The formula never changes: excited associates lead to engaged clients, and engaged clients lead to enriched shareholders.
At Pinnacle, “wowing” our associates is at the heart of everything we do. We treat our associates well so that they, in turn, will treat our clients well. There is simply no other way to sustain market-leading levels of client satisfaction—and outsized returns for shareholders—than to create a top-notch work environment where associates feel valued, respected and engaged.
Given the strong link between job satisfaction and firm value, we were very intentional about the kind of culture we wanted to create when we founded Pinnacle in 2000. Specifically, we set out to build the best place to work in Tennessee.
We accomplish that in a few ways that set us apart from other financial services firms. First, we are all owners. At Pinnacle, 100 percent of associates receive restricted shares of stock—both at the time of hiring and on an annual basis. Unlike most banks, all non-commissioned associates participate in annual cash incentives based primarily on meeting the firm’s targets for credit quality, EPS growth and revenue growth—the three metrics we believe are most highly correlated with share price performance.
We also recognize associates for a job well done in other ways. We post stories on the firm’s intranet about associates who go above and beyond when serving a client. High performers receive meaningful additional cash incentives and are recognized routinely in front of their peers during our all-associate meetings. Associates celebrating milestone anniversaries (5, 10, 15, and up) gather for lunch, an afternoon activity and evening out as a “thank you” for their years of service.
At Pinnacle, we care about all areas of our associates’ lives, not just work. That’s why we host family-friendly events, such as spring picnics and baseball outings—to get to know each other outside of the office. We also offer a wellness program that encourages healthy habits for all-around well-being. During 2014, 45 percent of associates who participated in our wellness screening improved their overall health score.
We don’t consider these nice-to-have perks. They are essential to attracting and retaining the best financial services professionals in our markets.
Creating a Remarkable Culture
Since Pinnacle’s inception in 2000, we have been recognized in Tennessee as a “great place to work.” In recent years, national publications have taken notice.
We have earned a permanent spot in the Nashville Business Journal’s “Best Places to Work” Hall of Fame, having won the award every year for 10 years running. New in 2014, employee recognition firm O.C. Tanner named Pinnacle one of the top 10 coolest companies to work for in Nashville.
And for the third year in a row, the Great Place to Work® Institute named Pinnacle one of the best workplaces in the United States on its Best Small & Medium Workplaces list, which was published in FORTUNE magazine. Pinnacle again was in the top five on the medium-sized company list.
The financial services industry’s leading trade publication, American Banker, ranked Pinnacle No. 2 on its “Best Banks to Work For” list. Earning that spot makes us the best bank to work for in Tennessee, fulfilling the second part of our vision.
While external recognition is validating, we don’t rely on these awards to measure our effectiveness in building a remarkable culture. Every year we conduct a work environment survey to get feedback from associates and determine engagement levels. Our scores just continue to rise—Pinnacle received its highest percentage of “top box” (those who “strongly agree”) ratings ever. That’s not an easy feat, considering our scores are typically extremely high and don’t leave much room for improvement.
Creating an environment where associates want to come to work every day is absolutely critical to our mission, because eliminating turnover is a key ingredient in creating a “wow” experience for our clients. Our associate retention rate shows that our focus on engaging and retaining associates is working. Our 2014 rate was an extraordinary 93.7 percent—but that’s just expected at Pinnacle. Compare that to the industry average of 73 percent.
Partners with Our Communities
Making financial contributions and encouraging volunteerism for many worthwhile causes helps Pinnacle fulfill a key component of our mission: “make a significant positive impact on the community.” Our associates feel more engaged in the community—and our firm—when we give back together.
We are proud of our track record of financial support. We give in four priority categories: education; health and human services; arts; and economic development, with preference given to organizations where our associates are actively involved.
For example, in 2014 we invested $1 million in a Knoxville Area Urban League lending program that will create jobs and opportunities in economically disadvantaged communities. Pinnacle also worked with The Contributor, Nashville’s street newspaper, to enable its homeless vendors to take payment via mobile app and deposit the funds into bank accounts.
We look for contribution opportunities that allow for greater associate involvement, which broadens the personal participation and ownership our associates feel for community efforts. Our associates donated their time to hundreds of not-for-profits in 2014, pitching in on boards and committees, training others on financial literacy and mentoring Junior Achievement students. Others have taken their efforts international, supporting and visiting AIDS orphans in Zimbabwe and spearheading major fundraising campaigns for a school in South Africa.
The full list of volunteer projects is too numerous to list here, so we update our Facebook page regularly with photos of community involvement, associate awards and partner events throughout the year.
Affordable Housing: Pinnacle’s Top Community Priority
The centerpiece of Pinnacle’s community involvement is helping provide affordable housing in our communities. Highlights of Pinnacle’s long-term involvement with the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati (FHLB) include helping secure more than $11.1 million in grants since 2003, which we used to:
- Provide financing and grant money for 423 new affordable single-family units, 52 new affordable rental units and 112 rehabilitated rental units in total since 2003
- Provide down payment assistance for 283 affordable single-family homes
- Help more than 79 families remain in their homes using grant funding and counseling services; also assisted 43 additional families with funding from the Tennessee Housing Development Agency
Pinnacle also has a long-standing relationship with Habitat for Humanity. Our involvement consists of servicing 1,105 Habitat for Humanity loans with a total value of more than $55.1 million at no cost to Habitat or the home owner.
Striving to ensure affordable housing in our markets is a cornerstone of our community involvement.