Leadership transition announced at Citizens Bank & Trust

by Michael Tilley ([email protected]) 3,454 views 

Folks have less than 30 days if they want a business appointment with Citizens Bank & Trust Co. President and CEO Keith Hefner. He’s leaving the bank June 30 after 30 years, with around 16 of those as head of the Van Buren-based bank.

Hefner was named bank president and CEO in 2004, and has been with the subsidiary of Fort Smith-based First Bank Corp Financial Holding Company for 30 years. He will continue to be on the bank’s board of directors, noted the statement announcing his departure.

Crawford County native Brent Taylor has been named to succeed Hefner as president and CEO.

In an email interview with Talk Business & Politics, Hefner said 30 years ago he had no idea where his financial career would go.

“In retrospect as a 33 year-old-guy, when I first came to work at the bank, retirement or a 30-year career probably was not foremost on my mind. However, in a relatively short time I developed an appreciation, both professionally and personally, for the people here,” Hefner wrote. “I was able to witness firsthand the commitment leadership had toward truly being a community bank. Also, at the time we had 47 employees and I was blown away at the ability of those folks to handle multiple functions within the bank. They were so good at their jobs, they made me look good.”

CItizens Bank & Trust President and CEO Keith Hefner

Hefner graduated from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro in 1979 and the Southwest Graduate School of Banking, Southern Methodist University in Dallas. His volunteer duties include being a commissioner on the Van Buren Water & Sewer Commission and as a board member of the Western Arkansas Regional Intermodal Transportation Authority, chairman of the Van Buren Chamber of Commerce, board member of the Fort Smith Area United Way, and president of the Western Arkansas Mortgage Bankers Association.

He has also been a member of the board of the Arkansas Bankers Association and on the Advisory Council for the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Hefner said one of his career highlights was in managing mortgage lending and being one of the higher volume originators in the market. He also said his career was challenged in working through federal regulations and the 2008 Great Recession.

“Given the ever-increasing costs associated with regulatory compliance and competition from other institutions, that was a challenge. We have been relatively successful in automating many processes in the bank that are transparent to our customers. In doing so, the bank has grown from around $247 million in assets with 102 employees in 2004 to $458 million, as of this morning (June 2), and we currently employ 100. I originally thought it was possible to double the size of the bank before now, but the slow recovery after the great recession limited us a bit,” Hefner noted.

Citizens Bank & Trust Chief Operating Officer Brent Taylor

The incoming bank boss is a graduate of the University of Central Arkansas and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, William H. Bowen School of Law. He is also a graduate of the Graduate School of Banking at the University of Colorado Boulder. Taylor was hired in 2013 as vice president at Citizens Bank & Trust, and during the previous year has worked a chief operating officer. Taylor is chairman of the Alma Advertising and Promotion Commission and a Board Member of the Alma Education and Arts Foundation.

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