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UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C.  20549
FORM 10-K
(Mark One)
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
    For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2023
OR
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
    For the transition period from _____ to _____

Commission file number 000-06253
slogo.jpg SIMMONS FIRST NATIONAL CORPORATION
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
Arkansas71-0407808
(State or other jurisdiction of(I.R.S. Employer
incorporation or organization)Identification No.)
  
501 Main Street71601
Pine Bluff(Zip Code)
Arkansas
(Address of principal executive offices)
(870) 541-1000
(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of each classTrading Symbol(s)Name of each exchange on which registered
Common stock, par value $0.01 per shareSFNCThe Nasdaq Global Select Market

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:  None
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. ☒ Yes  ☐ No
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. ☐ Yes  ☒ No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. ☒ Yes  ☐ No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§ 232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). ☒ Yes  ☐ No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filerAccelerated filerNon-accelerated filer
Smaller reporting companyEmerging Growth company






If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ☐

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.

If securities are registered pursuant to Section 12 (b) of the Act, indicate by check mark whether the financial statements of the registrant included in the filing reflect the correction of an error to previously issued financial statements.

Indicate by check mark whether any of those error corrections are restatements that required a recovery analysis of incentive-based compensation received by any of the registrant’s executive officers during the relevant recovery period pursuant to §240.10D-1(b). ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act.). ☐ Yes  No
The aggregate market value of the Registrant’s Common Stock, par value $0.01 per share, held by non-affiliates on June 30, 2023, was $2,125,228,007 based upon the last trade price as reported on the Nasdaq Global Select Market® of $17.25.
The number of shares outstanding of the Registrant’s Common Stock as of February 23, 2024, was 125,327,684.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of the Proxy Statement for the 2024 Annual Meeting of Shareholders of the Registrant to be held on April 23, 2024, are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Form 10-K.



SIMMONS FIRST NATIONAL CORPORATION
ANNUAL REPORT ON FORM 10-K

INDEX
 
   
    
 
 
 
 
 
    
   
    
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
    
   
    
 
 
 
 
 
    
   
    
 
    



CAUTIONARY NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
 
Certain statements contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K may not be based on historical facts and should be considered “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements may be identified by reference to a future period(s) or by the use of forward-looking terminology, such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “budget,” “contemplate,” “continue,” “estimate,” “expect,” “foresee,” “intend,” “indicate,” “likely,” “target,” “plan,” “positions,” “prospects,” “project,” “predict,” or “potential,” by future conditional verbs such as “could,” “may,” “might,” “should,” “will,” or “would,” by variations of such words, or by similar expressions. These forward-looking statements include, without limitation, those relating to the Company’s future growth, business strategies, acquisitions and their expected benefits, revenue, expenses, assets, asset quality, profitability, earnings, accretion, dividends, customer service, lending capacity and lending activity, loan demand, investment in digital channels, critical accounting policies and estimates, net interest margin, non-interest revenue, non-interest expense, market conditions related to and the impact of the Company’s stock repurchase program, consumer behavior and liquidity, the Company’s ability to recruit and retain key employees, the adequacy of the allowance for credit losses, the estimated cost savings associated with the Company’s Better Bank Initiative, income tax deductions, credit quality, the level of credit losses from lending commitments, net interest revenue, interest rates and interest rate sensitivity, economic conditions, repricing of loans and time deposits, loan loss experience, liquidity, the Company’s expectations regarding actions by the Federal Home Loan Banks (“FHLB”) and other agencies, capital resources, market risk, plans for investments in (and cash flows from) securities, effect of pending and future litigation, staffing initiatives, estimated cost savings associated with the Company’s early retirement program and Better Bank Initiative, legal and regulatory limitations and compliance, and competition.
 
These forward-looking statements are based on various assumptions and involve inherent risks and uncertainties, and may not be realized due to a variety of factors, including, without limitation: changes in the Company’s operating, acquisition, or expansion strategy; the effects of future economic conditions (including unemployment levels and slowdowns in economic growth), governmental monetary and fiscal policies (including the policies of the Federal Reserve), as well as legislative and regulatory changes; general business conditions, as well as conditions within the financial markets, developments impacting the financial services industry, such as bank failure or concerns involving liquidity; changes in real estate values; changes in interest rates and related governmental policies; changes in liquidity; increased inflation; changes in the level and composition of deposits, loan demand, and the values of loan collateral, securities and interest sensitive assets and liabilities; changes in credit quality; actions taken by the Company to manage its investment securities portfolio; changes in the securities markets generally or the price of the Company’s common stock specifically; changes in the assumptions used in making the forward-looking statements; developments in information technology affecting the financial industry; cyber threats, attacks or events; reliance on third parties for the provision of key services; further changes in accounting principles relating to loan loss recognition; the costs of evaluating possible acquisitions and the risks inherent in integrating acquisitions; possible adverse rulings, judgements, settlements, fines and other outcomes of pending or future litigation or government actions; loss of key employees; increased unemployment; labor shortages; market disruptions, including pandemics or significant health hazards, severe weather conditions, natural disasters, terrorist activities, financial crises, political crises, war and other military conflicts (including the ongoing military conflicts between Russia and Ukraine and between Israel and Hamas) or other major events, or the prospect of these events; changes in customer behaviors, including consumer spending, borrowing, and saving habits; the soundness of other financial institutions and indirect exposure related to the closings of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), Signature Bank and Silvergate Bank and their impact on the broader market through other customers, suppliers and partners (or that the conditions which resulted in the liquidity concerns with SVB, Signature Bank and Silvergate Bank may also adversely impact, directly or indirectly, other financial institutions and market participants with which the Company has commercial or deposit relationships); increased delinquency and foreclosure rates on commercial real estate loans; the effects of competition from other commercial banks, thrifts, mortgage banking firms, consumer finance companies, credit unions, securities brokerage firms, insurance companies, money market and other mutual funds, and other financial institutions operating in our market area and elsewhere, including institutions operating regionally, nationally, and internationally, together with such competitors offering banking products and services by mail, telephone, computer, and the internet; the failure of assumptions underlying the establishment of reserves for possible credit losses, fair value for loans, other real estate owned, and those factors set forth under Item 1A. “Risk Factors” of this report and other cautionary statements set forth elsewhere in this report and in other filings that have been filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). Many of these factors are beyond our ability to predict or control, and actual results could differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements due to these factors and others. In addition, as a result of these and other factors, our past financial performance should not be relied upon as an indication of future performance.
 


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We believe the assumptions and expectations that underlie or are reflected in our forward-looking statements are reasonable, based on information available to us on the date hereof. However, given the described uncertainties and risks, we cannot guarantee our future performance or results of operations or whether our future performance will differ materially from the performance reflected in or implied by our forward-looking statements, and you should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. Any forward-looking statement speaks only as of the date hereof, and we undertake no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, and all written or oral forward-looking statements attributable to us are expressly qualified in their entirety by this section.

PART I
 
ITEM 1. BUSINESS
 
Company Overview
 
Simmons First National Corporation, an Arkansas corporation organized in 1968, is a financial holding company registered under the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956, as amended. The terms “Company,” “we,” “us,” and “our” refer to Simmons First National Corporation and, where appropriate, its subsidiaries. The Company is headquartered in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and had total consolidated assets of $27.3 billion, total consolidated loans of $16.8 billion, total consolidated deposits of $22.2 billion and equity capital of $3.4 billion, each as of December 31, 2023. The Company, through its subsidiaries, provides banking and other financial products and services in markets located in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.
 
We seek to build shareholder value by, among other things, focusing on strong asset quality, maintaining strong capital, managing our liquidity position, improving our operational efficiency and opportunistically growing our business, both organically and through mergers with and acquisitions of other financial institutions. Our business philosophy centers on building strong, deep customer relationships through excellent customer service and integrity in our operations. While we have grown in recent years into a regional financial institution and one of the largest bank/financial holding companies headquartered in the State of Arkansas, we continue to emphasize, where practicable, a community-based mindset focused on local associates responding to local banking needs and making business decisions in the markets they serve. Those efforts, though, are buttressed by experienced, centralized support functions in select, critical areas. While we serve a variety of customers and industries, we are not dependent on any single customer or industry.
 
Subsidiary Bank
 
The Company’s lead subsidiary, Simmons Bank (“Simmons Bank” or the “Bank”), is an Arkansas state-chartered bank that has been in operation since 1903.

Simmons Bank provides banking and other financial products and services to individuals and businesses using a network of approximately 234 financial centers in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. Simmons Bank offers commercial banking products and services to business and other corporate customers. Simmons Bank extends loans for a broad range of corporate purposes, including (among others) financing commercial real estate, construction of particular properties, commercial and industrial uses, acquisition and equipment financings, and other general corporate needs. Simmons Bank also engages in small business administration (“SBA”) and agricultural finance lending, and it offers corporate credit card products, as well as corporate deposit products and treasury management services.

In addition, Simmons Bank offers a variety of consumer banking products and services, including (among others) savings, time, and checking deposit products; ATM services; internet and mobile banking platforms; overdraft facilities; real estate, home equity, and other consumer loans and lines of credit; consumer credit card products; and safe deposit boxes. Simmons Bank also maintains a networking arrangement with a third-party broker-dealer that offers brokerage services to Simmons Bank customers, as well as a trust department that provides a variety of trust, investment, agency, and custodial services for individual and corporate clients (including, among others, administration of estates and personal trusts as well as management of investment accounts).

Additionally, Simmons First Insurance Services, Inc. and Simmons First Insurance Services of TN, LLC are wholly-owned subsidiaries of Simmons Bank and are insurance agencies that offer various lines of personal and corporate insurance coverage to individual and commercial customers.



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Community and Commercial Banking Strategy
 
Historically, the Company utilized separately chartered community bank subsidiaries to provide full-service banking products and services across our footprint. During 2014, we consolidated all separately chartered banks into Simmons Bank in order to more effectively meet the increased regulatory burden facing banks, reduce certain operating costs, and more efficiently perform operational duties. To both effectively compete for and service the needs of different types of customers, Simmons Bank now operates using two main groups, a community banking group (which generally focuses on small-to-mid-size customer relationships) and a commercial banking group (which generally focuses on larger, more complex customers with intricate or unique banking needs). Both of these groups are supported by Simmons Bank’s retail, private banking, trust and various operations divisions.

Growth Strategy
 
Over the years, as we have expanded our markets and services, our growth strategy has evolved and diversified. We have used varying acquisition and internal branching methods to enter key growth markets and increase the size of our footprint.
 
Since 1990, we have completed 21 whole bank acquisitions, one trust company acquisition, five bank branch acquisitions, one bankruptcy (363) acquisition, four FDIC failed bank acquisitions and four Resolution Trust Corporation failed thrift acquisitions. The following summary provides additional details concerning our more recent acquisition activity.
 
In 2013, we completed the acquisition of Metropolitan National Bank (“Metropolitan” or “MNB”) from Rogers Bancshares, Inc. (“RBI”). The purchase was completed through an auction of the MNB stock by the U. S. Bankruptcy Court as a part of the Chapter 11 proceeding of RBI. MNB, which was headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas, served central and northwest Arkansas and had total assets of $950 million. Upon completion of the acquisition, MNB and our Rogers, Arkansas chartered bank, Simmons First Bank of Northwest Arkansas were merged into Simmons Bank. As an in-market acquisition, MNB had significant branch overlap with our existing branch footprint. We completed the systems conversion for MNB on March 21, 2014, and simultaneously closed 27 branch locations that had overlapping footprints with other locations.

On August 31, 2014, we completed the acquisition of Delta Trust & Banking Corporation (“Delta Trust”), including its wholly-owned bank subsidiary, Delta Trust & Bank. Also headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas, Delta Trust had total assets of $420 million. The acquisition further expanded Simmons Bank's presence in south, central and northwest Arkansas and allowed us the opportunity to provide services that had not previously been offered with the addition of Delta Trust's insurance agency and securities brokerage service. We merged Delta Trust & Bank into Simmons Bank and completed the systems conversion on October 24, 2014. At that time, we also closed 4 branch locations with overlapping footprints.

In February 2015, we completed the acquisition of Liberty Bancshares, Inc. (“Liberty”), including its wholly-owned bank subsidiary, Liberty Bank. Liberty was headquartered in Springfield, Missouri, served southwest Missouri and had total assets of $1.1 billion. The acquisition enhanced Simmons Bank’s presence not only in southwest Missouri, but also in the St. Louis and Kansas City metropolitan areas. The acquisition also allowed us the opportunity to provide services that we had not previously offered in these areas such as trust and securities brokerage services. In addition, Liberty’s expertise in SBA lending enhanced our commercial offerings throughout our geographies. We merged Liberty Bank into Simmons Bank and completed the systems conversion in April 2015.

Also in February 2015, we completed the acquisition of Community First Bancshares, Inc. (“Community First”), including its wholly-owned bank subsidiary, First State Bank. Community First was headquartered in Union City, Tennessee, served customers throughout Tennessee, and had total assets of $1.9 billion. The acquisition expanded our footprint into Tennessee and allowed us the opportunity to provide additional services to customers in this area and expand our community banking strategy. In addition, Community First’s expertise in SBA and consumer lending benefited our customers across each region. We merged First State Bank into Simmons Bank and completed the systems conversion in September 2015.

In October 2015, we completed the acquisition of Ozark Trust & Investment Corporation (“Ozark Trust”), including its wholly-owned non-deposit trust company, Trust Company of the Ozarks. Headquartered in Springfield, Missouri, Ozark Trust had over $1 billion in assets under management and provided a wide range of financial services for its clients including investment management, trust services, IRA rollover or transfers, successor trustee services and personal representative and custodial services. As our first acquisition of a fee-only financial firm, Ozark Trust provided a new wealth management capability that could be leveraged across the Company’s entire geographic footprint.



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In September 2016, we completed the acquisition of Citizens National Bank (“Citizens”), headquartered in Athens, Tennessee. Citizens had total assets of $585 million and strengthened our position in east Tennessee by nine branches. The acquisition expanded our footprint in east Tennessee and allowed us the opportunity to provide additional services to customers in this area and expand our community banking strategy. We merged Citizens into Simmons Bank and completed the systems conversion in October 2016.

In May 2017, we completed the acquisition of Hardeman County Investment Company, Inc. (“Hardeman”), headquartered in Jackson, Tennessee, including its wholly-owned bank subsidiary, First South Bank. We acquired approximately $463 million in assets and strengthened our position in the western Tennessee market. We merged First South Bank into Simmons Bank and completed the systems conversion in September 2017. As part of the systems conversion, we consolidated or closed three existing Simmons Bank and two First South Bank branches due to overlapping footprint.

In October 2017, we completed the acquisition of First Texas BHC, Inc. (“First Texas”), headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, including its wholly-owned bank subsidiary, Southwest Bank. Southwest Bank had total assets of $2.4 billion. This acquisition allowed us to enter the Texas banking markets, and it also strengthened our specialty product offerings in the areas of SBA lending and trust services. The systems conversion was completed in February 2018, at which time Southwest Bank was merged into Simmons Bank.

Also in October 2017, we completed the acquisition of Southwest Bancorp, Inc. (“OKSB”), including its wholly-owned bank subsidiary, Bank SNB. Headquartered in Stillwater, Oklahoma, OKSB provided us with $2.7 billion in assets, allowed us additional entry into the Oklahoma, Texas and Colorado banking markets, and strengthened our Kansas franchise and our product offerings in the healthcare and real estate industries. The systems conversion was completed in May 2018, at which time Bank SNB was merged into Simmons Bank.

In April 2019, we completed the acquisition of Reliance Bancshares, Inc. (“Reliance”), headquartered in Des Peres, Missouri (part of the greater St. Louis metropolitan area), including its wholly-owned bank subsidiary, Reliance Bank. We acquired approximately $1.5 billion in assets and added 22 branches to the Simmons Bank footprint, substantially enhancing our retail presence within the St. Louis market area. The systems conversion was completed in April 2019, at which time Reliance Bank was merged into Simmons Bank.

In October 2019, we completed the acquisition of The Landrum Company (“Landrum”), headquartered in Columbia, Missouri, including its wholly-owned bank subsidiary, Landmark Bank. We acquired approximately $3.4 billion in assets and further strengthened our position in Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas. The systems conversion was completed in February 2020, at which time Landmark Bank merged into Simmons Bank. In connection with the systems conversion, we closed five existing Landmark Bank branches.

In October 2021, we completed the acquisition of Landmark Community Bank (“Landmark”), headquartered in Collierville, Tennessee, as well as the acquisition of Triumph Bancshares, Inc. (“Triumph”), including its wholly-owned bank subsidiary, Triumph Bank, headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee. Landmark had total assets of $968.8 million, while Triumph provided us with $847.2 million in assets. These combined acquisitions allowed us to expand our existing footprint in Tennessee and to further enhance our scale in two of our key Tennessee growth markets – Memphis and Nashville. The systems conversions for both Landmark and Triumph Bank were completed in October 2021, at which time Landmark and Triumph Bank were merged into Simmons Bank.

In April 2022, we completed the acquisition of Spirit of Texas Bancshares, Inc. (“Spirit”), headquartered in Conroe, Texas, including its wholly-owned bank subsidiary, Spirit of Texas Bank SSB (“Spirit Bank”). We acquired approximately $3.1 billion in assets and further strengthened our position in Texas. The systems conversion was completed in April 2022, at which time Spirit Bank merged into Simmons Bank.

Merger and Acquisition Strategy
 
Merger and acquisition activities have been an important part of the Company’s growth strategy. While we continue to consider strategic merger and acquisition opportunities if and as they arise, and while we continue to believe that current market and industry conditions will continue to cause various financial institutions to seek merger partners in the near-to-intermediate future, in the near term, we are also enhancing our focus on ensuring that we capitalize on organic growth opportunities in many of the markets that we have had the fortune to enter through previous mergers and acquisitions. Through our “Better Bank” initiative, we have also focused on evaluating and, where appropriate, enhancing our people, processes and systems so that we are able to more effectively and efficiently compete as an organization of the size and scale that we now have achieved.

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To the extent that a strategic merger and acquisition opportunity becomes of interest, we believe our community banking philosophy, access to capital and successful merger and acquisition history would position us as a purchaser of choice for a community and regional bank seeking a strong partner.
 
As consolidations continue to unfold in the banking industry, the management of risk is an important consideration in how the Company evaluates and consummates these transactions. The senior management teams of both the Company and Simmons Bank have extensive experience in acquiring banks, branches and deposits and post-acquisition integration of operations. We believe this experience positions us to successfully acquire and integrate banks to the extent a compelling strategic opportunity presents itself. 

The process of merging or acquiring banking organizations is extremely complex; it requires a great deal of time and effort from both buyer and seller. The business, legal, operational, organizational, accounting, and tax issues all must be addressed if the merger or acquisition is to be successful. Throughout the process, valuation is an important aspect of the decision-making process, from initial target analysis through integration of the entities. Merger and acquisition strategies are vitally important in order to derive the maximum benefit out of a potential deal.
 
Strategic considerations that can cause an acquirer or a target institution to explore or support a merger or acquisition transaction include, among other things:
 
Potentially retaining the target institution’s senior management and providing them with an appealing level of autonomy post-integration.
Encouraging acquired banks, their boards and their associates to maintain their community involvement, while empowering the banks to offer a broader array of financial products and services. We believe this approach leads to enhanced profitability of the combined franchise after the acquisition.
Taking advantage of future opportunities that can be exploited when the two companies are combined. Companies need to position themselves to take advantage of emerging trends in the marketplace.
Strengthening the bench. One company may have a major weakness (such as poor distribution or service delivery) whereas the other company has some significant strength. By combining the two companies, each company fills in strategic gaps that are essential for long-term survival.
Acquiring human resources and intellectual capital can help improve innovative thinking and development within the Company.
Acquiring a regional or multi-state bank can provide the Company with access to emerging/established markets and/or increased products and services.
Providing additional scale and market share within our existing footprint.

Loan Risk Assessment

As part of our ongoing risk assessment and analysis, the Company utilizes credit policies and procedures, internal credit expertise and several internal layers of review. The internal layers of ongoing review include Division Presidents, Division and Senior Credit Officers, the Chief Credit Officer and Corporate Credit Officers, an Executive Loan Committee, a Senior Credit Committee, and a Directors’ Credit Committee.

Additionally, the Company has an Asset Quality Review Committee comprised of management that meets quarterly to review the adequacy of the allowance for credit losses. The Committee reviews the status of past due, non-performing and other impaired loans, reserve ratios, and additional performance indicators for Simmons Bank. The appropriateness of the allowance for credit losses is determined based upon the aforementioned performance factors, and provision adjustments are made accordingly.

The Board of Directors reviews the adequacy of its allowance for credit losses on a periodic basis giving consideration to past due loans, non-performing loans, other impaired loans, and current economic conditions. Our loan review department monitors loan information monthly. In order to verify the accuracy of the monthly analysis of the allowance for credit losses, the loan review department performs a detailed review of loans across each product line and all divisions on an annual basis or more often if warranted. Additionally, we have instituted a Special Asset Committee for the purpose of reviewing criticized loans in regard to collateral adequacy, workout strategies and proper reserve allocations.

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Competition
 
There is significant competition among commercial banks in our various market areas. In addition, we also compete with other providers of financial services, such as savings and loan associations, credit unions, finance companies, securities firms, insurance companies, full service brokerage firms, discount brokerage firms and fintech companies. Some of our competitors have greater resources and, as such, may have higher lending limits and may offer other services that we do not provide. Some of our competitors operate only in digital channels, which may result in those competitors investing greater resources in information technology and digital product and service delivery without the overhead associated with a branch network. We generally compete on the basis of customer service and responsiveness to customer needs, available loan and deposit products, the rates of interest charged on loans, the rates of interest paid for funds, and the availability and pricing of trust and brokerage services.

Nonbank competitors are increasingly offering products and services that traditionally were bank products. Many of these nonbank competitors are not subject to the same extensive federal regulations that govern bank holding companies and federally insured banks, which may allow them to offer greater lending limits and certain products and services that the Company and its affiliates do not provide.
 
Principal Offices and Available Information
 
Our principal executive offices are located at 501 Main Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas 71601, and our telephone number is (870) 541-1000. We also have corporate offices located at 601 E. 3rd Street, Little Rock, Arkansas 72201. We maintain a website at www.simmonsbank.com. On this website under the Investor Relations section, we make our filings with the SEC (including our annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended) available free of charge as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file such material with, or furnish it to, the SEC. In addition, our website contains other news and announcements about the Company and its subsidiaries. Our website and the information contained on, or that can be accessed through, our website are not deemed to be incorporated by reference in, and are not considered part of, this Annual Report.
 
Human Capital
 
Our associates are a critical component of our success. Because our business depends on our ability to attract, develop, and retain highly qualified, skilled lending, operations, information technology, and other associates, as well as managers who are experienced and effective at leading their respective departments, we have implemented wide-ranging programs focused on identifying and recruiting new talent, as well as enhancing the skills, qualifications, and satisfaction of our current associate base. In recruiting, we employ a variety of strategies, including, among other things, the use of in-house recruiters, search firms, and employment agencies, designed to attract qualified and diverse candidates. Among other opportunities, we offer student internships and a banker trainee program that provides recent graduates with the opportunity to gain insight into several Company departments. We believe our compensation program, which, in addition to base and incentive compensation, includes health, retirement, and an array of other benefit plans and programs, is competitive within the financial industry, and we periodically review our plans and programs, as well as market surveys, to help ensure that our compensation program is consistent with our level of performance and that we have a current understanding of peer practices.

We provide our associates a variety of professional development opportunities, including participation in industry conferences, instructor-led continuing education and training sessions, as well as online training sessions that focus on industry, regulatory, business, and leadership topics. We offer mentorship opportunities through our “Simmons Sidekick” and “Ambassadors” programs, and we provide tuition reimbursement for associates to attend a higher education facility to obtain bachelor’s and master’s degrees that are relevant to the finance industry and/or their positions within the Company. We seek to promote from within the Company when feasible and have established programs, such as our “Next Generation Leadership Program,” to help develop future leadership talent.



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We are committed to maintaining a strong culture that not only engages associates but also serves as a catalyst for growth. Our values-based culture is memorialized in a set of “Culture Cornerstones” that are communicated to all associates and incorporated in various ways throughout our operations. We strive for all six of our Culture Cornerstones - Better Together; Integrity; Passion; High Performance; Pursue Growth; and Build Loyalty - to be reflected in everything we do, including how we interact with each other, how we interact with our customers, and how we interact with our vendors and business partners. Our sixth Culture Cornerstone, Build Loyalty, was added in 2022 to provide a compelling and pervasive customer-first operational approach that is designed to produce exceptional internal and external customer experiences. In 2023, we continued our focus on our Culture Cornerstone of High Performance by implementing extensive new training and programming to support leaders and associates. We are also committed to promoting our associates’ well-being. Our wellness program, “Ultimate You,” assists associates in improving their level of physical, financial, and mental fitness through offerings such as discounted gym memberships, financial literacy training, channels for counseling, and health-focused challenges and contests. Finally, our inclusion program, “We Are Simmons,” celebrates and supports the unique perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds of our associates. We believe these differences help us better serve our customers and make us stronger as a whole. In connection with this program, we have introduced Employee Resource Groups for veterans, women, African Americans, and LGBTQIA+ associates.

As of December 31, 2023, the Company and its subsidiaries had approximately 3,007 full time equivalent associates. None of our associates are represented by any union or similar groups, and we have not experienced any labor disputes or strikes arising from any such organized labor groups. We consider our relationship with our associates to be good and strive to operate with an “open door policy” where associate concerns and issues can be discussed anytime directly with leadership or human resources. We have been recognized with “Best Places to Work” awards in several of our markets.


SUPERVISION AND REGULATION
 
The Company
 
The Company, as a bank holding company, is subject to both federal and state regulation. Under federal law, a bank holding company generally must obtain approval from the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (“FRB”) before acquiring ownership or control of the assets or stock of a bank or a bank holding company. Prior to approval of any proposed acquisition, the FRB will review the effect on competition of the proposed acquisition, as well as other regulatory issues.
 
The federal law generally prohibits a bank holding company from directly or indirectly engaging in non-banking activities. This prohibition does not include loan servicing, liquidating activities or other activities so closely related to banking as to be a proper incident thereto. Bank holding companies, including the Company, which have elected to qualify as financial holding companies, are authorized to engage in financial activities. Financial activities include any activity that is financial in nature or any activity that is incidental or complimentary to a financial activity.

As a financial holding company, we are required to file with the FRB an annual report and such additional information as may be required by law. From time to time, the FRB examines the financial condition of the Company and its subsidiaries. Bank holding companies are not permitted to engage in unsafe and unsound banking practices. The FRB, through civil and criminal sanctions, is authorized to exercise enforcement powers over bank holding companies (including financial holding companies) and non-banking subsidiaries, to limit activities that represent unsafe or unsound practices or constitute violations of law.

Federal law also requires the Company to act as a source of financial and managerial strength for our bank subsidiary and to commit resources to support that subsidiary. This support may be required by federal banking agencies even at times when a bank holding company may not have the resources to provide the support. Further, if the FRB believes that a bank holding company’s activities, assets or affiliates represent a significant risk to the financial safety, soundness or stability of its subsidiary bank, then the FRB could require that bank holding company to terminate the activities, liquidate the assets or divest the affiliates. Federal banking agencies, including the FRB, may require these and other actions in support of a subsidiary bank even if such actions are not in the best interests of the bank holding company or its stockholders. 

We are subject to certain laws and regulations of the State of Arkansas applicable to financial and bank holding companies, including examination and supervision by the Arkansas Bank Commissioner. Under Arkansas law, a financial or bank holding company is prohibited from owning more than one subsidiary bank if any subsidiary bank owned by the holding company has been chartered for less than five years and, further, requires the approval of the Arkansas Bank Commissioner for any acquisition of more than 25% of the capital stock of any other bank located in the State of Arkansas. No bank acquisition may be approved if, after such acquisition, the holding company would control, directly or indirectly, banks having 25% of the total bank deposits in the State of Arkansas, excluding deposits of other banks and public funds.

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Additionally, under federal and state law, acquisitions of the Company’s common stock above certain thresholds or in connection with certain governance rights or business relationships may be subject to certain regulatory restrictions, including prior notice and approval requirements, and investors in the Company’s common stock are responsible for ensuring that they comply with these restrictions to the extent they are applicable.

Federal legislation allows bank holding companies (including financial holding companies) from any state to acquire banks located in any state without regard to state law, provided that the holding company (1) is well capitalized, (2) is well managed, (3) would not control more than 10% of the insured deposits in the United States or more than 30% of the insured deposits in such state, and (4) such bank has been in existence at least five years if so required by the applicable state law.

The principal source of the Company’s liquidity is dividends from Simmons Bank, the payment of which is subject to certain limitations imposed by federal and state laws. The approval of the Arkansas Bank Commissioner is, for instance, required if the total of all dividends declared by an Arkansas state bank in any calendar year exceeds seventy-five percent (75%) of the total of its net profits, as defined, for that year combined with seventy-five percent (75%) of its retained net profits of the preceding year. Under the foregoing dividend restrictions, and while maintaining its “well capitalized” status, at December 31, 2023, Simmons Bank had approximately $54.4 million available for payment of dividends to the Company, without prior regulatory approval. While past dividends are not necessarily indicative of amounts that may be paid or available to be paid in future periods, net profits of Simmons Bank and cash balances at the Company are projected to be sufficient to pay quarterly dividends on the Company’s common stock at current levels and interest and principal on the Company’s debt as well as meet other liquidity needs.

In 2019, final rules were adopted that, among other things, eliminated a prior approval requirement in the Basel III Capital Rules (discussed below) for a bank holding company to repurchase shares of its common stock, provided that the bank holding company is well capitalized both before and after the proposed repurchase, well-managed, and not the subject of any unresolved supervisory issues. However, a bank holding company’s repurchases of shares of its common stock may, in certain circumstances, be subject to approval or notice requirements under other regulations, policies, or supervisory expectations of the bank holding company’s regulators, may be discouraged by regulators in the form of supervisory feedback on the bank holding company’s regulatory capital levels or plan, and must comply with all applicable state and federal corporate and securities laws and regulations.

Subsidiary Bank
 
Simmons Bank is an Arkansas state-chartered bank and a member of the Federal Reserve System through the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Due to the Company’s typical acquisition process, there may be brief periods of time during which the Company may operate another subsidiary bank that the Company acquired through a merger with a target bank holding company as a separate subsidiary while preparing for the merger and integration of that subsidiary bank into Simmons Bank. However, it is the Company’s intent to generally maintain Simmons Bank as the Company’s sole subsidiary bank.

The lending powers of the subsidiary bank are generally subject to certain restrictions, including the amount which may be loaned to a single borrower. Our subsidiary bank is a member of the FDIC, which provides insurance on deposits of each member bank up to applicable limits by the Deposit Insurance Fund. For this protection, our bank pays a statutory assessment to the FDIC each year.

Furthermore, as a member of the Federal Reserve System, our subsidiary bank is required by law to maintain reserves against its transaction deposits as required by the FRB. The reserves must be held in cash or with the FRB. Banks are permitted to meet this requirement by maintaining the specified amount as an average balance over a two-week period. During 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the FRB acting pursuant to the Federal Reserve Act reduced the reserve requirements to zero until further notice. As a result, as of December 31, 2023, the Company’s reserve balances were zero.

Pursuant to federal laws and regulations, national and state-chartered banks may establish branches in their home states, as well as in other states. Applications to establish branches must be filed with the appropriate primary federal regulator and, where applicable, the bank’s state regulatory authority. As an Arkansas state-chartered bank, our subsidiary bank files branch applications with both the FRB and the Arkansas State Bank Department.

Federal laws and regulations also restrict banks, including our subsidiary bank, from establishing certain tying arrangements. In particular, subject to certain exceptions, banks, including our subsidiary bank, are prohibited from extending credit, leasing or selling property, furnishing services, or varying prices on the condition that the customer obtain an additional product or service from the bank or its affiliates or not obtain services of a competitor of the bank or its affiliates.

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Transactions with Affiliates and Insiders

Under federal law, transactions between insured depository institutions and their affiliates are governed by Sections 23A and 23B of the Federal Reserve Act and its implementing regulation, Regulation W. In a bank holding company context, at a minimum, the parent holding company of a bank, any companies which are controlled by such parent holding company, and financial subsidiaries of the bank, are affiliates of the bank. Generally, Sections 23A and 23B of the Federal Reserve Act are intended to protect insured depository institutions from losses arising from transactions with non-insured affiliates by limiting the extent to which a bank or its subsidiaries may engage in covered transactions with any one affiliate and with all affiliates of the bank in the aggregate, and requiring that such transactions be on terms consistent with safe and sound banking practices.

Loans to executive officers, directors, or any person who directly or indirectly, or acting through or in concert with one or more persons, owns, controls, or has the power to vote more than 10% of any class of voting securities of a bank (“10% Shareholders”), are subject to Sections 22(g) and 22(h) of the Federal Reserve Act and their corresponding regulations (Regulation O) and Section 13(k) of the Exchange Act relating to the prohibition on personal loans to executives (which exempts financial institutions in compliance with the insider lending restrictions of Section 22(h) of the Federal Reserve Act). Among other things, these loans must be made on terms substantially the same as those prevailing on transactions made to unaffiliated individuals, except that such insiders may receive preferential loans made under a benefit or compensation program that is widely available to the bank's employees and does not give preference to the insider over the employees, and certain extensions of credit to those persons must first be approved in advance by a disinterested majority of the entire Board of Directors. Section 22(h) of the Federal Reserve Act and its implementing regulation, Regulation O, prohibits loans to any directors, executive officers, and principal stockholders and their related interests where the aggregate amount exceeds an amount equal to 15% of an institution’s unimpaired capital and surplus plus an additional 10% of unimpaired capital and surplus in the case of loans that are fully secured by readily marketable collateral, or when the aggregate amount on all of the extensions of credit outstanding to all of these persons would exceed the Bank’s unimpaired capital and unimpaired surplus. Section 22(g) of the Federal Reserve Act places additional limitations on loans to executive officers and identifies limited circumstances in which the Bank is permitted to extend credit to executive officers.

As a result, our subsidiary bank is limited in its ability to make extensions of credit to the Company, investing in the stock or other securities of the Company, and engaging in other affiliated financial transactions with the Company.

Potential Enforcement Action for Bank Holding Companies and Banks
 
Enforcement proceedings seeking civil or criminal sanctions may be instituted against any bank, any financial or bank holding company, any director, officer, employee or agent of the bank or holding company, which is believed by the federal banking agencies to be violating any administrative pronouncement or engaged in unsafe and unsound practices. In more serious cases, enforcement actions may include the issuance of directives to increase capital; the issuance of formal and informal agreements; the imposition of civil monetary penalties; the issuance of a cease and desist order that can be judicially enforced; the issuance of removal and prohibition orders against officers, directors, and other institution-affiliated parties; the termination of a bank’s deposit insurance; the appointment of a conservator or receiver for a bank; and the enforcement of such actions through injunctions or restraining orders based upon a judicial determination that the agency would be harmed if such equitable relief was not granted.
 
Risk-Weighted Capital Requirements for the Company and the Subsidiary Bank
 
Effective January 1, 2015, the Company and its subsidiary bank became subject to new capital regulations (“Basel III Capital Rules”) adopted by the Federal Reserve in July 2013 establishing a new comprehensive capital framework for U.S. banks. The Basel III Capital Rules were fully implemented as of January 1, 2019. For a tabular summary of our risk-weighted capital ratios, see “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations – Capital” and Note 23, Stockholders’ Equity, of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.
 
The Basel III Capital Rules include a common equity Tier 1 capital to risk-weighted assets (“CET1”) ratio of 4.5% and a common equity Tier 1 capital conservation buffer of 2.5% of risk-weighted assets. CET1 generally consists of common stock; retained earnings; accumulated other comprehensive income; and certain minority interests, all subject to applicable regulatory adjustments and deductions. The Company and its subsidiary bank must hold a capital conservation buffer composed of CET1 capital above its minimum risk-based capital requirements.



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A banking organization’s qualifying total capital consists of two components: Tier 1 Capital and Tier 2 Capital. Tier 1 Capital is an amount equal to the sum of common stockholders’ equity, hybrid capital instruments (instruments with characteristics of debt and equity) in an amount up to 25% of Tier 1 Capital, certain preferred stock and the minority interest in the equity accounts of consolidated subsidiaries. For bank holding companies and financial holding companies, goodwill (net of any deferred tax liability associated with that goodwill) may not be included in Tier 1 Capital. Identifiable intangible assets may be included in Tier 1 Capital for banking organizations, in accordance with certain further requirements. At least 50% of the banking organization’s total regulatory capital must consist of Tier 1 Capital.
 
Tier 2 Capital is an amount equal to the sum of the qualifying portion of the allowance for credit losses, certain preferred stock not included in Tier 1, hybrid capital instruments (instruments with characteristics of debt and equity), certain long-term debt securities and eligible term subordinated debt, in an amount up to 50% of Tier 1 Capital. The eligibility of these items for inclusion as Tier 2 Capital is subject to certain additional requirements and limitations of the federal banking agencies.

The Basel III Capital Rules expanded the risk-weighting categories from the previous four Basel I-derived categories (0%, 20%, 50% and 100%) to a much larger and more risk-sensitive number of categories, depending on the nature of the assets, generally ranging from 0% for U.S. government and agency securities, to 600% for certain equity exposures, and resulting in higher risk weights for a variety of asset categories, including many residential mortgages and certain commercial real estate.
 
Accordingly, under the fully-phased in Basel III Capital Rules, the capital standards applicable to the Company include an additional capital conservation buffer of 2.5% of CET1, effectively resulting in minimum ratios inclusive of the capital conservation buffer of (1) CET1 to risk-weighted assets of at least 7.0%, (2) Tier 1 capital to risk-weighted assets of at least 8.5%, and (3) Total capital to risk-weighted assets of at least 10.5%.

In August 2020, the FRB, along with the other federal bank regulatory agencies, adopted a final rule that allows the Company and the Bank to phase-in the impact of adopting the Current Expected Credit Losses (or “CECL”) methodology up to two years, with a three-year period to phase out the cumulative benefit to regulatory capital provided during the two-year delay.

Prompt Corrective Action

The Basel III Capital Rules also affected the FDIC’s prompt correction action standards. Those standards seek to address problems associated with undercapitalized financial institutions and provide for five capital categories: well capitalized, adequately capitalized, undercapitalized, significantly undercapitalized, and critically undercapitalized.

For purposes of prompt corrective action, to be:

well capitalized, a bank must have a total risk based capital ratio of at least 10%, a Tier 1 risk based capital ratio of at least 8%, a CET1 risk based capital ratio of at least 6.5%, and a Tier 1 leverage ratio of at least 5%;
adequately capitalized, a bank must have a total risk based capital ratio of at least 8%, a Tier 1 risk based capital ratio of at least 6%, a CET1 risk based capital ratio of at least 4.5%, and a Tier 1 leverage ratio of at least 4%;
undercapitalized, a bank would have a total risk based capital ratio of less than 8%, a Tier 1 risk based capital ratio of less than 6%, a CET1 risk based capital ratio of less than 4.5%, and a Tier 1 leverage ratio of less than 4%;
significantly undercapitalized, a bank would have a total risk based capital ratio of less than 6%, a Tier 1 risk based capital ratio of less than 4%, a CET1 risk based capital ratio of less than 3%, and a Tier 1 leverage ratio of less than 3%; and
critically undercapitalized, a bank would have a ratio of tangible equity to total assets that is less than or equal to 2%.
Institutions that fall into the latter three categories are subject to restrictions on their growth and are required to submit a capital restoration plan. There is also a method by which an institution may be downgraded to a lower capital category based on supervisory factors other than capital. As of December 31, 2023, Simmons Bank was “well capitalized” based on the aforementioned ratios.



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Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Improvement Act
 
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Improvement Act (“FDICIA”), enacted in 1991, requires the FDIC to increase assessment rates for insured banks and authorizes one or more “special assessments,” as necessary for the repayment of funds borrowed by the FDIC or any other necessary purpose. As directed in FDICIA, the FDIC has adopted a transitional risk-based assessment system, under which the assessment rate for insured banks will vary according to the level of risk incurred in the bank’s activities. The risk category and risk-based assessment for a bank is determined, in part, from its prompt corrective action, as well capitalized, adequately capitalized or undercapitalized. Please refer to the section below titled FDIC Deposit Insurance and Assessments for more information.
 
Pursuant to the FDICIA and Federal Deposit Insurance Act (“FDIA”), the federal banking agencies must promptly mandate corrective actions by banks that fail to meet the capital and related requirements in order to minimize losses to the FDIC and the Deposit Insurance Fund. As of December 31, 2023, the Bank was well capitalized under these regulations.

The federal banking agencies are also required by FDICIA to prescribe standards for banks and bank holding companies (including financial holding companies) relating to operations and management, asset quality, earnings, stock valuation and compensation. A bank or bank holding company that fails to comply with such standards will be required to submit a plan designed to achieve compliance. If no plan is submitted or the plan is not implemented, the bank or holding company would become subject to additional regulatory action or enforcement proceedings.

A variety of other provisions included in FDICIA may affect the operations of the Company and the subsidiary bank, including reporting requirements, regulatory standards for real estate lending, “truth in savings” provisions, and the requirement that a depository institution give 90 days prior notice to customers and regulatory authorities before closing any branch.
 
Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act
 
Enacted in 2010, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank Act”), significantly changed the regulation of financial institutions and the financial services industry. The Dodd-Frank Act included provisions affecting large and small financial institutions alike, including several provisions that profoundly affected how community banks, thrifts, and small bank and thrift holding companies are regulated. Among other things, these provisions relaxed rules regarding interstate branching, allow financial institutions to pay interest on business checking accounts, and revised capital requirements on bank and thrift holding companies. 

The Dodd-Frank Act also established the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (“CFPB”) as an independent entity within the Federal Reserve and provided it with the authority to promulgate consumer protection regulations applicable to all entities offering consumer financial services or products, including banks. Additionally, the Dodd-Frank Act included a series of provisions covering mortgage loan origination standards affecting, among other things, originator compensation, minimum repayment standards, and pre-payment penalties. The Dodd-Frank Act contained numerous other provisions affecting financial institutions of all types, many of which have an impact on our operating environment, including among other things, our regulatory compliance costs. However, the Dodd-Frank Act does not prevent states from adopting stricter consumer protection standards than those promulgated by the CFPB. State regulation of financial products and potential enforcement actions could also adversely affect the Company’s business, financial condition, or operations.

The EGRRCPA

In May 2018, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Reform, and Consumer Protection Act (“EGRRCPA”) was enacted, which, among other things, amended certain provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act as well as statutes administered by the FRB and the FDIC. The EGRRCPA provides targeted regulatory relief to financial institutions while preserving the existing framework under which U.S. financial institutions are regulated. The EGRRCPA relieves bank holding companies with less than $100 billion in assets, such as the Company, from the enhanced prudential standards imposed under Section 165 of the Dodd-Frank Act (including, but not limited to, resolution planning and enhanced liquidity and risk management requirements). Please see the section below titled Impacts of Growth for more information.
In addition to amending the Dodd Frank Act, the EGRRCPA also includes certain additional banking-related provisions, consumer protection provisions and securities law-related provisions. Many of the EGRRCPA’s changes were implemented through rules finalized by the federal banking agencies over the course of 2019. These rules and their enforcement are subject to the substantial regulatory discretion of the federal banking agencies.



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Volcker Rule

Section 619 of the Dodd-Frank Act, commonly known as the “Volcker Rule,” restricts the ability of banking entities from: (i) engaging in “proprietary trading” and (ii) investing in or sponsoring certain covered funds, subject to certain limited exceptions. Under the Volcker Rule, the term “covered funds” is defined as any issuer that would be an investment company under the Investment Company Act but for the exemption in Section 3(c)(1) or 3(c)(7) of that Act. There are also several exemptions from the definition of covered fund, including, among other things, loan securitizations, joint ventures, certain types of foreign funds, entities issuing asset-backed commercial paper, and registered investment companies. The EGRRCPA and the subsequently promulgated inter-agency agency rules have aimed at simplifying and tailoring certain requirements related to the Volcker Rule.
Brokered Deposits

Section 29 of the FDIA and the FDIC regulations promulgated thereunder limit the ability of any bank to accept, renew or roll over any brokered deposit unless it is well capitalized or, with the FDIC’s approval, adequately capitalized. However, as a result of the EGRRCPA, the FDIC has undertaken a comprehensive review of its regulatory approach to brokered deposits, including reciprocal deposits, and interest rate caps applicable to banks that are less than well capitalized. In December 2020, the FDIC issued a final rulemaking to modernize its brokered deposit regulations. Among other things, the final rule established a new framework for analyzing certain provisions of the “deposit broker” definition and established certain automatic “primary purpose” exemptions from the deposit broker definition, as well as revised certain interest rate restrictions that apply to less than well capitalized insured depository institutions. The final rule became effective April 1, 2021; and full compliance was required by January 1, 2022. Implementation of the final rule did not have a material impact on our subsidiary bank.

FDIC Deposit Insurance and Assessments
 
Our customer deposit accounts are insured up to applicable limits by the FDIC’s Deposit Insurance Fund (“DIF”) up to $250,000 per separately insured depositor. Simmons Bank is required to pay deposit insurance assessments to maintain the DIF. Because Simmons Bank’s assets exceed $10 billion, its deposit insurance assessment is based on a scoring system that examines the institution’s supervisory ratings and certain financial measures. The scoring system assesses risk measures to produce two scores, a performance score and a loss severity score, that are combined and converted to an initial assessment rate. The FDIC has the ability to make discretionary adjustments to the total score based upon significant risk factors not adequately captured in the calculations.
 
As described above in the section titled Potential Enforcement Action for Bank Holding Companies and Banks, the FDIC may terminate deposit insurance upon a finding that an institution has engaged in unsafe and unsound practices, is in an unsafe or unsound condition to continue operations, or has violated any applicable law, regulation, rule, order or condition imposed by the FDIC.

In November 2023, the FDIC issued a final rule to implement a special assessment to recover losses to the DIF incurred as a result of recent bank failures and the FDIC’s use of the systemic risk exception to cover certain deposits that were otherwise uninsured. The special assessment was based on estimated uninsured deposits as of December 31, 2022 (excluding the first $5.0 billion) and will be assessed at a quarterly rate of 3.36 basis points, over eight quarterly assessment periods, beginning in the first quarter of 2024. As a result of this final rule, we accrued $10.5 million related to this assessment in the fourth quarter of 2023. This amount represents our current expectation of the full amount of the assessment based on our total uninsured deposits as of December 31, 2022. Under the final rule, the estimated loss pursuant to the systemic risk determination will be periodically adjusted, and the FDIC has retained the ability to cease collection early, extend the special assessment collection period and impose a final shortfall special assessment on a one-time basis. The extent to which any such additional future assessments will impact our future deposit insurance expense is currently uncertain.

Community Reinvestment Act

The Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 (“CRA”) requires that federal banking agencies evaluate the record of each financial institution in meeting the credit needs of the market areas they serve, including low and moderate-income (“LMI”) individuals and communities. These activities are also considered in connection with, among other things, applications for mergers, acquisitions and the opening of a branch or facility, and negative results of these evaluations could prevent us from engaging in these types of transactions. Simmons Bank received a “satisfactory” CRA rating during its most recent exam.

In October 2023, the federal prudential regulatory agencies adopted substantial revisions to the regulations implementing the CRA. The Company continues to assess the impact of the adopted changes to the CRA regulations.

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UDAP and UDAAP

Federal laws, including Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, prohibit financial institutions from engaging in unfair or deceptive acts or practices (“UDAP”) in or affecting commerce. The Dodd-Frank Act expanded regulation in this space to apply to unfair, deceptive or abusive acts or practices (“UDAAP”) and delegated to the CFPB supervision and enforcement authority for UDAAP with respect to our subsidiary bank and rulemaking authority with respect to UDAAP. These laws have been used to, among other things, address certain problematic practices that may not fall directly within the scope of other banking or consumer protection laws.

Financial Privacy and Data Security

The Company is subject to federal laws, including the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 (“GLBA”), and certain state laws containing consumer privacy protection and data security provisions. These federal and state laws, and the rules and regulations promulgated thereunder, impose restrictions on our ability to disclose non-public information concerning consumers to nonaffiliated third parties. These laws, rules and regulations also mandate the distribution of privacy policies to consumers, as well as provide consumers an ability to prevent our disclosure of their information under certain circumstances.

In addition, the GLBA requires that financial institutions, such as our subsidiary bank, implement comprehensive written information security programs that include administrative, technical, and physical safeguards to protect consumer information and data. Further, pursuant to interpretive guidance issued under the GLBA and certain state laws, financial institutions are also generally required to notify customers of security breaches that result in unauthorized access to their nonpublic personal information.

Although these laws and regulations impose compliance costs and create obligations and, in some cases, reporting obligations, and compliance with all of the laws, regulations, and reporting obligations may require significant resources of the Company and our subsidiary bank, these laws and regulations do not materially affect our products, services or other business activities.

Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism

Simmons Bank is subject to the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 (also known as the “PATRIOT Act”), the Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”) and rules and regulations of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”).

Under Title III of the PATRIOT Act, all financial institutions are required to take certain measures to identify their customers, prevent money laundering, monitor customer transactions, and report suspicious activity to U.S. law enforcement agencies. Financial institutions also are required to respond to requests for information from federal banking agencies and law enforcement agencies. Information sharing among financial institutions for the above purposes is encouraged by an exemption granted to complying financial institutions from the privacy provisions of the GLBA and other privacy laws.

Among other things, Simmons Bank is required to establish an anti-money laundering (“AML”) program which includes the designation of a BSA officer, the establishment and maintenance of BSA/AML training, the establishment and maintenance of BSA/AML policies and procedures, independent testing of the AML program, and compliance with customer due diligence requirements. Our subsidiary bank must also employ enhanced due diligence under certain conditions. Compliance with BSA/AML requirements is routinely examined by regulators, and failure of a financial institution to meet its requirements in combating AML and anti-terrorism activities could result in severe penalties for the institution, including, among other things, the inability to receive the requisite regulatory approvals for mergers and acquisition.

Further, OFAC administers economic sanctions imposed by the federal government that affect transactions with foreign countries, individuals, and others (as the “OFAC Rules”). The OFAC Rules target many countries as well as specially designated nationals and blocked persons (collectively, “SDNs”) and take many different forms. Blocked assets (property and bank deposits) that are associated with such countries and SDNs cannot be paid out, withdrawn, set off, or transferred in any manner without a license from OFAC. Failure to comply with the OFAC Rules can result in serious legal and reputational consequences.



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In December 2020, the U.S. Congress enacted the National Defense Authorization Act (the “NDAA”) that, among other provisions, made significant updates to the federal BSA/AML regulations that aim to eliminate the use of shell companies that facilitate the laundering of criminal proceeds. In December 2021, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) issued the first of three planned rules, which rule was adopted to implement a national beneficial ownership reporting framework. In December 2023, FinCEN issued the second of the three planned rules, which rule was adopted to implement protocols for access to and disclosure of beneficial ownership information. A subsequent rulemaking is expected to update the customer due diligence requirements that apply to the Company and the Bank to be consistent with this framework. The Company and the Bank continue to monitor legislative, regulatory and supervisory developments related thereto.
Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas
Simmons Bank is a member of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (“FHLB-Dallas”), which is one of 11 regional Federal Home Loan Banks that provide funding to their members for making housing loans as well as for affordable housing and community development loans. Each FHLB serves as a reserve, or central bank, for the members within its assigned region and makes loans to its members in accordance with policies and procedures established by the board of directors of that FHLB. As a member, Simmons Bank must purchase and maintain stock in FHLB-Dallas. At December 31, 2023, Simmons Bank’s total investment in FHLB-Dallas was $58.2 million.
Incentive Compensation
The Dodd-Frank Act requires the federal banking agencies and the SEC to establish joint regulations or guidelines prohibiting incentive-based payment arrangements at specified regulated entities, including the Company and our subsidiary bank, with at least $1 billion in total consolidated assets that encourage inappropriate risks by providing an executive officer, employee, director, or principal shareholder with excessive compensation, fees, or benefits that could lead to material financial loss to the entity. The federal banking agencies and the SEC most recently proposed such regulations in 2016, but the regulations have not yet been finalized. However, in late 2022, the SEC finalized a set of rules directing national securities exchanges to establish listing standards regarding clawbacks of incentive-based executive compensation, which listing standards became effective in 2023. Specifically, Nasdaq implemented listing standards that require listed companies to adopt clawback policies, or policies mandating the recovery of excess incentive compensation earned by a current or former executive officer during the three fiscal years preceding the date the listed company is required to prepare an accounting restatement, including to correct an error that would result in a material misstatement if the error were corrected in the current period or left uncorrected in the current period. We adopted a compensation recovery policy pursuant to the Nasdaq listing standards and the policy is included as Exhibit 97 to this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
The Dodd-Frank Act also requires publicly traded companies to give stockholders a non-binding vote on executive compensation at least every three years and on so-called “golden parachute” payments in connection with approvals of mergers and acquisitions. The Company gives stockholders a non-binding vote on executive compensation annually.

Impacts of Growth
 
Because the Company and Simmons Bank have exceeded $10 billion in assets, each of the Company and the Bank are subject to heightened requirements (as compared to smaller community banking organizations) that are imposed by various federal banking law and regulations.

Among other things, the Dodd-Frank Act, through the Durbin Amendment, and associated Federal Reserve regulations cap the interchange rate on debit card transactions that can be charged by banks that, together with their affiliates, have at least $10 billion in assets at $0.21 per transaction plus five basis points multiplied by the value of the transaction (plus, for a debit card issuer that meets certain fraud-prevention standards, a “fraud-prevention adjustment” of $0.01 per transaction). The cap goes into effect July 1st of the year following the year in which a bank reaches the $10 billion asset threshold. Simmons Bank became subject to the interchange rate cap effective July 1, 2018. In October 2023, the Federal Reserve proposed lowering the maximum interchange fee, and the Company is monitoring developments related to the proposal and continuing to assess its potential impact.

As of December 31, 2017, the Company exceeded $15 billion in total assets, and the grandfather provisions applicable to its trust preferred securities no longer apply, and trust preferred securities are no longer included as Tier 1 capital. Trust preferred securities and qualifying subordinated debt are included as total Tier 2 capital.
 


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The Dodd-Frank Act also previously required banks and bank holding companies with more than $10 billion in assets to adhere to certain enhanced prudential standards, including requirements to conduct annual stress tests, report the results to regulators and publicly disclose such results. However, as a result of regulatory reform finalized following passage of the EGRRCPA, the Company and Simmons Bank are no longer required to conduct an annual stress test of capital under the Dodd-Frank Act. Further, as a result of passage of the EGRRCPA, bank holding companies with less than $100 billion in assets, such as the Company, are exempt from the resolution planning, enhanced liquidity standards, and risk management requirements imposed under Section 165 of the Dodd-Frank Act. In anticipation of becoming subject to these requirements, the Company and Simmons Bank had begun the necessary preparations, including undertaking a gap analysis, implementing enhancements to the audit and compliance departments, and investing in various information technology systems. Notwithstanding that federal banking agencies will not take action with respect to these enhanced prudential standards, the Company and its subsidiary bank will continue to review their capital planning and risk management practices in connection with the regular supervisory processes of the FRB.

Additionally, the Dodd-Frank Act established the CFPB and granted it supervisory authority over banks with total assets of more than $10 billion. Simmons Bank is subject to CFPB oversight with respect to its compliance with federal consumer financial laws. Simmons Bank continues to be subject to the oversight of its other regulators with respect to matters outside the scope of the CFPB’s jurisdiction. The CFPB has broad rule-making, supervisory, examination and enforcement authority, as well as expanded data collecting and enforcement powers, all of which impact the operations of Simmons Bank. For example, in January 2024, the CFPB proposed rules that would subject (with certain exceptions) overdraft services provided by financial institutions with more than $10 billion in assets to the provisions of the Truth in Lending Act and other consumer financial protection laws. The Company is currently evaluating the potential impact of the proposed rules and monitoring developments with respect thereto.

Pending Legislation
 
Because of concerns relating to, among other things, competitiveness and the safety and soundness of the banking industry, Congress and state legislatures often consider a number of wide-ranging proposals for altering the structure, regulation, and competitive relationships of the nation’s financial institutions and of those chartered in a particular state legislature’s jurisdiction. We cannot predict whether or in what form any proposals will be adopted or the extent to which our business may be affected.

Effect of Governmental Monetary Policies

The FRB uses monetary policy tools to impact interest rates, credit market conditions and money market conditions, as well as to influence general economic conditions, including employment, market interest and inflation rates. These policies can have a significant impact on the absolute levels and distribution of deposits, loans and investment securities, as well as on market interest rates charged on loans or paid for deposits and other borrowings. Monetary policies of the FRB have in the past had a significant effect on the operating results of bank holding companies and their subsidiary banks, such as the Company and Simmons Bank, and may have similar effects in the future.


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ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS
 
In addition to the other information contained in this report, including the information contained in “Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements,” investors in our securities should carefully consider the factors discussed below. An investment in our securities involves risks. The factors below, among others, could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations, liquidity or capital position, or cause our results to differ materially from our historical results or the results expressed in or implied by our forward-looking statements. Additionally, investors should not interpret the disclosure of a risk to imply that the risk has not already materialized.

Risks Related to Market Interest Rates and Liquidity

Changes in interest rates and monetary policy could adversely affect our profitability.

Our net income and cash flows depend to a significant extent on the difference between interest rates earned on interest-earning assets and the rates paid on interest-bearing liabilities. These rates are highly sensitive to many factors beyond our control, including general economic conditions and credit and monetary policies of governmental authorities. Changes in the credit or monetary policies of governmental authorities, particularly the Federal Reserve, could significantly impact market interest rates and our financial performance. For instance, changes in the nature of open market transactions in U.S. government securities, the discount rate or the federal funds rate on bank borrowings, and reserve requirements against bank deposits, could lead to increases in the costs associated with our business. In addition, such changes could influence the interest we receive on loans and securities and the amount of interest we pay on deposits. If the interest rates we pay on deposits increases at a faster rate than the interest we receive on loans and other investments, then our net interest income could be adversely affected. If the Federal Reserve further raises interest rates, we may not be able to reflect increasing interest rates in rates charged on loans or paid on deposits due to competitive pressures, which would negatively impact our mix of deposits and other funding sources, reduce demand for our products and services, or otherwise negatively impact our financial condition and results of operations. In addition, the impact of these changes may be magnified if we do not effectively manage the relative sensitivity of our assets and liabilities to changes in market interest rates, and our ability to manage such relative sensitivity may be adversely impacted by competitive conditions in the banking industry and in the financial markets. Due to the changing conditions in the national economy and uncertainty regarding the rate of inflation and the impacts of governmental policies to combat elevated inflation, we cannot predict with certainty how future changes in interest rates, deposit levels and loan demand will impact our business and profitability.

Our cost of funds may increase as a result of general economic conditions, interest rates and competitive pressures.
 
Our cost of funds may increase as a result of general economic conditions, fluctuations in interest rates and competitive pressures. We have traditionally obtained funds principally through local deposits as we have a base of lower cost transaction deposits. Our cost of funds and our profitability and liquidity are likely to be adversely affected if we have to rely upon higher cost borrowings from other institutional lenders or brokers to fund loan demand or liquidity needs. Also, changes in our deposit mix and growth could adversely affect our profitability and the ability to expand our loan portfolio, as well as our liquidity and funding mix. During 2022 and 2023, in response to rising market interest rates, our cost of funds increased due to customer migration from lower-cost to higher-cost deposit accounts, including interest-bearing transaction accounts and time deposits, which negatively impacted our cost of funds and net interest margin.

Our investment securities portfolio could decline in value as a result of interest rate changes and changes in issuer credit quality or the strength of the associated collateral.

If interest rates change in the future, the market value of our investment securities portfolio may decline. Weaknesses in the credit quality of the issuers of the securities within our portfolio or in the strength of the collateral, if any, underlying those securities could also result in a decline in the value of our investment securities portfolio, which could negatively affect equity and potentially impact our earnings or the liquidity that we could generate from our investment securities portfolio.



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A lack of liquidity could impair our ability to fund our business and thereby adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.

Liquidity is a critical component of our business. To ensure adequate liquidity to fund our operations, we rely heavily on our ability to generate deposits and effectively manage both the repayment of loans and the maturity schedules of our investment securities. Our most important source of funds is deposits, but sources of funds also include, among other things, cash flows from operations, maturities and sales of investment securities, and borrowings from the Federal Reserve and Federal Home Loan Bank. Our access to funding sources in amounts adequate to finance our activities, or on terms that are acceptable to us, could be impaired by factors that affect us specifically or the financial services industry or economy in general. This could result in a lack of liquidity, which could materially and adversely affect our business.

Changes in the method pursuant to which benchmark rates are determined, as well as the discontinuance and replacement of reference rates, could adversely impact our business and results of operations.

Certain interest rate benchmarks, including the London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”), have, over the course of recent years, been the subject of national and international reform. For example, during 2023, the publication of LIBOR rates ceased. The market transition away from a widely used benchmark rate to alternative reference rates is a complex process and can have (and has, on occasion, had) a range of effects on the Company’s business, financial condition and results of operations, including but not limited to, by (i) adversely affecting the interest rates received or paid on the revenues and expenses associated with, or the value of, the Company’s assets and liabilities; (ii) adversely affecting the interest rates paid on or received from other securities or financial arrangements, given a benchmark rate’s historically prominent role in determining market interest rates globally, or (iii) resulting in disputes, litigation or other actions with borrowers or other counterparties about the interpretation or enforceability of certain fallback language contained in benchmark rate-based loans, securities or other contracts. The future discontinuation of a benchmark rate could result in operational, legal and compliance risks, and, if we are unable to adequately manage such risks and transition, our business, financial condition, results of operations and future prospects may be adversely impacted. The transition from LIBOR has resulted in and could continue to result in added costs and employee efforts and could present additional risk. Since alternative reference rates are calculated differently than LIBOR, payments under contracts referencing new alternative reference rates will differ from those referencing LIBOR.

Risks Related to the Company’s Lending Activities

The mismanagement of our credit risks could result in serious harm to our business.

There are a variety of risks inherent in making loans, including, among others, risks inherent with dealing with borrowers and guarantors, risks associated with potential future changes in the value of the collateral supporting the loans, the risk that a loan may not be repaid, and the risks associated with changes in economic or industry conditions. As part of our ongoing efforts to minimize these credit-related risks, we utilize credit policies and procedures, internal credit expertise and several internal layers of review for the loans we make. We also actively monitor our concentrations of loans and carefully evaluate the credit underwriting practices of acquired institutions. However, there can be no assurance that these underwriting and monitoring procedures will reduce these risks, and the inability to properly manage our credit risk could have a material adverse effect on our business, which, in turn, could impact our financial condition and results of operations.

Deteriorating credit quality in our credit card portfolio may adversely impact us.
 
We have a sizeable consumer credit card portfolio. Although we experienced a decreased amount of net charge-offs in our credit card portfolio in recent years, the amount of net charge-offs could worsen. While we continue to experience a better performance with respect to net charge-offs than the national average in our credit card portfolio, our net charge-offs were 2.20% and 1.49% of our average outstanding credit card balances for the years ended December 31, 2023 and 2022, respectively. Future downturns in the economy could adversely affect consumers in a more delayed fashion compared to commercial businesses in general. Increasing unemployment and diminished asset values may prevent our credit card customers from repaying their credit card balances which could result in an increased amount of our net charge-offs that could have a material adverse effect on our unsecured credit card portfolio.

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We may not maintain an appropriate allowance for credit losses.

It is likely that some portion of our loans will become delinquent, and some loans may only be partially repaid or may never be repaid. We maintain an allowance for credit losses, which is a reserve established through a provision for credit losses charged to expense, that results from management’s review of the existing portfolio and management’s assessment of the portfolio’s collectability. Our methodology for establishing the appropriateness of the allowance for credit losses inherently involves a high degree of subjectivity and judgment and requires management to make significant estimates and predictions regarding credit risks, future market conditions, and other factors, all of which are subject to material changes and may not necessarily be in our control. If our methodology is flawed, or if we experience changes in market or economic conditions, or in conditions of our borrowers, the allowance may become inadequate, which would result in additional provisions to increase the allowance to an appropriate level. This could negatively impact our business, including through a material decrease in our earnings. In addition, prudential regulators also periodically review our allowance for credit losses and have the ability, based on their perspective, which may be different from ours, to require that we make adjustments to the allowance, which could also have a negative effect on our results of operations or financial condition.

We rely on the mortgage secondary market from time to time to provide liquidity.

We sell certain mortgage loans we originate to certain agencies and other purchasers. We rely, in part, on the agencies to purchase loans meeting their requirements to reduce our credit risk and to provide funding for additional loans we desire to originate. There is no guarantee that the agencies will not materially limit their purchases of conforming loans due to capital constraints, a change in the criteria for conforming loans or other factors. If we are unable to continue to sell conforming loans to the agencies, our ability to fund, and thus originate, additional mortgage loans may be adversely affected, which would adversely affect our results of operations.

Sales of our loans are subject to a variety of risks.

In relation to any sale of one or more of our loan portfolios, we may make certain representations and warranties to the purchaser concerning the loans sold and the procedures under which those loans were originated and serviced. If those representations and warranties prove to be incorrect, we may be required to indemnify the purchaser for any related losses or be required to repurchase certain loans that were sold. In some cases where such obligations are invoked by the purchaser, the loans may be non-performing or in default, leaving us without a remedy available against a solvent counterparty to the loan. Our results of operations may be adversely affected if we are not able to recover our losses resulting from these indemnity payments and repurchases.

Loans made through federal programs are dependent on the federal government’s continuation and support of these programs and on our compliance with program requirements.

We participate in various U.S. government agency loan guarantee programs, including programs operated by the SBA. If we fail to follow any applicable regulations, guidelines or policies associated with a particular guarantee program, any loans we originate as part of that program may lose the associated guarantee, exposing us to credit risk we would not otherwise be exposed to, or result in our inability to continue originating loans under such programs, either of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Significant portions of our loan portfolio include commercial real estate, construction and development, and commercial and industrial loans, each of which presents heightened lending risks.

Our commercial loan portfolio includes, in significant part, commercial real estate loans, construction and development loans, and commercial and industrial loans. Among other things, commercial real estate loans are generally larger than residential real estate loans, often depend on the owner’s cash flows or those of the property’s tenants (which can be adversely affected by changes in economic conditions) as a source for repayment, and are generally perceived as involving a greater degree of risk of default than home equity loans or residential mortgage loans. Similarly, construction and development loan pose heightened risk when compared to residential real estate loans due to, for example, the fact that repayment often depends on successful completion of the construction or development project and subsequent financing. Additionally, commercial and industrial loans are often dependent upon the successful operation of the borrower’s business. If the operating company suffers difficulties, including reduction in sales volume and/or profitability, the borrower’s ability to repay the loan may be impaired, and the collateral associated with these types of loans may have depreciated during the term of the loan or may be difficult to value and/or liquidate. For these reasons and others, these types of loans present heightened lending risks that, if realized, may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

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In the event we are required to foreclose on a loan secured by real estate, we may not be able to realize the value of that real estate as indicated in any independent appraisals upon which we relied in extending the loan.

Loans secured by real estate make up a substantial portion of our loan portfolio. In making certain of these loans, we rely on estimates concerning the value of the real estate provided by independent appraisers. However, these appraisals are only estimates of value, and mistakes of fact or judgement on the part of the appraiser could adversely affect the reliability of their appraisals. Furthermore, the value of the real estate could change (including by declining) based on events occurring after the time of the appraisal, and preparing foreclosed real estate for sale, and then selling such real estate collateral, may impose significant additional costs on us. We, therefore, may not be able to fully recover the outstanding balance of a loan in the event of its default if the real estate serving as collateral has declined in value from its original estimate, which could have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Risks Related to Our Business, Industry, and Markets
 
Our business, financial condition, and results of operations could be adversely affected by developments impacting the financial services industry, such as recent bank failures or concerns involving liquidity.

Recent events in the financial services industry (including the 2023 closures of Silicon Valley Bank, Signature Bank and First Republic Bank) caused general uncertainty and concern regarding the adequacy of liquidity of the financial services industry generally. While we rely on different sources of funding to meet potential liquidity needs, our business strategies are largely based on access to funding from customer deposits and supplemental funding provided by wholesale or other secondary liquidity sources. Deposit levels may be affected by various industry factors, including interest rates paid by competitors, general interest rate levels, returns available to customers on alternative investments, conditions in the financial services industry specifically and general economic conditions that impact the amount of liquidity in the economy and savings levels, and also by factors that impact customers’ perception of our financial condition and capital and liquidity levels. In response to the closures of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank, in 2023 the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury approved actions enabling the FDIC to complete its resolution of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank in a manner that fully protected depositors by utilizing the Deposit Insurance Fund, and the Federal Reserve announced it would make available additional funding for eligible depository institutions to help assure banks have the ability to meet the needs of their depositors. While it appears these steps by the banking regulators helped customers’ perception of the financial markets and financial services industry generally, a number of factors, including further bank closures, or deposit outflows (and particularly sudden deposit outflows) from banks, may drive additional deposit outflows, increased borrowing and funding costs, and increased competition for liquidity, any of which could have a material adverse impact on our financial performance or financial condition.

Our business may be adversely affected by conditions in the financial markets and general economic conditions.
 
Changes in economic conditions could cause the values of assets and liabilities recorded in the financial statements to change rapidly, resulting in material future adjustments in asset values, the allowance for credit losses, or capital that could negatively impact the Company’s ability to meet regulatory capital requirements and maintain sufficient liquidity.
 
In a significant recession, declining asset values, defaults on mortgages and consumer loans, and the lack of market and investor confidence, as well as other factors, can all combine to increase credit default swap spreads, to cause rating agencies to lower credit ratings, and to otherwise increase the cost and decrease the availability of liquidity, despite very significant declines in Federal Reserve borrowing rates and other government actions. In the Great Recession, some banks and other lenders suffered significant losses and became reluctant to lend, even on a secured basis, due to the increased risk of default and the impact of declining asset values on the value of collateral. The foregoing can significantly weaken the strength and liquidity of some financial institutions worldwide.
 
The Company’s financial performance generally, and in particular the ability of borrowers to pay interest on and repay principal of outstanding loans and the value of collateral securing those loans, is highly dependent upon the business environment in the states where we operate, and in the United States as a whole. A favorable business environment is generally characterized by, among other factors, economic growth, efficient capital markets, low inflation, high business and investor confidence and strong business earnings. Unfavorable or uncertain economic and market conditions can be caused by declines in economic growth, business activity or investor or business confidence; limitations on the availability or increases in the cost of credit and capital; increases in inflation or interest rates; natural disasters; or a combination of these or other factors.



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The business environment in the states where we operate could deteriorate and adversely affect the credit quality of our loans and our results of operations and financial condition. There can be no assurance that business and economic conditions will remain stable in the near term. If financial market volatility worsens, or if there are more disruptions in the financial markets, including disruptions to the United States or international banking systems, there can be no assurance that we will not experience an adverse effect, which may be material, on our ability to access capital and on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Continued inflationary pressures could increase our costs (and the costs of our borrowers) and otherwise negatively impact our business.

We have experienced upward inflationary pressures on our operating costs, including costs associated with goods and services we receive from third-party vendors, as well as our labor costs. If our expenses continue to increase due to continued inflation, our profitability could decline and our business, financial condition and results of operations may be otherwise materially and adversely affected. In addition, continued inflationary pressures could increase the operating costs of our borrowers, which could adversely impact their profitability and financial condition and thereby increase the likelihood of defaults on loans we have extended.

Our concentration of banking activities in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas, including our real estate loan portfolio, makes us more vulnerable to adverse conditions in the particular local markets in which we operate.
 
Our subsidiary bank operates primarily within the states of Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas, where the majority of the buildings and properties securing our loans and the businesses of our customers are located. Our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows are subject to changes in the economic conditions in these six states, the ability of our borrowers to repay their loans, and the value of the collateral securing such loans. We largely depend on the continued growth and stability of the communities we serve for our continued success. Declines in the economies of these communities or the states in general could adversely affect our ability to generate new loans or to receive repayments of existing loans, and our ability to attract new deposits, thus adversely affecting our net income, profitability and financial condition.

The ability of our borrowers to repay their loans could also be adversely impacted by the significant changes in market conditions in the region or by changes in local real estate markets, including deflationary effects on collateral value caused by property foreclosures. This could result in an increase in our charge-offs and provision for credit losses. Either of these events would have an adverse impact on our results of operations.
 
A significant decline in general economic conditions caused by inflation, recession, unemployment, acts of terrorism or other factors beyond our control could also have an adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations. In addition, because multi-family and commercial real estate loans represent the majority of our real estate loans outstanding, a decline in tenant occupancy due to such factors or for other reasons could adversely impact the ability of our borrowers to repay their loans on a timely basis, which could have a negative impact on our results of operations.

We face strong competition from other banks, bank holding companies, and financial services companies.

In the markets we serve, the businesses of banking and financial services are fiercely competitive. Many of our competitors offer the same, or similar, products and services within our market areas. Some of our competitors are able to offer a broader range of products and services than we do. These competitors include banks with nationwide presences, regional banks, and community banks (who may have greater flexibility in their operational strategies than we possess). We also face competition from many other types of financial institutions, including, among others, credit unions, finance companies, insurance companies, brokerage and investment banking firms. Certain nonbank competitors of the Company are increasingly offering products and services that traditionally were banking products due to technological advances, and many of these nonbank competitors are not subject to the same extensive federal regulations that govern bank holding companies and federally insured banks. As a result, some of the competitors in our markets have the ability to offer products and services that we are unable to offer or to offer such products and services at more competitive rates. If we are unable to effectively compete for customers, we may lose loan and deposit market share, as well as experience reductions in net interest margin, fee income, and profitability, and our business, financial condition, and results of operations could be adversely affected.



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Changes in service delivery channels and emerging technologies pose a competitive risk.

Advancements in technology have created the ability for financial transactions that have historically often involved traditional banks to be conducted through alternative channels. For example, consumers can now hold funds in brokerage accounts and internet-only banks, or indeed with essentially any bank that provides for online account opening and online banking. Consumers can also complete transactions such as the purchase or sale of goods and services, the payment of bills, and the transfer of funds without the direct assistance of banks. Indeed, non-traditional financial services firms, such as financial technology (FinTech) companies, have begun to offer a variety of services traditionally provided by banks and other financial institutions. The resulting increased competition could result in the loss of fee income and customer deposits, which could negatively impact our financial condition, results of operations, and liquidity. It could also require additional, costly investments in technology to remain competitive.

We anticipate that new technologies will continue to emerge that may be superior to, or render obsolete, the technologies currently used by the Company and the Bank in their products and services. Developing or acquiring access to new technologies and incorporating those technologies into our products and services, or using them to expand our products and services, in each case in a way that enables us to remain competitive, may require significant investments, may take considerable time to complete, and ultimately may not be successful.

Our growth and expansion strategy may not be successful, and our market value and profitability may suffer.
 
We have historically employed, as important parts of our business strategy, growth through acquisitions of banks and, to a lesser extent, through branch acquisitions and de novo branching. Any future acquisitions in which we might engage will be accompanied by the risks commonly encountered in acquisitions. These risks include, among other risks:
 
credit risk associated with the acquired bank’s loans and investments;
difficulty of integrating operations and personnel; and
potential disruption of our ongoing business.

In addition to pursuing the acquisition of existing viable financial institutions as opportunities arise we may also continue to engage in de novo branching to further our growth strategy. De novo branching and growing through acquisition involve numerous risks, including the following (among others):
 
the inability to obtain all required regulatory approvals;
the significant costs and potential operating losses associated with establishing a de novo branch or a new bank;
the inability to secure the services of qualified senior management;
the local market may not accept the services of a new bank owned and managed by a bank holding company headquartered outside of the market area of the new bank;
the risk of encountering an economic downturn in the new market;
the inability to obtain attractive locations within a new market at a reasonable cost; and
the additional strain on management resources and internal systems and controls.

We expect that competition for suitable acquisition candidates will be significant. We may compete with other banks or financial service companies that are seeking to acquire our acquisition candidates, many of which are larger competitors and have greater financial and other resources. We cannot assure you that we will be able to successfully identify and acquire suitable acquisition targets on acceptable terms and conditions. Further, we cannot assure you that we will be successful in overcoming these risks or any other problems encountered in connection with acquisitions and de novo branching. Our inability to overcome these risks could have an adverse effect on our ability to achieve our business and growth strategy and maintain or increase our market value and profitability.
 
The value of our goodwill and other intangible assets may decline in the future.

As of December 31, 2023, we had $1.3 billion of goodwill and $112.6 million of other intangible assets. A significant decline in our expected future cash flows, a significant adverse change in the business climate, slower economic growth or a significant and sustained decline in the price of our common stock, any or all of which could be materially impacted by many of the risk factors discussed herein, may necessitate our taking charges in the future related to the impairment of our goodwill. Future regulatory actions could also have a material impact on assessments of goodwill for impairment. If we were to conclude that a future write-down of our goodwill is necessary, we would record the appropriate charge, which could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations.

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Identifiable intangible assets other than goodwill consist of core deposit intangibles, books of business, and other intangible assets. Adverse events or circumstances could impact the recoverability of these intangible assets including loss of core deposits, significant losses of customer accounts and/or balances, increased competition or adverse changes in the economy. To the extent these intangible assets are deemed unrecoverable, a non-cash impairment charge would be recorded, which could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations.

Damage to our reputation could significantly harm our business.

Our ability to attract and retain customers, employees, and acquisition partners is influenced by our reputation. A negative opinion of our business can develop in connection with a variety of circumstances, including issues with our lending practices, legal and regulatory compliance, risk management, corporate governance, customer service, community involvement, integration of acquired institutions, and third-party service providers. Our reputation could also be harmed through regulatory proceedings by governmental authorities, litigation, or cybersecurity events. Reputational damage could also impact our relationships with investors, our credit ratings and our ability to access capital markets.

If we are unsuccessful in developing new, and adapting our current, products and services so that they respond to changing industry standards and customer preferences, our business may suffer.

We provide a variety of commercial and consumer banking, as well as other financial, products and services designed to meet a broad range of needs. While many of these products and services are traditional both in their characteristics and their delivery channels, advancements in technology, changes in the regulatory environment, and evolving customer preferences require that we continuously evaluate the terms under which we provide our existing products and services (including, among other things, interest rates and loan covenants), the methods by which we deliver them (including the use of online and mobile banking), whether to partner with a FinTech company or other third-party vendor to provide products and services, and the potential for new products and services in order to remain competitive. These efforts, though, could require substantial investments, and we can provide no assurance that we will develop new products and services, or adequately adapt our existing products and services, in a timely or successful manner. Our inability to do so could harm our business and adversely affect our results of operations and reputation. Furthermore, any new line of business and/or new product or service could require the establishment of new key and other controls and have a significant impact on our existing system of internal controls. Failure to successfully manage these risks in the development and implementation of new lines of business and/or new products or services could have a material adverse effect on our business and, in turn, our financial condition and results of operations.

Risks Related to the Company’s Operations

We are subject to fraud risk, which could have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations.

Fraud is a major, and increasing, operational risk, particularly for financial institutions. We continue to experience fraud attempts and losses through, for example, deposit fraud (such as wire fraud and check fraud) and loan fraud. Fraud has also arisen from the misconduct of our employees. The methods used to perpetrate and combat fraud continue to evolve, particularly as advances in technology occur. While we seek to be vigilant in the prevention, detection, and remediation of fraud events, some fraud loss is unavoidable, and the risk of major fraud loss cannot be eliminated.

Our models and estimations may be inadequate, which could lead to significant losses and regulatory scrutiny.

To assist with the management of our credit, liquidity, operations, and compliance functions and risks, we have developed, and currently use, various models and other analytical tools, including certain estimations. The models and estimations often take into account assumptions and historical trends and are, in some case, based on subjective judgments. As such, the models and estimations may not be effective in identifying and managing risks, which could adversely impact our financial condition and results of operations. Inadequate models may also result in compliance failures, which could lead to increased scrutiny by our regulators.



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We may not be able to raise the additional capital we need to grow and, as a result, our ability to expand our operations could be materially impaired.
 
Federal and state regulatory authorities require us and our subsidiary bank to maintain adequate levels of capital to support our operations. Many circumstances could require us to seek additional capital, such as:
 
faster than anticipated growth;
reduced earning levels;
operating losses;
changes in economic conditions;
revisions in regulatory requirements; or
additional acquisition opportunities.

Our ability to raise additional capital will largely depend on our financial performance, and on conditions in the capital markets that are outside our control. Moreover, if we need to raise capital in the future, we may have to do so when many other financial institutions are also seeking to raise capital and would, as a result, have to compete with those institutions for investors, which could adversely impact the price at which we are able to offer our securities. If we need additional capital but cannot raise it on terms acceptable to us, our ability to expand our operations or to engage in acquisitions could be materially impaired.

Our business is heavily reliant on information technology systems, facilities, and processes; and a disruption in those systems, facilities, and processes, or a breach, including cyber-attacks, in the security of our systems, could have significant, negative impact on our business, result in the disclosure of confidential information, and create significant financial and legal exposure for us.
 
Our businesses are dependent on our ability and the ability of our third-party service providers to process, record and monitor a large number of transactions. If the financial, accounting, data processing or other operating systems and facilities fail to operate properly, become disabled, experience security breaches or have other significant shortcomings, our results of operations could be materially, adversely affected.
 
Although we and our third party service providers devote significant resources to maintain and regularly upgrade our systems and processes that are designed to protect the security of computer systems, software, networks and other technology assets and the confidentiality, integrity and availability of information belonging to us and our customers, there is no assurance that our security systems and those of our third-party service providers will provide absolute security. Financial services institutions and companies engaged in data processing have reported breaches in the security of their websites or other systems, some of which have involved sophisticated and targeted attacks intended to obtain unauthorized access to confidential information, destroy data, disable or degrade service, or sabotage systems, often through the introduction of computer viruses or malware, cyber-attacks and other means. Certain financial institutions in the United States have also experienced attacks from technically sophisticated and well-resourced third parties that were intended to disrupt normal business activities by making internet banking systems inaccessible to customers for extended periods. These “denial-of-service” attacks have not breached our data security systems, but require substantial resources to defend, and may affect customer satisfaction and behavior.
 
Despite our efforts and those of our third party service providers to ensure the integrity of our systems, it is possible that we may not be able to anticipate or to implement effective preventive measures against all security breaches of these types, especially because the techniques used change frequently or are not recognized until launched, and because security attacks can originate from a wide variety of sources, including persons who are involved with organized crime or associated with external service providers or who may be linked to terrorist organizations or hostile foreign governments. Those parties may also attempt to fraudulently induce employees, customers or other users of our systems to disclose sensitive information in order to gain access to our data or that of our customers or clients. These risks may increase in the future as we continue to increase our mobile payments and other internet-based product offerings and expand our internal usage of web-based products and applications. Furthermore, because certain of our employees are working, or may work, remotely, there is an increased risk of disruption to our systems because remote networks and infrastructure may not be as secure as in our office environment. If our security systems were penetrated or circumvented, it could cause serious negative consequences for us, including significant disruption of our operations, misappropriation of our confidential information or that of our customers, or damage our computers or systems and those of our customers and counterparties, and could result in violations of applicable privacy and other laws, financial loss to us or to our customers, loss of confidence in our security measures, customer dissatisfaction, significant litigation exposure, and harm to our reputation, all of which could have a material adverse effect on us.

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We depend on qualified employees and key personnel to operate and lead our business, and we may not be able to attract or retain them in the future.

A critical component of our success is the ability to attract, develop and retain highly qualified, skilled lending, operations, information technology, and other employees, as well as managers who are experienced and effective at leading their respective departments. We have an experienced group of senior management and other key personnel that our board of directors believes is capable of managing and growing our business. In many areas of the financial services industry, competition for key personnel is fierce, and the departure of those individuals from our business presents risk that we will be unable to attract, develop and retain suitable successors, which could have a material, adverse impact on our competitive position in the marketplace.

Our business is heavily reliant on a variety of third-party service providers.

We rely on a large number of vendors to provide products and services that we need for our day-to-day operations, particularly in the areas of loan and deposit operations, information technology, and security. This reliance exposes us to the risk that the vendors will not perform in accordance with the applicable contractual arrangements or service level agreements, as well as risks resulting from defective products, poor performance of services, disruption in a product or service, vendor contracts, or loss of a product or service if a vendor ceases doing business because of its own financial or operational difficulties. These risks, if realized, could result in significant disruptions to our business, which could have a material adverse impact on our financial condition and results of operations. While we maintain a vendor management program designed to assist in the oversight and monitoring of our third-party service providers, there can be no assurance that we will not experience service-related issues associated with our vendors.
 
Our controls, policies and procedures may fail, or our employees may not adhere to them.

It is critical that our internal controls, disclosure controls and procedures, and corporate governance and operational policies and procedures be effective in order to provide assurance that our financial reports and disclosures are materially accurate. A failure or circumvention of our controls, policies and procedures, or a failure to comply with regulations related to controls, policies and procedures, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, and results of operations, as well as cause reputational harm, which could limit our ability to access the capital markets.

Errors or mistakes in the provision of services to our customers or in carrying out our own transactions can subject us to liability, result in losses, or otherwise negatively impact our business.

In our business activities, including the provision of banking services to our customers and the management of our own investments and other assets, we effect or process, sometimes on a manual basis, a large volume of transactions representing very large amounts of money for our customers and ourselves. Errors or mistakes in these activities (including human error and systems error), as well as other failures to mitigate operational risks, can have adverse consequences, including exposing us to liability and loss and, in the case of providing services to our customers, preventing us from receiving certain contractual protections.
 
Accounting standards periodically change, and the application of our accounting policies and methods may require management to make estimates about matters that are uncertain.

The regulatory bodies that establish accounting standards, including, among others, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (“FASB”) and the SEC, periodically revise or issue new financial accounting and reporting standards that govern the preparation of our consolidated financial statements. The effect of such revised or new standards on our financial statements can be difficult to predict and can materially impact how we record and report our financial condition and results of operations. For example, in June 2016, the FASB issued Accounting Standards Update (“ASU”) 2016-13, Measurement of Credit Losses on Financial Instruments, that substantially changed the accounting for credit losses and other financial assets held by banks, financial institutions and other organizations. The standard removed the existing “probable” threshold in generally accepted accounting principles (“US GAAP”) for recognizing credit losses and instead requires companies to reflect their estimate of credit losses over the life of the financial assets. Companies must consider all relevant information when estimating expected credit losses, including details about past events, current conditions, and reasonable and supportable forecasts. We adopted an optional three-year phase-in period for the day-one adverse regulatory capital impact upon adoption of the standard with the additional two-year delay allowed by regulators in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The adoption of the standard resulted in an overall material increase in the allowance for credit losses. However, the impact at adoption was influenced by our portfolios' composition and quality at the adoption date and economic conditions and forecasts at that time.

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In addition, our management must exercise judgment in appropriately applying many of our accounting policies and methods so they comply with generally accepted accounting principles. In some cases, management may have to select a particular accounting policy or method from two or more alternatives. In some cases, the accounting policy or method chosen might be reasonable under the circumstances and yet might result in our reporting materially different amounts than would have been reported if we had selected a different policy or method. Accounting policies are critical to fairly presenting our financial condition and results of operations and may require management to make difficult, subjective or complex judgments about matters that are uncertain.

Risks Related to the Company’s Legal and Regulatory Environment

Financial legislative and regulatory initiatives could adversely affect the results of our operations.
 
We are subject to extensive governmental regulation, supervision, legislation, and control. For instance, in response to the financial crisis affecting the banking system and financial markets, the Dodd-Frank Act was enacted in 2010, as well as several programs that have been initiated by the U.S. Treasury, the FRB, and the FDIC.     See “Item 1. Business - Supervision and Regulation” included herein for more information regarding regulatory burden and supervision.
 
Some of the provisions of legislation and regulation that have adversely impacted the Company include the “Durbin Amendment” to the Dodd-Frank Act, which mandates a limit to debit card interchange fees, and Regulation E amendments to the EFTA regarding overdraft fees. Future financial legislation and regulatory initiatives can limit the type of products we offer, the methods by which we offer them, the prices at which they are offered, and the fees that are associated with them. These provisions can also increase our costs in offering these products.

The CFPB, Federal Reserve, and Arkansas State Bank Department have broad rulemaking, supervisory and examination authority, as well as data collection and enforcement powers. The scope and impact of the regulators’ actions can significantly impact the operations of the Company and its subsidiaries and the financial services industry in general.
 
These laws, regulations, and changes can increase our costs of regulatory compliance. They also can significantly affect the markets in which we do business, the markets for and value of our investments, and our ongoing operations, costs, and profitability. The ultimate impact of the provisions in legislative and regulatory initiatives on the Company’s business and results of operations also depends upon regulatory interpretation and rulemaking. As a result, we are unable to predict the ultimate impact of future legislation or regulation, including the extent to which it could increase costs or limit our ability to pursue business opportunities in an efficient manner, or otherwise adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Our failure to comply with applicable banking laws and regulations could result in significant monetary penalties and losses, restrict our ability to execute our growth strategy, and have other material adverse impacts on our business.

We are charged with maintaining compliance with all applicable banking laws and regulations, including, among others, fair lending, CRA, consumer compliance, BSA and anti-money laundering, capital, and other regulations described herein under “Item 1. Business - Supervision and Regulation.” Various agencies, including, without limitation, the FRB, CFPB, Arkansas State Bank Department, and the Department of Justice, have the ability to institute proceedings to address compliance failures. Should those agencies be successful in the case of such a proceeding, we could become subject to material sanctions, including, among other things, monetary penalties and restrictions on our ability to engage in mergers and acquisitions and other growth-oriented activities. Compliance failures may also result in litigation instituted by private parties, including consumers, which could result in material adverse impacts on our business.

We are subject to litigation in the ordinary course of our business, and adverse rulings, judgements, settlements, and other outcomes of such litigation, as well as our associated legal expenses, may adversely affect our results.

From time to time, we are subject to litigation. Litigation and claims can arise in various contexts, including, among others, our lending activities, deposit activities, employment practices, commercial agreements, fiduciary responsibilities, compliance programs, anti-money laundering programs and other general business matters. These claims and legal actions, including supervisory actions by our regulators, could involve large amounts in controversy, significant fines or penalties, and substantial legal costs necessary for our defense. The outcome of litigation and regulatory matters, as well as the timing associated with resolving these matters, are inherently hard to predict. Substantial legal liability, which may not be insured, and significant regulatory actions against us could materially and adversely impact our business operations, including our ability to engage in mergers and acquisitions, our results of operations and our financial condition.



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The Federal Reserve Board’s source of strength doctrine could require that we divert capital to our subsidiary bank instead of applying available capital towards planned uses, such as engaging in acquisitions or paying dividends to shareholders.

The FRB’s policies and regulations require that a bank holding company, including a financial holding company, serve as a source of financial strength to its subsidiary banks, and further provide that a bank holding company may not conduct operations in an unsafe or unsound manner. It is the FRB’s policy that a bank holding company should stand ready to use available resources to provide adequate capital to its subsidiary banks during periods of financial stress or adversity, such as during periods of significant loan losses, and that such holding company should maintain the financial flexibility and capital-raising capacity to obtain additional resources for assisting its subsidiary banks if such a need were to arise.

A bank holding company’s failure to meet its obligations to serve as a source of strength to its subsidiary banks will generally be considered an unsafe and unsound banking practice or a violation of the FRB’s regulations, or both. Accordingly, if the financial condition of our subsidiary bank was to deteriorate, we could be compelled to provide financial support to our subsidiary bank at a time when, absent such FRB policy, we may not deem it advisable to provide such assistance. Under such circumstances, there is a possibility that we may not either have adequate available capital or feel sufficiently confident regarding our financial condition, to enter into acquisitions, pay dividends, or engage in other corporate activities.

We may incur environmental liabilities with respect to properties to which we take title.
 
A significant portion of our loan portfolio is secured by real estate. In the course of our business, we may own or foreclose and take title to real estate and could become subject to environmental liabilities with respect to these properties. We may become responsible to a governmental agency or third parties for property damage, personal injury, investigation and clean-up costs incurred by those parties in connection with environmental contamination, or may be required to investigate or clean-up hazardous or toxic substances, or chemical releases at a property. The costs associated with environmental investigation or remediation activities could be substantial. If we were to become subject to significant environmental liabilities, it could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition.

We may be subject to allegations of intellectual property infringement or may fail to effectively protect our own intellectual property rights.

Our competition, or other third parties, may allege that we have violated their intellectual property rights. For example, we may unintentionally infringe upon the rights of third parties through the use of infringing software or other types of content provided by vendors. Alternatively, failure to effectively protect our own intellectual property through trade secret, copyright, patents, and other legal means may result in it being used to the benefit of others and to the detriment of our business. A successful claim of infringement could subject us to money damages, require significant license or royalty fees, or result in restrictions preventing us from using certain software or technology, thereby impeding our delivery of products or services. Even if ultimately unsuccessful, the financial cost of a legal defense and the diversion of management’s attention from our business may prove costly.

Risks Related to the Company’s Securities
 
The holders of our subordinated notes and subordinated debentures have rights that are senior to those of our common shareholders. If we defer payments of interest on our outstanding subordinated debentures or if certain defaults relating to those debentures occur, we will be prohibited from declaring or paying dividends or distributions on, and from making liquidation payments with respect to, our common stock.
 
We have subordinated debentures issued in connection with trust preferred securities. Payments of the principal and interest on the trust preferred securities are unconditionally guaranteed by us. The subordinated debentures are senior to our shares of common stock. As a result, we must make payments on the subordinated debentures (and the related trust preferred securities) before any dividends can be paid on our common stock. In addition, in the event of our bankruptcy, dissolution or liquidation, the holders of both the subordinated debentures and the subordinated notes must be satisfied before any distributions can be made to the holders of our common stock. We have the right to defer distributions on the subordinated debentures (and the related trust preferred securities) for up to five years, during which time no dividends may be paid to holders of our capital stock. If we elect to defer or if we default with respect to our obligations to make payments on these subordinated debentures, this would likely have a material adverse effect on the market value of our common stock. Moreover, without notice to or consent from the holders of our common stock, we may issue additional series of subordinated debt securities in the future with terms similar to those of our existing subordinated debt securities or enter into other financing agreements that limit our ability to purchase or to pay dividends or distributions on our capital stock.
 


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We may be unable to, or choose not to, pay dividends on our common stock.
 
We cannot assure you of our ability to continue to pay dividends. Our ability to pay dividends depends on the following factors, among others:
 
We may not have sufficient earnings since our primary source of income, the payment of dividends to us by our subsidiary bank, is subject to federal and state laws that limit the ability of the bank to pay dividends;
FRB policy requires bank holding companies to pay cash dividends on common stock only out of net income available over the past year and only if prospective earnings retention is consistent with the organization’s expected future needs and financial condition; and
Our Board of Directors may determine that, even though funds are available for dividend payments, retaining the funds for internal uses, such as expansion of our operations, is a better strategy.

If we fail to pay dividends, capital appreciation, if any, of our common stock may be the sole opportunity for gains on an investment in our common stock. In addition, in the event our subsidiary bank becomes unable to pay dividends to us, we may not be able to service our debt or pay our other obligations or pay dividends on our common stock. Accordingly, our inability to receive dividends from our subsidiary bank could also have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations and the value of your investment in our common stock. Our subsidiary bank’s ability to pay dividends or make other payments to us, as well as our ability to pay dividends on our common stock, is limited by the bank’s obligation to maintain sufficient capital and by other general regulatory restrictions on its dividends, including restrictions imposed by state laws and regulations.

There may be future sales of additional common stock or preferred stock or other dilution of our equity, which may adversely affect the value of our common stock.
 
We are not restricted from issuing additional common stock or preferred stock, including any securities that are convertible into or exchangeable for, or that represent the right to receive, common stock or preferred stock or any substantially similar securities. The value of our common stock could decline as a result of sales by us of a large number of shares of common stock or preferred stock or similar securities in the market or the perception that such sales could occur.

Shares of our common stock, as well as our other securities, are not insured deposits and may lose value.

Shares of the Company’s common stock, as well as our other securities, are not savings accounts, deposits, or other obligations of any depository institution, and those shares are not insured by the FDIC or any other governmental agency or instrumentality or private insurer. Investments in shares of the Company’s common stock or other securities, therefore, are subject to investment risk, including the possible loss of principal.
 
Anti-takeover provisions could negatively impact our shareholders.
 
Provisions of our articles of incorporation and by-laws and federal banking laws, including regulatory approval requirements, could make it more difficult for a third party to acquire us, even if doing so would be perceived to be beneficial to our shareholders. The combination of these provisions effectively inhibits a non-negotiated merger or other business combination, which, in turn, could adversely affect the market price of our common stock. These provisions could also discourage proxy contests and make it more difficult for holders of our common stock to elect directors other than the candidates nominated by our Board of Directors.





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General Risk Factors

Our management has broad discretion over the use of proceeds from future stock offerings.
 
Although we generally indicate our intent to use the proceeds from stock offerings for general corporate purposes, including funding internal growth and selected future acquisitions, our Board of Directors retains significant discretion with respect to the use of the proceeds from possible future offerings. If we use the funds to acquire other businesses, there can be no assurance that any business we acquire will be successfully integrated into our operations or otherwise perform as expected.

Our recent results do not indicate our future results and may not provide guidance to assess the risk of an investment in our common stock.
 
We may not be able to sustain our historical rate of growth or be able to expand our business. Various factors, such as economic conditions, regulatory and legislative considerations and competition, may also impede or prohibit our ability to expand our market presence. We may also be unable to identify advantageous acquisition opportunities or, once identified, enter into transactions to make such acquisitions. If we are not able to successfully grow our business, our financial condition and results of operations could be adversely affected.

Weather-related events or natural or man-made disasters could cause a disruption in our business or have other effects which could adversely impact our financial condition and results of operations.

We have operations in the mid-south and certain great plains states, areas susceptible to tornados and severe weather events. In addition, our operations and a significant number of our branches are located in the New Madrid Seismic Zone. While we have in place a business continuity plan, such events could potentially disrupt our operations or result in physical damage to our branch office locations. Severe weather events or earthquakes could also impact the value of any collateral we hold, or significantly disrupt the local economies in the markets that we serve, manifesting in a decline in loan originations, as well as an increase in the risk of delinquencies, defaults, and foreclosures.

ITEM 1B. UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS
 
None.
 
ITEM 1C. CYBERSECURITY

We maintain an information security program and governance structure for assessing, identifying, and managing material risks from cybersecurity threats.

Risk Management and Strategy

Our information security program is led by our chief information security officer (“CISO”), who has over 25 years of experience in technology management, has 8 years of banking experience, and is a certified information systems security professional. The CISO oversees our “information security team” within our information technology department, which includes our identity and access management group, our security operations center group, and our security engineering and security architecture groups. These groups develop, deploy, monitor, and manage multiple processes, systems, and controls, including embedded controls within the technology we use, designed to help identify, protect against, detect, respond to, and recover from cybersecurity threats and incidents.

In addition to our information security team, we also employ an IT risk and compliance director who has over 18 years of IT governance, risk, and compliance experience and is responsible for the development, monitoring, and reporting of IT-related key risk indicators (“KRIs”), including KRIs related to cyber risks. Both our CISO and our IT risk and compliance director report to our chief information officer (“CIO”), who has more than 25 years of technology leadership experience, including leadership experience at global financial institutions, and is responsible, among other things, for oversight of our information technology environment, strategy, and security risks.

As part of our information security program, we undertake efforts to monitor new and emerging risks and evaluate the effectiveness and maturity of our cyber defenses through various means, including internal audits, targeted testing (including penetration testing), incident response exercises, maturity assessments, and industry benchmarking. In connection with these efforts, we use, on an as-needed basis, certain third-parties, including auditors, consultants, and others, that have particular cyber expertise.

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We also maintain multiple groups that help oversee risks associated with our third-party service providers. These groups include (1) our third-party risk management department, which facilitates reviews of certain third parties by our assurance providers, including our information security and business continuity teams, (2) our vendor council, which reviews contractual terms (including, at times, terms related to confidentiality and data protection) for certain third-party relationships, and (3) our architecture review board, which reviews certain new business initiatives that may impact the Company’s technical and/or security architecture.

Our information security program is one component of our broader enterprise risk management program. As such, KRIs related to cyber risk (which are a subset of operational risk KRIs) are reported to, and overseen and monitored by, our enterprise risk management committee, which is comprised of senior executives of the Company. Additionally, we maintain an incident response framework that details the applicable teams, their functions, and guidelines when a cybersecurity incident occurs. The framework is designed to cover significant aspects of the incident including detection, containment, remediation, and post incident analysis. Various groups of senior executives help oversee responses to security incidents, including the data loss prevention team, the core computer security incident response team, and the extended computer security incident response team.

While we do not believe that our business strategy, results of operations, or financial condition have been materially adversely affected by any cybersecurity incidents, cybersecurity threats are constant, and, like other financial institutions, we, as well as our customers, employees, and third-party service providers, have experienced a significant increase in information security and cybersecurity risk in recent years and will likely continue to be the target of cyber-attacks. We continue to assess the risks and changes in the cyber environment, reasonably invest in enhancements to our cybersecurity capabilities, and engage in industry and government forums to promote advancements in our cybersecurity capabilities. See the risk factor “Our business is heavily reliant on information technology systems, facilities, and processes; and a disruption in those systems, facilities, and processes, or a breach, including cyber-attacks, in the security of our systems, could have significant, negative impact on our business, result in the disclosure of confidential information, and create significant financial and legal exposure for us.” in “Item 1A. Risk Factors” of this Form 10-K for more information.

Governance

Our board of directors is aware of, and takes seriously, the importance of overseeing risks associated with cybersecurity threats. Senior management has provided the board of directors with cybersecurity information, as well as incident response training. Additionally, employees have received training related to cybersecurity. Cyber risks are incorporated into risk appetite metrics for operational risk and presented to and reviewed by the risk committee of the board of directors. Additionally, the audit committee of the board of directors receives and reviews internal audit reports concerning, among other things, matters related to information security. Furthermore, the board of directors of Simmons Bank, the Company’s primary operating subsidiary, has established an information technology committee (“IT Committee”) that receives regular reports from the CISO and CIO concerning our information security program and cybersecurity matters. The CIO also reports IT KRIs, including those related to cyber risks, to the IT Committee. Significant security incidents are also reported by senior management to the IT Committee or its chairman, when warranted. The IT Committee chairman provides reports of the committee’s activities to the board of directors of Simmons Bank. The Company’s board of directors, or the board of directors of Simmons Bank (as applicable), also approves information security-related policies, including the Acceptable Use Policy, Information Security Policy, IT Ransomware Policy, and Business Continuity Management Policy.

With respect to internal management, the CISO and CIO meet regularly to discuss the activities and operations of the information security team, and the CIO holds regular meetings with our chief executive officer to discuss cyber related matters, information technology issues, and cybersecurity threats. To enhance awareness, monitoring, and oversight of cybersecurity risks, management also uses the following internal committees (in addition to the enterprise risk management committee discussed above): (1) the IT strategy and investment committee, which is comprised of senior executives and helps provide oversight of the investment and strategic direction for the Company’s IT function, (2) the IT steering committee, which is comprised of leaders from various business units and helps provide oversight and direction for inter- and intra-departmental IT related initiatives, and (3) the vulnerability management working group, which is comprised of IT leaders and helps establish appropriate roles, responsibilities, and escalation paths to resolve department and enterprise vulnerabilities within service level agreements.


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ITEM 2. PROPERTIES 

The principal offices of the Company and of its subsidiary bank, Simmons Bank, consist of an eleven-story office building and adjacent office space located in the downtown business district of the city of Pine Bluff, Arkansas. A portion of those offices is subject to a ground lease that expires March 31, 2057. We have additional corporate offices located in Little Rock, Arkansas, including a twelve-story office building in Little Rock’s River Market district.
 
The Company and its subsidiaries own or lease additional offices in the states of Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. The Company and its subsidiaries conduct financial operations from approximately 234 financial centers located in communities throughout Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. We believe our properties are suitable and adequate for our present operations.

ITEM 3. LEGAL PROCEEDINGS
 
The information contained in Note 22, Contingent Liabilities, of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements in Part II, Item 8 of this report is incorporated herein by reference.

ITEM 4. MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES
 
Not applicable.


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PART II
 
ITEM 5. MARKET FOR REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES
 
Our common stock is listed on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol “SFNC.”
 
As of February 23, 2024, there were approximately 2,379 shareholders of record of our common stock. See the Cash Dividends discussion in the Capital section of Part II, Item 7, Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations, for additional information regarding cash dividends.

Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

Effective July 23, 2021, our Board of Directors approved an amendment to the Company’s stock repurchase program originally approved in October 2019 and first amended in March 2020 (“2019 Program”) that increased the amount of our Class A Common Stock that may be repurchased under the 2019 Program from a maximum of $180.0 million to a maximum of $276.5 million and extended the term of the 2019 Program from October 31, 2021, to October 31, 2022. The repurchase authorization under the 2019 Program was substantially exhausted during January 2022.

On January 27, 2022, we announced a new stock repurchase program (“2022 Program”) under which we may repurchase up to $175.0 million of our Class A Common Stock currently issued and outstanding. The 2022 Program replaced the 2019 Program.

Because the 2022 Program was set to terminate on January 31, 2024, the Company’s Board of Directors authorized a new stock repurchase program in January 2024 (“2024 Program”) under which the Company may repurchase up to $175.0 million of its Class A common stock currently issued and outstanding. The 2024 Program has replaced the 2022 Program.

The timing, pricing, and amount of any repurchases under the 2024 Program will be determined by management at its discretion based on a variety of factors, including, but not limited to, trading volume and market price of our common stock, corporate considerations, the Company working capital and investment requirements, general market and economic conditions, and legal requirements. Under the 2024 Program, we may repurchase shares of our Class A Common Stock through open market and privately negotiated transactions or otherwise. The 2024 Program does not obligate us to repurchase any of our Class A Common Stock and may be modified, discontinued, or suspended at any time without prior notice. We anticipate funding for the 2024 Program to come from available sources of liquidity, including cash on hand and future cash flow.

The Company made no purchases of its common stock during the three months ended December 31, 2023. As of December 31, 2023, the Company had approximately $39.9 million of remaining funds that could have been used to repurchase shares of the Company’s Class A Common Stock under the 2022 Program. The 2024 Program has since replaced the 2022 Program.

Information concerning our repurchases of Class A Common Stock during the quarter ended December 31, 2023 is as follows:

Period
Total Number of Shares Purchased (1)
Average Price Paid per ShareTotal Number of Shares Purchased as Part of Publicly Announced Plans or ProgramsApproximate Dollar Value of Shares that May Yet Be Purchased Under the Plans or Programs
October 1, 2023 - October 31, 2023— $— — $39,922,000 
November 1, 2023 - November 30, 2023— — — $39,922,000 
December 1, 2023 - December 31, 2023— — — $39,922,000 
Total— $— — 
_________________________ 
(1)No shares of restricted stock were purchased in connection with employee tax withholding obligations under employee compensation plans, which are not purchases under any publicly announced plan.



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Performance Graph
 
The performance graph below compares the cumulative total shareholder return on the Company’s Common Stock with the cumulative total return of the Russell 2000 Index and the KBW Nasdaq Regional Banking Index. The graph assumes an investment of $100 on December 31, 2018 and reinvestment of dividends on the date of payment without commissions. The performance graph represents past performance and should not be considered as an indication of future performance. 

2860
 Period Ending
Index12/31/201812/31/201912/31/202012/31/202112/31/202212/31/2023
Simmons First National Corporation100.00 113.90 95.56 134.10 101.08 97.08 
Russell 2000 Index100.00 125.53 150.58 172.90 137.56 160.85 
KBW Nasdaq Regional Banking Index100.00 123.81 113.03 154.45 143.75 143.17 

ITEM 6. [RESERVED]

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ITEM 7. MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

The following discussion and analysis presents the more significant factors that affected our financial condition as of December 31, 2023 and 2022 and results of operations for each of the years then ended. Refer to “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” included in our Annual Report on Form 10-K filed with the SEC on February 27, 2023 (the “2022 Form 10-K”) for a discussion and analysis of the more significant factors that affected the 2021 period, which are incorporated herein by reference. Certain immaterial reclassifications have been made to make prior periods comparable. This discussion and analysis should be read in conjunction with our financial statements, notes thereto and other financial information appearing elsewhere in this report, as well as the cautionary note regarding forward-looking statements and the risks discussed in Item 1A of Part I of this Form 10-K.

Critical Accounting Estimates

Overview
 
The preparation of financial statements in conformity with US GAAP requires management to make estimates and assumptions that affect the amounts reported in the financial statements and accompanying notes. While we base estimates on historical experience, current information and other factors deemed to be relevant, actual results could differ from those estimates.
 
We consider accounting estimates to be critical to reported financial results if (i) the accounting estimate requires management to make assumptions about matters that are highly uncertain and (ii) different estimates that management reasonably could have used for the accounting estimate in the current period, or changes in the accounting estimate that are reasonably likely to occur from period to period, could have a material impact on our financial statements.
 
The accounting policies that we view as critical to us are those relating to estimates and judgments regarding (a) the determination of the adequacy of the allowance for credit losses, (b) acquisition accounting and valuation of loans, (c) the valuation of goodwill and the useful lives applied to intangible assets, (d) the valuation of stock-based compensation plans and (e) income taxes.

Allowance for Credit Losses
 
The allowance for credit losses is a reserve established through a provision for credit losses charged to expense, which represents management’s best estimate of lifetime expected losses based on reasonable and supportable forecasts, quantitative factors, and other qualitative considerations. The allowance, in the judgment of management, is necessary to reserve for expected credit losses and risks inherent in the loan portfolio. Our allowance for credit loss methodology includes reserve factors calculated to estimate current expected credit losses to amortized cost balances over the remaining contractual life of the portfolio, adjusted for prepayments, in accordance with Accounting Standard Codification (“ASC”) Topic 326-20, Financial Instruments - Credit Losses. Accordingly, the methodology is based on our reasonable and supportable economic forecasts, historical loss experience, and other qualitative adjustments. For further information see the section Allowance for Credit Losses below.

Our evaluation of the allowance for credit losses is inherently subjective as it requires material estimates. The actual amounts of credit losses realized in the near term could differ from the amounts estimated in arriving at the allowance for credit losses reported in the financial statements.

In the first quarter of 2023, we refined the estimation process by improving systems, models, processes, methodology, and assumptions used within the calculation. After multiple parallel runs with the former process, it was determined that the changes did not and are not expected to result in material differences of results.



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Acquisition Accounting, Loans

We account for our acquisitions under Accounting Standards Codification (“ASC”) Topic 805, Business Combinations, which requires the use of the acquisition method of accounting. All identifiable assets acquired, including loans, are recorded at fair value. The fair value for acquired loans at the time of acquisition is based on a variety of factors including discounted expected cash flows, adjusted for estimated prepayments and credit losses. In accordance with ASC 326, the fair value adjustment is recorded as premium or discount to the unpaid principal balance of each acquired loan. Loans that have been identified as having experienced a more-than-insignificant deterioration in credit quality since origination are purchased credit deteriorated (“PCD”) loans. The net premium or discount on PCD loans is adjusted by our allowance for credit losses recorded at the time of acquisition. The remaining net premium or discount is accreted or amortized into interest income over the remaining life of the loan using a constant yield method. The net premium or discount on loans that are not classified as PCD (“non-PCD”), that includes credit and non-credit components, is accreted or amortized into interest income over the remaining life of the loan using a constant yield method. We then record the necessary allowance for credit losses on the non-PCD loans through provision for credit losses expense.
Goodwill and Intangible Assets
 
Goodwill represents the excess of the cost of an acquisition over the fair value of the net assets acquired. Other intangible assets represent purchased assets that also lack physical substance but can be separately distinguished from goodwill because of contractual or other legal rights or because the asset is capable of being sold or exchanged either on its own or in combination with a related contract, asset or liability. We perform an annual goodwill impairment test, and more than annually if circumstances warrant, in accordance with ASC Topic 350, Intangibles – Goodwill and Other, as amended by ASU 2011-08 – Testing Goodwill for Impairment and ASU 2017-04 - Intangibles – Goodwill and Other. ASC Topic 350 requires that goodwill and intangible assets that have indefinite lives be reviewed for impairment annually or more frequently if certain conditions occur. Our assessment depends on several assumptions which are dependent on market and economic conditions. Impairment losses on recorded goodwill, if any, will be recorded as operating expenses.

To quantitatively test goodwill for impairment, a present value of discounted cash flows calculation is completed and relies on several assumptions that have a level of subjectivity and judgement. These assumptions are dependent on market and economic conditions. Key inputs to estimate terminal fair value of the Company include projected forecasts, noninterest expense savings and a pricing multiple based on a group of peer banks with similar characteristics. These inputs are discounted by the cost of equity, which includes assumptions involving our beta; equity risk, size and company premiums; and the 20-year treasury rate. Assumptions used in calculating the cost of equity are obtained from market and third-party data. Results are compared to book value and no impairment was indicated as of December 31, 2023. Judgement is inherent in assessing goodwill for impairment. The various assumptions used in assessing goodwill for impairment involve uncertainties that are beyond our control and could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected.

Stock-Based Compensation Plans
 
We have adopted various stock-based compensation plans. The plans provide for the grant of incentive stock options, nonqualified stock options, stock appreciation rights, restricted stock awards, restricted stock units, performance stock units, and stock awards. Pursuant to the plans, shares are reserved for future issuance by the Company upon exercise of stock options or awarding of restricted stock, restricted stock units, performance stock units or stock awards granted to directors, officers and other key employees.

Income Taxes
 
We are subject to the federal income tax laws of the United States, and the tax laws of the states and other jurisdictions where we conduct business. Due to the complexity of these laws, taxpayers and the taxing authorities may subject these laws to different interpretations. Management must make conclusions and estimates about the application of these innately intricate laws, related regulations, and case law. When preparing the Company’s income tax returns, management attempts to make reasonable interpretations of the tax laws. Taxing authorities have the ability to challenge management’s analysis of the tax law or any reinterpretation management makes in its ongoing assessment of facts and the developing case law. Management assesses the reasonableness of its effective tax rate quarterly based on its current estimate of net income and the applicable taxes expected for the full year. On a quarterly basis, management also reviews circumstances and developments in tax law affecting the reasonableness of deferred tax assets and liabilities and reserves for contingent tax liabilities.




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2023 Overview

Our net income available to common shareholders for the year ended December 31, 2023 was $175.1 million, or $1.38 diluted earnings per share, compared to $256.4 million, or $2.06 diluted earnings per share, for the same period in 2022. Included in 2023 results were $32.7 million of certain items, net of tax, that were primarily related to early retirement program costs, loss on sale of securities, a FDIC special assessment and branch right sizing initiatives. Included in 2022 results were $42.4 million of certain items, net of tax, that were primarily related to our acquisitions, Day 2 accounting provision in connection with acquisitions, gain on an insurance settlement related to a weather event, merger related costs and branch right sizing initiatives. Adjusting for these certain items, adjusted earnings for the year ended December 31, 2023 were $207.7 million, or $1.64 adjusted diluted earnings per share, compared to $298.8 million, or $2.40 adjusted diluted earnings per share, in 2022. See GAAP Reconciliation of Non-GAAP Financial Measures for additional discussion and reconciliations of non-GAAP measures.

Throughout 2023, significant turmoil within the financial services industry, which was fueled by the failure of certain regional banks that utilized specialized business models as well as continued inflationary pressures and recessionary fears, resulted in industry concerns around the level of uninsured, non-collateralized deposits, liquidity, capital and operations. Despite these challenges, which have seemed to abate slightly in the latter half of the year, we remain resolute in serving our customers’ financial needs while diligently focusing on maintaining strong asset quality, capital and liquidity positions, and on strategies to improve our financial performance and maximize the value of our shareholders’ investment in the current rate environment. We believe that our liquidity is solid and that our capital is strong:

Deposits were relatively stable over the year, which highlights the granularity of our deposit base, as well as the long-term relationships we have with many of our customers. Total deposits as of December 31, 2023 were $22.24 billion, compared to $22.55 billion as of December 31, 2022. Uninsured deposits (excluding collateralized deposits and intercompany deposits) as of December 31, 2023 were approximately $4.75 billion, or 21% of total deposits.

Capital levels were steady during the year, with all regulatory capital ratios remaining significantly above “well-capitalized” guidelines as of December 31, 2023 (see Table 18 in the Risk Based Capital section below). As of December 31, 2023, our ratio of common equity to total assets was 12.53%, the ratio of tangible common equity to tangible assets was 7.69% and our Tier 1 leverage ratio was 9.39%.

Key credit quality metrics as of December 31, 2023 also remained solid, with our nonperforming loan coverage ratio at 267% and our allowance for credit losses as a percent of total loans ratio was 1.34%.

Significant liquidity position with a loan to deposit ratio of 76% as of December 31, 2023, compared to 72% as of December 31, 2022. Additional liquidity sources available to us as of December 31, 2023 totaled $11.22 billion and our uninsured, non-collateralized deposit coverage ratio was 2.4x.

Simmons Bank was named to Forbes magazine’s 2023 list of “World’s Best Banks” for the fourth consecutive year and recognized by Forbes’ as one of “America’s Best Midsize Employers” for 2023. We continue to work to expand our suite of digital solutions to provide an enhanced customer experience to “bank when you want, where you want.”

During 2023, we completed our Better Bank Initiative, which focused on programs designed to enhance operational processes and increase capacity to capitalize on organic growth opportunities, and achieved success across multiple fronts. We completed our early retirement program and extensive progress was completed on other identified opportunities related to process improvements and streamlining or upgrading systems. As a result, we were able to achieve $18 million of annualized cost savings, compared to the original $15 million of annual cost savings we previously estimated.

Asset quality metrics remain strong and reflect our conservative credit culture, as well as our focus on maintaining disciplined pricing and conservative underwriting standards given the current economic environment. Total nonperforming loans as of December 31, 2023 were $84.5 million, as compared to $58.9 million at December 31, 2022. Non-performing assets as a percent of total assets were 0.33%, compared to 0.23% at December 31, 2023 and 2022, respectively.

Stockholders’ equity as of December 31, 2023 was $3.43 billion, book value per share was $27.37 and tangible book value per common share was $15.92. Our ratio of common stockholders’ equity to total assets was 12.5% and the ratio of tangible common stockholders’ equity to tangible assets was 7.7% at December 31, 2023. See GAAP Reconciliation of Non-GAAP Financial Measures for additional discussion and reconciliations of non-GAAP measures. We repurchased approximately 2.3 million shares of our common stock during 2023.

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Total loans were $16.85 billion at December 31, 2023, an increase of $703.5 million, or 4.4%, from the same time in 2022. The increase in total loans during the period primarily reflects diverse loan growth driven by increased activity throughout our geographic footprint. Our unfunded commitments decreased to $4.17 billion at December 31, 2023, as compared to $5.64 billion at December 31, 2022. While unfunded commitments are considered a key indicator of future loan growth, the rapid increase in interest rates, coupled with softer economic conditions, have resulted in lower activity in our commercial loan pipeline, which was $948.2 million as of December 31, 2023, compared to $1.12 billion at December 31, 2022.

In our discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operation in this Item 7, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations,” we provide certain financial information determined by methods other than in accordance with US GAAP. We believe the presentation of non-GAAP financial measures provides a meaningful basis for period-to-period and company-to-company comparisons, which we believe will assist investors and analysts in analyzing the core financial measures of the Company and predicting future performance. See the GAAP Reconciliation of Non-GAAP Measures section below for additional discussion and reconciliations of non-GAAP measures.

Simmons First National Corporation is an Arkansas-based financial holding company that, as of December 31, 2023, has approximately $27.35 billion in consolidated assets and, through its subsidiaries, conducts financial operations in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.

Net Interest Income

Net interest income, our principal source of earnings, is the difference between the interest income generated by earning assets and the total interest cost of the deposits and borrowings obtained to fund those assets. Factors that determine the level of net interest income include the volume of earning assets and interest bearing liabilities, yields earned and rates paid, the level of non-performing loans and the amount of noninterest bearing liabilities supporting earning assets. Net interest income is analyzed in the discussion and tables below on a fully taxable equivalent basis. The adjustment to convert certain income to a fully taxable equivalent basis consists of dividing tax-exempt income by one minus the combined federal and state income tax rate of 26.135%.
 
The FRB sets various benchmark interest rates which influence the general market rates of interest, including the deposit and loan rates offered by financial institutions. Between December 2015 and December 2018, the FRB had been gradually raising benchmark interest rates. The FRB target for the federal funds rate, which is the cost to banks of immediately available overnight funds, increased gradually from 0% - 0.50% in December 2015 to 2.25% - 2.50% over a three year period. The federal funds rate was flat until the FRB began to lower the rate in August 2019 and ultimately reduced it to 1.50% - 1.75% in October 2019. During March 2020, the Federal Open Market Committee (“FOMC”) of the FRB substantially reduced interest rates in response to the economic crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The federal funds rate was cut to a range of 0% - 0.25%, where it remained throughout 2021 and into early 2022. During March 2022, the FOMC began a series of rate increases in an effort to curb rising inflation. From early 2022 through 2023, the federal funds rate range was increased on eleven occasions and ended 2023 with a range set at 5.25% - 5.50%. To date in 2024, rates have been held steady by the FOMC.

Our loan portfolio is significantly affected by changes in the prime interest rate. The prime interest rate, which is the rate offered on loans to borrowers with strong credit, also increased from 3.25% to 5.50% during the years 2015 through 2018. The prime interest rate remained flat until it began to decrease in July 2019 and was eventually reduced to 4.75% in October 2019. Similarly to the reduction in the federal funds rate, the prime rate was cut to 3.25% in mid-March of 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and remained unchanged throughout 2021 and into early 2022. Paralleling the federal funds rate, multiple increases by the Federal Reserve during 2022 and 2023 increased the prime rate to 8.50% as of the end of 2023. Markets anticipate potential rate cuts by the Federal Reserve during 2024.

Our practice is to limit exposure to interest rate movements by maintaining a significant portion of earning assets and interest bearing liabilities in short-term repricing. In the last several years, on average, approximately 41% of our loan portfolio and approximately 89% of our time deposits have repriced in one year or less. Our current interest rate sensitivity shows that approximately 42% of our loans and 94% of our time deposits will reprice in the next year, largely contributing to our liability-sensitive position at December 31, 2023.

For the year ended December 31, 2023, net interest income on a fully taxable equivalent basis was $675.6 million, a decrease of $66.4 million, or 9.0%, over the same period in 2022. The decrease in net interest income was primarily the result of a $349.2 million increase in interest income, more than offset by a $415.6 million increase in interest expense.



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The increase in interest income primarily resulted from a $296.5 million increase in interest income on loans, coupled with an increase of $48.0 million in interest income on investment securities. Regarding the increase in interest income on loans during 2023, the increase in loan volume resulted in an increase of $117.6 million in interest income, while a 113 basis point increase in yield due to rising market rates resulted in a $178.9 million increase in interest income during the year ended December 31, 2023. The loan yield for 2023 was 5.96%, compared to 4.83% for 2022. The increase in our loan volume during 2023 was due to the Spirit acquisition in the second quarter of 2022, combined with solid organic loan growth over the comparative period. The increase in interest income on investment securities reflects an increase of $66.0 million due to yield increases over the period of 132 basis points and 9 basis points for our taxable and non-taxable investment security portfolios, respectively, which were a result of rising market interest rates. The increase in interest income on investment securities due to yield increases was mitigated by a $17.9 million decrease due to the decline in our investment portfolio average balances which decreased by $861.5 million or 10.5%, as our portfolio experienced pay downs and maturities over the period, which was reinvested into our loan portfolio. Also contributing to the decrease in the average portfolio balance was a targeted sale of $241.1 million of lower-yielding AFS securities late in the fourth quarter of 2023, the proceeds of which we used to pay off higher-rate wholesale fundings.

Included in interest income is the additional yield accretion recognized as a result of updated estimates of the cash flows of our loans acquired. Each quarter, we estimate the cash flows expected to be collected from the loans acquired, and adjustments may or may not be required. The cash flows estimate may increase or decrease based on payment histories and loss expectations of the loans. The resulting adjustment to interest income is spread on a level-yield basis over the remaining expected lives of the loans. For the years ended December 31, 2023, 2022 and 2021, interest income included $8.8 million, $23.9 million and $22.1 million, respectively, for the yield accretion recognized on loans acquired.

The $415.6 million increase in interest expense is mostly due to the increase in our deposit account rates over the period, combined with the additional deposit base from the Spirit acquisition and change in deposit mix as the market experiences a shift in consumer sentiment given the attractiveness of higher yielding time deposits in the current higher interest rate environment. Interest expense increased $323.4 million due to the increase in rate of 212 basis points on interest-bearing deposit accounts and increased $50.5 million due to the increase in deposit volume over the period. Additionally, interest expense increased $35.3 million due to the increase in rate of 302 basis points on other borrowings. We continually monitor and look for opportunities to fairly reprice our deposits while remaining competitive in this current challenging rate environment.

Our net interest margin on a fully tax equivalent basis was 2.78% for the year ended December 31, 2023, down 39 basis points from 2022. The decrease in the net interest margin was due to the rising deposit rate pressure and change in deposit mix previously discussed, mitigated by the overall increase in our earning assets average balances over the comparative periods which has improved interest income in the rising rate environment.

Over the course of 2024, we anticipate moderating pressure on our margin due to several factors. We saw moderate organic loan growth during 2023, but our loan pipeline experienced decreased volume throughout the year. We expect further modest organic loan growth during 2024, subject to macroeconomic uncertainties that may reduce or otherwise impact loan demand, with continued focus on maintaining prudent underwriting standards and pricing discipline given projects surrounding near term future economic growth. We sold $241.1 million of low yield AFS securities late in the fourth quarter of 2023, and used sale proceeds to pay off higher rate wholesale fundings and we will continue to evaluate opportunities to optimize our balance sheet based on changing market conditions. Further, we have $1.0 billion of fixed rate callable municipal securities held in the AFS portfolio under swap agreements, which involve the payment of fixed interest rates with a weighted average of 1.21% in exchange for variable interest rates based on federal funds rates that began in the third quarter of 2023. Additionally, while our most likely forecast embeds several rate cuts during 2024, there is still much uncertainty as to decisions that will be made by the FOMC and the risks present in the economy.



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Tables 1 and 2 reflect an analysis of net interest income on a fully taxable equivalent basis for the years ended December 31, 2023, 2022 and 2021, respectively, as well as changes in fully taxable equivalent net interest margin for the years 2023 versus 2022 and 2022 versus 2021. 

Table 1: Analysis of Net Interest Margin
(FTE = Fully Taxable Equivalent using an effective tax rate of 26.135%) 
 Years Ended December 31,
(In thousands)202320222021
Interest income$1,210,161 $861,735 $671,061 
FTE adjustment25,443 24,671 19,231 
Interest income - FTE1,235,604 886,406 690,292 
Interest expense560,035 144,419 79,529 
Net interest income - FTE$675,569 $741,987 $610,763 
Yield on earning assets - FTE5.09 %3.79 %3.27 %
Cost of interest bearing liabilities2.99 %0.84 %0.52 %
Net interest spread - FTE2.10 %2.95 %2.75 %
Net interest margin - FTE2.78 %3.17 %2.89 %

Table 2: Changes in Fully Taxable Equivalent Net Interest Margin 
(In thousands)2023 vs. 20222022 vs. 2021
Increase due to change in earning assets$93,320 $147,423 
Increase due to change in earning asset yields255,878 48,691 
Decrease due to change in interest bearing liabilities(48,716)(3,274)
Decrease due to change in interest rates paid on interest bearing liabilities(366,900)(61,616)
(Decrease) increase in net interest income$(66,418)$131,224 


Table 3 shows, for each major category of earning assets and interest bearing liabilities, the average (computed on a daily basis) amount outstanding, the interest earned or expensed on such amount and the average rate earned or expensed for each of the years in the three-year period ended December 31, 2023. The table also shows the average rate earned on all earning assets, the average rate expensed on all interest bearing liabilities, the net interest spread and the net interest margin for the same periods. The analysis is presented on a fully taxable equivalent basis. Nonaccrual loans were included in average loans for the purpose of calculating the rate earned on total loans. 

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Table 3: Average Balance Sheets and Net Interest Income Analysis
(FTE = Fully Taxable Equivalent using an effective tax rate of 26.135%)
 Years Ended December 31,
 202320222021
 AverageIncome/Yield/AverageIncome/Yield/AverageIncome/Yield/
(In thousands)BalanceExpenseRate (%)BalanceExpenseRate (%)BalanceExpenseRate (%)
ASSETS         
Earning assets:         
Interest bearing balances due from banks and federal funds sold
$320,261 $13,490 4.21 $793,836 $5,500 0.69 $2,376,421 $2,795 0.12 
Investment securities - taxable
4,698,742 143,178 3.05 5,462,427 94,437 1.73 4,512,564 58,976 1.31 
Investment securities - non-taxable
2,605,868 85,861 3.29 2,703,662 86,596 3.20 2,343,117 71,207 3.04 
Mortgage loans held for sale
8,064 557 6.91 16,609 720 4.33 55,204 1,565 2.83 
Other loans held for sale— — — 8,322 3,120 37.49 — — — 
Loans - including fees16,647,570 992,518 5.96 14,419,763 696,033 4.83 11,810,480 555,749 4.71 
Total interest earning assets
24,280,505 1,235,604 5.09 23,404,619 886,406 3.79 21,097,786 690,292 3.27 
Non-earning assets3,274,354 3,014,219 2,394,522 
Total assets$27,554,859 $26,418,838 $23,492,308 
LIABILITIES AND STOCKHOLDERS’ EQUITY     
Liabilities:         
Interest bearing liabilities:
         
Interest bearing transaction and savings deposits
$11,033,263 $238,982 2.17 $12,253,164 $63,033 0.51 $10,638,665 $19,568 0.18 
Time deposits6,038,640 233,937 3.87 3,094,747 36,016 1.16 2,804,851 21,604 0.77 
Total interest bearing deposits
17,071,903 472,919 2.77 15,347,911 99,049 0.65 13,443,516 41,172 0.31 
Federal funds purchased and securities sold under agreements to repurchase
105,802 1,150 1.09 200,744 941 0.47 247,448 579 0.23 
Other borrowings1,169,374 60,517 5.18 1,155,310 24,934 2.16 1,340,185 19,495 1.45 
Subordinated debt and debentures
366,066 25,449 6.95 394,870 19,495 4.94 383,182 18,283 4.77 
Total interest bearing liabilities
18,713,145 560,035 2.99 17,098,835 144,419 0.84 15,414,331 79,529 0.52 
Noninterest bearing liabilities:
Noninterest bearing deposits5,201,384 5,827,160 4,836,839 
Other liabilities281,018 233,179 169,140 
Total liabilities24,195,547 23,159,174 20,420,310 
Stockholders’ equity3,359,312 3,259,664 3,071,998 
Total liabilities and stockholders’ equity
$27,554,859 $26,418,838 $23,492,308 
Net interest spread2.10 2.95 2.75 
Net interest margin$675,569 2.78 $741,987 3.17 $610,763 2.89 



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Table 4 shows changes in interest income and interest expense resulting from changes in volume and changes in interest rates for the years 2023 versus 2022 and 2022 versus 2021. The changes in interest rate and volume have been allocated to changes in average volume and changes in average rates in proportion to the relationship of absolute dollar amounts of the changes in rates and volume.

Table 4: Volume/Rate Analysis
 Years Ended December 31,
 2023 vs. 20222022 vs. 2021
 Yield/  Yield/ 
(In thousands, on a fully taxable equivalent basis)VolumeRateTotalVolumeRateTotal
Increase (decrease) in:      
Interest income:      
Interest bearing balances due from banks and federal funds sold
$(5,033)$13,023 $7,990 $(2,952)$5,657 $2,705 
Investment securities - taxable(14,763)63,504 48,741 13,996 21,465 35,461 
Investment securities - non-taxable(3,182)2,447 (735)11,395 3,994 15,389 
Mortgage loans held for sale(472)309 (163)(1,424)579 (845)
Other loans held for sale(791)(2,329)(3,120)791 2,329 3,120 
Loans - including fees117,561 178,924 296,485 125,617 14,667 140,284 
Total93,320 255,878 349,198 147,423 48,691 196,114 
Interest expense:
Interest bearing transaction and savings accounts(6,881)182,830 175,949 3,386 40,079 43,465 
Time deposits57,399 140,522 197,921 2,425 11,987 14,412 
Federal funds purchased and securities sold under agreements to repurchase
(600)809 209 (126)488 362 
Other borrowings308 35,275 35,583 (2,978)8,417 5,439 
Subordinated notes and debentures(1,510)7,464 5,954 567 645 1,212 
Total48,716 366,900 415,616 3,274 61,616 64,890 
Increase (decrease) in net interest income$44,604 $(111,022)$(66,418)$144,149 $(12,925)$131,224 

Provision for Credit Losses

The provision for credit losses represents management’s determination of the amount necessary to be charged against the current period’s earnings in order to maintain the allowance for credit losses at a level considered appropriate in relation to the estimated lifetime risk inherent in the loan portfolio. The level of provision to the allowance is based on management’s judgment, with consideration given to the composition, maturity and other qualitative characteristics of the portfolio, assessment of current economic conditions, reasonable and supportable forecasts, past due and non-performing loans and historical net credit loss experience. It is management’s practice to review the allowance on a monthly basis and, after considering the factors previously noted, to determine the level of provision made to the allowance.

During 2023, our provision for credit loss expense was $42.0 million, as compared to an expense of $14.1 million during 2022 and a recapture of $32.7 million during 2021. The provision for credit loss expense during 2023 was impacted by several factors throughout the year, including a $47.4 million expense related to loans and reflected loan growth, as well as the impact of updated economic assumptions, which was partially offset by a $16.3 million release from the reserve for unfunded commitments primarily due to a decline in unfunded commitments resulting from customers utilizing lines of credit during the year. Additionally, provision expense related to AFS and HTM securities recorded during the twelve months ended December 31, 2023 was $9.1 million and $1.8 million, respectively, primarily due to decreases in the value of select corporate bonds in the investment securities portfolio.



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The provision for credit loss expense during 2022 was impacted by several factors throughout the year, including a $33.8 million Day 2 provision expense required for loans and unfunded commitments related to the Spirit acquisition, and an expense of $16.0 million related to the overall increase in unfunded commitments during the year, primarily made up of commercial construction loans, which receive a higher reserve allocation than other loans. These expenses were partially offset by a release of $16.0 million, which was driven by a reduction to certain industry specific qualitative factors for the restaurant, hospitality, student housing and office space industries due to the improvement from pandemic related stresses. Further recapture during 2022 was driven by the planned exit of several large oil and gas relationships during the year, along with our improved asset credit quality metrics and improved Moody’s economic modeling scenarios.

The recapture of credit losses during 2021 was driven by improved credit quality metrics, improved macroeconomic factors, and a maturing and amortizing loan portfolio. This recapture was partially offset by $22.7 million in provision for credit loss expense for estimated lifetime credit losses for non-purchase credit deteriorated loans acquired through the acquisitions of Landmark and Triumph during the fourth quarter.

Noninterest Income

Noninterest income is principally derived from recurring fee income, which includes service charges, wealth management fees and debit and credit card fees. Noninterest income also includes income on the sale of mortgage loans, income from the increase in cash surrender values of bank owned life insurance and gains (losses) from sales of securities.

Total noninterest income was $155.6 million in 2023, compared to $170.1 million in 2022 and $191.8 million in 2021. Noninterest income for 2023 decreased $14.5 million, or 8.5%, from 2022. Included in 2023 results was $20.6 million of a certain item related to the loss on the sale of securities during the period. Included in 2022 results were $4.0 million of certain items, primarily made up of a $4.1 million gain on an insurance settlement related to a weather event that caused severe damage to one of our branch locations. Adjusting for these certain items, adjusted noninterest income for the year ended December 31, 2023 increased $10.1 million, or 6.1%, from the prior year. See the GAAP Reconciliation of Non-GAAP Measures section for additional discussion and reconciliations of non-GAAP measures.
 
The majority of the decrease in noninterest income during 2023 was related to the loss on sale of securities as compared to 2022. During 2023, we sold approximately $247.9 million of investment securities resulting in a net loss of $20.6 million, while we realized a net loss of $278,000 related to the call of securities during 2022. The sale of securities during 2023 was primarily related to a strategic decision to sell low yield securities and use the proceeds to pay off higher rate wholesale fundings, including both brokered deposits and FHLB advances.

Mortgage lending income decreased $2.8 million during 2023 due to the rising interest rate environment and softening market conditions throughout the year, which continued to slow the demand for mortgage loans. We originated $428.0 million and $751.0 million in mortgage loans during 2023 and 2022, respectively.

These decreases in noninterest income during 2023 were partially offset by an increase of $4.0 million in service charges on deposit accounts primarily attributable to a full period including the customer base from the Spirit acquisition and additional transactions due to the changes in customer spending habits. Also included in 2023 results is a $4.0 million legal reserve recapture associated with litigation.



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Table 5 shows noninterest income for the years ended December 31, 2023, 2022 and 2021, respectively, as well as changes in 2023 from 2022 and in 2022 from 2021.
 
Table 5: Noninterest Income 
 Years Ended December 31,2023
Change from
2022
Change from
(Dollars in thousands)20232022202120222021
Service charges on deposit accounts$50,530 $46,527 $43,231 $4,003 8.6 %$3,296 7.6 %
Debit and credit card fees31,472 31,203 28,245 269 0.9 2,958 10.5 
Wealth management fees30,203 31,895 31,172 (1,692)(5.3)723 2.3 
Mortgage lending income7,733 10,522 21,798 (2,789)(26.5)(11,276)(51.7)
Bank owned life insurance income11,717 11,146 8,902 571 5.1 2,244 25.2 
Other service charges and fees9,122 7,616 7,696 1,506 19.8 (80)(1.0)
Gain (loss) on sale of securities, net(20,609)(278)15,498 (20,331)*(15,776)*
Gain on sale of branches— — 5,316 — —