It’s been a busy two months for Burt Hicks and the new executive team at Encore Bank, the former Little-Rock based Capital Bank. In mid-March, Hicks and several investor-managers moved into executive roles and began reshaping the bank with $161 million in assets and 16 employees.
Today, the employee count has jumped to 24 – and growing – and assets were $174 million at the end of March.
Hicks, who appeared on this week’s edition of Talk Business & Politics, said the name “Encore Bank,” which was approved as a name change by the Arkansas Bank Department last week, was a reflection of the new executive leadership team’s hope that this will be a long-term and lasting role for them.
“Encore for us just means it’s truly, as we’re calling it, our last performance. We’re here for the long haul,” said Hicks, who wears the titles of director, senior executive vice president, chief operating officer and general counsel for the bank and the bank holding company.
“It was important to put our own name on it,” said Hicks. “Not that Capital Bank had any tarnished name in the marketplace – we just felt like we wanted to do something that we could call our own. Encore actually came from a consultant of ours as we were putting this thing together and he said, ‘Hey, what you guys are describing, this is your last performance. This needs to be Encore Bank,’ and so that’s where it came from.”
Hicks said the bank is currently on a mission to raise $50 million in new capital from five core markets into which they want to expand. Outside of the central Arkansas base, Hicks said they are looking to Northeast Arkansas (notably Jonesboro), Northwest Arkansas (starting in Rogers), Dallas and Nashville.
“As we go out and raise capital in those markets, that’s really how we’ll build the bank around those investors,” he said. “But we also think about how large we can be in each of those markets. We’re not trying to take on and be a billion dollar bank in Dallas, we want to be a couple of hundred million dollars in Dallas. So again, around that investor base and the team what we can recruit, we’ll try to target those four, five markets, and that’s really, that’s kind of our plan today.”
Hicks said that the interest rate hikes of the last year have been good for his group. He also is bullish that the economy will remain stable in the markets where they hope to grow.
“Slowing down is actually a great thing for us because we’re able to book loans at current market rates instead of getting way out in front, having to try to grab loans that were booked at 2% or 3% under where we are today,” Hicks said.
“We think there’s still some runway, but there will be a recession along the way at some point, and we’re aware of that… The way we’re trying to build the loan portfolio is in a pretty diversified way, not just from a credit standpoint of the type of asset, but also geographically like we just talked about in some markets,” he added. “We feel like we’ll have a long portfolio that’s built around some pretty high quality assets. But no doubt at some point along the way, the economy will slow down… but at the end of the day, the markets that we’re in tend to be fairly stable. They don’t have the ups and downs that some of the other markets across the country have, and so we’re excited to get to play in some of those markets.”
You can watch Hicks’ full interview in the video below.