Russellville Area News


Date ArticleType
1/17/2018 Member News
Chip Blanchard on Community Banks Staying Centered at Home


Chip Blanchard on Community Banks Staying Centered at Home

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Jan. 15, 2018 12:00 am

Charles Bowen "Chip" Blanchard, 37, is the president and COO of First State Bank of Russellville. He is also the son of bank CEO Charles Blanchard and the grandson of William H. Bowen, the legendary lawyer whose name graces the University of Arkansas at Little Rock law school.

Blanchard earned a finance and marketing degree from the University of Arkansas, and worked for Metropolitan National Bank before joining First State in 2011. 

First State Bank has $247.6 million in assets and five branches, four in Russellville.

Why are community banks important? 
A community bank’s level of success is often immediately tied to the success of its local economy, which gives it more “skin in the game” and more incentive to support its community than large bank competitors have.

Russellville is more important to our bank than it is to any other bank that has an office here since it is the home of our company. Most importantly, our profits stay here and are invested into our community. Community banks truly have a vested interest in seeing the community succeed as a whole. 

What is the most common misconception about community banks? 
The biggest misconception is that community banks don’t have products or pricing comparable with the large banks. The advancement in technology has allowed community banks to have product offerings similar to those of larger banks, while continuing to provide the superior level of service that is expected of a local business. There is also a misconception about pricing. There is a general assumption that larger banks are going to have more favorable pricing. Whether you’re looking at deposit products, rates or loan products, give your local bank a shot. 

What benefits or problems do you expect for banks from the new tax overhaul? 
Lower taxes will help in two major ways. First, lower taxes will increase net earnings, making it easier to build capital to support growth. Second, hopefully, a tax reduction will increase small-business profitability enough to create even more activity and demand for expansion. And that will create enough new activity to increase tax revenue even at the lower rates.

Does First State Bank have any expansion plans? 
With the advancement in technology and the reduced reliance on bricks and mortar, expansion plans can take on a different look then they have historically. We plan on expanding our balance sheet by continuing to expand our customer base and the geographic reach we have. Convenience has been, and will continue to be, one of the highest priority items for customers. When our customers have our cell phone numbers and know where we live and how to reach us, we are more convenient than the large banks. It doesn’t matter how many branches you have if a customer doesn’t know how to reach someone about a problem.

We have experienced 33 percent growth in our asset base in the previous four years without adding a branch. We will add branches and they will likely be in new markets, but that is certainly not the only way we intend to grow.  

What is the best advice you were ever given? 
That people are the most important asset in banking, which is especially true in community banking. If you take care of your people, they will take care of customers. In an industry driven by balance sheet and asset quality ratios, our focus starts with our people. If we can have the highest quality people, who truly believe in putting the customer first and supporting the communities we serve, our success should take care of itself.



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