Excited Associates

Pinnacle frequently wins awards for being a great workplace. But 2020 was a dramatically different year for the firm and the world. Could the engaging, uplifting culture we had built for 20 years survive a global pandemic?

This line from the original Pinnacle playbook was a guiding force to ensure it did: Put associates first.

Act swiftly to protect their safety. Set up a response team. Give associates the tools and the autonomy to protect themselves and others from the health and financial consequences of the pandemic. Communicate clearly and frequently. Be generous: with leave for those who are ill, caring for a high-risk family member or unable to arrange childcare, and with technology so people can work from home.

In 2020, being the best place to work in the Southeast meant taking active, courageous steps to prove, in policy and in practice, that Pinnacle would take care of its own.

Physical safety and health are paramount, but equally important is the trust that everything will be OK. Just like an oxygen mask on an airplane, once associates’ needs for security and stability are met, they’re better prepared to offer the same to clients.

The Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) gave associates the chance to do just that. Knowing that these loans were the critical relief their clients needed to stay afloat, associates from every team in the company pulled together, working in shifts throughout the night, to process applications as quickly as possible before the funds ran out.

Pinnacle’s strategy of filling the firm with professionals who form deep and personal connections with clients paid off, as it always has. Relationships were made stronger by the pandemic and will sustain the balance sheet in a profound and lasting way.

Associates drive our best-in-class culture.

When people are team-oriented with shared goals, they’re ready and willing to contribute to a collaborative atmosphere where shared focus trumps internal competition. By the same token, maintaining a great work environment means every associate doesn’t just root for it but also contributes to it. In 2020, Job One was to ensure that despite the many challenges to "business as usual," every associate felt a sense of belonging and purpose.

Connection was a precious commodity, and our associates were intentional with it. Hand-written notes or treats in the drive-thru, team-building videoconferences, Pinnacle care packages for the ill or grieving, virtual birthday "sprinkles" and phone calls were plentiful as associates showed up for each other and for clients in a deliberate way, week after week, all year long.

At Pinnacle, shared experiences — milestones like new associate orientation and the firm’s anniversary celebration with regional parties and performances — are beloved traditions. With travel curtailed and in-person gatherings limited, to put on "socially close but physically distant" 2020 events required some creativity.

Instead of canceling it outright, we conducted Orientation virtually to welcome newcomers until we can bring everyone to Nashville for the team-building games and ritual of going over The Wall. And for our 20th anniversary, a committee of associates from across the firm put on a virtual flashback to a high school homecoming, complete with daily Spirit Week photo contests that gave even stage-shy associates the opportunity to "perform" for the camera, featured on a firm-wide slideshow in real time on the Intranet throughout the week.

The pandemic didn’t dampen Pinnacle spirit. Participation was higher than any other anniversary celebration in the firm’s history, and associates want to keep the virtual aspects of the week even when we’re able to celebrate in person.

We learned two things: Pinnacle can maintain an award-winning culture during very difficult circumstances. And it’s also grist for the mill. Camaraderie and engagement increased. Retention rates soared. We gave our all for each other and our clients, sprinkling kindness and grace liberally, because it’s free.

The cycle continues. Happy associates build an award-winning culture, which helps draw in even more of the best bankers, providing clients distinctive service and fostering loyalty, connection and success.

In 2000, disruption in the market helped us build a new bank. In 2020, instability in the nation brought us closer together, all pulling in the same direction for clients and each other.

revenue producers hired
retention rate
No. 14
100 Best Companies to Work For FORTUNE magazine and Great Place to Work®

More 2020 Workplace Awards:
No. 4

Best Workplace in Financial Services & Insurance

No. 4

Best Workplace for Millennials

No. 4

Best Workplace for Women

No. 8

Best Bank to Work For, American Banker

No. 1

Best Place to Work, Triad Business Journal in North Carolina

No. 1

Best Place to Work, Memphis Business Journal

No. 1

Top Workplace, Knoxville News Sentinel

No. 2

Top Workplace, The Charlotte Observer

No. 7

Top Workplace Statewide, Charleston Business and Greenville Business Magazine in South Carolina

No. 11

Best Place to Work in Virginia, Virginia Business Magazine

Top 50

One of People magazine’s Top 50 Companies that Care

Associate Survey Results
"Our culture is special—something you don’t just find anywhere."
"This is a great Firm where associates want to work."
"The Leadership Team shows a genuine interest in the well-being of associates."

In Memoriam

We will always remember the following associates who passed away in 2020 and would like to recognize them for their significant contributions to the firm.

Herman Strickland Senior Credit Officer, Memphis
Brandon Roby Credit Advisor, Nashville
John Morgan Financial Specialist, Murfreesboro

Response to 2020 Challenges

We live our values every day of every year, but 2020 put all seven to the test. You can see a complete list of how we responded to the varied crises of 2020 on our timeline. Here are a few that show our commitment to putting associates first.


Activates the firm’s pandemic response the same day the World Health Organization (WHO) declares a global health emergency.


Begins communicating with associates about COVID-19 and how to protect against infection.

  • Implements full paid leave policies and guidance for associates who are ill, caring for a high-risk family member or unable to arrange childcare.
  • Asks high-risk and other associates in back-office roles who can work remotely to stay home.
  • Restricts non-essential business trips to help prevent exposure, inventories personal travel and asks associates to report illness.

Implements screening measures, such as taking associates’ temperatures, monitoring symptoms and assessing exposure.


Sends kits to help offices reopen safely, including plexiglass germ shields.


Celebrates our 20th anniversary with a spirited week of socially distant and virtual activities, adhering to our travel and meeting guidance.