Veteran mortgage lender in startup mode with BNC

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 260 views 

Scott Jeffus is not a new face to Northwest Arkansas’ residential lending market.

He’s been in the mortgage business for well over a decade, starting at United Bank in 2002 with ensuing stops at Signature Bank of Arkansas, First Bank (now Generations Bank) and Bank of Arkansas.

These days, though, Jeffus finds himself in startup mode. Since December, he’s been the branch manager for the Bentonville loan production office of BNC National Bank, a subsidiary of North Dakota-based BNCCorp Inc. that is rapidly growing its mortgage lending division in markets across the country.

The lender, which has assets of about $930 million, currently operates mortgage production offices in seven states, and has full-service bank branches in Arizona, Minnesota and North Dakota.

The Bentonville LPO is in the South Walton Suites mixed-use building at 1120 S. Walton Blvd. and opened in July 2015.

“BNC National is a traditional bank that’s gained a lot [of assets] over the last 10 years or so because of the oil boom in the Dakotas,” Jeffus said. “About three years ago they really decided to grow the mortgage side and are tapping into markets around the U.S. [Northwest Arkansas] is a market they really wanted to be in.”

Jeffus, 43, said the opportunity to grow a new business in the market was the most appealing factor in his decision to leave Bank of Arkansas’ Bentonville branch, where he was a senior loan officer for four years (2011-2015).

“Even though it’s an established bank, and it has its own name, it’s kind of like a startup,” Jeffus said. “I had been in management in the newspaper business early in my career and worked my way up through banks, but I really hit it off with the folks at BNC National. I felt really good about the back end, the front end and the products.”

Jeffus was senior vice president of mortgage lending at Fayetteville-chartered Signature Bank when recognized by the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal as a Forty Under 40 member in 2008. In June 2005, he was recruited as one of the first 30 people to join the startup bank.

In November 2010, when Signature Bank sold two of its branches in Rogers and Siloam Springs to Harrell Bancshares Inc. of Camden, Jeffus went to work for HBI’s subsidiary, First Bank.

He remained with the lender based in Rogers for a little more than a year before joining the lending team at Bank of Arkansas in Bentonville.

It was a career move too good to pass up, Jeffus said.

“It was a bigger bank, and I was being recruited. So I took the opportunity and loved it,” he said.

As for his current job, Jeffus said the bank has closed about $15 million in residential loans in the past year, but the tracks are being laid for BNC National to eventually have a significant place in the lending landscape in the next five years.

Jeffus is also in negotiations to move BNC National to a larger office space in a building at 700 S. Walton Blvd. —across from the Walmart Home Office and owned by Bentonville attorney Shane Wilkinson — and envisions the location as a Northwest Arkansas hub.

“We’re at the point where we’re ready to start bringing people on board,” Jeffus said. “I want to eventually open an office in Rogers and then in Washington County, because I do a lot of business down there, and we need a presence there. We don’t want to be in Little Rock or anywhere else in Arkansas. We can really focus on this area, and with the loan officers I’m going to bring on board, I fully intend on being one of the bigger mortgage lenders in the market.”

Jeffus is a married father of two — a daughter who’s a sophomore in college in Florida and a son who is a sixth-grader in Bentonville.

When asked what he’d be doing if not a banker, Jeffus didn’t miss a beat — teaching tennis. He got his start in a junior program at Springdale Country Club at age 7, won a state doubles title in high school in Indiana, and played collegiately for four years in Texas.

These days, he feeds his passion as an instructor at the Walton Life Fitness Center in Bentonville.