From a Distance, Commissioner Susannah Marshall Holds State Banks in Check

From a Distance, Commissioner Susannah Marshall Holds State Banks in Check
Susannah Marshall, commissioner of the Arkansas State Bank Department (Jason Burt)

Susannah Marshall, who grew up in Newport, was appointed bank commissioner on Oct. 1. She is a commissioned senior examiner and certified examination manager.

Marshall joined the Bank Department as a commercial bank examiner out of college in 1995. In 2003, she was promoted to financial analyst and in 2005 to financial analyst supervisor, a position she held until her appointment as deputy bank commissioner in 2007. Marshall is a trustee on the Arkansas Teachers Retirement System board of directors and a member of the State Board of Finance. She Marshall is a 1995 accounting graduate of Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.

Marshall is a 25-year veteran of the Arkansas State Bank Department, which supervises 75 state-chartered commercial banks with total assets of more than $123 billion.

Give us an overview of the State Bank Department.

The mission of the Bank Department is to maintain a legal and regulatory structure for the financial industry in Arkansas. The structure provides the public with convenient, safe and competitive banking, which fosters economic development within Arkansas. Our work is largely centered on the bank examination process as required by state law. Our staff totals 67 located in three areas.

What attracted you to banking?

As a young girl, I was trained to “keep the books” for our two family-owned businesses, so naturally I understood the importance of a banking relationship to a small business. After high school, I was given a chance to work as a “summer help teller” at a local bank. After that first summer, I never stopped being a part of the banking industry, and that was more than 30 years ago. I am a self-described people person, and I know of no better profession in which I can continue to engage and collaborate with people.

In 1995, I was given the life-changing opportunity to join the Bank Department. The idea of an ever-changing environment and traveling across the state working with bankers was extremely exciting, and I am blessed to say that I have truly enjoyed every day since then.

What are the Bank Department’s biggest business challenges these strange days?

The Bank Department is focused on evaluating and examining our state-chartered banks, all without having a physical presence at the institution. This is truly unprecedented, as many actions have been during the pandemic. The most significant challenge in this off-site protocol is to ensure we have a seamless, effective and engaged examination process and provide the same level of coordination and collaboration with the bank as we strive to provide under normal scenarios. Of course, we also remain extremely mindful in our efforts to keep our team members safe and healthy.

What’s the best advice you ever received?

The mantras repeated to me from my family: Work hard. Be polite. Be professional. Volunteer. Always do your best.

What is your most important mistake?

A mistake I still work to overcome is to listen more often and not always be the first to speak. The ability to listen is valuable in any career.

Who are the people who made a difference in your life?

My parents and maternal grandparents truly shaped the person I am today. In 2003, Commissioner Candace Franks afforded me the opportunity to be a manager at the Bank Department, and we worked side by side for many years. I will always be grateful for her guidance, exchange of knowledge and belief in me. Lastly, all of the Bank Department leaders and examiners who have come before me and shared their experiences with me, trained me and encouraged me for the past 25 years.