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Citizens Bank Exceeds $1B in Assets, CEO Baldwin to Retire

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Citizens Bank of Batesville said Friday that it has exceeded $1 billion in total assets, and that CEO Phil Baldwin will retire next year.

“Exceeding $1 billion in total assets is a major milestone and a testament to the confidence our customers have in the people of Citizens Bank,” Baldwin said in a news release. He said that since he joined the bank as CEO in 2014, the company has more than doubled total assets and net income.

“Phil has been instrumental in helping grow Citizens Bank into a state-wide banking organization,” Citizens Bank Board Chairman Jeff Teague said. “Thanks to his leadership, Citizens has grown to become one of the Arkansas’ most trusted community banks. He is a true leader and pillar of the community, and is leaving us with big shoes to fill. We’re thankful we have another year with him as we transition to the next generation of leaders committed to putting people first.”

Baldwin will retire on June 30 but will remain on the board. Adam Mitchell, Citizens’ president and chief lending officer, will succeed Baldwin, the company announced. Mitchell was hired away from Simmons Bank in 2018 with the expectation that he would succeed Baldwin.

“We wanted to have a really great leader ready to go,” Baldwin told Arkansas Business in a Monday morning interview.

Baldwin predicted that the banking industry in Arkansas would see a number of executive retirements in the next few years, leading to a younger — and different — kind of bank leadership.

“I think they see the world differently, and I think they see banking differently,” he said. “I think they see it better, in a more inclusive way than my generation did.”

Baldwin, who will turn 63 before he retires, said he and his wife, DeeDee, have already started their retirement plan. They bought a horse farm at West Fork (Washington County) that had belonged to Carl and the late Janet Collier, and the Baldwins have incorporated a nonprofit called Whispering Oaks Rescue Horse Farm.

“Every time I tell people this, the general reaction is to roll their eyes,” Baldwin said.

He said he and DeeDee “don’t know anything about horses,” but they wanted to live near their three children and seven grandchildren in northwest Arkansas, and they wanted to do something meaningful and completely different from banking.

Because they are novices, they will start their rescue program with one or two horses, he said. But right now, “We have a horse farm and no horses.”

At Simmons Bank, Mitchell was executive vice president and chief retail officer, responsible for overseeing branch performance for more than 190 locations across seven states. He was also responsible for the treasury management sales team throughout the Simmons Bank system.

Mitchell serves as a board member for USAble Life Corp., the Baptist Health Foundation and Arkansas Health Group. He has also held roles with Hendrix College, the Arkansas Bankers Association and Junior Achievement of Arkansas.

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