Board Member Profiles


Please check back often as we add more Board Member Profiles to our website and newsletter.


2Q2016
David Coleman
Malvern National Bank
Title: Vice President / Commercial Lending
Years in Biz: 11

David Coleman started his banking career as an examiner for the Arkansas State Banking Commission. He moved to Loan Review at Simmons Bank. Recently he moved from commercial lending to the new Wealth Management team.

 

Central Arkansas RMA Chapter: Why did you choose to work in the Banking / Financial Services Industry?

David Coleman:  My dad was a banker, and I thought that he was a good example to follow.  I grew up in the small towns of Ashdown and Trumann.  I was able to experience firsthand the impact community banks can have in the communities they serve.

 

RMA: Tell us something about yourself?

Coleman:  I went to school at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, and majored in finance and banking.  Before joining Simmons Bank in 2008, I worked with the Arkansas State Bank Department for four years.  I have a beautiful family, including my wife Kami and our son John Aubrey, who will turn one-year-old on March 13th.  I love to golf, fish, hunt, and play guitar.

 

RMA: What is the most important lesson you have learned during your banking career?

Coleman:  I began working in banking in 2005, when the world had its blinders on and nothing could go wrong.  Then, the recession hit in 2007 and all of the speculative risk started to raise its ugly head.  Working as a reg regulator at the time, it was easy to see how getting away from the basics of lending could get bankers into trouble.  Lesson learned is to stick to your credit policy and regulations.  Don’t let competition drive you outside the box of sound lending decisions.

   

RMA:  Why did you get involved with RMA?

Coleman:  Simmons Bank has been a corporate member for a long time.  When the opportunity arose to join the local chapter in 2012, I took advantage of the opportunity and I have enjoyed it ever sense.

 

RMA:  How have you benefited or anticipate benefiting from being a Chapter Board Member?

Coleman:  I have certainly benefited from being a board member.  I have had the opportunity to attend many events with top-notch speakers and panelists.  This includes the CEO Summit, Governor Frank Keating, and former President of the Federal Reserve of Dallas Richard Fisher, all of whom are people who have their fingers on the pulse of the banking industry.  In addition, I have benefited from serving on the Board with my fellow board members on the Central Arkansas RMA Board.

 

RMA:  What is one fact about yourself others are unlikely to know?

Coleman:  I’d like to think that I’m an open book.  I continue to try and master the art of crappie fishing.  I have recently rediscovered the enjoyment of online video gaming with some of my old college pals, and my wife likes to remind me how cool I look wearing my Xbox headset.  I also like to get lost in a good novel.

 

RMA:  Describe your job duties and responsibilities.

Coleman:  I am a loan officer for our newly-formed Private Banking division.  My duties and responsibilities are to provide the highest level of customer service for our top clients and prospects while introducing them to a variety of other services within our Wealth Management division.

 

RMA:  What new skill or knowledge are you learning in your position?

Coleman:  Every day is a learning experience.  From learning my customers’ needs to learning another regulation to comply with, I’m learning something new every day.

 

RMA:  Who or What has been the greatest single influence in your career?

Coleman:  Again, that would have to be my dad.  He demonstrated a strong work ethic and was a paradigm family man.  I do my best to follow what he left with me.

 

RMA:  What do you do to unwind, relax and have fun?

Coleman:  I really do enjoy fishing.  Something about being on the water has a calming effect on me, and to have something on the other end of my fishing line certainly takes my cares away.

 

RMA:  What advice do you give others who are seeking professional, in-depth industry training?

Coleman:  I advise those seeking in-depth training to research what RMA has to offer.  RMA offers an abundance of educational opportunities as well as certification programs for a variety of positions held in banking.

 

RMA:  What is your favorite RMA Event you have attended?

Coleman:  The Richard Fisher breakfast event would have to be at the top.  He was a big pull for the Chapter and certainly one of the more popular Fed Presidents at the time.  It was interesting to learn his thought process as the Fed Board made some of the biggest decisions regarding the nation’s economy that has had to be made since the Great Depression.

                    

RMA:  Who is your mentor and what role does he / she play in your career?

Coleman:  I’ve never really had a designated mentor.  I have been fortunate to be surrounded by great people who are smart and experienced who have offered me advice and encouragement throughout my career

 

RMA:  What is your favorite restaurant, movie, musician and book?

Coleman:    Restaurant: Loca Luna

          Movie: Tombstone

          Musician: Jimmy Page

          Book: Anything by John Grisham

 

RMA:  Who would be present at your Dream Dinner (current or past)?

Coleman:  I could roll off a list of high profiles here but honestly, I love family dinners and I couldn’t think of anyone else better to share it with.  Having said that, if we could add the Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin and Zach Galifinakas to the table I think that could provide for some good entertainment.

 

RMA:  Where do you see yourself professionally in the next five years?

Coleman:  Professionally, I see myself continuing my career with Simmons Bank and developing my lending experience in the Private Banking division.



3Q2015
Phillip Partain
Simmons Bank (at time of publication)
Title: Vice President / Commercial Lending
Years in Biz: 21

Central Arkansas RMA Chapter:  Why did you choose to work in the Banking / Financial Services Industry?

Phillip Partain:      Mother was a longtime employee of First Federal Savings and Loan. I spent many a day at the branch as a child.  Additionally, Monopoly was always my favorite game growing up; ALWAYS served the roll of the banker.   

 

RMA: Tell us something about yourself?

Partain:  3rd Generation Navy. Had it not been for a failed relationship and an untimely divorce, I would have made it a career.        

 

RMA:  What is the most important lesson you have learned during your banking career?

Partain:  Always make yourself accessible to your customer base. If you cannot respond to a customer in a timely manner, you need to hire an additional person.   

 

RMA:  Why did you get involved with the Risk Management Association?

Partain:  At the time our institution needed more of a presence on active organizational boards. I thought this would be a terrific opportunity to work, fellowship and network with my industry peers.   

 

RMA:          How have you benefited or anticipate benefiting from being a Chapter Board Member?

Partain:  Being a part of the Central AR RMA Board has allowed me to work on some terrific events with truly talented individuals.  We have been able to bring in incredible speakers with an insight into our industry that rivals any other national organization.  Just being a part of that is well worth the price of admission.     

 

RMA:  What is one fact about yourself others are unlikely to know?

Partain:  I played four sports while in the Navy:  Football, Baseball, Slow pitch softball, and Basketball.

 

 RMA:  Who or What has been the greatest single influence in your career?

Partain: It would have to be a combination of my mother and father. I love the day to day interaction with our customers. That I get from my mother. Also, I have always been fascinated by numbers and statistical analysis. That I get from my father.   

 

RMA:  While serving our country in the Navy, I understand you and your fellow comrades visited the Normandy landing site on a milestone anniversary.  Describe that experience.

Partain:  While stationed on the USS Thomas S. Gates (CG-51), as part of the George Washington battle group we were able to participate in the 50th anniversary of the D-Day landing of the coast of Normandy, FR. This was held June 6th, 1994 in the Normandy harbor. This commemoration was attended by then President Bill Clinton along with other leader representatives from each of the countries which made up the Allied forces. There were over 70 naval vessels in the harbor which participated in this event. In the following weeks, as part of the tour, we were able to visit ports that had not previously been visited since WWII.

 

This was an incredible “once in a lifetime” type of experience. I was truly blessed to be a part of this event.

 

RMA:  What do you do to unwind, relax and have fun?

Partain:  I enjoy traveling with my wife and two children. Any time you have the ability to experience something new together, it is priceless.   

 

RMA:  What advice do you give others who are seeking professional, in-depth industry training?

Partain:  To steal a line from Stephen Covey - Never stop “sharpening the saw”. Always take advantage of the opportunity to learn something new.   

 

RMA:  Who is your mentor and what role does he / she play in your career?

Partain:  I have had some wonderful influences throughout my life; too many to count, really. It is important to try and learn from everyone we interact with daily. I believe the key is to try and hold ourselves accountable to essential principles such as: honor, integrity, consistency, persistence and hard work.   

 

RMA: You epitomize service before self.’  Who taught you this important value or was it simply your instincts? 

Partain:  It would have to be my grandfather. He spent the majority of his life devoted to his church. Every Wednesday and Sunday he would run church vans to pick up children and the elderly to ensure they were able to make it to service on time. On top of this, he managed several job sites as a superintendent of a construction company, and found time to manage a 2 acre garden. He would routinely donate his crop yields to the members of his church. This level of work ethic and dedication to the people of his community left a lasting impression.               

 

RMA:          Who would be present at your Dream Dinner (current or past)?

Partain:  Martin Luther King, Jr., John Lennon, Warren Buffet and Cameron Crowe – Basically, “I had a dream that I imagined all the people became filthy rich investing in the stock market while having a discussion about music and movies with Cameron Crowe.”  Actually, all are incredibly talented artists in their own right. King, Jr. – charismatic leader for peace and equality; Lennon – music and humanities icon; Buffet – artist in the discipline of investing ; Crowe – I’m a fan.   

 

RMA:  What is your favorite restaurant, movie, musician and book?

Partain: Emeril’s in New Orleans; BEST BBQ Shrimp ever!!! John Lennon and Paul McCartney; kind of like peanut butter and jelly. Bible; it has ALL of the answers. 

 

RMA:  Describe your job duties and responsibilities.

Partain:  Commercial Lender. Focus is Central Arkansas with an emphasis in Saline County.

 

RMA:  What new skill or knowledge are you learning in your position?

Partain:  The great thing about commercial lending – No two deals are the same. No matter the circumstance, you are weighing risk and the variables are limitless. It truly gets my blood pumping!

 

RMA:  You have many customers in the Saline County area and you recently relocated your office to Simmons Bryant location.  What are the benefits of that move?

Partain:  In December of 2014, I did relocate my office to the Reynolds Rd. office of Simmons Bank after serving the last 10 years being located in the Metropolitan/Simmons Tower. Metropolitan National Bank was the neighborhood bank of choice for Southwest Little Rock throughout the 70’s and 80’s. Having grown up in this community during this same period, I had deep relationships with the area business owners and their children. After I left the Navy in 1995, I began working for Metropolitan National Bank concentrating my efforts in this territory. In 1999, I relocated my family to Saline County. At that time, we began working with chambers of commerce, area schools and affiliated sports associations.  We found  that we  had an ex tensive existing customer base of households, that, ironically, began in Southwest Little Rock and migrated to Saline County during this same timeframe. Over the next 15 years I continued to deepen relationships in this market, though doing so mainly by being housed in Little Rock. Being back in Saline County has allowed me to personally renew many professional relationships that I was previously having to manage through other people. Additionally, the market itself is growing by leaps and bounds. There are many commercial and residential projects underway and I do not see an end of the growth for the foreseeable future. It is a very exciting time to be a part of Simmons Bank and Saline County!       

 

RMA: Where do you see yourself professionally in the next five years?

Partain:  I plan on staying in a production role growing a market somewhere.  



1Q2015

Christine Miller
Heartland Bank (at time of publication)
Title: Credit Analyst
Years in Biz: 5

Christine Miller has five years of experience in financial services with Heartland Bank and Edward Jones combined. She graduated from Henderson State University with a Bachelors of Business Administration in 2010 achieving a 3.84 GPA. While in college she worked part-time for two Edward Jones; including Kinney Black in Malvern, Arkansas. Miller is studying French and enjoys traveling. In the past year she has been to Mexico, Florida, Colorado and France.

Miller was recognized as the inaugural winner of the annual President’s Award presented to the top board volunteer for her service. She began with Central Arkansas RMA as a board member in 1Q2012, added Events Coordinator and then became Treasurer. In 2014 she served as Co-Chair of the Women In Banking Lunch-eon / Panel Discussion.

Question: Why did you choose to work in the Banking / Financial Services Industry?
Christine Miller: I originally chose banking because I wanted to be in the FBI. A recruiter informed me one of the easiest ways to qualify was to have a degree in Accounting and three years of work experience in the banking/financial industry.

Question: Tell us something about yourself?
Miller: I grew up in Kingsland, Arkansas, which has a population of less than 500. I earned my accounting degree from Henderson in May of 2010. Shortly after, I moved to Little Rock in August of 2010 and was scared to death of the living in the “big city”. Looking back, I find it very amusing, and the size of Little Rock has considerably shrunk in my mind. I have worked at Heartland Bank for the past 4 ½ years. I began as a Deposit Operations Specialist and transferred to the loan side in January of 2012 when I became a Credit Analyst.

Question: What is the most important lesson you have learned during your banking career?
Miller: Mistakes will be made, but one must learn from his/her mistakes and try not to make the same mistake twice.

Question: Why did you get involved with RMA?
Miller: A colleague from another office within BKD discussed RMA with me at a training session and how much he had learned through the organization. When I came back from that training, I met with current president David Marks and Karen Davidson and really liked what RMA’s mission is about both locally and nationally.

Question: How did you get involved with RMA?
Miller: Heartland’s President and CEO asked me to get involved with the RMA Board. I was unfamiliar with RMA at the time but saw it as a great networking opportunity.

Question: How have you benefited from being a Chapter Board Member?
Miller: As someone new to the workforce and banking industry, being a Chapter Board Member has allowed me to meet successful bankers outside of Heartland Bank with extensive experience whom I view as a “lifeline” and can call upon with work related questions and professional advice.

Question: What is one fact about yourself others are unlikely to know?
Miller: ‘Je suis en train d'apprendre le Français.’ Currently, I am learning French. For the past year and a half I have been dating a guy from France. With his help, Rosetta Stone’s, and the help of Dassault Falcon Jet’s French employees, I am slowly learning the French language. With my southern dialect it is possibly one of the hardest things I have ever learned, and I will definitely be able to read and write it long before speaking it. Next month I will be in France and can test my knowledge.

Question: Describe your current job duties and responsibilities.
Miller: I am a Credit Analyst for Heartland Bank in Little Rock. I analyze commercial credits and complete the credit underwriting for the Commercial Lenders. Also, I perform reviews of residential appraisals and in-house evaluations and monitor covenant requirements.

Question: What new skill or knowledge are you learning in your position?
Miller: As a Commercial Credit Analyst and Underwriter, I review requests from customers located all across the United States involved in a variety of industries and backgrounds. Heartland is involved in several oil and gas loans, so most recently, I have strived to broaden my knowledge of the oil and gas industry.

Question: Who or What has been the greatest single influence in your career?
Miller: I would have to say my sister, Katherine Mitchell, has been the greatest single influence in my career. She has been in banking for several years and helped me start my banking career. Over the years, Katherine has shown me that hard work doesn’t go unnoticed.

Question: What do you do to unwind, relax and have fun?
Miller: I enjoy being surrounded by friends. I love traveling and trying new things. I have a “bucket list” of things to do before I turn 30, and I enjoy the challenge of seeing what I can mark off the list. Some items on the list include baking a cake from scratch, sky diving, riding in a hot air balloon, and vacationing in Hawaii.

Question: What advice do you give others who are seeking professional, in-depth industry focused training?
Miller: I would recommend RMA and Arkansas Banking Association classes to anyone who is looking for in-depth training to compliment their on-the-job training. When I accepted my position as Credit Analyst, I relied heavily on RMA and ABA classes to teach me the basics of credit analysis and loan documentation.

Question: Who is your mentor and what role does he / she play in your career?
Miller: I would have to say that I don’t necessarily have one mentor, but it is more of a collaborative role of Heartland’s management team. Each member has qualities, backgrounds, experience levels, and accomplishments that are unique to them, and a lot can be learned from all of them. I love that Heart-land is small enough that all levels of employees work closely together, so it is not unusual for a less experienced employee to have the opportunity to seek and receive professional advice from a member of the executive management team.

Question: What is your favorite RMA Event you have attended?
Miller: My favorite event would have to be an RMA luncheon where Tom Savage spoke. Tom Savage with Wells Fargo is a Professional Development, Accountability and Sales Specialist. The topic of the conversation was sales psychology and realizing your potential while being self-driven and confident. Before every meeting he advised for you to tell yourself: “I like myself. I like myself. I like myself. I will get this deal because I am the best at what I do.”

Those who were in attendance most likely remember him as the man who rapped to Eminem’s lyrics:

“You better lose yourself to the music, the moment, you own it, you better never let it go. You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow. This opportunity comes once in a lifetime.”

This seminar benefited everyone because no matter what your position is in banking, you are in sales as well. I found his speech very entertaining and informative as he addressed 7-8 key sales points.

Question: What is your favorite restaurant, TV show, musician and book?
Miller: My favorites tend to change frequently. At this point, I would have to say my favorite restaurant would be a tie between Loca Luna and Copeland’s. My favorite TV show is the ‘Walking Dead.’ Bruno Mars is by far my favorite musician, and my favorite book would have to be the collection of books in the Hunger Games series. 

Question: Who would be present at your Dream Dinner (current or past)?
Miller: All of my friends

Question: Where do you see yourself profession-ally in the next five years?
Miller: I haven’t narrowed down a particular career path yet, but I do see myself in banking long term.


May 2014

Colbey Frisbee

Centennial Bank

Title: Commercial Loan Officer

Years in Biz: 6 years
Chapter Secretary / Golf Committee Co-Chair

 

Question:            Why did you choose to work in the Banking / Financial Services Industry?

Frisbee:   I began my career in the banking industry thinking it would be something I would do until something better came along.  Little did I know it would end up being the industry in which I would continue to grow my career.

  

Question:            Tell us something about yourself?

Frisbee:    I am a certified personal trainer and fitness enthusiast.

   

Question:            What is the most important lesson you have learned during your banking career?

Frisbee:    To always look at the “what if” in every deal I make.

  

Question:            Why did you get involved with RMA? 

Frisbee:    RMA has a great reputation in the industry and I wanted to be a part of it in order to meet fellow bankers and learn more about the industry.

  

Question:            How have you benefited or anticipate benefiting from being a Chapter Board Member?

Frisbee:    I have enjoyed being a part of the functions and providing ways for peers in our industry to meet and mingle.

    

Question:            What is one fact about yourself others are unlikely to know?

Frisbee:    I love to play guitar and write songs.

  

Question:            Who or What has been the greatest single influence in your career?

Frisbee:    I would have to say my grandfather has been the biggest influence in my career.  To him I am a rock star and with each promotion I have had he has grown more and more proud.  I love telling him about new things happening in my career.

              

Question:            What do you do to unwind, relax and have fun?

Frisbee:    I love to play golf.  It is very relaxing to me and it is the one thing other than weightlifting I do that takes my mind off of all else.

   

Question:            What advise do you give others who are seeking professional, in-depth industry training?

Frisbee:    I would definitely tell anyone to look into RMA for top of the line industry training.  Outside of that I would recommend ABA (Arkansas Bankers Association).

 

Question:            What is your favorite RMA Event you have attended?

Frisbee:    I enjoyed the breakfast with Richard Fisher.  I actually liked the morning vibe with the breakfast for a change of pace.

    

Question:            What is your favorite restaurant, movie, musician and book?

Frisbee:    My favorite restaurant is Bravo in the Promenade.  My favorite movie is “Man on Fire”.  My favorite musician is and always will be Garth Brooks.  My favorite book is “Think and Grow Rich” by Napolean Hill.

    

Question:            Who would be present at your Dream Dinner (current or past)?

Frisbee:    My dream dinner would be with Phil Mickelson (PGA Golfer).  He seems like a great guy and I would love the opportunity to talk with him.


4Q2015

Robert Smith
Friday, Eldredge & Clark LLP
Title: Attorney - Mergers and Acquisitions

Years in Biz: 16 years

Central Arkansas RMA Chapter presents the 8th Installment of our popular Banker High Profile Series. Chuck Morgan is a highly respected community banker. Relyance joined RMA as an Institutional Member in 2014. Mr. Morgan was kind enough to visit with the chapter on a variety of subjects.

 

Central Arkansas RMA Chapter:  Why did you choose to work in the Banking / Financial Services Industry?

Robert Smith:  I enjoy working with and advising business owners, both in banking and other areas.

 

RMA:  Tell us something about yourself?

Smith:  I was born in Texarkana, AR, and raised in Lewisville (southwest Arkansas).  I have been married for 18 years, and have 2 children.

 

RMA:  What is the most important lesson you have learned during your legal career?

Smith:  That being right is much better than giving a quick answer.   

 

RMA: Why did you get involved with RMA?

Smith:  I was invited to participate by Gary Edwards @ BKD.  I was interested in becoming involved in an organization that seeks to make the industry better overall.  Risk assessment is something that I deal with in advising clients on a daily basis.  I felt like it would be beneficial to me to have access to the resources that RMA provides (and it has been).

 

RMA:  How have you benefited or  from being a Chapter Board Member?

Smith:  I have enjoyed getting to know other Board members and being able to work on programs together.

 

RMA:  What is one fact about yourself others are unlikely to know?

Smith:  I was a huge Michael Jackson fan (pre-craziness)

 

RMA:           Describe your job duties and responsibilities.

Smith:   I work in our firm’s corporate practice group.  Most of my time is spent counseling clients on various types of business transactions (purchasing/selling a business, banking and regulatory matters, other contract negotiation).

 

RMA:           What new skill or knowledge are you learning in your position?

Smith:  A good amount of what I do involves trying to get two sides together on a transaction.  I think you should be continually learning and growing in your profession regardless of how long you have been at it.  I can say that I learn something new about human nature and personalities in every negotiation.

 

RMA:          Who or What has been the greatest single influence in your career?

Smith:  Byron Eiseman, the former Managing Partner of our firm.  Byron hired me in 1999 after I was in his Estate Planning class  at Law School.  Byron is the consummate professional.  I have learned most of what I know about the practical side of dealing with contentious situations from him.

 

RMA:          What do you do to unwind, relax and have fun?

Smith:  Spending time with my wife and kids mainly.  

 

RMA:          What advice do you give others who are seeking professional, in-depth industry training?

Smith:  In both the legal and banking area, our clients/customers expect technical expertise no matter what. 

 

RMA:          What is your favorite RMA Event you have attended?

Smith:  The CEO Summit without a doubt.  The mix of panelists was exceptional.                                                                                           

 

RMA:  Who is your mentor and what role does he / she play in your career?

Smith:  Byron Eiseman (see above)   

 

RMA:  What is your favorite restaurant, movie, musician and book?

Smith:  Restaurant - Cheer’s in the Heights, Movie - Man on Fire (Denzel Washington), Musician - Various, and Book - Barbarians at the Gate

 

RMA:  Denzel Washington’s ‘Man on Fire’ has been the most identified favorite movie by profiled board members thus far.  What is it about the movie that you find memorable?  Hint - I love the loyalty of the main character and the strength exhibited in every frame of Denzel’s portrayal.

Smith:  I was probably drawn more to Denzel’s intense sense of seeking justice than anything else.

 

RMA:  With a wave of increased compliance, regulations and the significant costs required to comply, describe the affect you are seeing in the Arkansas Community Banking landscape.

Smith:  We continue to see increasing pressures on small institutions being squeezed by tighter margins and struggling to find the necessary resources to address increased compliance costs.  Many small banks are looking to sell in reaction to those pressures hoping to close a transaction before more franchise value erodes.  I believe we will continue to see an active M&A market in Arkansas and surrounding states. 

 

RMA:  Who would be present at your Dream Dinner (current or past)?

Smith:  Assuming Jesus would not make an appearance - all of my grandparents.

 

RMA:  Where do you see yourself professionally in the next five years?

Smith:  I plan to continue with the Friday Firm.  I am biased of course, but I believe we have the best group of lawyers in the region and am proud of our commitment to client service.

 

RMA:  Frank Keating recently visited the chapter.  What did you enjoy the most about his presentation?

Smith:  Keating is a very impressive speaker and very accomplished professional.  With all that he has accomplished, I was reassured by how practical his views continue to be in terms of the impact of regulation on small institutions.  He has not lost sight of the importance of small town banks.

 

RMA:  What bearing do you see the 2016 Election as having on the Financial Services World? 

Smith:  With the fractured state of affairs in Washington, I doubt that a major swing to one side or the other will occur based upon next year’s elections. However, I hope that some sensible political leaders can move Congress to address the disparate economic burden of regulation between large institutions and the community banks serving our state.



2Q2015

Ryan Carrus
Carrus Financial Management
Title: President and CEO

Years in Biz: 15 years
Central Arkansas RMA Chapter Vice President and Social Media Co-Chair

Central Arkansas RMA Chapter: Why did you choose to work in the Banking / Financial Services Industry?

Carrus: I like helping people solve challenging financial puzzles/problems. God has blessed me with the ability to look at a complex financial problem/situation and help my clients work through it using unconventional approaches and solutions.

Question: Tell us something about yourself?

Carrus: I’m married, 34, live in West Little Rock with Lizzi, my beautiful bride of 14 years and two energetic children; Grace-8, and Jackson-3. We attend Fellowship Bible Church and love spending time together doing volunteer work.

Question: What is the most important lesson you have learned during your banking career?

Carrus: Your word is your bond; do what you say you are going to do 100% of the time, even with the small stuff. Second would have to be “inspect what you expect.”(That one came from one of my best friends/mentors, and Chapter President David Marks).

Question: Why did you get involved with RMA?

Carrus: I joined RMA because I believe that managing risk is critical to every organization, not just banks.

Question: What is one fact about yourself others are unlikely to know?

Carrus: I am really into Christian apologetics (defending the Christian faith). The physical proofs supporting the existence of the Judeo-Christian God are amazing and the study of such has served to strengthen my faith and belief in God.

Question: Describe the leap of faith required to leave a traditional institution and start your own business?

Carrus: While it was a leap of faith, God gave me a pro-found sense of peace about the move. Yes, there were times I worried, but something deep in my heart told me it was the right thing to do at the right time. While I miss the folks I used to work with, I really enjoy the freedom to spend more time with my family as well as volunteer in the community more often.

Question: Your faith is a big part of your life. Please explain how you utilize it to benefit the less fortunate.

Carrus: Yes, faith is a huge part of my life; in fact it de-fines who I am as a person. I seek to (although I often fail miserably!) glorify God in every aspect of my life, personally and professionally. One way my family is able to give back is by volunteering at Hidden Creek, a transition home for people who have just been released from prison. Through this minis-try, God has really convicted me of the hypocrisy in my own life. He helped me to see that in His eyes, my sin is no different than the folks we mentor at HC. We are all broken sinners in need of a Savior.

Involvement in this ministry has also helped me see that the criminal justice system is terribly broken; as taxpayers, you and I spend $20-30k per year per inmate to incarcerate these people and the statistics show that when they get out of prison there is about a 66% chance they will end up back in prison within about three years, overloading the system and wasting our tax dollars. What is happening in our prisons is not rehabilitative; instead of focusing on the punitive side of justice, why are we not talking about ways to rehabilitate these individuals? I’m not saying that every person can be rehabilitated, but statistically, the rate of recidivism drops dramatically for individuals who are educated. Through a partnership with Arkansas Baptist College, Arkansas Community Corrections, and the Arkansas Department of Corrections we are trying to change that by bringing current inmates to Arkansas Baptist College to participate in college level classes. I was blessed to be able to teach last semester and it was a moving experience, to say the least. This program isn’t just about education, it’s about helping these individuals dream again; to see that, de-spite the bad decisions they’ve made in the past, they can be something more in the future.

Question: Please tell us a bit more about your students.

Carrus: Most of my students are current Arkansas Com-munity Corrections (ACC) inmates serving time for drug and alcohol convictions. We teach in four week blocks with two weeks off in between blocks. The last class I taught consisted of ten women and three men; I’m guessing the average age of my students is around 30. The vast majority of individuals in ACC are either serving time for meth, alcohol, or prescription drug offences; folks from all walks of life and socioeconomic backgrounds. Admittedly, when I first got involved with this program, I was a bit nervous because of the stigma of being around felons. However, God really worked in my heart to show me that they are people just like you and me that have made some unfortunate choices. I realized that In God’s eyes, my sin looks the same as theirs so I am in no position to judge. Sadly, many of these individuals are so used to being judged and condemned by society, I think they’re kind of surprised when they are treated with dignity and respect.

Question: You have an amazing marriage and two adorable children through adoption. Please touch base on the decision to adopt and what you & Lizzi went through.

Carrus: Lizzi & I tried to have children two years prior to adopting Grace. However, were unable to conceive and decided to adopt. We told the agency we didn’t care about race, color, etc. and just wanted a healthy baby. Within two months, we had Grace, and five years after that, we were blessed with Jackson, both African-American children. Going through the process twice we learned that there are a lot of white adoptive parents who want white babies, but not a lot of white or black adoptive parents who want black babies. I hope that as a culture we can get past this issue and see children the way God sees them; as special and unique, deserving of a loving home. I don’t think I could love Grace & Jackson any more if they were my own flesh and blood, and never think of them as any different because they’re adopted; in fact, I feel like that makes them even more special because they were chosen to be a part of our family.

Question: During the decade I have known you, continual, consistent professional and personal development have been key in your world. Describe some of the training, work study and learning you have conducted.

Carrus: I think I’m a perpetual student; I get really bored if I’m not learning or improving my skill-set so I al-ways try to advance my level of education. Besides a Bachelor’s and MBA, I am also a Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst™ and a Certified Financial Planner.™ I just started studying for the Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™ designation so that should be interesting.

Question: You were a member of Class XXIX of Leadership Greater Little Rock. What did you like most about the year long program?

Carrus: LGLR is a fantastic program, and I am very appreciative that I was able to be a part of Class XXIX. Because I’m a big kid at heart, I really enjoyed the ropes course and military day the most. From a practical grown-up perspective, LGLR helped me gain a deeper appreciation for the state of Arkansas. Most importantly, however, I really treasure the friendships that I made; it makes me proud that we have so many caring, gifted, & passionate leaders in this community.

Question: Who is your mentor and what role does he / she play in your career?

Carrus: I would have to say my mentor is David Marks, our fearless Chapter President. David has been a good friend and mentor for the past 10 years. I’d have to say that he was one of the rare individuals in my life that helped me grow the most and always pushed me to be more and reach higher.

Question: What is your favorite restaurant, movie, musician and book?

Carrus: Restaurant: Outback Steakhouse, Movie: The Matrix, Musician: Phillips, Craig, & Dean, Book: The Harbinger, by Jonathan Cahn.

Question: Who would be present at your Dream Dinner (current or past)?

Carrus: From the Bible: Jesus, David, Joshua. Secular: Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Regan, Martin Luther King

Question: With your meaningful experience in both traditional banking and independent financial management career paths, you have unique insight into this next question. Is RMA just for traditional bankers or are there valuable benefits and opportunities for other lines of business / industry? Why?

Carrus: I’d have to say that RMA is for everyone because managing risk is critically important for all organizations.

Question: What do you do to unwind, re-lax and have fun?

Carrus: I’m a total nerd/kid that never grew up. When I’m not reading, I play video games. I used to be a PC Gamer but have recently migrated to the Play-Station 4 so I could play with my kids. I really like to hunt and fish although I seldom have the time to do so.

Question: What is next for Ryan Carrus, say five years down the road?

Carrus: I hope to be blessed to be able to grow my financial planning and investment management business from a physical perspective as well as from a virtual perspective. So many more consumers are comfortable with technology and distance, so in the future I can see a good part of business being conducted online using technology vs. a physical office space.

On the philanthropic side, I’ve been working with Hidden Creek to start a classic car restoration shop and dealership. This is really exciting because I can see where we might be able to use this business to help teach folks who have been incarcerated a trade and possibly set them up to run their own business. If it works, I can see this turn into a really powerful ministry and example of a successful for profit/not for profit partnership that changes lives and ultimately glorifies God.
 

Question: Who or What has been the greatest single influence in your career?

Carrus: It has been God’s sovereign hand that has had the greatest influence over my career. I would have never imagined I’d be a Financial Advisor, but that’s the gift I was given and I intend to use it to glorify Him and further His kingdom.



August 2014 

Karen Davidson
Commercial National Bank
Title: Assistant Vice President / Credit Analyst

Years in Biz: 15 years
Mid-South Regional Secretary and Chapter Past President


Question:
Why did you choose to work in the Banking / Financial Services Industry?
Davidson:
I started out as a teller after I graduated high school. From there I sort of fell into it after college. I worked for a law firm right out of college and then moved to Pulaski Bank in their Loan Operations department. After about 8 months I moved over to Credit and have been doing that ever since.

Question: Tell us something about yourself?
Davidson:
I’m a native Texan, but moved to AR after college to live and work. I volunteer with several charities, but have a true heart for CARTI and am highly involved with their auxiliary. I also help run a Catholic conversion class at my church, the Cathedral of St. Andrew.

Question: What is the most important lesson you have learned during your banking career?
Davidson:
No matter how much you’d like everything to be black and white and clear-cut, there’s always more grey out there than anything. Everyone has a story and reason for their different financial circumstances and it’s the way you learn to look at those outside factors that determine how comfortable you can get with any credit, good or bad.

Question: Why did you get involved with RMA?
Davidson:
I got involved with RMA more than 10 years ago. Dianne Shewmaker began taking me to board meetings and gatherings and had me get involved with putting together education classes first. I then moved on to Secretary, Vice President, and eventually President. She also got me involved with RMA at a regional level. Our chapter is a member of the Mid-South Regional chapter, which encompasses AR, MS, LA, and part of TN. At the moment I sit on the Mid-South board as Secretary.

Question: How have you benefited or anticipate benefiting from being a Chapter Board Member?
Davidson:
My time as a local and regional chapter board member has been phenomenal. The wide range of people I’ve met from different banks has been extraordinary. I have contacts all over the nation because of my involvement with RMA. I’ve been able to attend several educational classes that have helped me in my field and have heard incredible speakers over the years who have both entertained and educated me at the same time.

Question: What is one fact about yourself others are unlikely to know?
Davidson:
I’m a pretty good baker, candy maker and cake decorator!


Question: Who or What has been the greatest single influence in your career?
Davidson:
I would have to say that the two biggest influences in my career have been Micky Rigby and Dianne Shewmaker. Micky thought I had the ability to make a good credit analyst over 10 years ago and I hope I haven’t disappointed. Dianne pushed me to get involved in RMA and also helped mold me into the analyst I am now. Both of them have been good friends and incredible mentors over the years.

Question: What do you do to unwind, relax and have fun?
Davidson:
I love country music and concerts. I have three girls I love going to concerts with; we have the best times. I also love to travel and try anything new. My idea of relaxing is sitting on a beach chair with the sun shining and a book loaded on my tablet!

Question: What advice do you give others who are seeking professional, in-depth industry training?
Davidson:
There are lots of good companies out there who do good training, but the best training I’ve had comes from RMA

Question: How have you benefited or anticipate benefiting from being a Chapter Board Member?
Davidson:
My time as a local and regional chapter board member has been phenomenal. The wide range of people I’ve met from different banks has been extraordinary. I have contacts all over the nation because of my involvement with RMA. I’ve been able to attend several educational classes that have helped me in my field and have heard incredible speakers over the years who have both entertained and educated me at the same time.

Question: What is one fact about yourself others are unlikely to know?
Davidson:
I’m a pretty good baker, candy maker and cake decorator!

Question: Who or What has been the greatest single influence in your career?
Davidson:
I would have to say that the two biggest influences in my career have been Micky Rigby and Dianne Shewmaker. Micky thought I had the ability to make a good credit analyst over 10 years ago and I hope I haven’t disappointed. Dianne pushed me to get involved in RMA and also helped mold me into the analyst I am now. Both of them have been good friends and incredible mentors over the years.

Question: What do you do to unwind, relax and have fun?
Davidson:
I love country music and concerts. I have three girls I love going to concerts with; we have the best times. I also love to travel and try anything new. My idea of relaxing is sitting on a beach chair with the sun shining and a book loaded on my tablet!

Question: What advice do you give others who are seeking professional, in-depth industry training?
Davidson:
There are lots of good companies out there who do good training, but the best training I’ve had comes from RMA and their dedicated group of instructors. RMA puts their instructors through a pretty rigorous vetting process to get the best possible people. I think that if anyone is looking for good, in-depth training, they should look no further than RMA’s list of classes. The best first step is to look at your local chapter and see what classes they’re offering in the near future. If they aren’t offering what you need, there are classes going on all over the country. Hopefully your bank is supportive of keeping you educated and trained and will allow you to travel. If things are a little more tightly controlled at your institution and you can’t travel to attend classes, give one of your local chapter board members a call and talk about training options.

Question: What is your favorite RMA Event you have attended?
Davidson:
I always enjoy the Chapter Leaders’ Conference in June, which is a conference of all chapters across the nation. As for our local events, I really enjoyed Mr. Courtney Dufries’ presentation on 10 Lessons Bankers Never Learn. I love to hear about the pitfalls we have encountered as an industry. Our Bankers’ Panel Discussions have also been incredibly entertaining and informative, with well-respected bankers sharing their own personal stories.

Question: What is your favorite restaurant, movie, musician and book?
Davidson:
It’s hard to say what my favorite restaurant is on any given day, but right now I’m a big fan of Local Lime. I just love good food, period! My favorite movie would probably have to be “When Harry Met Sally”, an oldie but goodie rom-com. Like I said earlier I’m a big country music fan and my all-time fave singer is George Strait. I’ve seen him in concert 3 times and planning on trying to catch his very last show in Dallas next year. I read all the time, mainly suspense and thrillers. I can’t say I have one favorite book, but that genre as a whole produces some entertaining stories. I’m a pleasure reader, so the less I have to think about the storyline the better I am.

Question: Who would be present at your Dream Dinner (current or past)?
Davidson:
I think if I could have dinner with anyone, I’d say President John Kennedy and Queen Victoria, and then throw Janis Joplin in there for a surprise!