Adam Rutledge, a third-generation banker, began his career as a teenager at First Security Bank in Searcy. Rutledge is fortunate to have had ideal role models in his grandfather and father, who instilled in him a love for business and banking, and the belief that community banking is about improving the lives of local families and businesses, regardless of their financial situation. Now, as President and CEO of First Security Bank Northwest Arkansas, Rutledge thrives in building and supporting both business and personal relationships for the bank. His position allows him to be active in the Northwest Arkansas community by serving on the boards of Life Source International, Work Matters, Boys and Girl Club of Fayetteville and the Walton College Dean’s Advisory Council.
1. Why did you get into banking and how has the industry changed since you first started?
I grew up in a banking family and it formed by initial thoughts on what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Today, however, I am in banking for the people, both customers and employees, and the opportunity to improve the lives of both. These same customers and employees are the ones that make up these great communities of Northwest Arkansas.
The simple answer to the second question is working within the confines of Dodd Frank regulatory reform legislation. Our main goal is to serve our communities and help our clients reach their goals with sustainable growth. The changes in the regulatory environment have provided good and additional protections to consumers but have made it somewhat cumbersome for clients to borrow money, especially for consumer loan purposes. At First Security Bank, we try to strike a balance between regulatory reform and providing first rate customer service in a timely manner.
2. What role does community banking play in the development of great places?
We provide the capital to fund projects of visionary developers, who are also trying to give back to the very communities in which they live, work, and love. Here at First Security and at many of the community banks in our area, we provide volunteers to countless events. Many of these events are necessary fundraisers put on by non-profits and community organizations. This is done through strategic partnerships with likeminded organizations that are striving to make a difference in our communities that make up this great State.
3. What are the components you look for in a fundable project and what recommendations do you have for first time developers?
The components of most projects are different, so we generally consider each project and the components that come with it differently. First of all, the economics have to pass our conservative underwriting. We want to be a proud financing partner of the projects we finance during construction and upon completion. We always draw on our experience and protect our clients while helping our communities grow sustainably.
4. First Security rehabbed its building along the Razorback Greenway in downtown Springdale. What was the process for making that decision and why? What role will the remaining campus play in the redevelopment of downtown Springdale.
The renovation of the bank’s building along the Greenway is a good example of adaptive reuse occurring in many portions of the downtown re-development. First Security wanted to help set the tone and set a good example for other projects to come. It was very important to the bank to retain and treat with sensitivity the distinctive and original features of the building while incorporating energy saving features, complying with updated code and accessibility requirements, and meeting the needs of the modern-day tenant. New materials and finishes were chosen carefully to complement the vintage brick including copper, stained cedar, aluminum trim and galvanized steel. The bank also took into consideration the proximity to the bike trail and has included expansive glass storefronts and glass roll-up doors to make the most of the greenspace and foot traffic afforded by the trail and adjacent park area. What role will the remaining campus play in the redevelopment of downtown Springdale? Only time will tell, but we are excited about what is in the works with our entire footprint in downtown Springdale.
5. The bank was a significant champion of the City of Springdale and Downtown Springdale Alliance co-led master plan process and final document. Why do you think plans like that are important and what impact have you seen since it passed in 2017?
The master plan set the direction for the revitalization of downtown Springdale. Vibrant downtowns are the heartbeat of a community, and it is our hope that we may play a big part of the future of downtown Springdale.