Training APEX Awards Best Practice: First Horizon’s Ascend for Banking Center Managers

The 10-month program includes simulations, a prospecting class, bi-weekly accountability calls, one-on-one coaching, and a teach-back of at least one learned topic to the graduation class.

APEX Awards

Finance/banking company First Horizon Corporation’s Ascend for Banking Center Managers (BCM) aims to bolster the business pipeline through effective calling and client conversations that lead to increased calls, appointments, and portfolio growth. The program was designed to stretch, reward, and retain high-performing employees in that role. The Center for Talent Development (CTD) worked with senior leaders and external vendors to develop the program, which took place over a 10-month period.

Program Details

The winter session focused on converting a contact to a prospect and obtaining a discovery call appointment. Clarity Advantage led a simulation where participants competed in running their own business. They learned about financial statements and cash flow, preparing for conversations, and exploring lines of discussion that may lead to lending, cash management, and other products.

In addition, there was a one-day prospecting class with Gehegan & Associates. Associates brought prospect lists and completed live calling. After each call, they gave feedback to each other.

All BCM participants left the training with booked appointments. Two weeks later, they shared a call that would take place bi-weekly. Prior to attending each call, associates updated a Microsoft Excel 365 spreadsheet with their metrics. Each call included a culture moment, review of results, sharing of successes and challenges, and next steps.

Between semesters, each associate received one-on-one coaching with Clarity Advantage; this helped determine gaps such as credit knowledge and handling a conversation to address in the spring session. The three-part spring session concentrated on having client conversations, resulting in increased applications and expanded relationships. A one-day session, conducted by an organization lending leader, was an internally designed simulation involving actual loans. Associates worked in groups to make decisions and tracked those on a spreadsheet. They received results and, when necessary, made more decisions. The day-long simulation culminated in a presentation by each group to organization leaders.

The second part included another simulation by Clarity Advantage built on knowledge gained in the first simulation. Associates used role-play and made various decisions, followed up by bi-weekly accountability calls that supplied results.

The third part was a three-day session focused on emotional intelligence, behavioral styles, coaching, and receiving feedback. The capstone was a teach-back of at least one learned topic to their market and a presentation of their own results, based on metrics, to the graduation class. The graduation was hosted by First Horizon’s CEO, Chief Human Resources Officer, Chief Talent Development Officer, and business unit leaders.


In the winter session, the goals were improved pre-call planning, call to contact, contact to appointment, appointment to opportunity, and overall productivity. Results tracked over a three-month period include:

  • 1,930 calls were completed.
  • Call to contact increased from 8 to 50 percent.
  • 52 percent of appointments resulted in face-to-face meetings.
  • 505 appointments were conducted.

Four months after the spring session, the organization surveyed the BCM against success measures with the following results:

  • Call confidence: 100 percent
  • Sell or upgrade treasury management products: 80 percent
  • Deeper conversations with business owners: 100 percent
  • Assess business decisions and explain profitability, liquidity, and more: 100 percent
  • Loan approvals increased 16 percent and loan declines decreased 61 percent.
  • In second quarter 2023, First Horizon reported loan growth of 4 percent, while deposit growth increased 5 percent, quarter-over-quarter.
Edited by Lorri Freifeld
Lorri Freifeld is the editor/publisher of Training magazine, owned by Lakewood Media Group. She writes on a number of topics, including talent management, training technology, and leadership development. She spearheads two awards programs: the Training APEX Awards and Emerging Training Leaders. A writer/editor for the last 30 years, she has held editing positions at a variety of publications and holds a Master’s degree in journalism from New York University.