Encore Bank enters NWA market with hiring of Chris Howe

by Paul Gatling (pgatling@nwabj.com) 1,093 views 

Little Rock-based Encore Bank (formerly The Capital Bank) has recruited Chris Howe to lead the lender’s expansion in Northwest Arkansas.

Howe, a member of the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal’s 2018 Forty Under 40 class, started his new job as executive vice president and Northwest Arkansas regional president just after Labor Day. He spent the previous 10 years working for Louisiana-based IberiaBank, beginning in Little Rock. In 2015, the bank moved him to Bentonville to run its commercial group and promoted him to senior vice president. In 2016, Howe added regional responsibilities and became market manager, with responsibility for the bank’s retail and commercial operations.

With his new job, Howe is reunited with Encore Bank President Phillip Jett, a mentor of Howe’s who spent the past decade as central Arkansas market president for IberiaBank. Jett joined Encore earlier this year along with former Simmons Bank executives Burt Hicks and Chris Roberts to reshape the bank’s footprint.

Encore Bank was formed in 1997 and had assets of almost $200 million as of June 30, according to the most recent data from the FDIC. The company has a branch office on Chenal Parkway and recently opened a second location on Kavanaugh Boulevard in the Heights. The company has 33 employees.

In an interview earlier this year with Talk Business & Politics CEO Roby Brock, Hicks said the bank is currently on a mission to raise $50 million in new capital from five core markets into which the bank wants to expand. Outside of the central Arkansas base, Hicks said the company is looking to northeast Arkansas (notably Jonesboro), Northwest Arkansas (starting in Rogers), Dallas and Nashville, Tenn.

The bank might not be a familiar name, but Jett said it’s the company goal to change that.

Chris Howe

“Our plan is to be the premier community bank in the state of Arkansas,” he said. “And I think that what you are going to find is the talent we are attracting is going to speak volumes as we continue to build [the organization] out around the state and the region.”

Jett said he has known Howe for almost 30 years.

“Knowing we have him running the Northwest Arkansas region for us, we wouldn’t have it any other way,” Jett said. “He was our first choice.”

Jett didn’t provide an update on the bank’s $50 million fundraising goal. He did say about 400 new investors have committed to provide capital.

While he works to attract investors and raise money in Northwest Arkansas, Howe will be a remote bank employee, at least for the time being. Barry Jackson, the company’s chief marketing officer, said the bank is looking for office space to establish a branch in both the Pinnacle Hills area of Rogers and near the square in downtown Fayetteville.

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