Well-known banker Jim Fincher will retire May 31 after more than 50 years in the financial industry.
Fincher, who celebrated a half-century in banking on May 3, will be honored at a drop-in reception from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday at Madame’s Main Attraction at 701 Main St., Van Buren.
“I really don’t have a plan for retirement yet,” Fincher said on his 50th anniversary. “I will continue to play golf, work out and work in the yard and plan to do some traveling.”
But first, he said, “I will make sure my wife gets up every day and goes to work.”
Beth Fincher is the middle school principal for the Greenwood School District and plans to work another four or five years.
Jimmy (Jim) Fincher was born in September 1945, graduated in 1963 from high school in Stephens, Ark., and received a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a minor in economics from Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia.
Fincher’s father Arl was an oil field worker and his mother Ruth provided for their four children.
His first year out of college, Fincher worked for Ouachita Baptist University before taking a job with Stephens Community Bank to begin his 50-year career in banking.
“I began my career in banking on May 8, 1968, making $425 per month, working from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.,” Fincher recalled. “I thought the hours be would perfect to work, then I could work a second job.”
His first assignment was running a proof machine and bookkeeping. He then became a teller and worked his way to be a lender.
“Banking in those days was much different than banking today,” Fincher said. “Banks did not have computers, electric calculators and they manually calculated interest. Interest rates averaged 10 percent. A large loan would have been around $25,000.”
He remembers when a bank would order money from a correspondent bank and it would be delivered to the U.S. Post Office where it would be picked up.
“One of ways banks would attract customers to open accounts was to offer account giveaways, one of them being a wig give-a-way,” Fincher said. “That sounds humorous now, but it was a big hit. The ladies loved it, but the salons not so much.”
In 1970, the bank president suggested Fincher attend banking school at LSU. After graduating, he was offered a position as management trainee at Worthen Bank in Little Rock. During that time, he worked in loan collections, the credit department, commercial collections and as an analyst and lender.
Fincher was offered a position as vice president of commercial lending and correspondent banking in Texarkana at State First National Bank in 1975. SFNB is where he met his late wife Chloe and married to her.
The Finchers moved to Benton in 1980 where their daughter Faith was born.
Faith Fincher, always the devoted daughter, credits her parents for providing her with a wonderful life full of love and generosity.
“I admire my father greatly and value his solid work ethic,” Faith said. “Not only has he always been the rock of his family, a committed employee, and a solid business professional, he has always done it with a smile on his face and a joyful spirit.”
During the family’s time in Benton, Fincher was executive vice president of Union Bank before moving back to Little Rock to work at Pulaski Bank and Trust as senior vice president of lending.
First State Bank of Crossett called Fincher in 1986 and offered him a position as president and CEO. The family moved to the Delta, dealing mostly with timber lending.
“In those days you would share a cigar or a cigarette with your customer in your office while discussing their lending needs,” Fincher remembered. “A little different from now with the Clean Air Act.”
In 1994, the Finchers moved to Alma when Jim took the position as president and CEO of Commercial Bank of Alma. The family established their roots in Alma as Airedales and began attending church regularly at Alma First Baptist Church.
Life was good until Jim suffered a heart attack in August of 1998.
“After surgery, I recovered quickly with determination,” Fincher said. “I was too busy with Faith, Chloe and work to have time for this. Things returned to normal until the devastating news that Chloe had cancer.”
She fought the cancer until the very end with Jim being the most loving husband a man could be, Faith being a strong caring daughter, and friends, such as Pat Satterfield, who were incredibly supportive. Chloe passed away Nov. 25, 2002.
Faith said she has always remained grateful that her father quickly stepped into a dual role of both mother and father upon the passing of her mother.
“I recognize, as do many others, that he is the most loving and caring man I have ever met,” Faith said.
In 2003, Jim Fincher was ready for a new challenge and became the president and CEO at First Community Bank of Crawford County. He stayed active in this community and was very influential on many of his employees.
“Those who have ever worked for him or with him would say he is an honest man, who has empathy,” said Alisa Kelly, controller and vice president of Chambers Bank. “He would get to know his employees, take a personal interest in them, he wouldn’t pry, but try to appreciate them and invest in them.”
She said Fincher guided with encouragement.
“I am very grateful for the 15 years I was able to work with him,” Kelly said. “I can think of several of his employees that still live in this community that are in successful management positions because of the time he invested in them, I being one of them.”
In 2012, Fincher decided he was ready to step down from executive management.
He went to work at Chambers Bank in Fort Smith as senior vice president. On May 8, Fincher celebrated his 50th anniversary in banking.
During the past 50 years, Fincher said banking has changed tremendously, going from handwriting all transactions, loan documents and general ledgers to becoming a computer-based industry automated at the customer’s fingertips.
“We use to base everything on character, credit and collateral,” he said. “Today it is all about capacity. Large brick and mortar is no longer a necessity for the banking industry. The focus is now is on investing in technology.”
Jim and Beth Fincher reside in Alma. Together they have five children and five grandchildren.
“I plan to continue to be active in my church, enjoy retirement to its fullest watching the Hogs and the Airedales, being an active Papaw and continuing to mentor young adults.”