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Meet the Leadership: Robert Faver, CEO of UMB Bank Arizona

Be authentic, make sure to listen and understand that relationships matter: Robert Faver shares how he’s found success at work and at home, what he’s passionate about and reflects on the lessons he’s learned along the way.

What is your background?

I’m a third-generation Arizona native and live in Phoenix with my wife and three children. My wife’s name is Micheline and we have three children: Alex, Audrey and Emerson. I have a bachelor’s degree in finance and an MBA from Arizona State UniversityI have been in the banking industry for more than 25 years and currently serve as president of the Arizona Region at UMB Bank where I’m responsible for all commercial lending, wealth management and retail banking operations.

What was your first job?

My very first job growing up was working on my family’s cotton farm, but my first paying job was out of college working as a financial analyst in the agriculture division at Bank One.

What makes you tick?

I’m a very competitive person so when I win it makes me happy. Whether it’s playing dominoes with my family or winning new business at work, I thrive on competition.  

How do you celebrate life?

I enjoy playing golf, hiking, paddle boarding and barbequing, and spending time with my friends and family—usually over a nice glass of wine.  

What was your “aha” moment? Business related or personal?

During the pandemic, we were working late nights trying to get Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans approved for clients and my team and I were reaching the point of exhaustion. Right around that time, I received an email from a client profusely thanking us for getting their funding approved and telling us that the loan ultimately saved their business. The email completely energized me and brought me back to the focus on why I love what I do and why this specific project was so important for our community.

What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?

I have played tennis my whole life but unfortunately due to multiple back surgeries I’m unable to play any longer. If I knew I could win the cup — and not get hurt — I would play a tennis match at Wimbledon.  

How do you want to be remembered and what are you doing to get there?

I want to be known as a great husband, father, friend and coworker who loves this community. I am very passionate about the arts and education and I serve on the board of both the Phoenix Art Museum and Teach for America. I hope that the great work we do at both organizations makes a difference in Arizona and beyond.

What would you tell your younger self?

How important relationships are. As the son of a farmer, banking was never a job I dreamed of having until I went to college and had my first job at Bank One to pay for my MBA program. I enjoyed the people I met while working at the bank and realized my passion for helping clients was my true calling.

What character trait are you most proud of?

My integrity. I always try to do the right thing and my word is my bond, no matter what.

What character trait do you need to work on?

Recognizing that perception is reality and that at times when I feel I am being empathetic; others may see it as less than. I need to work on being mindful of my delivery and make sure people recognize I am an empathetic person.

What three things are always in your refrigerator?

Besides wine, we always have organic milk, romaine lettuce and BBQ leftovers from smoking — because you can never make a small pork butt.   

What is your biggest regret?

One of my biggest regrets was not developing stronger personal relationships with my teachers and peers during my MBA program. I didn’t realize how important and valuable these relationships would be to me in the future and I wish I would have made more of an effort to get to know them when I had the chance.   

What’s the most useless talent you have?

I’m a very good tennis player but because of my doctor’s (and wife’s) orders, I can no longer play because of a bad back. It’s a sport that I loved and it’s unfortunate that I am no longer able to play, but it has given me the opportunity to teach my daughter who I hope can follow in my footsteps.

What would be on the gag reel of your life?

My daughter recently had me do a TikTok video with her where I ended up being the butt of all the “dad jokes.” It was not one of my proudest moments.  

What are you known for?

Outside of being Robert at UMB, I am usually referred to as “Micheline’s” husband” and “Alex, Audrey and Emerson’s dad”.

What is your definition of success?

Personal success is being recognized as a great leader and mentor who positively impacted people over the years. For professional success, I hope to become the bank of choice for individuals and business in Arizona — which is often a result of positive client referrals.  

What is important to you in a job?

I tell all the new hires that knowing how to build relationships is the most important part of our role. At the end of the day, money is green and there are other people who are doing what we do but it’s the relationships we have and the knowledge we can provide our customers that set us apart from other bankers in the area.

What makes an effective business leader?

A great leader is someone who can be empathetic and listen while providing strategic guidance and building relationships. I also believe some of the best leaders are servant leaders, or those whose philosophy is to serve rather than just lead with authority.

What do you wish you knew 20 years ago?

I wish I had more of an appreciation and knowledge of wine and how it was made, and that lifting heavy weights is not good for your back as you get older.  

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Don’t worry, you’ll grow. I was 4’11” and one of the shortest kids in my class when I started high school. By the end of my junior year I was 6’1”.

If you could live a double life, what would the other you be doing?

The other Robert Faver would own a wine vineyard and be a Master Sommelier.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I always thought I would work on Wall Street or become a professional tennis player when I was younger.

What’s one thing you’ll never do again?

A few years ago, my family and I went to Park City for vacation. We ended up going down the bobsled run at the Olympic Center and while it was a rush, my back was sore for weeks.  

What’s the best part of your job?

I love hearing my clients’ stories and touring their facilities. Working from home during the pandemic has been very hard and it helped me realize that being around people is the best part of my job.

What’s your favorite sport?

Any Arizona State University sport. If they’re playing, I’m watching.   

What’s your favorite way to relax?

Having a glass of wine with close friends and family.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?

My RecTec smoker.

If you could plan a month-long trip anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I would love to attend the four major tennis tournaments in Australia, France, Britain and New York City and then see the sites of each location.

To learn more about Robert Faver’s promotion to CEO of UMB Bank Arizona, read here.

 

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