Rio Grande Valley Banking Spotlight on Rex Zamponi
Rex tell us where your from and a little about yourself before you started in the banking industry.
As I mentioned, I am originally from La Feria and have spent the majority of my life down here in the Valley. My father was a long-time banker in La Feria when I was little, so I'm very proud to bring a Zamponi back to banking where I grew up. Prior to banking, I worked for the Harlingen Chamber of Commerce in the Economic Development Department responsible for recruiting new business and being a liaison between incoming companies and city officials in terms of incentive offerings or showings of available property.
Why did you decide to go into the banking industry? Did you feel it was a hard industry to start in?
Luckily, a friend of mine who works for First National Bank approached me about an opening in the area for a loan officer. I spent my youth in and out of First National Bank in La Feria (the original), and I got to watch my father and how he interacted with customers. He treated people with a kind heart, and that was evidenced by the farmers who would drop off buckets of onions and vegetables, etc. at his office...and that is just one example. He is my role model, and I'm very proud of him.....I thought if I could be in banking and treat my customers the same way he did, I would achieve the same satisfaction in helping others. I enjoy working with people and figuring out ways to help them succeed.....and I always go to bat for my customers. Honestly speaking....this is one of the few jobs I've had where I can't wait to get to work in the morning.
What type of obstacles did you have to overcome to be a branch manager First National Bank? What did you do in order to overcome those obstacles?
Basically, it was just the fact that I had to remain patient. At first, I thought it would not be in the cards since I was so new, but the CEO of the bank called me on the phone and asked me if I'd be interested. Needless to say, I jumped at the opportunity! I was only with the bank for about a year when I got the call, so I was excited about the challenge and a bit nervous at the same time. The lot in La Feria was empty, and it was great watching it being constructed from the ground up! The one thing that has truly helped me is the fact that I hired GREAT people. People who are smart and know their jobs. They are a great resource to me, the Bank and our customers, and I don't know what I would do without them.
What have you done differently that has enabled you to reach your current station?
All I have done is treat people the way I would want to be treated and remain consistent in my performance. I am also big on continuing education and constant learning as it relates to banking. My degree was not in business or finance, but I've had to read a lot on my own and do a ton of self-study. I feel very confident in my abilities because if I don't know something, I just look it up and try to put in extra effort to master the subject.
What mistakes have you made and what did you learn from them?
Mistakes I've made......well, in banking my only true mistake is that I didn't come to work here 10 years earlier!! On a serious note, as a banker handling credit issues, you have to look at numbers and sometimes it is difficult when you have to walk that line between protecting the bank and serving your friends. It has to be a win-win situation for all parties involved.
What has been your biggest driving force in your success?
Biggest driving force?.....Trying to be a good example as a husband and father for my little girl. Everything I try to do or strive for is related to the fact that I want the best for my wife and daughter, and I will never stop trying to make them proud.
What advice would you give someone that wanted to be successful in the banking industry?
It's difficult to give advice for being successful in the banking industry as I'm still relatively new to the industry and have a long way to go, but I feel the most important things in banking are to be honest, fair and have the ability to listen....NEVER be too busy to have a sit down conversation with your customers. How do you know what's the best route for them if you don't sincerely listen to their needs? Use the Golden Rule, and you'll be ok. Never compromise your ethics for the sake of a deal, and genuinely show interest in your customers, whether it's personal or business related.
What does First National bank offer customers that other banks do not? Or, what does First National Bank do better for customers than other banks?
All the banks pretty much offer the same type of services. What we strive to do in order to set us apart is provide the best customerservice experience possible! I tell my employees that we are actually a customer-service company that just happens to deal with banking services. We handle consumer, commercial and real estate loans as well as all types of depository services for individuals, businesses and public entities. We also recently opened an Office of Representation in Monterrey, Mexico, as a statement of our continuing dedication to serving that growing market.
What is speacil about your First National Bank?
What is special about FNB? A few things to keep it short..... - the employees are great and always go the extra mile to assist each other - the fact that we are the largest privately-owned bank in Texas headquartered in the Valley - our culture and style - the fact that as we continue to grow, more opportunities will become available for employees to better themselves and take on higher levels of responsibility - the ability to pick up the phone and talk to top executive management which allows us the ability to act quickly and decisively - it's fun!
Do you have any plans for higher success with First National Bank? If so, what are they?
I continue to take courses to improve myself and my management skills, and I hope that my studies along with consistent performance will enable me to move up in the organization. I would like to be a Regional President or even CEO on day. Why not?