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A Conversation With ... Doug Parker

Southwest Missouri Regional President, Encore Bank

Posted online

We’re standing in the future home of Encore Bank on Weller Avenue just north of Independence Street. When will it open and how many employees?
We should have a permit this week and since it’s in the inside shell, it’s not a ground up, it should take 120 days or less. This is approximately 6,000 square feet. At the pinnacle, we’re going to have 12-15 employees.

Where’s your focus as a financial institution?
We’re a digital company. We do online, mobile applications and we invest into the digital aspect instead of the brick and mortar. It’s like ATMs, we don’t need them. Why would we spend $1,000 a month on rent to put in a $100,000 piece of equipment and maintain $30,000 cash in there? What we do is you have an ATM debit card. If you’re in California, you use it (and) get a $2.50 fee, we just refund the fee to you. COVID has really tested our theory. This mobile, digital aspect is here to stay. I was the president of Simmons Bank here in southwest Missouri, and we have 21 locations in nine counties and when COVID hit, even when we reopened, nobody came. At Encore, we’re up 120% on the mobile apps, we’re up 190% on online users. That’s where everybody’s going. It’s really kind of proven our theory. We don’t need a lot of branches, a lot of ATMs or even a lot of employees. What we need are quality employees. Instead of the millions of millions of dollars in brick and mortar, we’ll spend the money in digital technologies.

Encore Bank, previously Capital Bank, was formed in 2019 after a leadership change. Officials report doubling the bank’s assets in its first year and more than doubling again in 2020. Much of that is credited to shareholder investments. What’s behind that strategy?
It’s partnership. The shareholders we seek, those that want to be a part of us, they bring their business. Instead of making a mass marketing campaign and spending hundreds of millions of dollars, it’s the word of mouth. If you want to invest into Encore, you can. That’s the difference between us and a lot of other financial institutions out there. Most banks have a set number of people, and they own the majority of the bank and they run it. It also spreads out across even our associates. They bought into the bank as employees.

Encore is based in Little Rock, Arkansas, but has expanded in the past year to Texas and Springfield. Why these markets? Does Springfield need another bank?
Where there’s a lot of banks, there’s a lot of opportunity. Everyone wants to be in growth areas and Springfield is very much vibrant. We’re looking at Nashville, we just took on Tampa, northwest Arkansas and so forth. Springfield has always supported numerous banks because of the growth and because of the activity here. We don’t see it slowing down. Our pipeline is very full and even our deposit base is very full. We’re pretty much almost profitable.

Your Springfield branch is located adjacent to Keller Williams Greater Springfield’s new headquarters. Leaders at the brokerage envisioned this strip to house ancillary real estate services. Do you have a partnership with Keller Williams on mortgage services?
No. That’s just part of those relationships is being here. We’re going to support them as best we can with mortgage loan officers and closings.

Even with your investment into the digital space, you’re still investing in a branch location. Will that help serve small-business customers? I’m thinking of those who need a place to make deposits.
We’ll take deposits; we’ll have night drops and cash on hand. But the majority of businesses we’re talking to over the last year, why would they keep cash on hand? Everything is going digital. I can’t tell you the last time I paid in cash. Small business is a very big part of what we’re doing. We have (a U.S. Small Business Administration) department.

Doug Parker can be reached at doug.parker@bankencore.com

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