Press Release

Bank Shareholder Return & Strategy Ranking Released

NASHVILLE, TENN, December 15, 2020Bank Director, the leading information resource for directors and officers of financial institutions nationwide, released its 2021 RankingBanking study, sponsored by Crowe LLP. This year’s study identifies the industry’s “performance powerhouses,” identifying the strategic strengths of banks that have built enviable value for shareholders.

Bank Director’s 2021 RankingBanking study examines these banks across 10 categories, developing category-specific algorithms that blend quantitative data and case studies. More than 150 data points factored into the analysis, with the data spanning a five-year time period, from December 2014 to December 2019 – a date selected to avoid the muddiness of the pandemic environment.

“The categories are all components of a well-rounded bank,” says Kara Baldwin, a partner at Crowe. “Through time, certain metrics become in vogue, but performance ultimately boils down to producing consistently strong earnings for your shareholders on a long-term basis.”

Data points were ranked within each category, with the lower score indicating the better performance. Bank Director then averaged the category scores to determine the overall winner. Total shareholder return was used to identify the top 20 high-performing banks but didn’t factor further into the ranking.

Bank OZK came out on top in the ranking overall. It didn’t win any categories outright, but performed exceptionally well throughout the study, landing in the top 10 in every category. It scored in the top five for creating value, efficiency, risk, lending, technology and growth, as well as its ranking as an employer and the strength of its board. Bank OZK generated the highest 20-year total shareholder return, at 3,142%

“The banks we examined all exhibit strong, long-term performance, but the study includes institutions of varying business models and strengths, sizes and geographies,” says Emily McCormick, vice president of research at Bank Director. “Some are rural, some skew urban, and some operate national platforms. What all these banks have in common is a track record for successfully managing their institutions through economic cycles.”

2021 RankingBanking Categories and Winners:

Overall Winner
Bank OZK

Best Bank for Creating Value
First Financial Bankshares

Best Revenue Strategy
Meta Financial Group

Best Retail Strategy
Community Bank System

Best Lending Strategy
Eagle Bancorp Montana

Best Credit Risk Strategy
Auburn National Bancorp.

Best Growth Strategy
Southern Missouri Bancorp

Most Efficient Bank
Hingham Institution for Savings

Best Technology Strategy
WSFS Financial Corp.

Best Employer
Independent Bank Corp.

Best Board
WSFS Financial Corp.

The full results of Bank Director’s 2021 RankingBanking study are available on

About Bank Director

Since 1991, Bank Director has served as a leading information resource for the directors and officers of financial institutions. Through Bank Director magazine, executive-level research, annual conferences and its website,, Bank Director reaches the leaders of the institutions that comprise America’s banking industry. Bank Director is headquartered in Brentwood, Tennessee. For more information, please visit

About Crowe LLP

Crowe LLP is a public accounting, consulting and technology firm with offices around the world. Crowe uses its deep industry expertise to provide audit services to public and private entities. The firm and its subsidiaries also help clients make smart decisions that lead to lasting value with its tax, advisory and consulting services. Crowe is recognized by many organizations as one of the best places to work in the U.S. As an independent member of Crowe Global, one of the largest global accounting networks in the world, Crowe serves clients worldwide. The network consists of more than 200 independent accounting and advisory services firms in more than 130 countries around the world.

The firm has more than 50 years’ experience serving financial services companies. Their industry-focused team of more than 800 professionals works with more than 1,800 financial services companies of all sizes. For more information, please visit


Contact: Deahna Welcher, director of marketing, [email protected], (615) 777-8472


Emily McCormick

Vice President of Editorial & Research

Emily McCormick is Vice President of Editorial & Research for Bank Director. Emily oversees research projects, from in-depth reports to Bank Director’s annual surveys on M&A, risk, compensation, governance and technology. She also manages content for the Bank Services Program. In addition to regularly speaking and moderating discussions at Bank Director’s in-person and virtual events, Emily regularly writes and edits for Bank Director magazine and She started her career in the circulation department at the Knoxville News-Sentinel, and graduated summa cum laude from The University of Tennessee with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and International Business.