Beyond Banking: Meet Jay Smith

September 19, 2023

The team at First Bank and Trust knows that people bank with people and so does Jay Smith.

In May of 2022, Jay joined First Bank and Trust Co. of Virginia, the North Carolina division of First Bank and Trust Company, as a Senior Vice President and Agriculture & Commercial Lending Officer. With more than two decades of experience, Smith is proud to put his robust industry expertise to work for the people of his hometown.

Jay joined our Lillington, North Carolina team in May of 2022. Since then, he has prioritized his customer’s needs, ensuring each of his clients finds the best possible solution for their unique financial needs. His strategic approach to agriculture lending is rooted in a deep and ever-growing knowledge of economics and farming.

Jay Smith in a field
Jay Smith, Senior Vice President - Agriculture & Commercial Lending, visits a crop farming operation in North Carolina.

Now, learn more about how Jay Smith joined the First Bank and Trust Co. of Virginia team, and his dedication to providing honest, well-informed insights to the customers he serves.

What initially drew you to the financial services industry?

When I attended Campbell University, I knew I wanted to study economics, but I wasn’t confident about how I wanted to put my degree to use. There are a number of different career paths available, though most of them aren’t typically people-oriented roles. A lot of econ grads go on to work as analysts of one variety or another, but banking is also a popular career path, and it intrigued me.

While I was still in school, I found a part-time role as a teller. I stayed with that bank until I graduated, and when I did, they offered me a full-time position with their team. A couple of years later, I was watching a baseball game that my cousin (and now coworker) Trevor was playing in. While I was there, I happened to talk with the CEO of Farm Credit. He suggested that I should come in for an interview with their team because of my family’s strong history in the agriculture industry.

A couple of months later, I made the transition to Farm Credit and began my career in agriculture finance. I stayed with Farm Credit for eight years before moving on to work with Rabo AgriFinance.


How is your role important to your community?

Lillington is my hometown. It’s always been a strong, agriculture-focused community. Growing up as a part of a farming family, I learned that financing is incredibly important to ensuring the sustainability of a family’s livelihood. But what may be even more important is finding trusted advisors you can partner with to address your agriculture lending needs and who you can count on for quality advice.

Every year, agriculture faces new challenges. Even after twenty years and countless lessons learned, it seems like there is always something new on the horizon. I’ve been fortunate to learn from some great mentors throughout my career and I lean on those experiences to help my clients navigate whatever challenges they may face. Being able to give back to the farmers in my hometown by working as an advocate for their needs is exciting and rewarding.

Jay Smith, wife, and customers in festive Lunar New Year attire
Jay and his wife Melissa attend a Vietnamese Lunar New Year Celebration with his customer Billy Nguyen and his wife Lin.

Individually, what sets you apart from others in your industry?

I take a lot of pride in my work and in ensuring that I am truly an expert in my area of business. I read every day – about the economy and the agriculture industry. I also take personal ownership of the products and services my clients need and ensure that those services are delivered when the client needs them.

Recently, I asked a client why he likes doing business with me. He answered, “You tell me the truth even when I might not want to hear it.” His perspective reaffirmed my commitment to providing valuable insights that our customers can count on, even when I might not agree with the client’s vision. Honesty and transparency are crucial to truly being able to help anyone and I always work to ensure that they remain central to all my client relationships.

In your opinion, what is unique or different about the services and offerings that First Bank and Trust brings to the community?

The bank has a strong history, deeply rooted in agriculture. Our leadership understands the unique needs of the industry. But what really sets First Bank and Trust apart from other banks is the people. The team here is filled with good, hardworking people who genuinely want to serve their clients in the best way they can.

Our team understands that people bank with people and prioritizes customer relationships in a way that many other financial partners aren’t able to. The team members here are a part of the communities they serve, and they are from those communities. When our Lillington branch became full service at the end of 2022 and the bank started expanding the team here, they didn’t bring in team members from across the footprint, they hired local people who love and understand the community and its needs.


What do you wish more customers understood about your role, the bank, or the financial services industry as a whole?

Banking has changed a lot over the last 20 years. Regulations and changes in documentation standards mean that we have to ask for more information than we once did. We have more red tape to cut through to be able to help families with the solutions they need. Those changes are hard, for us and the customer. While many customers don’t understand the changes, I hope they understand that sometimes change does make us better. While it isn’t always the case, oftentimes those regulatory changes are designed to help protect the consumer.

Jay Smith with wife and two sons
Jay Smith pictured with his wife Melissa and sons Taylor and Henry

Jay Smith resides in Fuquay Varina, North Carolina with his wife and two sons. He works closely with Trevor Smith and the entire Lillington team to provide comprehensive solutions for all the branch’s agriculture and commercial clients.

The First Bank and Trust Company Agriculture Lending Division offers financing to expand farm operations, real estate and improvements, purchase equipment, livestock, and operating lines of credit. In November 2022, First Bank and Trust company was recognized as the nation’s fourth-largest agricultural lending portfolio among Ag banks and the 30th-largest agricultural lender among all U.S. commercial banks.

First Bank and Trust Company’s Lillington branch, where Jay is based, opened as a loan production office in late 2021. In December of 2022, the branch became the bank’s second full-service location in North Carolina. First Bank and Trust Company now operates three full-service offices in North Carolina and one loan office in Clinton, North Carolina. First Bank and Trust Company now offers 36 locations across Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina.

To learn more or contact Jay, visit Branch Locations & Hours | First Bank & Trust Company

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