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First Service Bank CEO Tom Grumbles on the Challenges Facing Bankers

3 min read

Tom Grumbles has worked at First Service Bank for 48 years, starting his career there as a loan officer in Dermott. As CEO, Grumbles has led the bank’s expansion into central Arkansas, beginning in 1999 with branches in Greenbrier and Clinton. Today, it has $595 million in assets and offices in nine Arkansas cities, with a new one on the way next year in Maumelle.

Grumbles earned a bachelor’s degree in business and economics from Hendrix College in Conway.

What attracted you to banking?

Banking was not my first choice as a career path. I wanted to be an electrical engineer originally, which would have required me to transfer schools. However, after meeting my wife-to-be at Hendrix College, I knew that transferring wouldn’t be an option, and that led me to the financial industry. I had my little college checking account at First State Bank in Conway. So I went in and asked to see the president. I was taken to Mr. Tom Wilson’s office. I told him my problem and that I needed to find another profession. After discussing options with me, Mr. Wilson waved his arms around and said, “What about this — banking?” So, you could say Tom Wilson got me into banking. Looking back, it was the best move personally and professionally. I have enjoyed learning the ins and outs of banking while meeting and working with some of the finest individuals in the business. I guess you could say banking is now in my “family’s blood” as we have three generations of the Grumbles family now working at First Service Bank.

What are the biggest challenges facing bankers?

Change is a constant in today’s work environment and can happen fast. At First Service Bank, we are committed to providing the best customer service and financial products. To accomplish our mission, we continually implement new technology to best meet the financial needs our customers expect. We are also challenged to differentiate First Service Bank from a growing number of financial institutions in our markets. We have set First Service Bank apart by offering “big bank” products and services in a small, hometown bank setting where customers are treated like family.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The financial industry sure looks different today, but banking is — and has always been — about relationships. I have always enjoyed my interaction with our customers, board members and our associates. They are all like family, and at First Service Bank, we strive to treat them in that manner. If financial needs are met, our customers are successful and First Service Bank is successful. The people — that’s what I enjoy most.

What’s the best advice you ever received?

In all things, including banking, treat others as you would want to be treated. Also, work hard to not only meet but exceed expectations. A mentor of mine once told me, “When hiring a leader for the bank, define their roles and get the hell out of their way to let them do their job. If they mess up, just fix it, and they’ll learn for next time.”

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