Same Story, Three Decades On


Citizens Bank
Carthage, Tenn.
ROAA in 2015: 2.32 percent
ROAE in 2015: 13.84 percent
Assets: $550 million
Retail locations: Eight
Employees: 76
Founded: 1929

By Walter (Wally) Birdwell

Citizens Bank, the only bank headquartered in the small town of Carthage, Tenn., has had a long history of high earnings. The bank’s goal is to have strength by building and maintaining high capital to assets. In its environment, increased capital can only come from retained earnings and not from the sale of stock.

The bank’s high earnings have been made possible by holding down expenses and operating as simply as possible.

Opening on Oct. 26, 1929 (three days before the stock market crash of Oct. 29, 1929), Citizens Bank has been profitable from the beginning even though the profits were very slim during the Depression of the 1930s. Growth has come along with earnings, and the bank now has assets of $550 million and capital of $90.5 million. It has eight offices in three counties with 76 employees.

Recognition was given to our community bank long ago in an article titled “High Performance Banking in Rural Tennessee,” in the November 1985 issue of Independent Banker. Anyone could write the nearly same article of success today. Community banking will do well in the future because customers still like hometown banking. In my opinion, the chief problem facing community banking today is overregulation. We are pleased to see ICBA attacking this problem.

Walter (Wally) Birdwell is chairman of Citizens Bank.