Skip to main content

Rick Saunders

Founder, Chief Executive Officer

Back to Executive Team Bios

Rick Saunders


Rick Saunders has worked in finance and banking as his career of choice from an early age. From 1983 through 1997, Mr. Saunders was Senior Vice President and City Executive of Florence for Pee Dee State Bank, where he was also a member of the Senior Loan Committee and Board of Directors. During this time, his responsibilites included corporate banking, business development, and policymaking. From 1997 to 1998, he served as Senior Market Executive with Centura Bank after its merger with Pee Dee State Bank. In 1998, he began organizing First Reliance Bank, where he serves as its Chief Executive Officer. 


Mr. Saunders graduated in 1986 from the South Carolina Bankers School, a cooperative program with the College of Business Administration of the University of South Carolina. Two years later, he graduated from the Southeastern School of Agriculture Lending, a cooperative program with the College of Agricultural Science of Clemson University. 

Memberships & Awards

He is currently a board member of the Medical University of South Carolina Children's Health Fund Advisory Board, the South Carolina Business Development Corporation Board, a member of the Board of Governors for the College of Charleston School of Business, a board member of the Florence County Sheriff's Office Foundation, a board member of the Board of Directors for First Reliance Bank and First Reliance BancShares, the Florence Rotary Club, and the Florence Baptist Temple. The Governor of South Carolina awarded him an Order of the Palmetto (2019) for his contributions to the state and communities. He was recognized with an Entrepreneur Award for his contributions to the prosperity of the Pee Dee Region by the Florence-Darlington Technical College's Educational Foundation (2016), named Business Man of the Year (2007, Florence Chamber of Commerce), the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year (2007), and the Beta Gamma Sigma honoree from Francis Marion University School of Business (2004-2005). 

Past Memberships

Mr. Saunders has served as a member of the McLeod Foundation Board of Trustees and prior to that served as a Director for the Advisory Board for the McLeod Foundation, the Florence Chamber of Commerce, the SC Chamber of Commerce, the South Carolina Bankers Association, the SC Bankers Association Legislative Committee, the Independent Banks of South Carolina, and he is a past member of the South Carolina State Board of Financial Institutions. He has also been a past board member for the local chapter of Young Life Ministries, the South Carolina Bankers Association Community Bankers Council,  the Advisory Board for the Business Education Program for Florence School District One, the Advisory Board for the Florence Easter Seals, the United Way of Florence, Pee Dee State Bank and Pee Dee Bancshares, and the Home Builders Association of the Greater Pee Dee Area.

CEO Interview