Jimmy Stubbs, Director and CEO of River Bank & Trust
Citizen of the Year – Business
By Brenda Robertson Dennis
Jimmy Stubbs has worked as a community banker in Alabama for the last 30 years. He currently serves as a Director and Chief Executive Officer of River Bank & Trust. Under his leadership, the bank was formed in 2006 and today is one of the fifteen largest banks chartered in the state of Alabama with total assets exceeding $475 million.
Growing up in the Titus Community in Elmore County, Alabama, Stubbs was raised on hunting, fishing, cattle and baseball. Coming from a family dating back a few generations in the area, Stubbs valued these activities, which shaped him into the person he is today.
Stubbs attended Wetumpka High School, where he met his future wife, Lisa. While in high school, he was active in FFA, showing steers, playing baseball and envisioning a career as an Agribusiness teacher, something his own Agribusiness instructors inspired him to study once he graduated and enrolled at Auburn University. “I felt like I wanted to teach kids in high school because I enjoyed the FFA programs and had a lot of admiration for my teachers,” he says. “But part of your teaching certification is to do an internship, so as a senior, I was doing an internship with Joe Scarborough in Tallassee and I went through the internship and I thought ‘you know. I don’t believe this is what God wants me to do.’ I thought well, I’m almost finished with school and I’m going to have to go back and tell my parents I don’t want to be a teacher and I’m going to stay in school three or four more years and do something different.”
At that point, something really interesting happened that would propel Stubbs in a whole new direction. He had a friend who had graduated from Auburn a year earlier and was working for the Federal Land Bank, which was part of the Farm Credit System. As it turned out, the farm credit system was hiring people and his friend thought he might be interested in the job. “So, I went and spoke to them,” he says. “Their three questions were do you enjoy agriculture? Do you enjoy working with people? And do you enjoy the outdoors? I thought that’s perfectly me. So, I took the job and moved to Baldwin County as a lender to farmers and rural homeowners, not knowing my initial connections to banking were being formed because of the lending function that was there.”
Young, single and away from home in his first post-college job, Stubbs decided he wanted to rekindle his love of baseball, this time as a coach. “I opened up the paper one day and saw that they were having tryouts for Dixie Youth baseball and looking for volunteers,” he says. “So I went down there to see if I could help somebody. Now days we do background checks to make sure we have good folks out coaching our kids. But they said ‘what do you know about baseball?’ So, I told them about growing up playing and that I just want to help somebody out. That’s when they said ‘why don’t you just take a team?’ Nobody knows who I am or where I’m from. So I take a team and we win the Little League Tournament. We’re the champions. I coach the all-star team. We win the next tournament, and then in the next level we got beat out, but it wasn’t long after that I took a job that moved me back to Wetumpka. They were devastated. They thought the greatest coach had done walked into town and walked right back out.” Interestingly, the only picture that Stubbs keeps in his office of the baseball teams he’s coached over the years is of that first little league baseball team in Baldwin County.
The job that brought Stubbs back to Wetumpka came in 1986. It was at the suggestion of another friend who was working for a community bank in Wetumpka that had just formed and was opening a branch. “My friend said ‘we’re looking for a management trainee,” Stubbs recalls. “You grew up in Wetumpka and Elmore County. You’re dad’s well known. You’ve got a good name. We’ll teach you how to be a banker. Why don’t you come back home and come work for us?’ I was single at the time, not really excited about coming back home in one sense, but in another sense I was. So I took the job and moved back and that’s how I got into banking.”
What Stubbs quickly discovered was that there were a lot of basic components of banking that his Agribusiness Education degree didn’t give him. So, he enrolled at AUM and took a couple of accounting courses to familiarize himself with some of the basic accounting functions that he was using in everyday banking but didn’t completely understand. “I started at that time with Elmore County National Bank, which was part of the Alliant Bank family and worked for them for 12 years. So that was my first job in banking,” he says.
As his career was getting off the ground, Stubbs paused to marry his high school sweetheart, Lisa, who is now a math teacher at Wetumpka High School. Together, they raised two daughters, Jennifer, an attorney in Birmingham and Morgan, who works in Sports Marketing at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Along with their son, Hunter, who plays baseball for Southern Union Community College, they also have a two-year-old grandson, Titus, in Birmingham.
Active in community affairs, Stubbs serves on a number of business and nonprofit boards including the Alabama Bankers Association, the Prattville Area Chamber of Commerce, and the YMCA of Montgomery Endowment Foundation. He is also serving as the 2016 Campaign Vice Chair for the River Region United Way. Stubbs is a member of Leadership Alabama, Class of 2007, and of the Wetumpka Lions Club.
In the mornings, Stubbs enjoys a good jog where he can commune with God and gather his thoughts before he goes to work at the bank. “It’s been a really good career,” he reflects. “It’s been a blessing. It’s provided for my family. It’s rewarding in that I get to help people one on one with their financial situations. Most are good but some are not. We try to get them through whatever financial opportunity and/or crisis they’re in. So as bankers, we do somewhat serve.” Ultimately, Stubbs sees himself as a type councilor to his customers and takes the relationship very seriously, living by the motto that appears on his own Twitter home screen, “The little things are important at work and home.”