The Importance of Knowing a Local Banker

By Arkansas Next on Friday, April 5, 2024

The beauty of banking in Arkansas is the bounty of local bankers eager to help you along your financial journey. You will want to have a relationship established with a bank in your community when the time comes to buy your first home, refinance, start a business with a loan, or do anything else to build your future.

A local banker can help you with the entire life cycle of your financial needs. Even before you need money, you can start working with your banker on ways to prepare for your financial future. “It is about so much more than just opening checking accounts and things like that,” says Lorrie Trogden, president and CEO of the Arkansas Bankers Association. “They are there to work with you to shape your financial future.”

Local bankers support their communities. By giving your small business the loan it needs to get started, it helps you work towards earning an income and potentially hire employees (helping them earn an income), and subsequently, helping communities grow. Not to mention, local banks are known to give back financially to communities where they have branches. “The thing that I love about being in this industry is the impact that local bankers can have in their communities,” Lorrie says. “Banks are the cornerstone of their communities.” 

You’ll get approved easier. When you have an established history with a banker and need a loan or line of credit, their history with you as a customer will help with getting loans approved. If you aren't necessarily the ideal customer on paper, but they know you've never missed a payment and repaid all previous loans, your banker can vouch for you to get the best rate and get the loan underwritten.

"...THIS INDUSTRY MAKES SUCH A DIFFERENCE IN PEOPLE’S EVERYDAY LIVES” -Lorrie Trogden, President/CEO of The Arkansas Bankers Association

3 Steps to Your First Bank Account

Step 1: Research local banks. 

We’ve listed eight of our favorite Arkansas banks in the next section below. Each has convenient branches all over the state (and terrific mobile banking tools). Compare annual and/or monthly service charges and minimum balance requirements. What are the interest rates on their savings accounts? Do they offer free ATM use nationwide and overdraft protection? Online-only banks and credit unions are also available.

Step 2: Gather required documentation and funds. 

You need to be 18 years old or bring a parent/guardian with you. You’ll also need your basic information (name, date of birth, proof of your mailing address, contact information and social security number). Bring the bank’s minimum dollar amount required for opening a new account (usually between $25 and $100).

Step 3: Open the account.

Start using the account—deposit your money! Take advantage of all your bank’s tools and services (things like online bill pay, direct deposit, Zelle, mobile banking, text and email alerts and statements). Gen Z, be sure to go paperless to help protect the environment!

Banks We Love: Great Options When Choosing Your First Bank

Encore Bank
Arkansas branches: 5
Fave tool: "EveryDollar App" is a simple-to-use and free budgeting tool right on your smartphone so you can track your income and expenses while on the move.

Chambers Bank
Arkansas branches: 
Fave tool: 
Savings Cents is a fan-favorite tool for customers to round up savings on every purchase and SecureLOCK Equip is an app that allows customers to control debit card purchases. 

Farmers & Merchants Bank
Arkansas branches: 
Fave tool: 
Deposit checks with your smartphone camera through the Me Banking mobile app, plus text banking and alerts.

First Arkansas Bank & Trust
Arkansas branches: 21
Fave tool: Its app, mobile wallet, card controls and Zelle!

First National Bank
Arkansas branches: 20
Fave tool: “Spending Habits” allows customers to import all spending activity to make budgets, see their net worth and get a better handle on their financial outlook

Generations Bank
Arkansas branches: 9
Fave tool: Scheduling Automatic Transfers. It's easy to set up a reoccurring automatic transfer from a checking account to a savings account making saving money a breeze!

Southern Bancorp
Arkansas branches: 37
Fave tool: Whether you are new to credit or have made mistakes in the past, the Credit Builder CD (Certificate of Deposit) is an easy way to start building good credit history. After making all loan payments, you’ll receive the full value of the CD, plus interest.

Signature Bank of Arkansas
Arkansas branches: 10
Fave tool: A PocketChange is the perfect “round up” tool that replaces the piggy bank! Pocket change is hard to come by, so Signature Bank offers the option to round up your transaction to the next dollar so the leftover change can be put into your savings!