Making Time For Clients
John Knight is the kind of banker everyone wishes they had – including himself.
“I love what I do, and I work hard to be the best banker I can be. I’m very accessible, always willing to take a call or meet. I always consider how I would like to be treated and try to relate to my clients and their unique situations,” Knight said.
“While I have been doing this for 25 years, this could be the first time a client is in a particular situation. Therefore, I pride myself in taking sufficient time to outline options and allow the client to make a decision.”
For this kind of work, Knight, a senior vice president and commercial lender at First Financial Bank, was honored as both Best Banker and Best Financial Advisor in this year’s Focus Daily News Readers Choice Awards.
And, in typical Knight fashion, his response to winning was, “I was excited and honored to be nominated, but to win was a thrill, and I am grateful for everyone that voted for me!”
Banking Is The Right Fit For Knight
Knight, age 44, grew up in Lancaster and now lives in Ovilla. He knew early in life what he wanted to be, getting into banking as soon as he graduated from high school.
“My best friend’s mom managed a branch and she shopped at a store I worked in during high school and saw my work ethic and the way I served customers. She told me to come see her once I graduated and she got me started,” he recalled. “From there I liked the work environment and loved helping people, so it was a natural segue into a career.
“Shortly after becoming a teller 25 years ago I knew I wanted to stay in banking.”
Knight has a bachelors of business administration degree from the University of Texas at Arlington and a master’s in business administration from the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University.
But most of all, he just likes making people happy, and more than any degree that is what drives him.
Making Dreams A Reality
“I feel most satisfied at work when I am able to make someone’s dreams become a reality. I love being able to help a business owner buy their own space or someone acquire their dream house,” he said.
Knight’s dad worked for the post office and his mom worked for an insurance company before becoming a full-time mom extraordinaire when he was in the third grade.
“My parents were never rich financially, but I am fortunate to grow up in an amazing home with awesome parents and a great brother and sister,” he said.
He married his high school sweetheart, Angie, 23 years ago. She has a doctorate of education and works in the Lancaster ISD, the district they met in and graduated from.
They have three children, Jalyn, a sophomore at Midlothian Heritage High School, and twin eighth graders at Walnut Grove Middle School, Landry, and London.
Knight is about more than just banking and finances, however. For example, he once coached his children in sports, and is still their biggest cheerleader.
“They participate in a number of sports, and now that they are in school programs I miss coaching them, but enjoy cheering them on,” Knight said proudly.
Involved In The Community
He is also president of the board of Texas CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) and mentors weekly at the MILE (Midlothian Innovative Learning Experience).
“I really appreciate working at First Financial and the way the bank serves, and allows me to serve our community. The bank believes in investing in our community and helping others,” he said.
However, along with the joys of helping dreams come true are the challenges of turning some folks away. Not everyone qualifies, but Knight does his best to make even these hard moments better and to promote optimism for brighter days ahead.
‘Not Right Now’
“The hardest part of being a lender is delivering a decline. Unfortunately, not every loan works, and that is part of the business,” he said. “I deliver the bad news with empathy and always a plan on how they can successfully meet their goals. My goal is to not say ‘no,’ instead I say, ‘not right now.’ I want to be a coach, an advisor, and let our clients know what changes can be made so we can grant their request.”
Knight absolutely loves his career choice. His advice for other younger people wanting to enter the same career?
“This is a great business to be in if you love helping people and are good with math. A degree in business, finance, or accounting is very useful,” he said. “I am very fortunate to have had great people along that way that invest in me and mentor me. Find a mentor, nothing is more helpful.”