Jason Taylor has always been good with numbers, so his banking career and rise to chief financial officer should come as no surprise. After flirting with retail for two years, Taylor returned to his hometown to work at First Community Bank of Batesville and hasn’t looked back.
Since joining the bank in January 2002, net interest margin has improved from 2.94 percent to 4.28 percent, which translates into improved revenue of $9.7 million annually. He’s proud of the team accomplishment.
“I am in no way completely responsible for this improvement, but I like to think my measurement tools, forecasting/pricing models and continual guidance and motivation have contributed to our achievement in this area,” Taylor said.
During his 10 years at First Community, total assets have grown from $215 million to $746 million. Taylor carried the title of banking officer while learning on the job before his 2005 promotion to CFO.
“It’s a new job every day,” said the 38-year-old executive. “As we grow, I learn new things.”
Taylor had no intention of going into banking when he graduated from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville with a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
One final curve in his meandering coursework at the university, a 1999 master’s in marketing/finance, did set him on a path toward business.
His entry was the executive management training program at Dillard’s Inc. Taylor worked for the retail chain during college and in Little Rock and Nashville, Tenn., afterward.
A professional epiphany occurred while doing merchandise markdowns on a Saturday morning in a world that seemed to be coming to an end in the wake of 9/11.
“I didn’t enjoy being away from my family, and I didn’t really enjoy retail,” he said. “I put out the word I was trying to find a job closer to home.”
Taylor wowed in an interview with Dale Cole, CEO of First Community, and his banking career was off and running.
The past few years have brought a new set of professional challenges for Taylor and bankers across the nation.
“The banking industry has seen an overcorrection by regulators in response to the recent rash of bank failures,” he said. “What is considered ‘safe and sound’ practices is a moving target in today’s regulatory environment. Our processes in liquidity and asset/liability management have been challenged at every exam. You just have to do what you think is right every day, and defend it at every exam.”
His past volunteer work includes Big Brothers Big Sisters and seven years of service as president and treasurer of the United Way of Independence County.