second and third biggest banks, respectively, in Chattanooga.
Dale is a graduate of Chattanooga Chamber's Leadership Chattanooga program, a board member of the Children's Advocacy Center of Hamilton County and UTC Alumni Association, and he has chaired fundraisers for Silverdale Baptist Academy, where his wife has worked in the preschool and his two daughters have attended.
Dale, who enjoys playing basketball and following other sports, brings his banking expertise to his passion for sports as a player in a half dozen fantasy football leagues. On Sunday afternoons when the NFL games are on, Dale uses a excel spread cheat and tunes into the Red Zone channel on the NFL Network to follow all of his players when they are in scoring position.
I have always loved sports and I try to find the best value with my players, just like we do in business," he says.