Citizens Bank Puts Phil Baldwin To Work On Growth

by George Waldon  on Monday, Dec. 9, 2013 12:00 am  

He established a track record of expansion through organic growth and acquisition during his 2000-11 tenure at Southern Bancorp Inc. of Arkadelphia. Baldwin joined the rural development bank as its chief financial officer in 2000 and was promoted to president and CEO in 2002.

Under his leadership, Southern Bancorp assets grew from $250 million to $1.2 billion and net income from $412,000 to more than $9 million a year, one of the largest and most profitable rural development banks in the nation.

His banking resume includes a stint as the founding executive vice president and chief financial officer of Little Rock’s Pinnacle Bank when the de novo effort was launched in 1996. (The $21.2 million purchase of Pinnacle Bank in March 2002 provided the Little Rock market entry for BancorpSouth Inc. of Tupelo, Miss.)

Citizens Bank has maintained its historically profitable ways in the post-2008 financial world as well as its foundational identity as a community-oriented lender.

“You match that with an innovative vision, and you have an opportunity to do something really special,” Baldwin said. “That’s what intrigued me.”

The opportunity to take Citizens Bank to new fiscal territory and export its culture regionally is what attracted him back to Arkansas. Since leaving Southern Bancorp, Baldwin has served as president and CEO of CredAbility in Atlanta, touted as one of the nation’s leading nonprofit credit counseling and education agencies.

A certified public accountant by training, Baldwin has a bent for mixing his work with nonprofit missions.

He believes his experience in the for-profit and nonprofit realms will be of practical use as he works to build on Citizens Bank’s legacy of strong community ties.

“I intend to use some of the things I learned at Southern to help the community grow,” Baldwin said. “What we do we want to do in partnership with the community we serve.”

For now, the Citizens Bank crew is long on the big picture and short on the details, a situation they say will begin changing as developments start rolling out during the next 12 to 36 months.

“I’m not a banker,” said Teague, an El Dorado car dealer married to a granddaughter of the bank’s founder, J.K. Southerland.

“You put the vision out there and get out of the way and let them do their job.”



Please read our comments policy before commenting.