Meet the Leadership: Dennis Wright, President of UMB Bank Dallas
Dennis Wright, president of UMB Bank in Dallas, shares what drew him to the banking industry, keys to success in the industry, and what sets the Dallas community apart.
Tell us a little bit about your background and what brought you to UMB.
Growing up, I had so many positive experiences with bankers, especially back in the era where relationship banking was the only way to do business. By the time I was in college, I was certain I wanted to go into finance, but at the time I had never considered a business development or sales oriented position. I started my career as a bank examiner but eventually became an underwriter for a bank in Dallas more than 20 years ago.
From there, I slowly but surely got closer and closer to clients, and that’s ultimately what I realized I liked most. I valued being on the other side of the equation with relationship banking—getting to know the clients personally and understanding what made them and their companies unique. At that stage in my career, I worked for a large financial institution and saw firsthand how regimented and policy-centric a bigger bank could be. It was disheartening at times that we weren’t encouraged to make decisions for clients that were flexible or factored in the relationship experience and shared values we had with those clients.
Funny enough, I grew up just 90 miles away from UMB’s Kansas City headquarters. When UMB entered the North Texas market, I was immediately curious about the opportunity to join the bank. From an outside perspective, I was well aware of the bank’s commitment to its communities and that it’s always been driven by relationship banking. Five years into my career with UMB, I still feel the same pride in the way we do business with clients.
What do you think are the most important keys to success in banking?
Like most careers, you are likely to succeed with a strong work ethic, honesty and integrity; but there is no mold to the perfect banker. Many people might think that you need to have a bold personality to succeed in this industry, but some of the best bankers I have known throughout my career have been introverted or somewhat reserved. They distinguished themselves through great ideas, hard work, and their ability to build strong personal relationships with their clients and prospects.
One thing remains true regardless of your personality: the most important trait to finding success is working hard for your client—not yourself. It’s rare to find successful bankers who don’t display that trait in their work every day.
What are some of your greatest accomplishments?
I think an accomplishment I am most proud of in my career stems back to my first business development job in the industry. While I was qualified for the position, I felt underprepared because it was a major transition for me. I felt I had to prove my supporters were right to give me the opportunity, and prove detractors were wrong for doubting that I was a good fit in the role.
I put together a list of roughly 50 companies as well as a top 10 list that I believed I could win over as a client. I worked tirelessly just to get in the room with many of those companies. A few years later, I revisited my starting list and realized I had successfully partnered with the original top 10 companies.
I’m also very proud to be an active member of the Dallas community. I currently serve on the finance and investment committees as well as the Advisory Board for Dallas Summer Musicals, and my family is very active with our church. While not necessarily an accomplishment, one of the silver linings of the pandemic is that I was able to spend more time at home. I am thankful that it gave me an opportunity to spend more time with family.
How would you define the Dallas business culture, and what differentiates it from other regions?
Dallas has a very diverse and welcoming business culture. While there a lot of home-grown businesses, it’s increasingly common to meet business owners and residents who have migrated to Dallas from other regions, spurred by a combination of the business-friendly environment, access to a deep talent pool across various industries, as well as a lower cost of living compared to cities along the coasts.
Because of this, we have seen significant population growth as well as diversification of businesses. Dallas used to be a real estate and energy hub, but it’s turned into an area of vibrant opportunity for a wide range of industries.
If you had one piece of advice for someone entering the banking industry today, what would it be?
Don’t sell yourself short and try to do something a little bit bigger than what you think you can do. If you are willing to work hard and always want to learn more, you will succeed and clients—internal or external—will value their relationship with you. I encourage anybody to keep an open mind and consider a career in the banking industry.
If you are interested in learning more about how UMB can help your business through banking and lending, visit our website.
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