First Security Bank

First Security Bank is a privately held company based in Searcy (White County). The financial institution employs around 1,000 and operates more than seventy locations across the state of Arkansas, in what it calls the “trail of teal,” a reference to the company’s signature corporate color. It is a division of First Security Bancorp, which is one of the five largest bank holding companies in Arkansas. The corporation became the second-largest privately held banking company in Arkansas and one of the fifteen largest privately held bank holding companies in the country.

Reynie Rutledge serves as president and works from the flagship First Security Bank in Searcy. The three sons of Reynie and Ann Rutledge became involved in the business: John Rutledge is president and CEO in the central Arkansas market; Adam Rutledge is in the same position in northwestern Arkansas; and Nathan Rutledge is senior managing director of the investment banking branch of the business, Crews & Associates.

John Reynolds (Reynie) Rutledge was born on November 14, 1949, in the town of Smackover (Union County) to Jeanne and N. T. Rutledge, who owned a sawmill. At Smackover High School, Reynie Rutledge played basketball on the school’s Battlin’ Buckaroos team. Rutledge earned his undergraduate degree in industrial engineering from the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). At the time of his graduation in 1972, Rutledge was dating his future wife, Ann Van Hook, who would not complete her own degree at UA for another year. Remaining in Fayetteville, he enrolled in graduate school to pursue a master’s degree in business administration (MBA). Rutledge received his MBA in 1973 and married Ann Van Hook in 1974.

Although he was undecided about a career, Rutledge knew he wanted to stay in Arkansas. He worked as a loan officer at Worthen Bank in Little Rock (Pulaski County), later joining First State Bank in Springdale (Washington and Benton counties). In 1977, at age twenty-seven, Rutledge bought the relatively small First Security Bank in Searcy. After purchasing the bank, which had been chartered in 1932, Rutledge established First Security Mortgage in 1979, creating the bank holding company that is now called First Security Bancorp in 1981.

First Security acquired a number of Arkansas banks over the years. These included Peoples Bank & Trust of Mountain Home (Baxter County) in 1989, Citizens Bank of Beebe (White County) in 1991, Farmers Bank & Trust Company of Clarksville (Johnson County) in 1995, First Community Bank of Conway (Faulkner County) in 1997, First National Bank of Springdale in 2003, and Union Bank of Benton (Saline County) in 2009. After entering the Little Rock market in 2004, the company constructed the fourteen-story mixed-use First Security Center located in the River Market District in downtown Little Rock. The building is the tallest in the River Market area. The First Security Amphitheater is located nearby in the River Market. However, the company’s corporate base remains in Searcy.

Continuing his strong ties to his alma mater, beginning in 1999, Reynie Rutledge served on the dean’s executive advisory committee at UA’s Sam M. Walton College of Business. This group helped launch the annual Arkansas Business Hall of Fame, creating the by-laws to establish criteria for recognizing the state’s business leaders each year. In 2020, Rutledge himself was inducted into the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame for his work as chairman of First Security Bancorp. On that occasion, Rutledge said, “The recognition is for First Security Bank, our employees across the state, and the great customers we have in Arkansas, all of whom helped make this possible.”

In addition to his work at First Security, Reynie Rutledge has served on the UA Board of Trustees and the UA Executive Committee for Campaign Arkansas. He is a past chairman of the Arkansas Bankers Association and has served on the board of directors for Dillard’s Corporation as well as the Business Advisory Board for Searcy’s Harding University.

For additional information:
Carter, Mark. “Reynie Rutledge: Banking Turned Out to Be the Right Call.” Arkansas Money and Politics, February 4, 2020. https://armoneyandpolitics.com/reynie-rutledge-banking-turned-out-to-be-the-right-call/ (accessed May 26, 2022).

First Security Bank. https://www.fsbank.com/ (accessed May 26, 2022).

“First Security Bank: One of the Largest Financial Institutions in Arkansas.” HER magazine (January/February 2021): 16.

Kroll, Karen. “First Security Bancorp: Only in Arkansas.” American Bankers Association Journal, November 15, 2019. https://bankingjournal.aba.com/2019/11/first-security-bancorp-only-in-arkansas/ (accessed May 26, 2022).

“Reynie Rutledge—Chairman and CEO, First Security Bancorp.” Arkansas Business Hall of Fame. https://walton.uark.edu/abhf/reynie-rutledge.php (accessed May 26, 2022).

Nancy Hendricks
Garland County Historical Society

Last Updated: 06/14/2022