If you happen to live in the working-class town of Ripley, Mississippi, and you have some savings to invest, you've likely already met "Miss Starlette." That would be Starlette Vance, the financial advisor at The People's Bank, a six-branch institution in Tippah County along the state's northern border with Tennessee.

Far from the glitz of Los Angeles or the towers of Wall Street, Vance has found a niche in Ripley using her combination of loyalty, genuine fondness for her clients and (when needed) a tough skin. "I'm doing well in a community where people aren't that well off," she says, explaining that after years of struggling with a weakening manufacturing sector, the town of Ripley suffered a major loss of three manufacturing firms during the financial crisis and recession that began in 2008.

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