Since a merger within the parent company last year, Cadence Bank has experienced substantial growth across the board, and President Mark Abernathy said despite a layoff announcement for its Starkville operations center, he expects this growth to continue.
“With growth comes obligation to continually evaluate our operations and do so to determine what is best for our customers and balance that with what is best for our associates,” Abernathy said. “In doing that, we came to a couple of conclusions.”
Cadence announced earlier this week that it will lay off 17 employees from its loan operations department by the end of September in an effort to consolidate and centralize the department in Birmingham.
Abernathy said he takes every job seriously, and that the decision to move 17 jobs was not taken lightly. The employees affected will be receiving assistance in the transition, he said, and will all be paid a severance.
Cadence employs more than 200 people in the Golden Triangle, with more than 100 working at the operations center, and Abernathy said he hopes some of those laid off can roll into vacancies that naturally occur with a workforce of their size.
There were two driving forces in the bank’s decision, according to Abernathy. He said the first, a need to centralize the loan operations department, is a result of the rapid growth Cadence has experienced, coupled with the current regulations in the banking industry.
The second reason for the decision is two-fold. Abernathy said it is a best practice in the banking industry to operate dual data centers in separate locations, so that when one has a weakness due to inclement weather or something similar, the other data center can compensate, reducing the chance of malfunctions. Because of this, he said, Cadence has invested $4 million in the past year in the bank’s IT hub at the data center in Starkville. The other factor includes being able to choose from Mississippi State University graduates.
“We all know the reputation Mississippi State has for technology,” Abernathy said. “We are the beneficiary of that as a business. We can spend $4 million on technology and then have a labor pool here in Starkville that is truly second to none.”
Although he said he doesn’t take the layoffs lightly, Abernathy said the operations center staffing will ebb and flow, and that last month Cadence moved three accountant positions from Birmingham to Starkville.
Earlier this year, Cadence Bancorp LLC. — the parent company of Cadence Bank — acquired Encore Bancshares, Inc., a Houston-based commercial bank with $1.5 billion in assets. At the time, Abernathy told the Commercial Dispatch the move would likely have positive implications on the future growth of Cadence in the Golden Triangle area. On Wednesday, he said this hasn’t changed.
“This is how I look at it, our company is probably, if it’s not the best, it is certainly one among the best capitalized banking companies in the area,” Abernathy said. “The Encore move is still significant because it really kind of sealed the deal to go ahead and make investments and leverage this IT hub here.”
Abernathy said he hopes Cadence’s commitment to the community is not overlooked.
“We also invest a great deal in economic development here in Lowndes, Clay and Oktibbeha and Habitat for Humanity. Investing in capital and technology and solidifying the presence of the operation center is important, but it is also important to know that we invest in the greater good here as well, in a big way,” he said. “If you don’t do things like that, you are just not getting better. And if the community gets better then the bank gets better.”
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.
You can help your community
Quality, in-depth journalism is essential to a healthy community. The Dispatch brings you the most complete reporting and insightful commentary in the Golden Triangle, but we need your help to continue our efforts. Please consider subscribing to our website for only $2.30 per week to help support local journalism and our community.