Profiles

Banker High Profile

Look to this space each quarter as we feature another High Profile Banker. Read our newsletter for additional content and pictures.Are you interested in being featured on our Website and in our Newsletter? We are always interested in your story for consideration of publication in our Banker High Profile series online and in our chapter newsletter. We feature a new profile every quarter. Please contact our Chapter President, David Marks, for details @ dmarks@arvest.com

3Q2016 - Debbie Knight

2Q2016 - John Womack

4Q2015 - Lynn Wright

3Q2015 - Chuck Morgan

2Q2015 - Mark Roberts

1Q2015 - John Suskie

4Q2014 - Martie North

3Q2014 - Judy Lawton

2Q2014 - William 'Bill' Scholl

1Q2014 - Marcus Guinn

4Q2013 - John 'Micky' Rigby

Current Profile

Profile: Debbie Knight - 3Q2016
Central Arkansas RMA Chapter presents the 11th Installment of our popular Banker High Profile Series. Debbie Knight is one of the most highly respected retail bankers in the Central Arkansas Market.  Mrs. Knight took time out of her busy schedule to share her knowledge on a wide variety of topics.

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

Debbie Knight:  To be honest, it is the industry that I had the most contacts in.  Jack Fleischauer, formerly of Worthen and then Regions, spent time in Pine Bluff and was known to me so I called him to actually see if he would give me some interview pointers etc.  And, it worked into me getting a job as a Management Trainee.  Jack was a great banker and had a great way of connecting with people.  Little Rock banking lost a great executive when Jack passed.

 

RMA:  Tell us something about yourself.

Knight: I am from Pine Bluff, AR but have lived in Little Rock since 1990.  I am probably most known for my wit which I feel I inherited from my father.  I love to laugh and typically am the first to laugh at myself.  I always try and remember most things are contagious:  frowns, anger, bad moods, ailments, and smiles.  I prefer to spread smiles.

 

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

Knight: Investing in people.  I don’t want to ever feel I am managing people.  You manage processes or projects or timelines.  People are led.  And, if the leader inspires those they are leading they will follow you anywhere.  I have been blessed in my career to work with some amazing people and I have to say it always feels good when asked, “When can I come work for you again.”  And, happy employees make happy customers!  

 

RMA: Why did you get involved with RMA?

Knight: Phillip Partain, a co-worker/friend, of mine first introduced me to RMA.    

 

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

Knight:  I am a single mother to my son, Coleman Knight, and my best friends are my ex-husband, Shane Knight, and his wife, Amy.   And, their daughter, Claire, is my God-daughter.  And, yes we vacation together and spend holidays together too.  And, we did it before Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin made it popular!

 

RMA:  Describe your job duties and responsibilities.

Knight:  As an acting member of the Onebanc Executive Management Team, my responsibilities include oversight of our Retail Banking Division, Marketing, Business Development, Community Reinvestment work and Community service.  Since joining. the Onebanc team, my role has been to develop a customer-centered approach to our day-to-day banking.  This customer approach guides us in our product development, strategic partnerships with our business and community partners, and in our customer relationship management.  With over 23 years in banking, my experience in generating new revenue, hiring the right people, training and equipping them with the tools they need have been instrumental, I believe, in helping Onebanc grow.  

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

Knight:  At Onebanc, our bank’s CRA officer, LaTina Curry, works with me so I am learning a lot more about CRA.  While I have always worked hand in hand with our bank CRA officer, I have never been responsible for its oversight.  So, that has been something new for me and I have enjoyed gaining a much more hands on working knowledge of CRA than the big picture view I had previously. And, it makes my job easier!

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

Knight:  I will have to say my grandmother, Audrey Vance, because not many women her age had a master’s degree much less a college degree.  Having taught English in Dardanelle High School, she was quick to point me into the field of Business where she felt I would have the most success.  She even taught many of our bank executives from around the state!  Sometimes true grit and determination do come in small packages.

 

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

Knight:  Well it is getting close to summer & I love relaxing by my swimming pool perhaps having a cold beverage while listening to Pandora Radio!  That is where you will find me every weekend. I love watching my son play basketball and cheering on the Hogs!  

 

We went to the 2015 SEC tournament and the tournament was awesome except for the overwhelming number of Kentucky Wildcats that were in attendance.      

 

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

Knight: As Corporate Education and Training are part of my own resume, you will first hear me encourage them to take advantage of any training that they feel can help them in their day to day job and can help advance their career down the road.  I feel we should all keep learning and educating ourselves; that is how we grow and stay relevant!

 

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

Knight:  CEO Panel.

 

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

Knight:  Susie Smith, former Executive Vice President of Simmons, has been my mentor, manager, coach and friend for most of my 23 year banking career.  Susie is such an inspirational person to work for because she makes you want to do better and be better every single day.  Her encouragement and support were always there but she empowered me to run my division and learn from my successes as well as my shortcomings.  Susie is not a micro manager.  She wants you to learn, grow and develop your skill set. 

 

I remember when I was promoted to SVP, Head of Retail for Metropolitan National Bank, I asked her what she expected of me and her answer was quite simple, “make my job easier.”  Wow, what seemed so simple became my day to day mission.  Daily, I would questions myself on whether or not I had done my job of making hers easier.  To me that was a complete measuring stick.   I still use that as my barometer now at Onebanc and with my manager of two years, Jerry Pavlas, President & CEO of Onebanc.  He has been incredibly busy since joining Onebanc and if I am running my division well then he can focus his time and attention on more pressing issues!

 

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

Knight:  I wish I had just one favorite restaurant but I like many and I love to dine locally owned and operated.  It is important to support our locally owned businesses.  I am a fan of Cajuns Wharf, Bruno’s, Sonny Williams, and Cheers/Samanthas!  But, you can never go wrong by choosing a bowl of Cheese Soup at Scallions in the Heights. 

 

I am a nerd and can get interested in pretty much any movie and say that was the best movie ever but some of my favorites are Finding Nemo, Sixth Sense (never saw that one coming), Pretty Woman (lame I know), Notebook, Usual Suspects (never saw that one coming either) and Remembering the Titans.

 

I love older music from Prince, Michael Jackson, Fleetwood Mac, Elton John, Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band!  Favorite song would probably have to be Landslide by Stevie Nicks.

 

My favorite book of all times is Oh the Places You Will Go, by Dr. Suess, and the Little Engine that Could.  I keep both on my desk.

 

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

Knight:  I would love to have the opportunity for another “family meal” with my Dad and my family.  I took those dinners for granted and I would love to have the opportunity to repeat it.  Family is everything and everything else is well just everything else.

 

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

Knight:  My goal is to ultimately step into the role of Onebanc’s Chief Operations Officer; and, I am looking for a couple of board appointments where I feel that I could make a difference.  Know of any?  I am interested.



Profile: John Womack - 2Q2016

Central Arkansas RMA Chapter presents the 10th Installment of our popular Banker High Profile Series. John Womack is a highly respected banker who works for the largest Arkansas based bank (at the time of this writing). Mr. Womack was kind enough to visit with the chapter to share his knowledge on a wide variety of topics.

 

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

John Womack:  My first job out of college was credit manager at a BF Goodrich Tire Store.  I did not enjoy working for a national corporation.  After leaving BF Goodrich, I became Sebastian County Coordinator for Amendment 56 trying to change the archaic usury laws in Arkansas.  I called on a number of banks raising money for the campaign. In contacts I met,  I was ask to join City National Bank of Fort Smith, Arkansas by one of their senior managers.

 

RMA:          Tell us something about yourself?

Womack:   I am married to my bride of 40 years and we have two adult daughters, two awesome sons-in-law and five incredibly smart grandchildren with one more on the way.  I have been in banking for 42 years.  I hold a BA in Sociology.  I love golf, hunting, traveling and spending time with family.

 

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

Womack:  Be sure to hire people smarter than you are and develop a high degree of trust in them and then, let them do their job.

 

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

Womack:   I happen to be a college cheerleader for two years.

 

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

Womack:  I have had many mentors in my career.    I learned more from Sonny Henson, President  and CEO of City National Bank of Fort Smith, AR and Dr. Gib Gibson Chairman and CEO of Citizens Bank of Lawton, Oklahoma.  Sonny taught me a

 

lot about surrounding yourself with good people. He was a people person. Dr. Gibson was a dentist by education and profession who decided to start a bank. He taught me a lot about the political process. His motto was -- if you’re not in the room you’re not in the deal.

 

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

Womack:  The recent meeting with Governor Frank Keating of Oklahoma and CEO of the American Bankers Association.  I knew the Keating family from my Tulsa days where my wife worked at the bank that Governor Keating’s twin brother managed.  Governor Keating was one of my favorite politicians, particularly his handling of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing in Oklahoma City in 1995.  Truly a class act.

 

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

Womack: My favorite restaurant in Little Rock is Bruno’s Little Italy.  I actually took my wife to dinner there on our honeymoon.  My favorite movie is Tombstone.  My favorite musician is anyone who plays jazz;   David Sanborn, Kenny G,  Eric Darius.  My favorite book would include authors John Grisham or David Baldacci.

 

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

Womack: Ronald Reagan, Simon (Peter), Apostle John would be my dream dinner guests.  And, my wife wants to be included

 

RMA: Arvest is a generous corporate citizen and supporter of many community organizations across the footprint.  How do you determine how and where to allocate a finite collection of resources among so many worthy causes?

Womack: Arvest is a very generous corporate citizen across our four state footprint.  It is very difficult to determine how to contribute to community organizations.  They can’t  be controversial; in most cases they need to serve low to moderate income areas of the communities we serve.  We also ask, in most cases, that they do business with our bank.  We can’t hit them all but we try to spread the love across our footprint.

 

RMA:  Arvest has the reputation of being the ‘Wal-Mart’ bank. In reality the genius of Arvest and its operating strategy is a much more interesting story. Please enlighten our readers.

Womack: Arvest Bank has very little in common with Walmart other than our ownership  --  Walton family owns just under 40% of Walmart.  Before Sam Walton got into banking he would go into communities where he was considering building a Walmart store.  He would interview the local bankers in those communities.  If Mr. Walton felt the local banks were not supporting their community he would pass on building a store in that community. Mr. Walton bought his first bank in 1961. Mr. Sam believed that making a home loan was the most important product that a bank could offer their customers.  That is why we are one of the largest mortgage lenders in our state.  Our customer service culture is as strong as any bank in America.  We continue to receive awards for our customer satisfaction year after year.

 

RMA:  Although the overall number of banks in  the  nation  and  in  Arkansas  continue  to dwindle due to consolidation, regulatory / compliance pressures, and economies of scale, the industry remains uber- competitive.  What do you see changing in banking in the next 12 months, and in five years?

Womack:  I continue to feel that our industry is one of the most regulated in the country.  If we can’t roll back some of the thousand pages of Dodd Frank legislation, you will see a much faster move toward bank consolidation.  This is not good news for  smaller community banks that must live by many of the same rules as larger banks.  I hate this for the smaller communities because those banks are the economic engines of that community.

 

RMA: One of the initial things that struck me when I joined the Arvest Family three years ago is how happy the majority of associates are.  What is it about the company spirit & values that contribute to this feeling?

Womack: Our mission statement - "People helping people find financial solutions for life" is the heart of our culture.  We empower our associates to take care of our customers.  If you can’t have fun working for Arvest you can’t have fun working for anyone.  We survey our associates every other year to see what they think about our company.  We take the results very seriously and make changes that will help our associates become more successful.

 

RMA: How did you get involved with the Graduate School of Banking at LSU?

 Womack: I graduated from the Graduate School of Banking at LSU in 1990.  Since graduation,  I served as a trustee from Arkansas and Oklahoma for eight years, President of the school for two years and served on the Executive Committee of the school for six years. 

 

RMA: What is your greatest satisfaction from this involvement?

Womack: I derive the most pleasure seeing the next generation of bankers coming on line to run our banks in the future. I work with the GSB Senior Class Bank Simulation Faculty each year.  It is amazing to see how smart these students are compared to when I started banking school.  Technology has really improved how these students function in an ever fast changing world. 

 

RMA: What was moving into Little Rock and developing a new Market like?

Womack:  I was blessed to start a new Arvest Region in the Arkansas River Valley in 1999.  We started from scratch and built an Arvest franchise over a short period of time.  I was asked to move to Little Rock in 2010 to continue to build the Central Arkansas Region.  I didn’t really know what to expect when moving here but the team in place was outstanding.  We have continued to grow over the last 5 years with two new acquisitions at the same time making many regulatory changes.  The future looks very bright for Arvest Bank.

 

RMA: How do like to spend time with your Grandchildren?

Womack:       I love spending time with my five grandchildren.  I'm Big Mack to these precious kids.  The two oldest boys, ages 8 & 5,  like to play, watch or go to sporting events and my two girls, ages  6 & 3,  like to go to Starbucks for hot chocolate.  It doesn’t get any better that just hanging out with all five.  My namesake, John, just turned 1 last month.  There is never a dull moment when we are all together.  



Profile: Lynn Wright - 4Q2015
Central Arkansas RMA Chapter presents the 9th Installment of our popular Banker High Profile Series. Lynn Wright is a highly respected banker who works for a Top 20 in Assets Institution. Mr. Wright 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? 

Lynn Wright:  I was on the team auditing First Commercial Bank in 1983.  It was just after the merger between First National in Little Rock and Commercial National in Little Rock.  The bank approached me about coming to work for them in the finance area preparing the various financial reports required of a public company.  The bank had plans to acquire other banks, and I thought it sounded like an interesting opportunity.  I have not been disappointed.

 

RMA: Tell us something about yourself? 

Wright:  I am from Judsonia, which is in White County.  I went to college at Harding University in Searcy and graduated with a degree in accounting.  I have been married to my wife Pat for almost 34 years.  We have three grown children and two grandchildren.  We have lived in Little Rock since 1983.

 

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

Wright:  I would say the most important lesson I have learned is to always protect your integrity.  In all roles, you have the opportunity to cut corners and not do the right thing.  Usually, people who do that do not end up winning in the end.  Regardless of whether you think the right thing will harm you in the short run, it will benefit you over the long run.  Good reputations take time to establish, but very little time to lose.

 

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

Wright:  I was a champion ping pong player when I was in high school in Judsonia.  The bad news is that being a champion in a small town doesn’t really mean you are that good on a larger stage.  I was able to go to an area tournament in Batesville where someone who carried their paddle in a case showed me what good looked like.

 

RMA:          Describe your job duties and responsibilities.

Wright:   I am responsible for Regions’ commercial banking operations in the state of Arkansas.  I work with bankers across the state in our branch network in the consumer business, as well as bankers that work with businesses.  I also partner with other lines of business that deliver products and services to our customers, such as wealth, mortgage, etc.

 

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

Wright:  I would list two people as having the most influence on my career.  First would be Barnett Grace, who was CEO of First Commercial during my tenure as Chief Financial Officer.  His attention to detail and diligence had a major impact on me.  Second would be Jack Fleischauer. Jack and I were originally peers, and then I worked for him after the merger  with  Regions.  His  ability  to  navigate the politics of a larger organization gave me great insight into dealing with people in my current role.

 

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

Wright:  I enjoy playing golf, although I am not good.  I enjoy more of the being outdoors than the golf itself.  I am also a big Razorback fan, and I have spent a considerable amount of time following them in football and basketball over the years.  Most of all, I enjoy spending time with my family, especially my two grandsons.  They are four and two, and my wife and I spend as much time as we can watching them grow and develop.  They live in Fayetteville so we combine them and the Razorbacks whenever possible.

 

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

Wright: My favorite currently would be Taziki’s.  My favorite movie is Remember the Titans with Denzel Washington.  My favorite musician would probably be Taylor Swift.  My favorite book would not be one, but a series by Vince Flynn with a government agent named Mitch Rapp as the main character.

 

RMA:  You have seen many changes in the banking environment in your career.  What do you anticipate as the ‘Next Big Thing’?

Wright:  I think the “Next Big Thing” will be the continuing evolution of the delivery systems used by banks.  While I am confident the branch will still be critical to the model, they will look different and have different functionality than they do today.  Consumers are changing their behavior patterns rapidly and banks will have to determine how to respond and remain relevant.

 

RMA:  Regions has grown a great deal in both assets and footprint in the past decade.  How does a large regional institution balance growth, profits and increased regulatory pressure / oversight?

Wright:  The regulatory environment is not likely to change.  The best way to achieve the proper balance is to be sure that you are offering appropriate products  at fair  prices to  meet  the needs of your customers. If you use that as your guide and you do so in a safe and sound manner, your relationships with your regulators should not be an issue.

 

RMA:  What non-profit organization do you most enjoy supporting and why?

Wright:  I am most involved with an organization called Youth Home.  They have been serving the needs of emotionally troubled teens and families for almost 50 years.  The reason I enjoy supporting this organization is that the difference they make in the lives of the kids they serve and their families would not happen without their involvement.  Their motto is changing lives and saving families and they really do.

 

RMA:  Many bankers are unaware that in addition to traditional external training / education courses, RMA can also provide custom solutions for a specific institution.  I understand Regions utilizes RMA Training internally in your commercial and credit risk groups.  What kind of feedback can you provide our readers about the quality of the material?

Wright:  The quality of the material we use from RMA is outstanding.  We use several entry level courses to help new risk associates get familiar with the financial and credit concepts they will need in their new roles.  We also use an advanced set of RMA exams to assess the level of our risk associates one year after they have been hired.  Both resources receive very positive feedback from our associates in risk management.

 

RMA: A strong family unit is very important to you and your pictures illustrating  this  article  certainly  reinforce  that message.  In a very competitive industry, in an always connected world, you have a demanding job requiring a lot from you. Please tell us how you strive to achieve a satisfactory work / life balance.

Wright:  Achievement of an appropriate work/life balance is one of the most challenging things I have faced in my career.  I have not always done as good a job as I wish in that area.  As far as how I strive to accomplish this, first, I have always been committed to taking time for family vacations.  You have to work a little harder before you go and after you get back, but the time away with your family is something they will never forget.  Second, when you are with your family, really be with them.  In today’s world, it is easy to stay absorbed 24/7 due to access to technology.  Put your devices down and focus on connecting with your family in your non-working hours.  Finally, make your kids’ activities a priority.  You may not be able to attend everything, but do your best to arrange your schedule to attend as many as possible.  This may mean working extra at another time, but the family value gained will be worth it.



Profile: Mark Roberts - 2Q2015

Central Arkansas RMA Chapter continues its popular Banking High Profile Series with our 6th installment. Mark Roberts is a highly respected banker and attorney. Malvern National Bank joined RMA as an Institutional Member in 2014. Recently, we visited on a number of professional and personal topics.

Name: Mark Roberts

Company: Malvern National Bank

Title: President & Legal Counsel

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

Mark Roberts: I feel the reverse; that banking chose me rather than me choosing banking. I was practicing law in a small firm that represented Malvern National Bank and I did most of the legal work for the bank. The bank decided that it wanted to hire inside counsel and I had to decide to either go with the bank or stay in private law practice. It was a no-brainer then and I have enjoyed learning the banking industry.

RMA: Tell us something about yourself.

Roberts: I am blessed with a wonderful wife, Becky, two great sons and daughters-in-law and we are looking forward to our first grandchild in June. I can’t wait to get back into t-ball! My only real hobby is golf and it is now just a hobby in that I enjoy spending time with my friends and the golf is secondary.

RMA: What is the most important lesson you have learned in your Banking Career?

Roberts: That everything is really all about people and relationships, whether it’s dealing with employees or customers. The most important thing that we can invest in others is our time.

RMA: Why did you get involved with RMA?

Roberts: RMA is a trusted provider of instruction for our bank. We know that our people will get good instruction and the bank will profit from their experience.

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

Roberts: I had been promoted to Executive Vice President for about a month when I appeared as the guitar player Slash at the bank’s Christmas party complete with wig and a tattoo sleeve. I’m sure our board members wondered what they had done.

RMA: Describe your job duties and responsibilities.

Roberts: I always wanted to be a coach and now I feel like that is what I do. My job duties include planning for the bank and making sure that every-one stays on task. It is important to me to be responsible for everything. I don’t mean to micro-manage every area of the bank, but to let it be known that if something goes wrong, you are not on your own. I went to the Graduate School of Banking at LSU and one of our instructors had a saying, “Feed the horses, shoot the wounded and keep the herd together." I think that pretty well sums up my duties and responsibilities.

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

Roberts: I think that I continue to evolve constantly. I continue to learn about people and how best to communicate with them individually. One style doesn’t work for all. I also want to learn enough to be conversational with our people about all areas of the bank.

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

Roberts: My grandfather has been the biggest influence on me. He evidenced hard work, unconditional love and a strong faith in God. While not always being successful, I have tried to follow his example in my life and career.

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

Roberts: Becky and I love to go to movies and spend time with our family.

RMA: What advice do you give others who are seeking professional, in-depth industry training?
Roberts:
We encourage everyone here to go to as much training as possible. There are so many options available today, however, that you have to be selective. When we find a provider, like RMA, that we can depend on, we encourage our people to look at them first.

RMA: Malvern National Bank is a well-established, successful community bank that is also growing and expanding into more heavily populated, competitive areas of Central Arkansas. What opportunities and challenges have you experienced thus far?

Roberts: The obvious opportunity was to move into growing and developing markets. We believe that as a community bank, we can provide service and quick decisions that will differentiate us in the new markets. I think that all areas of the state are competitive right now, some areas just have more opportunities than others. We wanted to be in areas where there were increased opportunities to carve out a niche. We made the move at a time when the environment allowed us to obtain locations as well as qualified people to run them. I think the biggest challenge is to have the patience to let the process play out. It is an ex-citing time and you would like to open up and be going full speed from day one. That isn't realistic, especially in the competitive, low interest environment that we are in. We are starting to gain traction and that is exciting.

RMA: Many Bank CEO's tell us that selecting, hiring and retaining the right people is key to success. What specific qualities do you look for when adding to your team?

Roberts: I want people who can communicate both with customers and with fellow employees. We want people who can think on their own and can recognize when something just doesn't look right and are willing to work to correct it. I think one of our biggest challenges is to recognize talent quickly and keep those people moving up at a pace that will keep them interested and involved.

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

Roberts: I have a great relationship with, and enjoy working with our Board Chairman, Lynn Marshall. His background, intellect and work ethic challenge me and encourage me to stretch the limits each day. He has a wonderful ability to keep me grounded. I was also blessed to have the opportunity to work for Floyd Parker during my early years at the bank. Mr. Parker was, and is, a great influence on both a personal and professional level.

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

Roberts: My favorite restaurant is probably the Flying Fish in Little Rock. I love all kinds of movies, but one of my favorites is Remember the Titans. The Eagles are my all-time favorite in the area of music and I would have to choose the Bible as my favorite book.

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

Roberts: So many choices, but I would pick Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King.

Profile: Martie North - 4Q2014


Company:  Simmons Bank - Little Rock, Arkansas
Titles: Senior Vice President / Directory of Community Development / CRA
Years in Biz: 11
Financial Services Industry: 20

Central Arkansas RMA Chapter continues its popular Banking High Profile Series with our 4th installment. When I first met Ms. North, she worked at the Argenta Community Development Corporation, assisting and educating mostly 1st time home buyers. The CDC played a major role in turning around troubled properties and neighborhoods, while also assisting local Arkansans, mostly low-to-middle income, in acquiring a part of the American Dream. Ms. North impressed me with her positive attitude, bright smile, passion for helping others and a tendency with which she worked. When a high ranking colleague of Martie’s recommend her for a Banker High Profile, it was a great match.  Enjoy!

 

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

Martie North:  I actually never planned on working in this industry. My educational background is in allied health but I quickly discovered the health care field was not for me. I worked in a variety of industries until I applied for an administrative support level position at a bank (Boatmen’s) and I’ve been in banking ever since.

 

Central Arkansas RMA:  What is a typical work day like for you?

North:  Most of my days involve working with data in some form or capacity followed by providing technical assistance to nonprofit organizations and community initiatives. I perform quite a bit of research and I give quite a few presentations of varying types to diverse audiences. 

 

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

North:  You must develop the ability to assess a situation and predict outcomes rather quickly. If you do your homework and understand policy, products and process you increase the ability to craft successful outcomes.

 

Central Arkansas RMA:     What was the most recent RMA Event or Training you attended?

North:  The Women in Banking luncheon was the first RMA event I have ever attended.

 

Central Arkansas RMA:  How can a banker prepare to not just survive, but to thrive in the current economy?

North:  For me, the difference has been my commitment to learning about national trends and anticipating regulatory changes. Since I work in a specialized area of banking compliance, I have been preparing for the current regulatory environment for the past several years. You must be willing to adapt and embrace change.

 

Central Arkansas RMA:  Change seems to be the only constant in our industry.  What do you see as the most important potential threat or opportunity facing financial institutions in the coming years?

North:  Regulatory compliance is one of the key threats / opportunities especially as it relates to how Dodd-Frank will be implemented and what direct/indirect influence the CFPB will have on the entire industry. 

 

Central Arkansas RMA:  What is one fact about you others are unlikely to know?

North:  I am actually only 5’4 tall.  You are highly unlikely to ever witness this fact as I typically have on at least 3 inch heels daily. I am the short person on both sides of my immediate family. I have a son that is 6’7 and he gets his height from my side of the family.  I am the anomaly.

 

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

North:  This is a very tough question as there have been a few people but it all starts with Linda Smith. I was completely unaware of affordable housing and the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) until I met her. I was going to become a small business lender or so I thought but I ultimately passed on that opportunity. Her introducing me to the community development field put me on the path that I have been on for the last 15 years. This career field provides me with an opportunity to fulfill both professional goals while giving back to the community. This field of endeavor is never boring and is ever changing. 

 

Central Arkansas RMA:     How do you balance your professional work responsibilities with your personal, family life?

North:  I am now an empty nester so it is a lot easier. I try to schedule events far in advance and I plan for them accordingly. Attending a lot of events and working nights and weekends are a component of my job so you have to be organized and you must prioritize. Also I learned early on to be in control of my time. This means I devote specific blocks of time to certain tasks.  While focusing on a specific task, I do not allow unrelated activities to interfere with what I am working on.  Once the allocated time has come to an end, I move on to the next item/task. This allows me to meet competing deadlines. It is all about my deciding how I want to spend my time and not allowing anything else to interfere with that.

 

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

North:  Currently I have two primary guilty pleasures: reality television shows and shopping! The more absurd the reality TV show is the better! My third guilty pleasure is listening to music. I am truly a music junkie.

 

 

 

Past Profiles

Profile: Micky Rigby - 4Q2013

Central Arkansas RMA Chapter High Profile Banking Professionals Series kicks off with veteran banker Micky Rigby. We discussed his career, the importance of RMA, his views on banking, future challenges and how he balances his work / personal life. Checkout our November 2013 - Chapter Newsletter Checks and Balances pages 10 and 11 for more the entire article available for viewing on our website. Enjoy!


Central Arkansas RMA
visited with Arkansas Banking Veteran Micky Rigby recently retired after over 40 years of service. Rigby started his banking career in Oklahoma and has worked in Batesville, Little Rock and Arkadelphia for a variety of community banking institutions, most recently as Executive Vice President and Chief Credit Officer for Summit Bank and Trust.

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

Rigby: I have always worked around the finance/banking world. I worked my way through college for a small finance company, collections, processing payments, taking applications; after graduation and my Army time, a new bank was opening in my hometown of Lawton, OK, and through some networking they brought me into the banking world. I initially was the entire consumer loan department; I took the apps, approved, processed, posted payments, balanced the GL. A great place to learn how a bank works.
 
 
Central Arkansas RMA: What is a typical work day like for you?

Rigby: Until 9/30, I was responsible for the credit approval process in our organization, and all the credit quality attributes as part of that. So my days consisted of wading through credit proposals, scheduling discussions, lots of conversation with lending management.

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

Rigby: Always shoot straight. With people, with process. Don’t beat around the bush trying to beat an application to fit by hiding weakness in a credit; bring it out, mitigate the risk so that one can reach a reasonable decision, but always be up front.

Central Arkansas RMA: How has RMA benefited your professional career or helped your financial institution?

Rigby: RMA has been a constant source of credit and underwriting information plus education my entire career, starting with the old ‘Lending To’ articles that comprised the RMA Journal back when I found it in the 70’s. I always know I can find something to help us analyze a credit or process somewhere in the RMA literature. And the statement studies / benchmark comparisons that RMA puts together annually are critical in our underwriting process.

Central Arkansas RMA: What was the most recent RMA Event or Training you attended?
Rigby: I currently have the honor of serving on the National RMA Board of Directors, along with the RMA Community Bank Council; with that I was in Washington DC in May with the CBC meeting with the regulatory agencies as we do every year as council. We address industry concerns over a wide range of subjects, though recently regulatory change and credit standards have been the major concerns. Since RMA is not a lobby, but a professional group concerned with best practices in credit and risk management, the regulators value our input and use us as facilitators when working with other banking groups that are more politically charged. This has been an interesting process and I think a big plus for the industry.

Central Arkansas RMA: How can a banker prepare to not just survive, but to thrive in the current economy?
Rigby: A banker today needs continuing education to be able to keep up with industry changes as the velocity of these changes are certainly the highest I have seen in my 40 years of banking. And this comes as organizations are reducing training budgets. That means we either have to ‘dumb down’ the process through automation and centralization or else we simply need to become better bankers through education and experience. We are going to have to do more with less folks. Which means our staff must be more efficient and better trained.

Central Arkansas RMA: Change seems to be the only constant in our industry. What do you see as the most important potential threat or opportunity facing financial institutions in the coming years?
Rigby: The obvious answers are regulatory change and competitive pressures, as we all chase the same customer. However, I also see a significant ‘management gap’ looming as the bankers that survived the banking crises of the 80’s and early 90’s are all nearing retirement age. During that period of crisis, we as an industry, did a poor job of recruiting, as a soiled reputation and the glamorous new world of technology siphoned off potential candidates. So now we have a fine crop of younger bankers and a graying bunch of older ones, but that 40-55 year old group of middle management that we should now be grooming for more responsible roles is depressingly thin.

Central Arkansas RMA: What is one fact about you others are unlikely to know?

Rigby: I hiked most of the Mt Everest base camp trail last October. Darned near killed me…old bankers shouldn’t be that high that long…

 

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

Rigby: I have had many good and strong mentors, starting with Dr Gibb Gibson, my first CEO back in the 70’s, who told me early on not to box myself in to a certain banking discipline, figure out what you are good at and work to get better at that. And that was good advice, too many bankers fail to do well at things that they really don’t have an interest in, but it’s a step toward their innate need to achieve so they go for it. Usually with bad results…… And it helps that I have an insatiable curiosity, so I never take anything at face value unless I can figure it out for myself.

Central Arkansas RMA: How do you balance your professional work responsibilities with your personal, family life?

Rigby: That has never been a problem. I worked hard to not make my vocation define who I am. Family, learning, creative pursuits, community, faith all far outweigh the daily grind of banking. It is a fine career path, a good, rewarding and necessary one, but it is a means to an end, not an end of itself.

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

Rigby: I am a pretty passionate finger style guitarist, as you will find out if you hang around me more than a couple of minutes. I like old blues and ragtime tunes, and play out in the community occasionally (catch me at the Afterthought and South on Main in October, a shameless plug..), plus I enjoy repairing guitars and banjos. Also I have been a bicycle nut for almost 50 years, so I am looking forward to more miles in retirement. Sharlie and I hope to be able to travel a bit more with newfound time. And she always can come up with projects for me to do…

 
















Past Profiles


Profile: Chuck Morgan - 3Q2015

Central Arkansas RMA Chapter presents the 7th 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?

Chuck Morgan: Growing up in Pine Bluff, our most prominent leaders were bankers. I greatly admired men such as Louis Ramsay and Bill Kennedy. My plans were either Banking or coaching. I think that I made the right choice

 

RMA:          Tell us something about yourself?

Morgan: I’m pretty conservative, both in my banking philosophy and my life style. The things that matter to me are: my relationship with the man upstairs, my family and my bank family. I try my best to follow the “do right rule” and encourage everyone in our organization to do the same.

 

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

Morgan: Always identify your risks, take care of the details and don’t chase deals for a short term gain. That’s more than one lesson, but I’ve learned many and there’s not enough space to list them all.

 

RMA:  Why did you get involved with RMA? 

Morgan: The educational opportunities  and  other  resources  that RMA offers. The banking industry is unique in how it shares education within itself.

 

RMA:          Talk a bit about the history of Relyance Bank for a moment.

Morgan:  This is our 50th year. Previously known as Pine Bluff National Bank, we have grown outside of our traditional Southeast Arkansas area by the acquisition in Hot Springs/Hot Springs Village and by our plan to grow organically in the Little Rock Market. We are a true community bank that emphasizes total relationship banking and community support. We have a relatively young staff and try to foster an environment in which everyone is encouraged to” be the best they can be.”

 

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

Morgan:  I’m an open book.

 

RMA:          Describe your job duties and responsibilities.

Morgan:  I try to set an overall vision to the board and to management. I’m a believer in a good strategic plan and it’s follow up. I try to develop management and encourage new ideas. I want every associate to buy in to what we’re doing and take ownership of their areas. I am very active in monitoring our Asset Quality, Liquidity and Capital.

 

RMA:          Entry into the Little Rock Market offers a great deal of potential benefits and challenges.  Can you touch on a couple of each?

Morgan:  This market continued to perform well during the recession of 2007-2011. It has many outstanding businesses, professionals and a strong, diverse economy. We have more familiarity with this market than in others. (It’s only 38 miles north of us). We feel that we can find our own niche in Little Rock that will provide the growth that we’re looking for. This is a competitive market with a lot of good banks. Every new market will have challenges. But, we are content to take our time, learn more each and every day, and build this business carefully.

 

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

Morgan: Cappi, Catherine and I spend a week at the beach every summer. I love to spend time at my hunting camp located on the Mississippi River and I am an avid Turkey hunter. I also love to fish when I can.

 

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

Morgan: Attend one of the Graduate Banking Schools. You need a good understanding of how the entire organization works. Utilize your RMA opportunities to learn. Then bring that education back to your bank and apply it. But, never stop learning.

 

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

Morgan: I attended a Loan Review/Workout and Recovery seminar early in my career. I learned things that I still apply today.

 

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

Morgan: I have had several men who have influenced me. My father is the hardest working man I’ve ever known. I’ve had football coaches that taught me the importance of discipline and teamwork & I’ve known two bankers who taught me how to pull all that together, John Garrison and Tommy May. Together they’ve taught me hard work, discipline, teamwork and to always try to make a difference in the lives of those around you.

 

RMA:          What is the greatest challenge facing community banks today and in the future?

Morgan:  Strategic decisions in light of regulatory burdens, rising costs and shrinking margins. Also, capital planning. Remember that capital is king.

 

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

Morgan:  I have many favorite restaurants (too many to list), In Harm’s Way starring John Wayne, Jimmy Buffet and any book written by Tom Clancy.

 

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

Morgan: John Wayne, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and my late grandfather, C.H. Morgan.

Profile: John Suskie - 1Q2015
Central Arkansas RMA Chapter continues its popular Banking High Profile Series with our 5th installment. John Suskie has been a friend of RMA for many years and is a highly respected credit officer. Recently, we visited on a number of professional and personal topics.

Name: John T. Suskie, Jr.

Company: First Federal Bank, subsidiary of Bear State Financial Inc.

Title: Executive Vice President and Chief Lending Officer

Years in Biz: 27

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

John T. Suskie, Jr: During my four and a half years at Arkansas State University, my Dad and I had many conversations about different career choices. Because of his respect for many area bankers that were also close personal friends of his, I felt a strong pull to become a financial services professional. I looked at several areas in the financial services world: commercial banking, mortgage banking, investments (stocks and bonds), and insurance. I interviewed with various organizations in all of those areas, but an offer from Bank Commissioner Marlin Jackson with the Arkansas State Bank Department made the decision for me. I have been working in commercial banking ever since.

RMA: What is a typical work day like for you?

Suskie: Leading the commercial lending efforts for the bank takes me in many directions. There really isn’t a set routine, but many of the things I do frequently are: guide prospecting efforts of our lending teams (both credit and treasury management prospects) throughout the bank’s footprint, help the teams navigate through the prospecting process, direct the structuring of credits and treasury management products, review and approve credit packages, set the agenda for and chair our bank loan commit-tee, recognize and celebrate our team wins, and try to improve our processes and learn from our challenges.

RMA: What is the most important lesson you have learned during your banking career?
 
Suskie: To work very hard to manage all stake-holders’ expectations appropriately. I learned very early in my career that one of the keys to doing a great job was to set everyone’s expectations as openly and honestly as possible, and then work diligently to meet or exceed those expectations. Nothing is worse than “over-promising and under-delivering”, especially in a customer-focused, people industry like banking. So the message is: work to set realistic expectations, and then strive to meet or exceed those expectations. One other very important lesson I’ve learned: we are in the people business. Our banks may be represented as assets and liabilities, but people are the real assets of our organizations.

RMA: How has RMA benefited your professional career or helped your financial institution?

Suskie: When I was a state bank examiner in the late 1980’s, I attended a two-week FDIC commercial lending training program in Washington D.C. The materials for the program were from RMA (back when it was still called “Robert Morris Associates”), and there were a couple of months of pre-work that consisted entirely of RMA course material. That pre-work and the two-week school that followed was one of the best commercial lending training pro-grams I’ve ever had the privilege of attending. I

have since attended many other training courses to build on what was covered with that commercial lending course, but the foundation built from that training still guides me today. I have also attended many local RMA training and speaking events since then, and banks where I have worked have sent many of our lenders to RMA training programs and events over the years, and we all feel that the RMA courses are some of the best commercial credit training and career development events out there.

RMA: What was the most recent RMA Event or Training you attended?

Suskie: I’ve attended many events throughout my career, and all have had a profound effect on my development. I don’t remember specifically which event was my last, but I will say that whichever it was, I know that I was able to improve my banking career because of it. Whether it was the outstanding material at a training course, or listening to one of the many great speakers or panel discussions, or simply networking with other bankers at the events, I have no doubt it helped me.

RMA: How can a banker prepare to not just survive, but to thrive in the current economy?

Suskie: As any veteran banker will tell you, education is the key to surviving in this business. With all of the added burdens from the regulatory world and all of the other changes happening globally, all good bankers must constantly seek improvement of our skills. With RMA as a resource, we have some very good tools at our disposal to help us do that. To thrive in this new, constantly evolving world, I believe that we must all embrace technology the same way our customers are embracing it. If we don’t, we’ll fall behind and ultimately we will not only fail to thrive, but we will not survive.

RMA: Change seems to be the only constant in our industry. What do you see as the most important potential threat or opportunity facing financial institutions in the coming years?

Suskie: Again, as any veteran banker will tell you, the tightening regulatory environment will continue to threaten our business and will require us to spend more on compliance, which ultimately will continue to drive consolidation in the industry. One result of this consolidation will be that we’ll continue to see those remaining larger institutions gain the ability to invest more and more in technology, not just to service our customers’ demands, but to also meet the continually increasing regulatory burden.

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

Suskie: Very few people know that I have a 2009 Dodge Challenger SRT8 with 2,300 miles on the odometer parked in my garage. I purchased the car during the depths of the recession, when new cars were being sold with huge discounts. I saw the purchase as an investment, and hope that someday the value will be more than what I paid for it. I have always had a passion for fast cars since I was a teenager. I also hope that one of my sons will soon agree to take the car, but as of now, he tells me that he can’t afford the insurance. In the interim, I will continue to enjoy driving it in my spare time.

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

Suskie: That is a tough one since I’ve had so many strong influences during my career, but I’ll have to put my Dad, John Suskie, Sr. at the top of that list. He kept me thinking constantly about my future when I was younger and as mentioned earlier, nudged me in the direction of banking. He also had a strong influence on my work ethic and as I’ve gotten older, the strengthening of my faith. The others that influenced me heavily at a fairly young age were (the late) Father George Tribou, Rector at Catholic High School and Bank Commissioner Marlin Jackson of the Arkansas State Bank Department. Both these men in-stilled the desire to study and learn in my daily life and were both were men of strong faith. Both were also very strong leaders in their respective fields. And on top of all of that, they both had a compassion-ate side and a great sense of humor to go with it, which I think is very important in this day and age. All of these attributes were critical to the early growth of my career, because intense training and education are very important to developing skills for any industry. The lessons learned from these men have also helped me tremendously later in my career because we are in such an intensely changing, dynamic industry that requires continual education. We also can’t forget that this is still a people business, and being a fair and compassionate leader with a sense of humor is very important.

RMA: How do you balance your professional work responsibilities with your personal, family life?

Suskie: My faith and my family have always played a key role in how I try to live my life, so I’ve always strived to take time for both of those things, while working the hours needed to be a good banker and learn as much as possible about the industry. It was not always easy to do that, especially in the early days when I traveled constantly and attended many different banking schools, but I always tried to make time for family vacations, and focus time on giving back to our community and church. My wife, Ned-die and I take pride in the fact that all four of our children are very strong in their faith, and that our larger extended family is also very close. Having four of my five brothers and sisters living in the Little Rock area also helps to keep the Suskie family close. To sum it up, one of my long-time friends and a former Bank of America associate of mine, Robert Burnett used to always tell me “take all of your vacation, every year; you need that time to spend with your friends and family. You’ll never sit at your deathbed and say ‘I wish I had worked more hours during my life!’” Great words that we all need to keep in mind as we work to balance our work and family life responsibilities.

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

Suskie: As mentioned in one of my earlier responses, I try to sneak a few minutes of driving in the Challenger every so often to help unwind. It takes me back to my youth when I drove a 1972 Olds 442, that was really fun to drive. Additionally, my wife, Neddie and I have always focused our family vacations around doing things with our four children. We always tried to spend time with our ex-tended family by taking our kids to the Suskie Family Reunions. We have been having those reunions every two years for the past 50 years and they have been held throughout the United States. Now that all of our children are grown and we have our first grandchild, we have shifted our focus on spending time with each of our kids on a more individualized basis, and obviously take as much time as possible with our new grandson. One other activity that we’ve increased significantly now that we’re empty nesters is that we are more involved with our church. We are both Eucharistic Ministers that visit the sick and home-bound. It is truly a ministry that gives much more to us, than we give to those that we’re visiting. Lastly, I’ve always been a big sports fan, and specifically have purchased season tickets for the Arkansas Razorback football games and my be-loved Arkansas State University Red Wolves’ foot-ball games (Indians when I played there many years ago). Two of our children have attended the UofA, and Neddie and I have always tried to attend as many of those Fayetteville games as possible so we can visit our children while away at college. My alma mater of ASU also gets a good portion of my Saturday afternoons in the fall. I have really enjoyed watching the resurgence of the Red Wolves football program over these last few successful bowl seasons.  




Profile: Judy Lawton - 3Q2014


Company: Heartland Bank - Little Rock, Arkansas

Titles: Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operations Officer

Years in Biz: 33

Central Arkansas RMA Chapter continues its popular Banking High Profile Series with our 4th installment. Judy Lawton  participated in our 2014 Signature Event - Women in Banking. With a plethora of responsibilities in a community bank with retail locations stretched from Little Rock, Bryant, Sheridan and Fordyce, Arkansas, Judy Lawton wears many hats. Her background and experiences prepare her nicely to excel in a challenging, ever changing field. Enjoy her story!

 

Central Arkansas RMA Chapter: What is a typical work day like for you?

Judy Lawton: A typical work day includes review of financial and operational information, assisting managers with issues, projects and opportunities and as a member of the management team always contemplating new opportunities to enhance the operation and profitability of the Bank.

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

Lawton: The willingness to accept and adapt to change and make the most out of whatever exists in the current banking environment.

RMA: How has RMA benefited your professional career or helped your financial institution?

Lawton: It has provided a forum for today’s young leaders to gain experience and learn from other leaders in the community.

RMA: What was the most recent RMA Event or Training you attended?

Lawton: Women in Banking Panel Discussion and RMA Golf Tournament (Only female competitor there!)

RMA: How can a banker prepare to not just survive, but to thrive in the current economy?

Lawton: You need to decide where you want to go by developing your niche, staff appropriately, educate your staff and be on the forefront of technology. Also be willing to change your banking environment as needed to thrive. Think outside the box.

RMA: As Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operations Officer you carry a lot of responsibility on your plate in a hyper changing, high profile industry. What keeps you awake at night?

Lawton: Everything! But the one thing that never changes is continuing to find ways to grow and be profitable.

RMA: What challenges exist for Women in Banking today?

Lawton: The struggle associated with trying to be perfect both in their home life and in their career and falling short since it is almost impossible to be perfect. Women need to realize that mistakes will happen and they need to be able to own the mistake and learn from it. I was once told that it was alright to make mistakes just don’t make the same one twice.

RMA: Change seems to be the only constant in our industry. Not all change is bad. What do you see as the most significant opportunity for financial institutions in the coming years?

Lawton: Technology is changing the way our customers bank. The opportunities for bankers lie in the ability to adapt to this change by providing the products and services that meet their needs. This includes utilizing our technology for business development and marketing.

RMA: What is the greatest accomplishment you have achieved in your career?

Lawton: Being instrumental in the establishment, management and success of a denovo Bank from its start until the Bank sold in June, 2003.

RMA: When others ask you for career advice, how do you respond?

Lawton: Early on decide where you want your career to lead you and decide what commitments and education it will take to get you there. And then do it. Understand that along the way your priorities may change and that is ok. Be willing to change with them.

 

RMA: You have held important, meaningful positions in financial institutions and in the private sector. From your viewpoint, describe some of the differences between the two.

Lawton: The regulatory environment is more in-tense for the financial industry as compared to the private sector. The cost of complying with these regulations can increase the challenges of providing a return for our shareholders.

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

Lawton: My bark is worse than my bite (most of the time)…………. Also, I entered banking by default after I was unable to find a public accounting job when moving for personal reasons thinking I would stay in banking for a short time and here I am 33 years later.

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

Lawton: I have been fortunate to work with several Chief Executive Officers and Directors who have all had a positive influence on my career. Each one has provided me with additional knowledge and work experience.

RMA: How do you balance your professional work responsibilities with your personal, family life?

Lawton: This can be a challenge for many people, including myself. I’ve learned to work hard through the week and use good time management skills. I’m always putting in extra hours to make sure I can en-joy my personal time with as little stress as possible. I was a single mom working in this business and I’ve learned the importance of managing my personal time while also providing an example of strong work ethics to my son.

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

Lawton: Golf and spend time with family & friends.


 
Profile: Bill Scholl - 2Q2014

40 Year Banking Veteran, William 'Bill' Scholl, fitted time into a very busy schedule as President First Security Bancorp and Vice Chairman of First Security Bank to visit with Central Arkansas RMA Chapter. Scholl has served in senior management roles in several local banking institutions. He also served as national RMA HQ President and has remained an RMA advocate throghout his storied career. Additional picture content is available in our 2Q2014 Newsletter. You can access the newsletter by clicking n our Newsletter Tab at the top of this page.


Central Arkansas RMA: Why did you choose to work in the Banking / Financial Services Industry?
Bill Scholl: After four years of college, two years in the military, and two years of grad school ending in 1973, a down year economically, I was ready to work and as my father recommended “learn to sell something”; I figured I would start in a sales job. But a commercial loan trainee job was offered to me at Worthen Bank and it sounded intriguing and it was and here I am 41 years later.

Central Arkansas RMA: What is a typical work day like for you?
Scholl: A typical work day includes credit review, customer interaction, community activities and plenty of communication with our associates.

Central Arkansas RMA: What is the most important lesson you have learned during your banking career?
Scholl: The most important and most difficult lesson a banker must learn is to balance being customer service driven and a risk manager at the same time. The delicate managing of meeting client’s needs and the risk/profitability to the bank is key to being a successful banker.

Central Arkansas RMA: How did you get involved with RMA?
Scholl: George Worthen was the credit department manager at Worthen Bank when I started my career. He was the chapter president and encouraged me to become involved in order to enhance my credit skills. George stressed the value of becoming more than a member, but pursuing leadership in the organization….good advice.

Central Arkansas RMA: How has RMA benefited your professional career or helped your financial institution?
Scholl: The personal relationships I have been able to establish with commercial bankers around the nation has been a valuable and rewarding part of my credit and lending development. Lending roundtables with banking peers has provided great insight from many outstanding banking professionals. Serving on the national board with visits to Washington, D.C. and discussions about the latest economic trends and issues expanded my perspective on all the challenges we face.

Central Arkansas RMA: How can a banker prepare to not just survive, but to thrive in the current economy?
Scholl: I have found no one will be as concerned about your education and development as you are. Every banker needs to focus on improving his/her skills constantly. From reading daily economic reports, subscribing to banking journals, to communicating with peers, a quality commercial banker must be growing in maturity and knowledge in our profession every day.

Central Arkansas RMA: Change seems to be the only constant in our industry. What do you see as the most important potential threat or opportunity facing financial institutions in the coming years?
Scholl: The greatest threats and opportunities appear to be oppressive regulatory issues on the threat side to tremendous technology advances on the opportunity side. If the regulatory environment continues to expand as it has over the past five or six years, much of the flexibility and judgment that makes a commercial bankers life so interesting will be eliminated.


On the other hand, the ability to use all the new technology available (internet research, on-line learning, access to instantaneous information etc.) will allow us to be better informed and quicker to respond to changes in the environment.

Central Arkansas RMA: What is one fact about you others are unlikely to know?
Scholl: Many do not know that I was a high school and college wrestler and currently assist coaching the sport as it continues to grow in Arkansas. Investing in the lives of high school students has been interesting and rewarding.

Central Arkansas RMA: Please tell our readers about your time in the Armed Services. What stands out to you as a defining moment or special memory for you?
Scholl: I was an ROTC graduate and served as a 2nd and 1st Lieutenant in the U.S. Army in Texas, Oklahoma and South Vietnam. As a 22 year old platoon leader, growing up in a hurry is not an option, it is a necessity. The lessons of a limited, political war like Viet Nam was a tough one for those of us who chose to serve, but a valuable one, nevertheless.

Central Arkansas RMA: Who or What has been the greatest single influence in your career?
Scholl: Each of the CEO’s, owners, or chairman for whom I have worked for has had an impact on me. I have learned a great deal from each, despite their differences. Ed Penick was a visionary, Curt Bradbury was a tough, bottom-line manager, Jack Fleischauer was a compassionate leader, Jim East was a creative, think outside the box businessman and Reynie Rutledge is the most customer service driven, knowledgeable banker I have ever known. It has been a privilege serving under or beside each of these men over the past 41 years.

Central Arkansas RMA: How do you balance your professional work responsibilities with your personal, family life?
Scholl: The demands on a banker to be involved in the community place heavy time burdens on us. The key is to choose a few critical places to serve and not get spread to thinly. The word balance is the key. Don’t let any one area crowd out the others.

Central Arkansas RMA: What do you do to unwind, relax and have fun?
Scholl: I read a great deal….everything, periodicals, fiction, non-fiction. That, for me, is the best way to escape the demands of everyday life. Also, some physical activities is essential. I like biking now. We have been blessed with some fantastic biking trails along the river.

Central Arkansas RMA: Who would you invite to a dream dinner?
Scholl: Dream dinner: Solomon, my dad and the Apostle Paul

 

Profile: Marcus Guinn - 1Q2014

Central Arkansas RMA visited with Central Arkansas Banking Veteran Marcus Guinn recently.  Guinn has nearly 30 years of experience in a variety of roles.  The majority of his time has been spent in Commercial Lending, with a strong focus on C&I Lending.  Guinn spent over 25 years with the original Twin City Bank in North Little Rock which through a series of acquisitions became US Bank.  Two years ago, Guinn moved to Arvest Bank as a Senior Lender.  He has been promoted to Manager of the Commercial & Industrial Loan Group.  As Chapter President and a former colleague of Guinn, I was very excited when he joined our chapter board.  He brings a tremendous level of professionalism, knowledge and great attitude to our team.  Be sure to check out our latest newsletter for expanded coverage.
______________________________________________________

 Marcus Guinn / Arvest Bank

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

Guinn:  I originally began working for a bank because it allowed me to continue my education at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.  Banking allowed me flexibility to attend day or night classes.

 

Central Arkansas RMA:  Tell us something about yourself?  

Guinn:  When I began working at the original Twin City bank, my office was in the basement of the main bank.  I joke with friends and family that I actually started “not on the ground floor” but rather below the ground floor.

 

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

Guinn:  The most important lesson I have learned over my career is to stand firm on moral values and be honest in all dealings.

 

Central Arkansas RMA:  Why did you get involved with RMA? 

Guinn:  I was attracted to RMA because risk management has become a very important additional skill to have in this changing bank regulatory environment.  Additionally, Arvest has made a firm commitment to support RMA participants not only with rhetoric, but with action.  It is refreshing to have support from your employer to further develop risk management skills through education and interactions with other risk management professionals locally and nationally.

 

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

Guinn:  I benefit from regular interaction with local and nationally known speakers.  There are tidbits of information received from each speaker, whether from a Federal Reserve Bank President or a banking industry expert.  This interaction promotes personal growth and development.

 

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

Guinn:  I served three (3) years in the Army on active duty and another nineteen (19) in the Arkansas National Guard retiring in the position of First Sergeant.

 

Central Arkansas RMA:  You probably have some interesting stories about the time you spent serving our country.  What can you share with our members?

Guinn:  Like most veterans, my time spent in the Military was a defining moment in my life.  The discipline, motivation, mental & physical training, friendships and leadership lessons last a lifetime.  Perhaps the thing that had the greatest impression on me occurred at my first duty station at Fort Hood Texas.  There was a large “floor to ceiling” mirror located in the lobby of my barracks with these words written on the wall beside it.  DO SOMETHING:  LEAD, FOLLOW or GET THE HECK OUT OF THE WAY!  I learned quickly the definition of leadership.  As a leader, it is easy to demand actions of employees simply because of the position. When this happens employees do “just enough” to get by.  But true leadership involves “gaining the willing participation of those who follow you”.  When this happens, you get 110% effort from employees.

 

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

Guinn:  I have had many great influences during my career.  There have been senior bankers mentoring and guiding me from my early career until now.  However, my dad was the single most influential person during my career.  He instilled discipline and moral values and demonstrated that when you stand on solid moral ground, everything else falls in place. 

 
 

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

Guinn:  Travel and enjoy the coastlines with family, watch sports and listen to music.

 

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

Guinn:  I recommend regular continuing education through RMA, ABA, Graduate Schools of Banking, etc.  The banking environment is ever changing and it takes continuing education to remain up-to-date with regulations, processes and procedures.

 

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

Guinn:  Breakfast with Dallas Federal Reserve Chairman, Richard Fisher, offered a behind the scenes look at policy setting meetings and an overview of what happens before the “official statement” is released by the Fed to the public.  Every word of the official statement is scrutinized. 

 

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

Guinn:  I do not have a single favorite.  I enjoy a wide variety of foods, movies, music and books.

 

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

Guinn:  My entire family.