BANK ON IT: Bruce Elder is president and CEO of First South Bank. The bank was established in 1902 and employs about 250 people, 150 of them in Beaufort County.

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Big Shoes: Bank president and CEO making strides in first year

Published 9:28pm Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Bruce Elder knew he had big shoes to fill when he accepted the position of president and chief executive officer of First South Bank last year. The former president and CEO, Thomas Vann, held the position for 36 years.
Elder said he was fortunate to be accepted into the fold.
“It’s been great. I think we have all established a rapport and are really ready to move the bank forward,” Elder said.
He worked alongside Vann for six months before assuming duties September 1 and said he looked forward to the coming year and said there were a lot of opportunities for a well-positioned community bank like First South.
Elder said the bank has taken steps to make the credit and loan process easier, a challenging task in this economy.
“It has been challenging, but we’re now poised to begin growth and are very much open to opportunities,” Elder said.
First South Bank will also be revamping some of its products and bundling services.
Elder’s rise to CEO wasn’t a typical one. Where most bank CEO’s come from the loan side of the bank.
Elder’s experience was in finance. He was chief financial officer for Crescent State Bank in Cary. As CFO, Elder assisted with liability and expense control.
Elder said his perspective helped him understand both sides of banking. He understands the importance of lending and can see the importance of the funding side of banking.
Elder helped to build the bank, from devising the business plan to selecting and building the data process system.
“Most people don’t get a chance to do that,” he said. “The experience I came away with that was being able to build a financial institution and working through baby steps – a loan platform, deposit platform and marketing plans – and learning how to become a part of an executive management team.”
Elder and his wife, Sherry, have three sons in college, one doing a residency at Georgetown University, one a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and another a junior at North Carolina State University, Elder’s alma mater.
With three sons in college, the timing for Elder and his wife to uproot the lives they had built for more than 16 years in Apex, N.C., was perfect. Had the offer come five years ago, with kids in high school, Elder said he might not have considered it.
“But, this was a fantastic opportunity for us,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed every minute that we’ve been here and hope that we are here for a very long time.”

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