Today, on Veteran’s Day, we’re thinking of the many Utah seniors who are also veterans. Up to $1 million a day is stolen from Utah seniors (see here). Recently Bank of American Fork received the 2014 American Bankers Association Community Commitment Award for Protecting Older Americans, a national award with only one recipient. Bank of American Fork has a unique passion and five-part initiative designed to help support caregivers and protect seniors from fraud. Behind the initiative are employees that are passionate about helping the seniors and caregivers in the communities where they live and work.
Tracey Larson is one of those employees. Larson, a special projects manager at Bank of American Fork, is the head of the bank’s age-friendly initiative. Her passion stems from being a daughter of senior parents.
“There was a shift for me that caused me to become really passionate about supporting age-friendly banking,” said Larson. “It was when I started to hear the stories. I remember my first meeting on a committee that included hearing first-hand stories of elder and vulnerable adult abuse. I cried.”
Besides her passion for making banking and finance safe for seniors and their caregivers, Larson has the know-how and detailed eye that make it natural for her to move the initiative from words on paper to action in the community.
For example, Bank of American Fork has an age-friendly champion at each branch who receives extra training on how to spot fraud or a stressed caregiver. Although all Bank of American Fork employees are trained to look for and report suspected fraud, the training for age-friendly champions is more comprehensive and goes far beyond what regulators require.
Because of employees like Tracey Larson, Bank of American Fork is making strides in helping to prevent elder financial abuse. Because of the bank’s innovations like account tools to help protect seniors and education about how to protect loved ones, awareness of this widespread problem is growing. To move prevention beyond Bank of American Fork customers, the bank is collaborating with other organizations and financial institutions to make offerings like this nationwide.
If you are a senior who needs, or may soon need, help with your finances or a caregiver of a loved one, you are not alone. Visit blog.bankaf.com/seniors. Ask your banker about what resources are available to you.
Project Teddy Bear in its 15th year
The little boy was so traumatized by neglect and abuse that he spoke to his therapist from inside a cardboard box for two years. Inside, he clung to his trusted teddy bear—the only one he felt comfortable with enough to have inside with him. This child—and thousands of others like him—has benefitted from your donations to Bank of American Fork’s Project Teddy Bear. Each holiday season, we collect new and clean, gently used stuffed animals to give to children at family support centers across Utah. Many of the children are victims of abuse, neglect, poverty or addiction. Some have been taken from their homes into state custody during the night; others have been moved from one foster home to another; yet others have experienced the violent loss of a loved one.
When these children, and perhaps all children, can hug and hold their own teddy bear, it brings comfort and a feeling of safety.
You can help. Project Teddy Bear is an opportunity for you to join with the communities in Davis, Salt Lake and Utah counties, and donate teddy bears and other stuffed animals. Starting this month, all Bank of American Fork branches will be accepting donations of new or clean and gently used stuffed animals through December 16.
Looking for the perfect gift for employees, those hard-to-please relatives and friends?
We have the solution: a VISA® Gift card. Bank of American Fork’s VISA® Gift cards allow recipients to decide how they want to spend their money, saving you the hassle of shopping for all the people on your list. They’re the perfect gift for any occasion, including those coming up—holidays and end-of-the-year employee rewards. To purchase a gift card or to find out more about the fees that apply when you purchase a gift card, please visit our website or your nearest branch.
VISA® and the name Visa are federally registered trademarks of Visa.
Sense of community still a cornerstone in keeping customers safe
Amid a string of headlines revealing security breaches among high-profile retailers, banks across the country are working to ensure that their customers’ private information remains private. But with the impersonal approach offered by national banks, some customers are finding that they feel more uncertain than ever about the security of their finances. Big banks sometimes struggle in connecting with their customers as individuals with unique needs. A bank headquartered on the east coast may lack the presence to personally attend to Rocky Mountain residents and their concerns.
As a local institution that has grown alongside the Utah Valley communities over the last century, Bank of American Fork understands the threats local customers face. What’s more, the bank employs new technology to enhance the customer experience, not replace it. Bank of American Fork’s strategy in combating fraud begins with a comprehensive awareness of potential threats, both online and off, while working closely with customers to offer them the tools and knowledge necessary to secure their finances.
Data compromises in recent months involving large retailers such as Target, Apple and Home Depot have only heightened people’s awareness of the real-world dangers threatening the safety of their savings. Bank of American Fork’s layered security has minimized the risk to their customers, and the bank is proactive in identifying those who may be affected while working with them to take preventative measures such as issuing new cards and flagging suspect spending to ensure that their finances are still safe.
“We take the threat of identity theft very seriously because, as a local bank, these are our friends and family we’re working with,” said Blaine Crosby, Bank of American Fork’s chief information officer. “When a community entrusts us with their finances, we want them to rest easy knowing their money is secure.”
Bank of American Fork’s layered security extends to all its financial services. This includes installing a number of safeguards at each point of transaction, including ATMs. For example, at the start of 2014, 95 percent of ATMs across the nation were running on the Windows XP operating system. Microsoft announced that they were discontinuing support for Windows XP, potentially opening a window for exploits by hackers. Bank of American Fork was already in the process of transitioning its ATMs to Windows 7, and quickly had each of its machines up to date. This ensured access to the latest updates and security patches and preempted the risks faced by other machines that were still running on outdated operating systems. The ATMs routinely issue security alerts to report skimmers, hackers, or suspect transactions, and in the event that security reports show evidence of vulnerability, the ATMs can immediately be shut down remotely.
Additionally, Bank of American Fork is combating online fraud by offering Rapport™, a security solution for home computers provided through the financial security experts at Trusteer, Inc. Rapport™ is a downloadable set of tools that works alongside existing firewalls and antivirus programs to help protect against phishing scams and malware. The service, which is provided at no cost to customers through Bank of American Fork, works by monitoring for potential threats as customers handle their billing and transactions during online banking, and can be configured to help protect against threats on other websites that can serve as an entry point for malicious behavior.
The ways in which Trusteer’s Rapport™ software helps protect customers include:
• Warning users if they visit a fake website purporting to belong to Bank of American Fork,
• Preventing the collection of banking credentials and other sensitive information, and
• Protecting web browser communication to prevent malware from tampering with bank transactions.
The free software is simple to install, entirely transparent and does not interfere with normal computer use. While use of this security software is not compulsory for Bank of American Fork customers, it is highly recommended.
Bank of American Fork is highly dedicated to security. Attention to technological safeguards provides its customers with protection while still allowing for the personal touch of a local establishment with a strong sense of community. Despite the ongoing threats facing a rapidly changing financial environment, Bank of American Fork, with the cooperation of its customers, is committed to providing them a high level of financial security, and with it, peace of mind.
ICBA spreads the word about Project Teddy Bear in your community
Sandy Dubois started Project Teddy Bear 15 years ago as a way for employees at Bank of American Fork to give back to their communities instead of giving gifts to each other during the holidays. Dubois is passionate about helping children, and she wanted the project to be about the at-risk children in Utah communities. That first year, customers, community members and bank employees donated a couple of hundred teddy bears to be taken to a family care center to be used in play therapy or for children taken from their homes and from everything they knew. Last year, during the 14th Annual Project Teddy Bear, you brought in more than 20,000 bears that served the children in care centers across Utah.
Every year Dubois and others hope the care centers will call and say there’s no need for the bears—that all of Utah’s children are being taken care of and none are victims of abuse or neglect. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, so Bank of American Fork seeks the community’s help in increasing the number of donations every year.
Now, Project Teddy Bear’s national recognition from Independent Community Bankers of America’s 2014 National Community Bank Service Award will help spread the word and get more people involved in helping Utah’s children and children across the nation. Independent Banker magazine highlighted the project in its September issue and Dubois and Bank of American Fork invite any other bank or business to copy the model.
“The reason this recognition is important to us is because it helps the community,” said Richard Beard, president and CEO of Bank of American Fork. “Our local communities have helped more than 73,000 children simply by getting involved. Some people drop off one bear when they come in to make a deposit and we have others, like girl-scout troops, who take on the project and bring in hundreds of bears. Each donation matters, because each of those bears represents an at-risk child here in Utah.”
Project Teddy Bear will start its 15th annual collection beginning November 20. Drop off a bear at any of our 14 branch locations. We know you care about the children in your communities, so talk to us at www.facebook.com/BankAF or @bankaf to find out how you can be involved.
Guest post by Richard H. Tyson, CEObuilder
If you are a CEO or business owner, you are probably familiar with the phrase, “It’s lonely at the top.” While there is some truth to that notion, I believe it is often lonelier than it needs to be, especially in regard to the financial affairs of the business.
The problem is that most owners and CEOs hold their financial information very close to the vest. They—and their accounting personnel—share it with only a few top company officers, whom they hold accountable for results. While this serves to keep the numbers confidential, it fails on two important accounts.
First, it reinforces the misperception of many employees that business owners are awash in wealth. This reflects the tendency to view them based on the revenue their companies generate rather than their profitability. Even profitability generally doesn’t give the true picture, since it takes real cash to pay the bills—and net profits only reflect cash when accounting is done on a “cash basis.” Accrual accounting often shows a profit even when there is inadequate cash to cover obligations. When this happens, business owners don’t feel affluent; they feel stressed out as they scramble for sources of cash!
The second problem with owners and executives keeping all financial data confidential is that frontline operating folks are kept in the dark regarding the essential information they need to succeed. For these frontliners, this is like driving a car without a dashboard; they are blind as to how fast they are going, how much fuel is being consumed, and whether they are likely to arrive at their destination safely and on time.
It makes sense, then, to share key performance indicators with those who do the work that creates desired outcomes. The question, of course, is what exactly to share with them. The answer requires a bit of analysis, but generally isn’t too tough. In any business, you need to understand both leading and lagging performance indicators. Lagging indicators are things like profitability or cash flow. They are the results of leading indicators like sales, cost control, or how fast you collect receivables.
Real financial literacy, whether at the executive level—or on the frontline is a function of understanding both leading and lagging indicators. Even more important, it is the recognition of all employees of how to positively impact the leading indicators, so that lagging indicators ultimately deliver a message of success. What this amounts to is a general prescription for open book management, a process whereby every employee uses company financial data to help create the financial outcomes desired in their business.
The costs of doing this, while generally not exorbitant, are nonetheless an important consideration. The first and most critical cost is your willingness to share company data and the level of your trust in your team. Are you willing to share the good, bad, and ugly data that defines your business—and do you trust your people to use it for the benefit of the enterprise and not divulge it outside the company? These questions must be answered in the affirmative if you are to move forward with open book management. To answer them honestly often requires considerable discussion among managerial and frontline employees.
The second major cost is that of deciding where to focus—and educating each employee to understand key indicators and their relationship to each other. It is not enough to share the data; every employee must understand why each indicator is important, what drives it, and how they can personally impact it. This requires training time as you initiate open book management—and consistent sustaining efforts by company leaders thereafter.
The third and final major cost is deciding on how and when to publish or present dashboard data. It should be presented in a manner that is easily understood and appreciated by all employees—and must be regularly updated and posted on a timely basis. Presentation needn’t be high-tech, but it must communicate essential information that can be acted upon!
Done right, open book management can be an incredible tool in making it “less lonely at the top.” In many companies, it has been an essential element in bringing about success. Indeed, a recent study by the Denison Consulting Group revealed that companies that use open book management consistently rank in the top 10% of all companies surveyed. Open book management won’t eliminate the ultimate responsibility of leadership, but done right, it can definitely serve to distribute the load!
Richard Tyson is the founder, principal owner and president of CEObuilder, which provides forums for consulting and coaching to executives in small businesses. For 22 years, CEObuilder has successfully brought about an outstanding financial return for CEO and executive clients through providing leading-edge content in the areas of strategizing, team-building, problem-solving and managing for results, as well as the use of proprietary learning and coaching models.
Recently, a customer came into one of our branches to deposit money from a very small, retail business. One of the $50 bills was counterfeit and we quickly realized that the counterfeiter took advantage of the fact that the receiving end of the bill was a young, inexperienced teenager, working his first summer job.
Another way a counterfeiter might scam people is with a stack of mixed bills for a KSL or Craigslist sale. A counterfeiter might buy your item from a re-sale site like KSL, and hand you a stack of $20 bills. Knowing you’ll likely notice if they’re all counterfeit, the counterfeiter will mix in fake bills in the middle, which you might skim by when you’re counting the money.
How can you avoid being scammed by counterfeit bills? Below are a few tips to help you.
Hold each bill up to the light. You should be able to see fibers, or threads, in the bills. Make sure you hold each one up, since some may be real and some may be counterfeit. You might feel silly at first, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!
What does the bill feel like? When you have a stack of bills, feel each one. Do any feel different than the others? Checking what the money feels like is one of the easiest ways to spot a counterfeit bill.
Think like a counterfeiter. Counterfeiters know better than to try and pass off fake bills at a bank. Counterfeiters typically try to launder counterfeit bills through fast-food restaurants, mall shops or other places where inexperienced teenagers won’t detect fake bills. If you’re a business owner, make sure all of your employees are trained on detecting counterfeit bills. Sometimes it helps to make sure they’ve seen and handled bills of different denominations. If you’re selling something on KSL or Craigslist or similar, make sure you’re wary of counterfeit bills.
Ask your banker. If you suspect something might be counterfeit, bring it to your banker’s attention. They likely have machines that help to detect fake bills and can check for you. Don’t try and hide it in a stack of bills.
Know your money. Visit the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing and check out the different security features on each of the old and new bills. The more familiar you are with these, the more difficult it will be for a counterfeiter to fool you.
Check out other resources. The Secret Service provides background information about currency security you might be interested in checking out.
As always, be wary and don’t be afraid to question a bill you receive. If you have questions, come talk to a banker in any of our 14 branches or call us at 800-815-BANK.
Guest post by Ken Burnett, VP/ Director of Training and Business Development, Bank of American Fork
This series is written from experience and is part of Bank of American Fork’s training program. The program embraces the philosophy that training is a skill-based job, and managers need to learn specific skills to be successful.
The purpose of this article is to teach you how to use job aids and references during training. Start by considering an important question. Am I going to train to memory or to a job aid or reference? Or am I going to train to both? You’ll end up wasting time in the classroom if you train an employee to do a complex task that doesn’t happen frequently or is difficult without a job aid or reference. However, if the task is frequent enough and not difficult, the repetition of the task will move the performance of the task into long-term memory. If that’s the case, you’ll use classroom time to begin the process of setting the task to memory. Setting the task to memory requires repetition.
Back to tasks that require use of a job aid or reference. As a side note, job aids are instructions for how to perform a task, to be used while performing the task. A reference is listed data needed to perform a part of a task.
For example, a job aid would be a how-to document for entering a plane reservation including the steps to enter the plane reservation, and the reference would be the list of country codes. Both are valuable, but they are not the same thing. Top performers may not need the job aid because they are familiar with the task, but they likely still need the reference.
After a job aid is developed, it is easy to simply attach it to a memo because the stimulus is clear (the employee knows when and where to perform the task), and the employee can complete the steps without practice or direction. Job aids without instruction can work fine if learners are already comfortable with the task, the task is not complex or the task happens frequently or isn’t critical. However it doesn’t work if the circumstances noted above change.
Unfortunately employees are not usually trained on how to use job aids in situations where a task is new or complex. Without training centered on the job aid, employees often ignore the job aid, despite managers’ expectations that employees will be able to complete the task more easily if they follow the job aid. Job aids are tossed because they often appear to be too complex, perhaps even more complex than the job, itself. Let’s continue to talk about how to make this process work more effectively.
The following is a simple design process to help the training and the job aid complement each other. As you design the training, start with “What’s in it for the learner?” Next provide an overview of the process and expected performance. Then, you’re ready to get started training on the task itself. Most job aids should start with some sort of context. For example, answer, “Why am I doing this?” and “What does this accomplish?”
The job aid should conclude by describing a successful result. The advantage of doing the first of a series of job aids in a classroom is for learners to be able to ask questions. The ensuing dialogue helps the learning by allowing students to learn from each other
The best training approach will be to use the job aid with a simulation of the live environment. There are memory chips in the finger tips. If the learner tries a task using the job aid that is close to how they will perform the task on the job, they will be comfortable performing the task on the job.
The sections of the job aid may be a step-action table or cookbook-type job aids depending on the need. The how-to sections should be step-by-step tables using action words as instruction (e.g., enter, list, complete, etc.). Each step should be a separate task. The step should start with an action, include a statement of where the performer is in the task and conclude with a statement about what’s next.
By practicing the task in a simulated environment, the associates gain confidence that they can perform the task using the job aid. You can then release similar job aids without training.
Job aids are critical to the performance of many tasks. Effectiveness is increased when you train with the job aid in the hands of the learner.
Ken also wrote a series for manager skills. What other business skills do you want to know more about? Tell us in the comments!
Ken Burnett is vice president/director of training and business development for Bank of American Fork. He is responsible for training more than 300 employees on a variety of topics, including coaching and feedback for dozens of senior managers within the organization.
Bank of American Fork is, once again, reaching out to its community by opening an account in behalf of the Westlake Marching Band to get students to the Pearl Harbor Memorial Day parade in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7. The bank will match up to $20,000 in donations made to the account, making a potential $40,000 contribution towards the student fees to participate in the parade.
Executives at Bank of American Fork felt this opportunity for the Westlake Marching Band to participate in the Pearl Harbor Memorial Day parade should not be missed and are calling on the community to help.
“The Westlake Marching Band has been chosen to participate in a historical event because of their exceptional talent and hard work,” said Richard Beard, president of Bank of American Fork. “To think that they would have to miss out on such an opportunity is unfortunate, and we couldn’t let that happen. At Bank of American Fork, we know it’s important to support the communities that support us.”
Though each of the 140 students has committed almost $1000, they are seeking sources for the additional funds. Bank of American Fork is asking community members to step up and donate so the bank can make the maximum $20,000 matching contribution.
Bank of American Fork is proud to sponsor its communities and proud to be a part of a community willing to help. Earlier this year, the community stepped up and raised funds for drug-sniffing canines for the American Fork Police Department, through a similar donation-matching program.
Donations can be made at any of the bank’s 14 branch locations through September 30. Donations are tax-deductible.
Guest post by Richard Gray
You’ve probably had your personal credit affect your ability to obtain credit—whether it helped or hindered—but have you spent much time considering your business credit score? You might know some principles for getting and keeping your personal credit score up and there are some principles that may also help your business. Businesses’ credit scores play a key role in securing financing. Do you know what your business’s credit score is? I’ve mentioned before some of the benefits to growing or starting your business now, and preparing for a loan by improving your credit score is a good start. Even if you don’t anticipate needing a loan for a few years, start now. It may take time to build credit.
If you’re one of the many business owners that recently chose Utah as a spot to start—since we’ve had some good attention about our business-friendly state—you probably haven’t had time to build up an adequate credit score. Or perhaps the recession hit your business hard, and you need to rebuild. Regardless, these are some ways to build credit so you’ll be ready when your business is ready to grow.
Analyze current credit reports. Request your business’s credit reports from various credit bureaus and pay attention to items that are poorly rated. Negative items may be due to mistakes, fraud, identity theft or outdated information. Work with credit bureaus to correct false information. If the negatives are accurate, be aware that they can stay on your credit report for up to seven years.
Scores are given by business credit bureaus, including Dun & Bradstreet, Business Credit USA, Experian Business and Equifax Business. Business credit scores range from 0-100 with 75 or higher considered an excellent rating. Scores are based on many factors, including whether or not bills are paid on time, the amount of available credit on bank lines of credit and credit cards, the length of time you’ve had a credit profile and the number of inquiries made on your credit profile.
Separate your business and personal scores. Sole proprietors or those in a partnership may have their personal credit information on their business credit report, and vice versa. Forming a corporation or LLC allows business and personal profiles to remain separate. If doing so doesn’t make sense for you, be sure to improve your personal credit score if necessary.
Pay off credit card balances. The percentage of people in the U.S. who carry a credit card balance is decreasing, which may be good for the long-term health of the economy and for those who have paid off balances. Experian states that decreasing the balance on your business credit cards can have an immediate impact on your business’s credit rating. If you must keep a balance, make sure it is less than 30 percent of your credit limit.
Increase capital and assets. Credit is determined using a complex algorithm, a key part of which is how much worth your business has compared to its debt. By building up your assets and capital, you weight the ratio in your favor.
Build credit before you need it. Begin building a business credit history by getting and using a business credit card. (Do not open too many credit cards, however, as this can decrease your score.) Once you’ve established a payment history, consider requesting an increase on your credit limit, even if you don’t need it. Once a higher limit is granted, don’t utilize it. Instead, keep a healthy credit-to-debt ratio that doesn’t push your balance too close to your credit limit.
Request credit-lending companies to report. Credit bureaus create business credit reports with information provided by creditors. The problem is that creditors are not required to send in such information. When a lender extends credit to your business, ask that they report your payment history to credit bureaus. The more vendors that report a positive credit history to the agencies, the higher your business credit rating will be.
Add credit references. One way to do this is to set up a profile with a credit score company. For example, you can set up a profile with Dun & Bradstreet, for a fee. You can then add credit references, such as suppliers you’ve worked with, to support your business’s credit profile. Additionally, having a relationship with your lenders or creditors may make it easier for them to provide details about your track record with payments on loans, which brings me to my next tip.
Build relationships with your lenders. Get to know the employees—particularly the loan officers and managers—at your financial institution. Community banks are an especially good place to get to know your banker, as their lenders often have a say in loan decisions made by local approval boards.
Richard Gray is senior vice president of SBA lending at Bank of American Fork, Utah’s community bank leader, an Equal Housing Lender and Member FDIC. Richard also manages the bank’s Murray branch, and he has assisted local small businesses in obtaining SBA funding for more than 25 years. He served on the board of directors for nonprofit Kostopolus Dream Foundation and was the chairman for nonprofit Utah Microenterprise Loan Fund, Salt Lake City.