Simmons, Stephens Dominates Trio of Money Lists

by Gwen Moritz  on Monday, Sep. 21, 2009 12:00 am  

In this "Wealth Management" issue, along with our traditional lists of the state's largest broker dealers and money managers, Arkansas Business debuts a list of the state's largest trust departments.

(To see the list of the largest trust departments, click here for a PDF or here for a spreadsheet. To see the list of the largest broker dealers, click here for a PDF or here for a spreadsheet. To see the list of the largest money managers, click here for a PDF or here for a spreadsheet.)

Trust departments are a part of the banking world that it often overlooked. Or maybe a better word would be the one used by William L. Kerst Jr., CEO of Community First Trust Co. of Hot Springs: "Ignored."

To create the list of trust departments - and all except Kerst's are departments or subsidiaries of commercial banks - Arkansas Business pulled the Dec. 31, 2008, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. call reports for the 46 banks that have been granted trust powers and are actively using those powers.

Using the uniform Schedule RC-T from those call reports, we pulled data on managed assets, non-managed assets and custody/safekeeping assets and added the three together to arrive at a number we called "total trust assets." This was the total by which the trust departments were ranked, although our list breaks out the assets and number of accounts in each of the three categories.

We also pulled a fourth category of data from the Schedule RC-T concerning trusteeship of corporate and municipal bond issues. Fewer than half of the trust departments act as trustees, but including this data allows readers to see which banks are active in this area of the market.

The result is a list topped by Simmons First National Bank of Pine Bluff, whose trust department is headed by Joe Clement. Simmons' trust assets as of Dec. 31 exceeded $2.2 billion, the bulk of it (almost $1.5 billion) in 423 non-managed asset accounts. And most of that, almost $1.3 billion, is in a subcategory that the FDIC calls "corporate trust and agency accounts" - by far the largest amount in that category among Arkansas-chartered trust departments.

Clement had an easy explanation for that: "Very few people do corporate trust in Arkansas anymore."

Clement said Regions Bank's trust department does a fair amount of corporate trust work in Arkansas, but the regional bank's call report does not segregate trust assets by state and was not included in the list. Other players, albeit much smaller than Simmons, are Little Rock's Metropolitan National Bank (No. 3) and Bank of the Ozarks (No. 4).

Corporate trust work is a specialized service that receives funds from corporate and municipal bond issues and then makes payments back to bondholders.

Rounding out the top five is First National Bank of Fort Smith, with $556 million in total trust assets as of Dec. 31.

When it comes to managed assets - which is the sole figure by which some trust departments would prefer we rank - the biggest in the state is Arvest Trust Co. of Rogers, a subsidiary of Arvest Bank Group of Bentonville and led by Diane Wells.

Of its $1.55 billion in total trust assets at the end of last year, which placed it at No. 2 on our list, almost $1.25 billion was in managed assets.



Please read our comments policy before commenting.