Simmons First National Bank

Simmons First National Corporation is the largest publicly traded financial holding headquartered in Arkansas. By 2007, it had paid dividends for ninety-nine consecutive years and employed more than 1,000 people. It has total assets of nearly $8 billion.

Founded by Dr. John Franklin Simmons, Simmons National Bank opened its doors for business at the corner of Main and Barraque streets in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) on March 23, 1903, with four employees. First day deposits totaled $3,338.22. Simmons opened its trust department on June 5, 1922, and was one of the first Arkansas banks to reopen, without restrictions, after the federally imposed “bank holiday” in 1933, during the Great Depression. In 1937, the bank opened its personal loan department. The word “First” was added to the bank’s name in 1960, making it Simmons First National Bank. In 1967, Simmons First opened its investment department and became the first bank in Arkansas to offer customers the Bank America Card (now VISA). Banking history was made on March 23, 1984, when a Simmons First VISA customer withdrew $285 from an automated teller machine (ATM) in Sydney, Australia, in the world’s first intercontinental transaction made via an ATM.

Simmons First received the 2006 Outstanding Philanthropic Corporation Award, in the large business category, presented by the Arkansas Community Foundation. The award is presented to a company that has demonstrated outstanding commitment through financial and other types of support, and/or through encouragement and motivation of others to take leadership roles through philanthropy and community involvement.

In 2010, Simmons First acquired the assets of Southwest Community Bank of Springfield, Missouri, and Security Savings Bank FSB of Olathe, Kansas, from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). In 2012, it acquired the assets of Truman Bank of St. Louis, Missouri, and Excel Bank of Sedalia, Missouri, from the FDIC. In November 2013, it bought Metropolitan National Bank of Little Rock (Pulaski County); the bank shortly thereafter announced the closure of twenty-seven of its eighty-eight Arkansas branches. The purchase included the space in the TCBY Tower, the tallest building in the state, which was renamed the Simmons First National Bank Tower. In March 2014, Simmons announced that it would buy the privately held Delta Trust & Banking Corp. of Little Rock in a $66 million transaction. In May 2014, Simmons announced that it would buy Community First Bancshares Inc. of Union City, Tennessee, and its subsidiary First State Bank. In May 2014, Simmons announced that it would buy Liberty Bancshares Inc. of Springfield, Missouri, for about $207 million. In October 2015, Simmons acquired Ozark Trust and Investment Corp., also of Springfield. In September 2016, Simmons completed its acquisition of Citizens National Bank of Athens, Tennessee. That November, Simmons announced that it had made a deal to acquire First South Bank of Jackson, Tennessee.

On March 10, 2017, Simmons announced that it had acquired the ten-story Acxiom building in downtown Little Rock. The following year, it announced the $172 million purchase of Reliance Bancshares, Inc., of Missouri. In 2021, the bank purchased the former Bank OZK headquarters in western Little Rock. Later that year, Simmons announced the $581 million purchase of Spirit of Texas Bancshares, Inc.

For additional information:
Simmons First National Bank. (accessed November 22, 2021).

Walker, George. “The Beginning of Simmons National Bank.” Jefferson County Historical Quarterly 42 (Spring 2014): 14–17.

———. “The Beginning of Simmons National Bank, Part II.” Jefferson County Historical Quarterly 42 (Summer 2014): 14–18.

———. “The Early Years of Simmons Bank, Part III.” Jefferson County Historical Quarterly 42 (Fall 2014): 23–27.

Wallis, Dave. “Simmons Centennial.” Jefferson County Historical Quarterly 31 (June 2003): 4–13.

Wallis, Ernie. “Simmons National Bank’s New Building.” Jefferson County Historical Quarterly 19, no. 2 (1991): 25–32.

Lawrence Fikes
Simmons First National Bank


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