Sam Stricklin of Bank of Fayetteville (Small Bank Category Finalist)

It was no secret That Bank of Fayetteville CFO Sam Stricklin was destined for some sort of business success.

In fact, it was in the papers.

From the time he held his first job, as a Fort Worth Star-Telegram carrier while in high school in Texas, the competitive Stricklin proved himself to be an achiever. In 1965 Stricklin was named carrier of the year for his newspaper endeavors, earning a trip to Galveston and a photo with legendary Texas Christian University quarterback Davey O’Brien as his prizes.

Now, after 40-plus years in banking, he is a finalist for Arkansas Business’ CFO of the Year in the small bank category. “It’s very flattering because I never looked at myself as having accomplished anything other than doing my best at whatever I did,” Stricklin, 64, said.

Stricklin, who is also Bank of Fayetteville executive vice president, has worked in accounting, lending, data processing and operations management in a banking career that began when he was in college. Throw in work with a bank consulting firm in Houston, and it is clear Stricklin knows a little something about the business.

In 1990 Stricklin began his eight-year run as a consultant, working for the Houston firm in which he progressed from analyst to engagement manager, measuring his success in references and client satisfaction.

“My consulting experience enabled me to gain the experience and confidence that I needed to move back into the banking field as an executive officer of a bank in the Dallas/Fort Worth area,” he said.

Since 1980 Stricklin has been a CFO with three different banks, the last at a bank in Fort Worth that was sold, leading him to Fayetteville in 2006.

“This came along and a recruiter called me and said he had two openings, and of course I’m thinking to myself, ‘Who in the world is going to hire a 58-year-old?’” said Stricklin, who was considering buying a small consulting business in Dallas at the time.

“He said he had two openings, one in Houston and one in Fayetteville, and I said, ‘I’ve never been in Fayetteville. I’d like to go there.’”

A single parent since losing his wife to cancer 11 years ago, Stricklin not only liked the Bank of Fayetteville and its CEO, Mary Beth Brooks, he also thought the small-town environment would be perfect for raising his daughter Jamie, who was 11 when he made the move.

“It was a great opportunity at the bank,” Stricklin said. “I liked the people and it was a good size, and I liked the challenge that was presented to me.”

From a career standpoint, Stricklin is proudest of playing a role in shepherding the Bank of Fayetteville through the financial crises of the past few years. “Watching and being a part of the team that helped a bank survive has been a major accomplishment,” he said.

Buy your tickets to the CFO of the Year Awards Luncheon to show your support for Sam.