Joe Clement Of Simmons First Trust Shares Thoughts On Trust Services Industry (Exec Q&A)

Joe Clement has served as president of Simmons First Trust Co. since 2000.  

Bio: Joe Clement

Background: Clement, 56, is from Pine Bluff. He worked for a family insurance agency and at National Bank of Commerce of Pine Bluff prior to joining Simmons First in 1997.

Education: Clement graduated in 1978 with a bachelor's in business administration from the University of Arkansas.

Question: Who uses trust services?

Answer: Most working Americans today will retire and receive a lump sum from a 401(k) plan or other retirement plan. There is a significant need for a trusted adviser to help these retirees with a spending plan to minimize the risk of outliving their nest egg.

We also help retirees with investment management services for their Rollover IRAs and other investment assets, to make sure their funds work for them during retirement. Of course, we still handle traditional trust services such as estate settlement services, which often involve wealthier families, and 401(k) plans for companies.

Q: Is the trust department more important to Simmons First Trust in a low-interest environment?  

A: In the past few years all non-interest income has become more valuable for banks and the wealth management area is certainly an important area of non-interest income.  However, our corporate trust area that serves as trustee and paying agent for tax-free bonds has slowed down as the economy has slowed down and our non-interest income has declined. We have been able to keep the trained, skilled corporate trust staff working on special projects so that we will be able to resume the normal busy pace of handling new bond issues when the economy picks up.

Q: Is the trust industry consolidating, and what does that mean for Simmons First Trust?  

A: There is quite a bit of infrastructure needed to operate a trust department or trust company. As a result, many of the newer banks formed in Arkansas and around the country during the last 20 years have not included trust departments. Simmons First sees this as an opportunity to grow our wealth management/trust business and we are actively looking to acquire wealth management/trust assets throughout our three-state footprint. We have the resources and commitment to grow this business, both by acquisition and organically. As we acquire banks that do not have trust or investment management services, we see that as a great opportunity for providing those services to new groups of customers.

Q: How do you think having George Makris as chairman and CEO will change Simmons First National Corp.?  

A: George has been involved with bank leadership for many years and has an appreciation for the conservative culture that has served Simmons First so well. Also, George has a vast amount of experience in growing a successful business and serving customers. I am certain all Simmons First stakeholders will be pleased as George leads us to the next level of growth in both the bank and wealth management areas.