Success in the fast-changing world of financial services requires that companies embrace dramatic change. They must move with speed and innovation to capitalize on this change, focusing on the customer and recognizing that their employees represent the only true competitive advantage in providing customers with a satisfying experience that will build loyalty and ensure lasting success.
Centura Banks, headquartered in Rocky Mount, N.C., has never looked or acted like a traditional bank.  Operating in a land of giants (Bank of America, First Union, Wachovia and BB&T are all headquartered in N.C.), Centura – with $11 billion in assets -- has managed to differentiate itself by providing customer value as a full-line retailer of financial services.  The company was the first in North Carolina to introduce PC banking, it was among the first in the country to develop a customer information database capable of dividing customers into profitability segments, and it was the bank in the country to adopt Economic Value Added (EVA) as its financial management system. 
Centura also has approached its annual report in a unique fashion.  It’s 1999 annual report, published in April 2000, doesn’t look or read like a typical bank annual.  The cover looks like someone has scrawled a note on it in ink – as statement about “making a difference” and “loyal customers.”  The letter from the CEO is visionary, not a long-winded review of past events.  The narrative section is presented in four readable sections that explain how strategy is being implemented. The financial section is written in plain English, complete with a glossary of terms, and clearly reviews Centura’s financial progress. 
The objective of Centura’s 1999 annual report was to explain to the targeted reader (customers, investors and employees) how Centura views the world and its place in it -- specifically, how the actions of Centura’s employees can make a positive difference in the lives of its customers.  This approach was intended to directly energize employees while providing customers and shareholders with a clear understanding of Centura’s vision, objectives and progress (by, in effect, letting them read over the shoulder” of the employee).  The strategy was to be creative and reader-friendly, using language and images that persuade, explain and provoke, knowing that much of the readership would be employees and individual, or retail, shareholders.
Besides receiving rave reviews from Centura management and employees, Centura’s 1999 annual report was chosen as the “Best in the Industry” for mid-sized financial services companies by the National Association of Investors Corporation.  The NAIC consists of more than 730,000 individual and investment club members with a total portfolio value exceeding $175 billion. The NAIC’s Nicholson Awards competition recognizes the best annual reports from the viewpoint of individual investors.  Centura’s annual report was among the winners chosen from approximately 1,000 annual report entries, based on criteria including financial disclosure, written content and design.
The concept and written text for the report were provided by Manning, Selvage & Lee/Atlanta in conjunction with concept and design work by Jeff Gold Visual Strategies of Charlotte, N.C.