Icon (Close Menu)


Arkansas Business Power List 2016: Banking & Finance

6 min read

Johnny Allison, 69

Home BancShares Inc., Conway
Johnny Allison directed Home BancShares on a Florida-dominated acquisition trail where a mix of FDIC-assisted transactions and conventional purchases has grown total assets to about $9.3 billion supported by 138 full-service branches across Arkansas, Florida and south Alabama. Last year, the $101.6 million deal for Bay Cities Bank of Tampa brought $530 million in assets. Allison was the catalyst to launch the company with the $27.7 million-asset Bank of Holly Grove (Monroe County) and take the company public with a $51 million IPO in 2006.

Donald Cook, 63

Arkansas State President and Little Rock Market President
Bank of America, Little Rock
Donald Cook, a veteran banker of more than 40 years, stepped into Bank of America’s top executive post in Arkansas on Jan. 23, 2014. BOA’s operations in the state encompass 22 financial centers and five Merrill Lynch offices with a combined $3 billion in deposits. Cook serves on the boards of Economics Arkansas and Fifty for the Future and is a senior board member of the Central Arkansas Boys & Girls Club and a member of the War Memorial Stadium Commission.

George Gleason, 62

Chairman and CEO
Bank of the Ozarks Inc., Little Rock
George Gleason led Bank of the Ozarks on a buying spree that grew total assets to $9.8 billion in 2015. A string of out-of-state stock-swap transactions valued at almost $1.5 billion will propel total assets beyond $15 billion this year. The biggest of the deals is its record-setting purchase of the $4.4 billion-asset Community & Southern Bank of Atlanta, a buy valued at nearly $800 million. Gleason began his banking career as a CEO, launched with a bank buy at 24. He took the venture public with a 1997 IPO of $21.3 million. Bank of the Ozarks has built a national reputation for its well-run, profitable operations.

Rush F. Harding, 61

Crews & Associates, Little Rock
Rush Harding was part of a small cadre who in 1979 founded a municipal bond house that grew into an investment banking firm. He has led Crews & Associates since 1996, a tenure that has continued through the 2000 acquisition by Searcy’s First Security Bancorp. Harding serves on the CHI St. Vincent board of directors. He also invests in Conway real estate with college roommate Hal Crafton. In partnership with his son, Payne, Harding bankrolled downtown Little Rock’s upscale restaurant Cache, which opened for fine dining in 2013.

Jim King, 57

President and CEO
Arvest Wealth Management, Lowell
Jim King joined Arvest Wealth Management in 2002 as product manager and in 2005 was made director of sales. His extensive background in the financial services industry dates back to 1985. A graduate of Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, King received his bachelor’s degree in economics and business administration. Arvest Asset Management has more than $1.3 billion in assets under management.

Alex Lieblong, 65

President and Owner
Lieblong & Associates, Little Rock
Alex Lieblong established a national reputation for his sharp investment know-how even before striking out on his own in 1997. An avowed investment contrarian, he opened the Little Rock office of PaineWebber in 1987 after working at Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner & Smith. Lieblong has made millions for himself and his clients while uncovering opportunities and building his own lucrative hedge fund for big-buck investors. He serves on the board of directors at Conway’s Home BancShares and Ballard Petroleum Holdings of Billings, Montana, and is a member of the Arkansas Racing Commission.

George Makris Jr., 59

Chairman and CEO
Simmons First National Corp., Pine Bluff
George Makris put Simmons in accelerated acquisition mode when he was named CEO-elect of Simmons in 2013 after serving as a director for 16 years. The company has grown to more than $7.5 billion in assets and expanded its footprint in Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri and Kansas. He grew up in his family’s Anheuser-Busch beer distributorship business in Pine Bluff while serving a dozen more years on local bank boards before joining publicly traded Simmons. Makris is chairman of the Economic Development Alliance of Jefferson County and serves on the Jefferson Regional Medical Center board of trustees.

Mark McFatridge, 48

President and CEO
Bear State Financial Inc., Harrison
Mark McFatridge was named president and CEO of Bear State Financial in October. He came to the $1.4 billion-asset lender in the $70 million cash-stock swap purchase of Metropolitan National Bank of Springfield, Missouri. McFatridge, who had called Springfield home since 2008, was president and CEO of the $454.9 million-asset MNB. His big-bank experience includes work as market president of the Community Banks of Missouri and Western Kentucky for Regions Financial Corp. of Birmingham, Alabama, and as chief administrative officer and regional financial officer of Midwest Banking Group for Union Planters Corp. of Memphis.

Mark Millsap, 56

Principal and Co-owner
Foundation Resource Management, Little Rock
Mark Millsap is in his 33rd year as a value investment manager, helping supervise more than $1.7 billion in assets at Foundation Resource Management. Before helping co-found the firm in 2001, he worked at Little Rock’s Meridian Management Co. for 12 years, a stint that preceded by eight years work as a portfolio manager for AmSouth Bank in Birmingham, Alabama.

Reynie Rutledge, 66

Chairman, President and CEO
First Security Bancorp, Searcy
Reynie Rutledge, an alumnus of the Worthen Bank organization, began building today’s $4.9 billion-asset First Security Bancorp when he was 27. Since beginning his work at First Security in 1977, he has established the privately held lender as one of the largest and most profitable banking franchises in Arkansas. The company operates 78 offices around Arkansas. Rutledge serves on the University of Arkansas System board of trustees.

Warren Stephens, 59

Chairman, President and CEO
Stephens Inc., Little Rock
Warren Stephens has led the investment banking firm since he was named CEO in 1986. He has been the sole owner of Stephens Inc. since 2006 when the family divvied up business interests. Stephens Inc. has $7 billion in assets under management. Along the way, he developed the Alotian Club, his ultra-exclusive golf destination west of Little Rock that opened in 2004. Stephens serves on the Dillard’s Inc. board of directors and the Arkansas Arts Center Foundation board.

Witt Stephens Jr., 47

Co-chairman and CEO
The Stephens Group LLC, Little Rock
Witt Stephens and his sister, Elizabeth Campbell, formed their private equity firm in July 2006 after selling their interests in Stephens Inc., the Little Rock investment banking firm founded in 1933 by their legendary father, Witt Stephens Sr. Investments by the firm during the past few years include Brand Bank of Lawrenceville, Georgia; the Mitchell Gold Co. of Taylorsville, North Carolina; vXchnge Holdings of Tampa; and Armor Defense of Richardson, Texas.

Jim Walton, 67

Arvest Bank Group Inc., Bentonville
Jim Walton has long held the top post at Arvest Bank Group, which has grown into the largest bank holding company based in Arkansas. Total assets top $15.8 billion at the private concern, with more than 260 full-service locations in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri. The youngest son of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton also serves on the Wal-Mart board of directors, as a trustee of the Walton Family Foundation and as chairman of Community Publishers Inc.

Lynn Wright, 53

Arkansas/North Louisiana President
Regions Bank, Little Rock
Lynn Wright is the top executive in Arkansas for Regions Bank, which operates one of the state’s largest banking franchises with 96 offices and $3.8 billion in deposits. He joined Regions after its 1998 purchase of Little Rock’s First Commercial Corp., where he started as an accountant in 1984 and rose to chief financial officer. Wright was promoted to Central Arkansas Group president with Regions following the acquisition of First Commercial.

Peter Yuan, 52

Arkansas Regional President
IberiaBank, Little Rock
Pete Yuan has presided over IberiaBank’s Arkansas franchise of 33 offices and $1.3 billion in deposits since 2010. Before coming to Little Rock, he was market president of IberiaBank in Lafayette, Louisiana, a post held since he joined the company in 2005. Yuan joined IberiaBank by way of Austin, Texas, and JP Morgan Chase & Co. His 27-year career in banking started in Dallas with NationsBank in 1987 and includes a stop at First Commerce Corp. of New Orleans and its successive owners: Bank One Corp. of Chicago in 1998 and JP Morgan in 2002.

The Power List


Agriculture & Timber

Architecture & Engineering


Economic Development


Energy & Utilities


Health Care




Media & Marketing


Real Estate & Development


Technology & Telecom



Send this to a friend