On June 15, 1942, J. W. Pinson published the first issue of Bankers Digest from his office in Dallas, Texas. Following is part of the mission statement he wrote for the first magazine.

BANKERS DIGEST makes its debut with this issue to bankers of the Southwest. It will be published each week as a bank newspaper. Seldom, perhaps never, in American history has the banker, in his capacity of advisor to all business, had greater need for a tersely edited roundup at frequent intervals of financial and business intelligence. BANKERS DIGEST proposes to meet that need.

Succeeding years have seen refinements in the magazine's layout and printing. The great change began in the late 1970s when the number of Southwestern banks soared to almost 3,500, and the magazine increased from 12 and 16 pages to 24 and 28. The regulators frequently published long lists of new bank charter applications and approvals. The trend continued until the late 1980s when the list of bank failures began to look as long as the list of new bank openings of a few short years before.

Bankers Digest has adapted along with the banking industry, all the while keeping bankers informed about other bankers, the new trends of branching, technology, regulatory matters, and mergers and acquisitions in a consolidating industry.