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Bank OZK Packs Little Rock With New Deposits

4 min read

Bank deposits in Arkansas grew by 6.5% in the 12-month period that ended June 30, outpacing the national growth rate of 4.2% and topping $70 billion for the first time, according to data released in September by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Of the additional $4.36 billion that pushed statewide deposits to $71 billion, $3.34 billion was attributed to bank branches in Pulaski County, where deposits jumped by 21.5%. And of that countywide growth, $2.6 billion was claimed by Bank OZK, which attributed nearly all of the growth to its main office at 17901 Chenal Parkway. Executive Vice President Susan Blair said the increase in deposits at the headquarters office came from “a variety of customers.”

“Many of our large customer relationships are managed from our headquarters, and the significant deposit balances associated with these relationships fluctuate up and down over time,” Blair said in an email. “It’s common to see swings in deposit balances for the headquarters location, particularly when looking at a snapshot at June 30 each year.”

That snapshot is the annual “summary of deposits” taken by the FDIC, which is the government agency that insures bank deposits. It is not a holistic report card on the health of a bank or of the banking industry; in the counterintuitive world of banking, deposits are costly liabilities while loans are revenue-generating assets. The summary is, however, the only official report that provides Arkansas-specific trend data for banks that operate in multiple states, like publicly traded Bank OZK, and can be a good indicator of the retail banking sector in a given market.

Across its 264 branches in 10 states, OZK showed a 1.5% increase in deposits, to $18.96 billion, while its assets increased by more than 3% to $22.22 billion. OZK is the largest Arkansas bank ranked by assets.

Bank OZK’s call report for the second quarter showed that its brokered deposits — large deposits aggregated and shopped around by third-party brokers, as opposed to core deposits from individual customers — had increased by almost exactly $1 billion in the previous 12 months.

The inrush of deposits — an increase of 42% in a single year, to $8.2 billion — allowed OZK to move back to the No. 2 spot among banks doing business in Arkansas ranked by total in-state deposits. It continues to trail Arvest Bank of Fayetteville, which is the second-largest Arkansas bank in terms of total assets ($19.26 billion) but had $9.65 billion in deposits in the state at midyear.

Simmons Bank had enjoyed a similar flood of new deposits, much of them brokered, at its main office in Pine Bluff in time for the 2018 summary of deposits, putting it ahead of Bank OZK last year. But Simmons reported a 2% decrease in Arkansas deposits over the past year, and it is now No. 3 in both assets ($17.9 billion) and in-state deposits ($5.84 billion).

Bank of America, the North Carolina banking giant with 19 branches in six Arkansas counties, recorded an influx of $780 million in deposits, an increase of almost 19% in a year. Most of that — $693,000 — landed in Pulaski County, where the branch at 200 Main St. in North Little Rock seems to be the new parking place for deposits. From less than $54 million in 2018, the branch immediately west of the recently renamed Simmons Bank Arena claimed more than $3 billion in deposits as of June 30. (Meanwhile, the branch in the Bank of America Tower at 200 W. Capitol Ave. in Little Rock reported a measly $53 million in deposits on June 30, down from $2.4 billion a year earlier.)

At midyear, 117 banks — 91 of them chartered in Arkansas — were operating a total of 1,332 branches in the state.

Arvest Harvest

Arvest Bank added 1.6% to its in-state deposits in the year that ended June 30, making up most of a dip it recorded in 2018 but not keeping up with the pace of deposit growth statewide. Arvest’s share of Arkansas deposits dropped to 13.6% from 14.25% last year.

The Walton-owned bank remains a retail juggernaut with 123 branches in the state, half again as many as BOZ (82), Simmons (79), Centennial Bank of Conway (81), Regions Bank of Birmingham, Alabama (81), and First Security Bank of Searcy (80). Still, Arvest has consolidated its branch network by 16 in the past year as it digests the April 2018 acquisition of Bear State Bank of Little Rock.

Two other banks in the top 10 (ranked by in-state deposits) benefited from acquisitions in the year leading up to the summary snapshot: First National Bank of Paragould acquired One Bank & Trust of Little Rock in July 2018 and moved from No. 10 to No. 9. Farmers & Merchants Bank of Stuttgart acquired Integrity First Bank of Mountain Home on May 11, just in time for the 2019 summary, and moved from No. 16 to No. 10.


The biggest players in Arkansas’ bank deposit market are also players in other states.

Arvest maintained its ranking as No. 4 in Oklahoma, with 5.23% of that state’s $92 billion in deposits. It is No. 19 in Missouri, with almost $1.6 billion in deposits — 0.94% of the statewide total of $170 billion.

Simmons Bank, with its suburban St. Louis acquisition of Reliance Bank in April, zoomed to No. 9 in Missouri with $2.24 billion in deposits, 1.31% of the statewide market. Simmons remains at No. 11 in Oklahoma, where it acquired Bank SNB of Stillwater in 2018. Its $1.3 billion in Oklahoma deposits represents 1.41% of the statewide total.

Bank OZK is No. 12 in Georgia, with $3.6 billion in deposits in a market of more than $250 billion. No other Arkansas bank does business in Georgia. Publicly traded OZK is No. 32 in Florida with $2.1 billion in deposits, trailing No. 18 Centennial, which has just over 1% of the Sunshine State’s massive $600 billion market.

OZK is No. 42 in Texas, where Simmons is No. 48. Both have only a fraction of a percent of the $878 billion statewide market. Bank OZK has $970 million in deposits in North Carolina, which is 0.27% of that state’s $365 billion market.

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