Citizens Sweeps In Former Simmons Execs


Citizens Sweeps In Former Simmons Execs
Phil Baldwin, CEO of Citizens Bank

If you automatically turn first to Whispers, as a lot of readers do, you’ll need to circle back to this week's cover story on future plans for Capital Bank of Little Rock, soon to be renamed Encore Bank.

Two of its new executives, CEO Chris Roberts and COO and General Counsel Burt Hicks, came directly from Simmons Bank (or, in Hicks’ case, Simmons First Investment Group).

But theirs aren’t the only recent resignations Simmons has received. Seven others, commercial lenders and treasury management professionals, left Simmons to help Citizens Bank of Batesville beef up its Little Rock operations.

They are Vernon Scott, Anastasia Blaylock, Lisa Hendrixson, Mel Hutchins, Josh Baker, Katheryn Pannell and Dale Nash.

Phil Baldwin, CEO of Citizens Bank, confirmed the hires and hastened to add, “They approached us about the opportunity.”

Currently, Citizens has only one office in Little Rock. It’s a full-service branch, but it’s on the third floor of the Euronet Worldwide Building at 17300 Chenal Parkway, so it’s not designed to attract retail bank customers.

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Baldwin, who will host Gov. Asa Hutchinson at the grand opening of Citizens’ new headquarters building in Batesville next week, said more branches in the Little Rock market are on the drawing board — “four or five over a period of time.”

Something similar happened in late 2014: Citizens hired 10 employees from Southern Bancorp Bank in Hot Springs when it was staffing for its expansion there. Citizens opened two Hot Springs branches in 2015 and a third last month at 1698 Higdon Ferry Road.

Shine On
Encore isn’t the only new bank name you need to learn.

With absolutely no fanfare, the Bank of Star City renamed itself Connect Bank as of March 25, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Connect Bank is No. 77 on this week’s list of Arkansas banks ranked by assets as of Dec. 31. It earned $1.9 million last year.