Correspondent banker Rodney Rushing often jokes about trying to hide his Alabama drawl when talking with bankers in other parts of the country.

But he's a pied piper when it comes to convincing veteran correspondent lenders in the Southeast to join the young ServisFirst in Birmingham.

ServisFirst, where Rushing heads the correspondent unit, recently hired two experts for its correspondent team from BBVA Compass.

Rushing, who spent 30 years at the former Compass Bank, has plucked a handful of correspondent lenders from BBVA Compass since starting an aggressive expansion in that business segment in March 2011. ServisFirst now has 90 bank clients in six states.

"I'm convinced with the people we have, that we have the best correspondent team out there in the Southeast," Rushing said. "We're looking for more."

On Tuesday ServisFirst said it hired Don Owens, a 20-plus year senior loan administrator at BBVA Compass, as its senior vice president and credit officer for the correspondent division. It also brought in Jason Patrick from BBVA's investment division, as correspondent banking operations specialist. Both men worked with Rushing at Compass.

But Rushing said he's not targeting any particular bank to steal executives. He noted two other recent hires from First Tennessee Correspondent Services and State Bank & Trust in Macon, Ga.

When Rushing recruits someone, his strategy is to show rather than talk, he says.

"I bring them in and let them meet our CEO, and we can quickly convince them this bank is committed to the business and committed to the business in the right way," said Rushing, also an executive vice president of ServisFirst Bank.

More often than not, other correspondent bankers call him first, Rushing says. But he's selective, favoring seasoned bankers.

"I'm looking for someone who knows the bankers and who knows their state," he says.

Times have changed, he says, and not any correspondent banker will do.

"Years ago, [a correspondent banker] could visit a downstream bank and yuck it up. They'd talk banking and Alabama football or go golfing and that was it. You got the business," Rushing said. "Those days are over. Bankers are busy and they want to talk business. … You don't waste time."

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