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 "The best way to fight an enemy is head on- and out in the open." 


First Tennessee has strong roots in Tennessee, going all the way back to 1864 when the bank got its start in Memphis, Tennessee.

1864 – The beginning

Our story starts in the Office of the Comptroller on March 25, 1864 when Frank S. Davis submitted our charter. It may not seem like much, but everything we have been fortunate enough to accomplish for our customers, began with this simple document.

1878 – The unsung hero

Just 14 years later, our bank and our hometown of Memphis were reeling from the effects of two yellow fever epidemics. In fact, the Memphis population shrunk by more than 50% in just 10 days during the start of the second wave of yellow fever. One man, Charles Q. Harris, operated our bank by himself for three hours each day, serving customers and distributing relief funds sent from across the country.

1926 – Growing up

Back then, we were known as First National Bank, and it was in 1926 that we completed our first merger. We joined with Central State National Bank, but retained our name. The merger increased our capital holdings to $1 million for the first time.

1964 – New digs

First National moved into its new 25-story corporate headquarters building in downtown Memphis on March 23, 1964, two days before the company’s 100th anniversary. It is where we remain today.

1972 – Making it easy

We’ve always been about making banking easier for our customers. So in 1972 we introduced our first ATM.

1997 – And, then, even easier

Now known as First Tennessee, our technology folks took banking convenience to the next level with the introduction of Online Banking. It was also the start of a wave of great innovations over the next few years, including Bill Pay Online, Mobile Banking, and Mobile Deposit.

Today – The more things change…

The more they stay the same. At least, that’s how we see it. We’ve been blessed to see our business and banking in general grow and adapt to the changing needs of customers through the years. But one thing that will always remain constant is our commitment to financial integrity and to helping our customers take good care of their money.

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First Tennessee Bank Complaint vs. Pinnacle Financial to Go to Trial
By Andy Meek

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A legal fight brought in the wake of Pinnacle Financial Partners’ arrival into the Memphis market appears set for a jury trial.

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Shelby County Chancellor Jim Kyle on Tuesday, June 6, denied a motion for partial summary judgment made by Memphis-based First Tennessee Bank, which filed its complaint against Pinnacle in February 2016. First Tennessee originally brought the action in 2015 only against Damon Bell, a First Tennessee executive vice president recruited to be Pinnacle’s Memphis president.

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Pinnacle announced Bell’s recruitment, along with seven other First Tennessee employees, in April 2015 on the same day it announced a definitive agreement to acquire Memphis-based Magna Bank.

That recruitment, according to the amended complaint filed in early 2016, was the culmination of secretive efforts that included involvement from Pinnacle to recruit Bell and the other defectors while they were still employed at First Tennessee.

That issue is what now appears headed for a jury.

“We are pleased that First Tennessee’s motion was denied and that a jury will now be able to hear our associates’ experiences at their former workplace and the reasons they chose to leave,” reads a statement from Pinnacle president and CEO Terry Turner about the judge’s decision. “We do not believe employees should be discouraged from making positive moves in their careers, as this case seems designed to do.”

For its part, First Tennessee issued a statement noting it looks forward “to presenting the facts and the law to a jury of our fellow citizens.”

Bell had served as an executive vice president in First Tennessee’s private wealth group, where his responsibilities included working with employees serving the bank’s private banking clients in West Tennessee.

Pinnacle announced its acquisition of Magna, and that it had hired eight First Tennessee employees, the same week as First Tennessee’s annual shareholders meeting in 2015.

“The seven resignations orchestrated by Bell and Pinnacle, along with Bell’s own abrupt resignation, have in fact caused harm to First Tennessee,” the complaint read. “All of these employees were responsible for substantial and important customer relationships, and the defections were unexpected and immediate in nature, so First Tennessee has been forced to undertake expensive and time-consuming efforts to transition responsibility to its remaining team members in order to continue to serve its clients’ needs.”

Pinnacle went on to hire professionals locally from other institutions like SunTrust after that first wave of First Tennessee hires – as well as additional employees from First Tennessee who were added later.

First Tennessee Bank is asking that a lawsuit against a former bank employee who was hired by a competitor be tried by a jury.

Memphis-based First Tennessee Bank, subsidiary of First Horizon National Corp. (NYSE: FHN), filed a “complaint for damages” suit May 5, 2015, against Damon Bell in the chancery court of Shelby County. First Tennessee then filed an amended complaint to request a trial by jury on Feb. 17, 2016.

Bell, now president for Pinnacle Financial Partners' (NASDAQ: PNFP) Memphis market, most recently served as the executive vice president of First Tennessee’s Memphis private banking, medical banking and private wealth group until his April 27, 2015, resignation.

According to the amended complaint, First Tennessee is alleging that “Bell conspired with Pinnacle to raid First Tennessee’s private wealth group so that Pinnacle could do harm to First Tennessee and establish a competing presence in the Memphis market.”

Kirk Bailey, Memphis chairman for Pinnacle, said they could not comment on the pending litigation.

“However, we look forward to continuing to build a meaningful presence here in Memphis,” Bailey said.

Bell had worked for First Tennessee since 1991. The amended complaint alleges that Bell “acted with malice and/or a predatory motive” to cause seven other First Tennessee employees to go with him from First Tennessee to Pinnacle.

In addition to Bell, other employees who went from First Tennessee to Pinnacle who are listed in the amended complaint are Teresa Beans, Joy Bowen, Sam King, Nicole Pickens, Stacey Richards, Herman Strickland, Robert Sutton and Carla Williams.

The amended complaint states that because Bell was a First Tennessee employee, he had a "fiduciary duty" to act in the best interest of his employer, First Tennessee.

“Moreover, due to his position as EVP [executive vice president] of the private wealth group, Bell led a team of employees and worked with a group of employees responsible for private banking services. He accordingly occupied a position of trust and confidence. This was evidenced by, among other things, the fact that Bell had regular and unfettered access to First Tennessee’s Confidential and Proprietary Information, including, but not limited to, its financial products and rates.”

First Tennessee is requesting that the court award it compensatory and other damages as it pertains to Bell’s salary, bonus payments, vacation payouts and other compensation payments paid to Bell from January 2015 up until the final payment made to him prior to his April 27 resignation. First Tennessee is also asking that the court award punitive damages, pre-judgment interest and post-judgment interest, attorneys’ fees and costs and any other additional legal relief that the court rules “appropriate.”

Nashville-based Pinnacle made the April 28, 2015 announcement that it would enter the Memphis market via the acquisition of Memphis-based Magna Bank in a $83.4 million transaction.

First Tennessee Bank division acquires Houston financial company
Oct 28, 2016, 2:31pm CDT
INDUSTRIES & TAGS Banking & Financial Services

Olivia Pulsinelli
Senior web editor
Houston Business Journal
Michael Kisber, president, FTN Financial
Michael Kisber, president,… more

FTN Financial, a division of First Tennessee Bank, announced Oct. 27 that it will acquire a Houston-based financial company.

FTN will buy Houston-based Coastal Securities for about $160 million in cash, depending on the book/market value of acquired net assets at closing, according to a presentation from FTN’s parent company, Memphis-based First Horizon National Corp. (NYSE: FHN). The deal is expected to close in early 2017.

FTN Financial, a division of First Tennessee Bank, will acquire Houston-based Coastal Securities.
FTN Financial, a division of First Tennessee Bank, will acquire Houston-based Coastal… more


Coastal Securities’ services include trading, securitization and analysis of Small Business Administration loans; trading U.S. Department of Agriculture loans and fixed-income products; and providing municipal underwriting

“The combination of our deep expertise in government-guaranteed loan products with FTN Financial’s extensive distribution platform, liquidity and capital presents a compelling opportunity for our customers, employees and shareholders,” Chris LaPorte, chairman of Coastal Financial Holdings Inc., Coastal’s parent company, said in a press release. “Our team at Coastal looks forward to joining with FTN Financial to enhance our market position and create further value for our clients.”

Coastal has about 100 employees, and they’re expected to remain part of the combined business, according to First Horizon’s presentation. In addition to Houston, Coastal also has offices in Dallas, San Antonio, Austin and Little Rock, Arkansas.

First Tennessee Bank opened its first Houston office in 2014.

Olivia Pulsinelli is the senior web editor for the Houston Business Journal's award-winning website. Follow her on Twitter for more.

Pinnacle vs. First Tennessee: Top two local banks now squaring off across Tennessee
Apr 29, 2015, 1:57pm CDT Updated Apr 30, 2015, 3:17pm CDT
INDUSTRIES & TAGS Banking & Financial Services

Scott Harrison
Staff Reporter
Nashville Business Journal

Pinnacle continues buying spree, snags Memphis bank for $83M
Pinnacle Bank buying Chattanooga lender for $187M

Pinnacle Financial Partners' acquisition of Magna Bank in Memphis puts the bank right in the backyard of the state’s largest bank, First Tennessee Bank.

Alongside the purchase, the Nashville bank’s second in April, Pinnacle (Nasdaq: PNFP) has hired 8 bankers from First Tennessee in Memphis. The two largest banks headquartered in Tennessee now find themselves squaring off in all four of the state’s largest markets.

Terry Turner, CEO of Pinnancle Financial Partners
Terry Turner, CEO of Pinnancle Financial Partners


In Memphis, First Tennessee’s parent company, First Horizon National Corp. (NYSE: FHN), holds considerable market share, $6.2 billion in deposits, or 26 percent, as of the most recent figures in 2014 from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. That makes it the largest bank in its home market, according to research from our sister paper Memphis Business Journal. Regions Bank ranks second, with $4.3 billion in deposits, or 18 percent of the Memphis market.

For perspective, First Tennessee’s size in Memphis is currently larger than Nashville-based Pinnacle’s throughout the state of Tennessee. On the flip side of the balance sheet, bank assets, Pinnacle ranks as the second-largest Tennessee bank with more than $6 billion in assets. That’s still well below First Tennessee’s nearly $26 billion in assets, the total loans and investments a bank holds.

Yet since its inception in 2000, Pinnacle has been playing with this hand: A smaller bank, growing at a considerable clip, angling to take business from bigger competitors in Tennessee’s major markets.

Pinnacle CEO Terry Turner told analysts on a conference call Wednesday morning the intent in Memphis is to “get underneath” significantly larger competitors, much as the bank has attempted to do in Nashville and Knoxville.

Turner was asked on the conference call whether First Tennessee’s firm presence in Memphis would make breaking into Memphis harder than other markets. Here’s how he responded:

“First Horizon is a great company. I would say First Horizon is the No. 1 bank in the state on almost any metric you look at when you talk about consumer share, business share in most of the MSA’s in the state. They have an extraordinarily strong position in Memphis,” Turner said.

“I would say First Horizon is a formidable competitor. They’re a formidable competitor in Nashville. They’re a little later coming to the table [in Nashville], but I view them to be a formidable competitor in the Nashville market. … In Knoxville and Chattanooga, they have a meaningful position. It’s not an unassailable position. For [East Tennessee], the competitive landscape looks virtually identical to Memphis.”

David Popwell, the president and COO for banking activities at First Tennessee, in an email said First Tennessee welcomes "robust competition."

"We are Tennessee's bank, No. 1 in Memphis, Knoxville, Chattanooga and Tri-Cities, and we're well on our way to becoming Nashville's bank, too," Popwell said. "We've built strong momentum over the past five years that accelerated in 2014 and continued in the first quarter of this year."

Pinnacle’s $83 million acquisition of Magna, the No. 12 bank in Memphis by deposit share, will add nearly $600 million in assets and $452 million of deposits to Pinnacle’s balance sheet.

Earlier this month, Pinnacle entered a deal to acquire CapitalMark Bank & Trust in Chattanooga. Once the two acquisitions are complete, Pinnacle is projected to have more than $8 billion in assets across the four major cities in Tennessee.