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A local financial services institution since 1993 serving Ozark and Northwest Arkansas with quality service and professionalism.

Priority Bank is incorporated in the State of Arkansas and is a federally chartered Savings Bank located in Ozark, Arkansas.

It is regulated by the Office of Thrift Supervision and a member of the FDIC.

The Bank opened for business on July 3, 1993.

We will continue to strive to excel with financial strength and quality service.

New products are in development that will help position us on the leading edge of technology while maintaining down home traditions of service excellence.




Priority Bank Tops in Return on Equity List
By Worth Sparkman - 4/20/2009

(For a list of the top private banks in the state, click here. For the top public banks in Arkansas, click here.)

The top 10 banks by return on equity in the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal's annual list of private banks changed somewhat from year-end 2007 to 2008. Overall, most banks reported lower ROE.

Only private banks chartered in the state and doing business in the six-county market — Benton, Carroll, Crawford, Madison, Sebastian and Washington counties — were included.

According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., ROE is "Annualized net income as a percent of average equity on a consolidated basis."

Priority Bank, an Ozark-based thrift, topped the ROE chart with an adjusted 46.63 percent, and saw an increase from 35.22 percent ROE in 2007.

Priority opened an office in Fayetteville in late 2005. The bank, which had only one office before is also the statewide leader in ROE for 2008.

Mike Sandlin, president of Priority, said there were multiple factors that contributed to the bank's ROE, including the fact that the thrift is a sub-chapter "S" corp.

The bank's loans are concentrated in single family residential loans made mostly to rural customers in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas, Tennessee and Louisiana, Sandlin said.

"Most people would assume that's a scary place to be, but we've been fortunate," he said. The bank focuses on lending to "hardworking folks" and puts an emphasis on job history, debt-to-income ratio and money down as the "common sense approach" to underwriting.

The bank has little to no commercial loans, Sandlin said. The average loan the bank makes is in the $100,000 to $150,000 range.

The Bank of Fayetteville, which was No. 2 in 2007 with ROE of 17.04 percent, dropped to No. 22 with an ROE of 2.74 percent at the end of 2008.

Mary Beth Brooks, president and CEO of the bank, said there were multiple reasons for the dip in the ratio.

"We were aggressive to identify any problems and to deal with them to protect our investors and depositors," she said.

The bank beefed up loan loss reserves by the tune of $6 million during 2008, and increased its capital by $7.5 million, she said. So, lowering income and increasing the denominator had an adverse effect on the ROE ratio.

Still, BOF beat the national average in 2008.

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the average ROE in the U.S. as of Dec. 31 was 2.29 percent, down from an average of 9.34 percent at the end of 2007. For banks in the 8th District, which includes Arkansas and portions of six other states (Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee), the average ROE was 3.37 percent, down from 7.51 percent a year earlier.

For banks just in Arkansas, the average was 8.53 percent, up from 7.60 percent at the end of 2007.

Twelve of the 28 private banks doing business in Northwest Arkansas performed better than the statewide average.

As a comparison of the changing times, in 2005 the average for U.S. banks was 13.26 percent. For banks in the 8th District that year the average ROE was 12.70 percent and for banks just in Arkansas, the average was 11.53 percent.


Copyright 2009, Arkansas Business Limited Partnership. All Rights Reserved.



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