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Current Arvest logo
|This article reads more like a story than an encyclopedia entry. (December 2013)|
Current Arvest logo
It has been reported by many sources including Forbes that Arvest Bank is owned and controlled by the Walton family of Walmart fame, although Arvest is operated separately from the famous retail chain. Sam Walton's son Jim runs the company. In 2003, Jim, his brother and his mother owned a combined stake of 96.14% of the company.
Since its early days set in the backdrop of 1965 small-town America, Arvest Bank has evolved from a group of small banks to a big bank. The bank has experienced significant growth both in its size and depth of products since its early days. Arvest claims to have kept its community foundation while offering customers the convenience and technological advantages of a larger corporation, keeping stability, sound financial practices and customer service at the heart of its mission.
The Arvest story began in 1961 with Sam & Helen WALTON's  purchase of The Bank of Bentonville in Bentonville, Arkansas, which was followed in 1963 with the acquisition of a small bank, the Bank of Pea Ridge, in the nearby town of Pea Ridge, Ark. In 1975, First National Bank & Trust of Rogers was purchased in the neighboring town of Rogers, Ark., and for almost a decade afterwards, these banks, each of them run independently and managed locally, were the entire banking network now known as Arvest.
In 1984, the organization began a period of rapid growth and expansion by acquiring stakes in or starting banks in the following communities:
The first bank holding company, Northwest Arkansas Bancshares, was created in March 1978. Northwest Arkansas Bancshares became Heartland Bank Group in December 1988, and was renamed Arvest Bank Group in January 1990 to avoid confusion with other banks called Heartland in Oklahoma and elsewhere. By the end of 1992, the holding company had reached $1 billion in total assets. Each of the banks was still managed locally, controlled by a local board of directors and retained its own name.
After a few years of experimenting with its retailing strategies, including opening the first Arvest branch inside a grocery store, the bank group began another period of growth and expansion, marked most notably by entry into the following markets:
By this time, the holding company had adopted the Arvest name and many of the local banks began to do the same, while retaining their community-focused structure of local control by local management teams and boards of directors. As 2003 dawned, Arvest Bank had total assets of $4.6 billion.
By the end of the year, that would increase by nearly 40 percent to $6.4 billion, primarily as a result of the acquisition of Superior Bank, a $1.7 billion financial institution based in Fort Smith with more than 57 branch locations in Arkansas and Oklahoma. With the opening of new banking centers, expansion continued to occur within these two states over the next several years. This growth period also trickled over into Missouri as Arvest established a presence in Branson and Springfield, Mo.
The latter part of the decade would bring technological growth, including the bank’s first mobile banking application and significant expansion of its presence on the internet, as well as physical growth. During this time, three additional markets were added to the Arvest family:
In addition to its banking network, Arvest also provides a wide range of financial services including loans, deposits, treasury management, asset and wealth management, life insurance, credit cards, mortgage loans and mortgage servicing. Arvest operates a mortgage company, credit card company, title company, trust company, asset management company, insurance company and mortgage servicing company.