The Backstory: ACB is an Atlanta-based commercial bank founded in 2007 with almost $3 Billion in assets. ACB was founded by a group of leaders who wanted to create an exceptional bank. In an industry mired with negative press, they wanted to establish themselves as honest bankers who truly care about customers.

Doug Williams was not content for ACB to be an average bank. He wanted to rally his team around a customer-driven purpose; he needed everyone in the bank, from executives to backstage support staff, aligned around the same goals.

Our Work: Using our Noble Purpose methodology, we interviewed teammates, managers, customers, and the executive team to uncover ACB’s points of competitive differentiation. We discovered the emotional pillars of their culture and opportunities for deepening connections with external customers.

Working with the Executive Team we crafted their Noble Purpose: We fuel prosperity.

‘We fuel prosperity’ became the rallying cry. To make it actionable, we helped the ELT get specific about how their purpose drives strategy.

We created the Purpose Map to articulate ACB’s Noble Purpose, their target customers, points of differentiation, and leading indicators of success. For every employee, and even for every customer, the story was clear: This is who we are.

To win the hearts and minds of the employees we created a company-wide activation plan that included an internal communication series from the CEO, leadership coaching, and integrating Noble Purpose into recruiting, hiring, onboarding, marketing, and sales behavior.

A critical part of the project was training the sales team and the sales managers. Instead of the traditional product-focused approach, the team learned how to connect with clients in a deeper, more meaningful way. ACB Cofounder and EVP Kurt Shreiner says, “What was different about this sales training is, it really tapped into the emotional element of sales. It changes the way you think. You focus on the client and helping them achieve their dreams, versus I’m going to sell another product.”

In a matter of months, the culture shifted. The team became more engaged. Fueling prosperity was at the core of customer conversations, decision-making, and daily operations.

A year after launching the Noble Purpose initiative, ACB’s year-over-year operations before tax income increased by 81%. Williams and his team say there’s new energy in the air. Clarity about their purpose enabled the executive team to make a smart divesture, without belaboring the process. Backstage teams are more customer-oriented, and bankers are pursuing new clients.

Following our work together, ACB delivered their best financial performance in years. The leadership team is aligned, and everyone who works there will tell you, they’re proud to be part of a team doing meaningful work for their clients.

“Building a culture of purpose enabled me and my executive team to make strategic decisions and communicate more confidently with our board and shareholders. We all know it deep down – you can’t spreadsheet your way to passion. Now, I manage to the numbers, but I lead to our purpose. The investment we made in becoming a purpose-driven organization is delivering a tenfold return in our ability to attract top talent, grow our customer base, and establish greater competitive differentiation in the market.”

Doug Williams
CEO, Atlantic Capital Bank