Rob McCabe and Terry Turner – How Friends Win Together at Pinnacle Financial Partners

For two years now, the Nashville Entrepreneur Center has been hosting Circle Back, where we meet with entrepreneurs and learn about how their bright ideas became big payoffs. In this episode, we meet Rob McCabe and Terry Turner, founders of Pinnacle. 


While both grew up in the South with academic and professional interests in banking, Rob McCabe and Terry Turner had differing upbringings. 

Terry Turner grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee and was the oldest of ten children! There were five boys and five girls and one bathroom. Turner enjoyed his childhood and “never remembers having money nor needing it.” He and his siblings attended a catholic school and lived in a supportive community. His father worked in advertising and passed away when Turner was only nineteen. Turner’s family had tremendous support and goodwill from their community as they navigated a life after their loss. Turner received both undergraduate degrees and an MCA from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and served 4 years of active military service inbetween. 

Rob McCabe grew up in Dunwoody, Georgia, a suburb in Atlanta. A younger brother of two, McCabe describes himself as a “classic younger brother” – extremely competitive. He attended private schools and would later study business at Georgia Tech. He always had a big drive and a love for business. After Georgia Tech, McCabe worked at Arthur Anderson as a consultant in the late 70s. He enjoyed his work and later took a trip up to Knoxville where he would meet Turner.


Turner and McCabe were fast friends and enjoyed playing basketball outside of work, and then taking big risks in baking together. The bank they both started out at was later purchased by First American Bank. Because of their strong capabilities and big ideas in banking, industrial psychologists marked them as talent with big opportunities within the new parent company. They took advantage of the opportunities ahead of them – some great successes and some expensive mistakes. 

They didn’t set out to be entrepreneurs and didn’t get started until their late 40s and early 50s, however, they were always forward-thinking risk-takers in their career. By gaining more experience and talking with successful, local entrepreneurs, they sought advice to take the leap. “We wanted more power and more ability to control our own destiny,” says Turner. 


Rob more a realist, Turner more of an optimist, together they found their way towards entrepreneurship. Founded in Nashville, Pinnacle Financial Partners was built to stand apart from other banks. An advertisement says it best, “Genuine partnerships in our professional lives are a rare thing. In too many places, the spirit of competition has become toxic. A place where we can all win together. The world is full of banks. What we need more of… are partners.” 

With paperwork stacked a ‘foot high,’ tough regulation, and navigating the dot com boom, they fought their way to raise capital and $20M IPO (Initial Public Offering). Aggressive, yet selective, new hires had to have at least a decade of experience. Today, Pinnacle Financial Partners is a well-known bank in Nashville and Turner and McCabe have built a legacy. 


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