CEO Stories: Wealth-Building Isn’t Just for the Wealthy

Darrin Williams
CEO of Southern Bancorp, Inc.

Darrin Williams left a successful career in law and politics to be the CEO of Arkansas-based Southern Bancorp, a bank on a mission, a mission to create economic opportunity. Southern Bancorp primarily focuses on providing financial services and education in poor communities in rural and urban areas of the mid-South, where the message and benefits of capitalism are greatly needed. Listen to the podcast below to hear his story; it is an example of the positive impact of business on society.

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Early Ambition 
Darrin Williams never imagined he would end up in banking. While student body president at Little Rock Central High School, Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton named him to a school advisory board. A desire to serve others, inspired by his minister father and schoolteacher mother, led him to pursue a career in law. He ran the attorney general’s office and then went on to represent plaintiffs in securities litigation.

A Different Perspective on Banking
Teaching a financial skills class through his church opened Williams’ eyes to the importance of basic education about finance and money — and how else he could be of service. Though he initially turned down the CEO job at Southern Bank Corp, he came to realize that the job would allow him to have significant impact on financially underserved communities.

Running A Community Development Financial Institution
The CDFI Fund, created under President Bill Clinton, allows for the creation of financial institutions around the U.S. that are required to operate in communities with low to moderate incomes that are largely unserved by other financial institutions. Southern Bank Corp’s community-building activities run the gamut: maklng loans providing basic financial education courses, and offering services such as credit counseling and free income tax preparation.  Its goal is to grow and expand in those communities where capital is needed and allow capitalism to work for everyone.

About the Series: Featured stories from the intersection of the free market and entrepreneurial success. Here we speak with leading CEOs, academics, philanthropists and up and comers on their contributions and perspectives on the American economy.

About Ray Hoffman: Ray Hoffman, a veteran business journalist, is highly-regarded for his news and analysis features and insightful CEO interviews. Representing BusinessWeek on air for twenty-one years, Mr. Hoffman was the morning business news voice on the ABC Radio Networks from 1995 to 2006. Mr. Hoffman also represented The Wall Street Journal, on air, for eleven years. His daily WCBS CEO Radio feature was recognized by the New York Press Club as best radio business news report in both 2012 and 2015. In this podcast, Mr. Hoffman invites some of America’s most dynamic CEOs to share their stories as business builders and perspectives on free enterprise.