Kim Crook, First Arkansas Bank & Trust (Large Bank CFO of the Year Finalist)

Kim Crook, First Arkansas Bank & Trust (Large Bank CFO of the Year Finalist)
Kim Crook

In a telephone discussion of Kim Crook’s 27 years at First Arkansas Bank & Trust, she said she had been the financial institution’s CFO for about 15 years.

But it turns out time does fly when you’re having fun: She emailed a few minutes later to say it had actually been 20 years.

She was working in public accounting and traveling a great deal when she took her first job at First Arkansas in Jacksonville, working for CEO Larry T. Wilson. That was shortly after her daughter, Shana, was born, and the new job gave her something she still treasures and passes on to her team: a sense of work-life balance.

These days Shana, who surprised her mother by following in her footsteps as an accountant, is 27 and about to become a mom herself. “The baby’s due in March, and it’s nice because she lives here in town, in Jacksonville,” Crook said. “It was a pleasant surprise when she became an accountant, but we think along the same lines.” Son Tyler, 23, is a graduate student at the University of Arkansas.

Time has also changed many things in bank accounting. “The big challenge today is keeping up with rapid changes in regulatory financial reporting requirements. They’re significant, and seem to be shifting constantly. Another big change over the years has been technology, staying competitive and ahead of the curve. Every day it seems customers want to receive their service in some new way.”

On the other hand, Crook sees consistency in the values of First Arkansas, which had $716 million in assets as of June 30. “One thing is the way we treat our employees,” she said. “We try to get the right people and have them take ownership of their responsibilities. The end result is a happy balance for them and better service for customers. And customer service means growth for the bank.”