CFO of the Year Finalists (Small Bank Category): Michael Myers

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Nov. 7, 2011 12:00 am  

Michael MyersExective Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Union Bankshares Inc.Mena

Mike Myers, like anyone who has ever worked in public accounting, measures his life by tax seasons.

“I spent two tax seasons with Hudson Cisne,” he said of his life before banking. “Those are days you don’t forget.”

But banking “is a whole different world,” he said.

Myers works a few blocks from where he was born 39 years ago. He grew up in Mena and then earned an accounting degree from Henderson State University in 1997. After spending a few months with the Beall Barclay accounting firm in Fort Smith and two years at Hudson Cisne & Co. in Little Rock, Myers joined Union Bank of Mena in 1999 as a staff auditor.

In 2001, he became vice president and controller for Southern Bancorp of Arkadelphia. But the next year he returned to Mena as executive vice president and CFO for Union Bank’s holding company, Union Bankshares.

Union Bankshares owns both Union Bank ($177 million in assets as of Sept. 30) and First National Bank at Paris ($119.5 million in assets), and Myers is CFO for the whole company. Combined, the banks had net income of more than $4.5 million for the first three quarters of 2011.

But bank customers don’t think about corporate structure. They don’t even think much about titles, Myers said.

“People in the community don’t understand what a CFO is. If they know me, they may call me about their car loan.

“Not every bank CFO’s role is like mine. I think most CFOs are in a back room dealing with numbers. I’ve got an office in the lobby of the bank. I’m a technical person and a public relations person.”

Because of dramatic regulatory changes wrought by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform & Consumer Protection Act, the technical side has become a bigger part of Myers’ job.

“Regulations, that’s everybody’s Achilles heel for the past few years and will be in the future. If all we had to do was meet the needs of our customers, it would be an easy life,” he said.

Instead, “we spend a lot of money and dedicate a lof resources to reading the new regs and training the staff. That is the No. 1 challenge for us,” he said.

During the year he was at Southern Bancorp, Myers worked for the CEO he admires most, Phil Baldwin. Baldwin, who has since retired, “has a unique ability to understand the finite details as well as manage the overall vision of a company,” Myers said. “He has a tremendous work ethic and truly cares about his staff as well as the health of the company.”

Away from his lobby desk, Myers is a member of the Lions Club and is on the finance committee of the Polk County Long Term Recovery Committee, an organization formed after a devastating tornado in 2009 to help people access all available resources.



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