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Biz January 54
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Chris Ferris

President and CEO | Fidelity Bank & NOLA Lending Group
Fun Fact
My favorite productivity tool/app is One Note. I receive so much information daily that it’s hard to retain it and often fully understand it’s applicable use. I’ve found One Note to be a great solution for organizing and finding this info. It allows me to keep excellent records of my day-to-day, provides exceptional recall, allows access on all my devices, and is extremely helpful when I’m ready to apply what I’ve written or learned.

 

What have been some of your biggest challenges and biggest successes?

The year 2020 was the most challenging time of my career to this point. A global health and financial crisis in the same year is quite possibly the biggest challenge we have all faced.

However, one of the biggest personal challenges I’ve faced was moving to New Orleans with a young family. At the time, I did not have a job and very few prospects. Even though I had a lot of financial service experience, extensive training, and a deep desire to help people, I encountered an unexpected challenge in convincing the local business community to give me a chance. I’m thankful and always will be to Fidelity Bank for hiring me.

My greatest professional success came just three years later, when I was appointed President and CEO of Fidelity Bank, a community bank deeply rooted in the city that I wasn’t sure would take a chance on me.

How do you maintain a balance between work and personal life?

It’s important to me to carve out time to practice gratitude each and every day. I’m most thankful for my wife Ann and my children Nick and Sadie. Spending some time reflecting on my family each day serves as a reminder of what’s most important. I practice planning my days and weeks to include quality time with those most important to me.

What changes or innovations do you hope to see for your company or industry in the next five years?

I was fortunate as a young banker to be a part of a comprehensive management training program. The banking industry once had some of the best employee development programs of any industry, but, at most banks, career planning and development programs have been reduced or eliminated altogether because of expenses and difficulty measuring the return on investment. On top of that, graduates of these programs were often recruited by other banks in the market. Still, I believe the programs have merit. Team members want to feel valued and learn new things. Because of that, in 2019, Fidelity Bank introduced an accelerated leadership program. We recently celebrated our first graduate, Kiva Reynolds. She is excited to start her new role as a Small Business Relationship Manager in 2021.

In your experience, what are the keys to maintaining a healthy, productive company culture?

First, you have to make it an ongoing priority. Culture is not a “set it and forget it” tenant. You must work on it constantly. Second, a company culture must be defined and have a personality that is specific with an effectiveness that can be measured. Third, leaders must be visible—they have to walk the walk and talk the talk. Fourth, it is important to reward those who exhibit the best of your culture. At Fidelity Bank, we reward an annual Chairman’s Core Value Award. And finally, feedback is necessary from your teams to ensure they understand the culture and that it remains healthy and relevant.

Who have been some of the greatest influences on your career or leadership style?

I’m very lucky—I’ve worked directly and indirectly for some exceptional leaders. Two former bankers come to mind, and while their styles were different, they each understood the significance of leadership and communication. They taught me the importance of being clear, intentional, and consistent with my message. They both agreed that if the top of the house doesn’t have strong leadership, the chance for long-term, sustainable success is not likely. That’s part of why, at Fidelity, we focus on building leaders from within.

 

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Fidelity Bank & NOLA Lending Group
353 Carondelet Street
New Orleans
1-800-220-2497
bankwithfidelity.com