Don't you just hate when you want to talk about one topic and everyone else focuses in on something else?
That was the lot of Pinnacle Financial Partners President and CEO Terry Turner Wednesday morning as he again made his case for why his team is primed to grow more quickly in what's left of 2012. Twelve-year-old Pinnacle, he said on his Q2 earnings conference call with analysts and investors, has come out of the recession with top-notch customer satisfaction scores, a cadre of new senior lenders and a balance sheet clean enough to let it take more market share from the area's large regional banks.
Occasionally, Turner said, he'll hear a comment about how that latter growth dynamic — which has fueled much of Pinnacle's growth since its founding — will reach its end at some point.
"I'm sure that’s true," Turner said. "But this chart here would lead me to believe that's not any time in the near future."
Then he made a brief comment about how Pinnacle could make a move into Memphis and Chattanooga by recruiting a good-sized team or might consider an acquisition of a healthy bank. The thought was very similar to those Turner has made in the past — although the mention of Chattanooga was a first — and was swiftly followed by the caveat that such possibilities are way down the priority list and wouldn't distract Pinnacle's leaders from organic growth opportunities.
But it was too late.
After a few questions focusing on loan growth, Knoxville and expense projections, caller after caller peppered Turner with questions about strategic moves beyond Nashville and Knoxville. To paraphrase:
Analyst: How serious are you about Memphis and Chattanooga?
Turner: My saying that we would look at opportunities wasn't meant to be a signal that we're revving up our M&A engine. We're still an organic growth story. (Direct quote: "It's not that we're dying to get to Memphis.")
Analyst: How many lenders are there in Memphis that you could recruit? How many would you want?
Turner: If we were to go into those markets, we'd be looking for people who could help us build a bank with at least $750 million in assets. (After five years in Knoxville, Pinnacle now has $580 million in loans on its books there.)
Investor: What has changed in Chattanooga to have you add it to the list?
Turner: We really like the "awesome" job Bob Corker did to begin reviving downtown. But more recently, it's been the addition of Volkswagen and its suppliers.
Then, before the next analyst could get in his question, Turner called timeout to re-re-reiterate that Pinnacle is not in acquisition mode.
There, that ought to settle it.