Washington County Banks Host Big Rise in Deposits

by George Waldon  on Monday, Mar. 12, 2018 12:00 am   2 min read

During the past 10 years, banks have come and gone in the Washington County market, but the headcount of lenders and tally of branches has grown.

These days, 26 banks do business out of 98 locations compared with 21 institutions with 96 branches in 2007.

The census of Washington County lenders is an indication that the $4.9 billion-deposit market is even more competitive today.

Citizens Bank of Batesville intends to add a second Fayetteville location, which will push the county branch total closer to the century mark.

Speaking of the century mark, the neighboring Benton County market was home to 100 branches back in 2007. The number stands at 92 today.

While the number of banking offices has contracted slightly, the count of Benton County lenders has expanded from 22 to 27 in the $5.3 billion-deposit market.

That dollar total reflects a 7.1 percent increase from total deposits of $5 billion in 2007.

Though still trailing Benton County’s total deposits, Washington County posted a whopping 42 percent gain during 2007-17.

Total deposits in the county grew from nearly $3.5 billion in 2007 to $4.9 billion last year, according to figures compiled by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Two of the largest franchises in Washington County collected $919 million of that $1.4 billion in deposit growth during 2007-17. Arvest Bank of Fayetteville accounted for $688 million, and First Security Bank of Searcy registered $231 million.

What was behind the big change in Washington County deposits? Anecdotal evidence might point to the University of Arkansas and its billion-dollar fundraising efforts.

A check-in with Arvest officials overseeing the market failed to shed light on any catalysts behind the especially strong deposit growth in Washington County.

Payroll and enrollment growth at the university along with growth at Tyson Foods in Springdale during that 10-year span are likely big contributors.

In a collegiate aside: Both Arvest and First Security are led by UA grads: Jim Walton, chairman of Arvest Bank Group, and Reynie Rutledge, chairman and CEO of First Security Bancorp.

Lenders who battled for market share in Washington County in 2007 but are no longer on the scene include five that were part of acquisitions:

  • ANB Financial of Bentonville to IberiaBank of Lafayette, Louisiana
  • Bank of Fayetteville to Farmers & Merchants Bank of Stuttgart
  • First Federal Bank of Harrison to Bear State Bank of Little Rock, now in the process of selling to Arvest
  • Jonesboro’s Liberty Bank of Arkansas to Centennial Bank of Conway
  • Little Rock’s Metropolitan National Bank to Simmons Bank of Pine Bluff.

In addition to Citizens Bank, new entrants in the market since 2007 include the following:

  • Armstrong Bank of Muskogee, Oklahoma
  • First National Bank of Fort Smith
  • First National Bank of Paragould
  • Generations Bank of Hampton
  • Great Southern Bank of Springfield, Missouri
  • Integrity First Bank of Mountain Home.

Washington County Bank Market
Top 10 Lenders Ranked by Total Deposits

  Deposits* Market Share
Arvest Bank, Fayetteville $1,815,420 36.84%
First Security Bank, Searcy $657,318 13.34%
Legacy National Bank, Springdale $358,055 7.27%
Farmers & Merchants Bank, Stuttgart $309,228 6.27%
Signature Bank of Arkansas, Fayetteville $283,628 5.76%
Bank of America, Charlotte, N.C. $277,426 5.63%
BOKF, Tulsa $175,591 3.56%
Centennial Bank, Conway $169,314 3.44%
Simmons Bank, Pine Bluff $145,967 2.96%
Chambers Bank, Danville $135,568 2.75%

*Dollar amounts shown in thousands, as of June 30, 2017
Source: Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.



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