In the summer of 1989, First National Bank & Trust Co. of Rogers hired Steven Plaisance as a part-time teller. The bank was owned by Arvest Bank as the result of a 1975 acquisition, and his first day there was July 13, just a few weeks before starting his senior year at Rogers High School.
“I thought it would be a job until the end of the summer,” he said in a recent interview.
Through flexible scheduling, however, Plaisance kept the job during high school. He also worked for the bank while studying at the University of Arkansas. He lived and worked in Rogers and commuted to Fayetteville, eventually earning a marketing management degree in 1995.
“I was on the five-year [college] plan” Plaisance joked. “That other gig at Arvest extended it.”
The “gig” never ended for Plaisance. He continued to find opportunities for advancement at Arvest, which collapsed the charters of the 14 banks it owned into one Fayetteville-based charter in 2001.
Plaisance gravitated quickly to the mortgage division, where he’s become a critical leader. He was appointed to a leadership position in 1996, and he has been the chief executive officer of Arvest’s mortgage division since 2015.
“[Steven] has a deep knowledge of the mortgage business,” Arvest COO Phil Porter said. “Not only on the financial side but also the all-critical customer fulfillment nuances within mortgage origination and servicing. Steven has also become a strong cultural leader who has used his optimism, natural sense of urgency and aggressive communication style to lead his teams through some very difficult times in our industry.”
Porter joked that despite the success he’s achieved over the years, Plaisance still recognizes he “screws up occasionally” and is always open to feedback and finding ways to improve.
Traditionally celebrated with gifts of pearls, Plaisance reflected on his 30-year anniversary with Arvest. Plaisance, who is based in Tulsa, Okla., and is a two-time president of the Oklahoma Mortgage Bankers Association, said he’s been around a lot of good people, with good timing and a little good luck.
“There are a lot of other folks at Arvest just like me who started out just like me in high school or college who’ve made quite a career with the company,” he said. “Thirty years and even longer. If anything, it’s a tremendous testament to the company in terms of the opportunities it provides, and I am proud to be one of those examples.”
In June, Arvest announced its mortgage division has originated more than $1 billion in mortgage loans for the 17th year in a row. That includes both purchase-money and refinance loans. It’s the earliest the bank has reached the $1 billion mark since 2013. Arvest, which services about 99% of its mortgage loans, hit the milestone on June 18, 11 days sooner than last year.