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CEO faces challenges at Hot Springs bank.

Arkansas Bank & Trust Serves Many Retirees

DARRELL MEYER, THE new chief executive officer of Arkansas Bank & Trust in Hot Springs, faces a difficult challenge for his bank's customers.

"A big part of our customers are living on some type of interest-bearing deposits," says Meyer, who took over as CEO from Ray Cash on Dec. 31. "When they don't get interest, a lot of them move their money out of the banks.

"This is especially true in Hot Springs. We have a different clientele base than almost any other bank in the state. The down interest market hurts our customers."

Before joining Arkansas Bank & Trust three years ago, Meyer had been president of First National Bank in Okmulgee, Okla.; Thornton Bank in Nevada, Mo.; and Butler State Bank in Butler, Mo.

None were as large as Arkansas Bank & Trust, which has assets of $400 million.

Cash, 62, retired in December after two years as CEO. He had been with the bank since 1959, when Cecil W. Cupp Jr. and his father acquired it. Cash remains as vice chairman of the board of directors. Cecil Cupp Jr. is chairman.

Meyer moved up from executive vice president to replace Cash.

What Meyer's bank does for those customers depending on interest-income is provide stability, he says.

"We pay as much as we can in interest," says Meyer, 55. "We also have a trust department that handles investments and we also have an investments area."

The bank's trust department is part of First Commercial Trust Corp. and the investment division is part of First Commercial Bank's investment department. First Commercial Corp. acquired Arkansas Bank & Trust in 1990.

"Our bank has become very profitable in the last few years," says Meyer, a native of Fayette, Mo. "My goal, obviously, is to continue that profit pattern and improve it if I can.

"All the banks in Hot Springs are really in pretty good shape, as far as loans. Our economy has been pretty good here. We don't have some of the ups and downs that some other areas of the state have or other states have."

Little Rock's First Commercial Bank is again Arkansas' largest bank, with assets of $1.3 billion. But by the second quarter this year, Worthen National Bank should be the state's largest bank. Worthen Banking Corp.'s acquisition of The Union of Arkansas Corp. could be completed by the end of March.

Arkansas Bank & Trust is the seventh-largest bank in the state and the second-largest state-chartered bank. It has applied to build a new branch in Hot Springs Village.

"The banking industry, of course, has had a black eye in the last few years," Meyer says. "Most banks had a good year in 1992. If banks do good, the rest of the economy does good. Because we lend money to the rest of the economy and we have to make money to stay in business."


One Little Rock accounting firm was inadvertently left off the list of top CPA firms in the Feb. 8 issue.

L. Cotton Thomas & Co. of Little Rock, founded in 1964, has 14 professionals, including eight CPAs. Mike Schaufele and Lindsay Thomas are the managing partners. Its services include tax, audit and consulting work. Among the types of businesses it serves are nonprofit organizations, medical businesses, airports, schools and trusts.
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Title Annotation:Darrell Meyer, new chief executive officer of Arkansas Bank and Trust Co.
Author:Smith, David (American novelist)
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Feb 22, 1993
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