Leadership beyond the bottom line

Andy Anderson

Andy Anderson of the Bank of Anguilla, is concluding a stint as chair of the Mississippi Bankers Association, as the trade group meets for its annual convention May 11-15 in Destin, Fla. In addition to being president, CEO and CFO of the bank, Anderson is known for his big heart. At the National Conference for Community Bankers hosted by the American Bankers Association last February, Anderson challenged bankers to reach out to someone in their community who needs a friend. In a recent column Anderson wrote for the MBA’s membership magazine, he shared a touching story about the loss of a young relative. “My lesson in this is that of all the things we can do or accomplish in this life, nothing compares to genuine love and compassion for others,” he wrote.

Anguilla, a town of about 600 people in west-central Mississippi, is home base for Anderson. Forty percent of the population falls under the poverty line, and the median household income is less than $25,000. The two main counties served by the bank — Issaquena and Sharkey —  are among the poorest in the United States. With many customers struggling to get by, Anderson’s $175 million bank is flexible, sometimes approving short-term loans to help customers trying to put food on the table, buy clothes, or purchase other essentials. Bank of Anguilla employees voluntarily contribute to a mission fund, and nearly every staff member undertakes community work. The bank rewards them for that at the end of the year with bonuses.  

Anderson’s care for his employees shines through in a number of other ways: The time employees take during the day to attend their children’s activities is counted as time worked. Offering on-the-clock time for employees to attend such activities is personal for Anderson: His father, who has since died after experiencing alcoholism for years, never attended any of his sporting events while he was growing up in Anguilla. 

Speaking at the ABA conference, Anderson noted that at the age of 12, he told his father that if he loved him, he would quit drinking. “He looked me straight in the eye and said, ‘Well, I guess I don’t love you,’” Anderson recounted. As the years progressed, his father continued drinking to excess and spent less time at home, eventually moving out. His parents divorced when he was a sophomore in high school. The family lost their house, and he and his mother moved into his grandmother’s home.

Anderson’s family- and community-based banking approach was formed through those tumultuous years, through the support shown to him by his mother, by other family members and by friends, as an adolescent and during his time at Mississippi State University.

After graduating from college in 1983, Anderson returned home to work at the Bank of Anguilla, a $1,000-per-month position allowing him to learn everything about the bank, from making loans to compliance work. He didn’t plan to stay for long but grew to love the community focus and array of services the bank offered. That setting has also allowed him to wear many hats over nearly four decades, from being a teller, to holding officer positions. He was named president and CEO on Jan. 1, 2015.

Anderson’s leadership over the last several years has played a key role in keeping Bank of Anguilla in the community despite a spate of retirements and its rural setting. Over the last five years, Anderson hired 22 of the 32 current Bank of Anguilla employees. He is leading the training of the new staff, a task that has him arriving at the bank daily before 6 a.m. and often not leaving until late into the evening. He said he works seven days a week, sometimes including long Saturday shifts and early Sunday morning hours before church.

In addition to his involvement with the MBA and the ABA, Anderson is the chair of the Conference of State Bank Supervisors Bankers Advisory Board and a member of the Community Development Bankers Association Board. Furthermore, Anderson is a mentor for the Executive Development Institute for Community Bankers at the Colorado Graduate School of Banking.