Guest post by Richard Gray
At the start of the year, I talked about steady growth as an answer to a stable economy after the Great Recession. One of the ways we can contribute to steady growth is by investing in local businesses. When you’re considering a lender relationship to help you expand, here are some reasons to consider banking locally, just as you would consider investing in other local businesses.
You will support your local community. Local banks hold deposits from local citizens, then loan that money back out to consumers and small businesses in the area, helping spur job growth and revitalize communities. Locally-owned means profits stay in the community and are spent in the local economy.
Community banks also donate significant amounts to various local non-profit and community organizations and give back to local communities through volunteerism and monetary donations. They provide important financial education to the underserved. Like other types of local institutions, when the people working at financial institutions have their ear to the local ground, resources will go where those local communities need it most.
Local banks are accountable. They have to be. Often they’re dealing with their friends, neighbors and others they know in the community. This promotes responsible stewardship of the community’s wealth.
Local banks know local industry. Your banker can tell you what he or she has seen firsthand in the economy and relate it to local businesses like yours. Your local lender can tell you what has and has not worked for the hundreds of small businesses they’ve worked with over the years. You’ll get expertise from employees who are from the community, know the community and have been working at the bank long enough to know how to best meet the needs of the community. They know the market and have a vested interest in seeing the local economy succeed—after all, they live and work there, too.
You’ll find personalized financial services. At financial institutions that are smaller, with ties to community, there are fewer layers to get to the top, which means you have easier access to executives. Community banks have fewer clients per employee and less turnover. You may even get a real human being to answer your phone call. All of this results in improved customer service. Small businesses can especially benefit from this service by working with their community banker to create a package of products and services that exactly fits their needs at a cost that makes sense.
While some may feel wary that bankers are simply trying to make a sale, business owners should recognize that bankers are highly knowledgeable, but untapped, resources that are qualified to talk about small business matters. It is in their best interest to protect your assets and help your business thrive. If your business is healthy, theirs is, too.
Specifically, some of the information and free services your banker can provide you include:
• Financial counseling on how best to finance a business need or growth.
• Helping you structure your accounts to gain more than the $250,000 FDIC insurance.
• Introducing you to products like CDARS, which guarantees up to $50 million in FDIC insurance with little maintenance on your part.
• Informing you of investment vehicles to maximize your return.
• Advising on insurance products to protect your assets.
• Providing an overview of remote deposit products—including online products—that allow you to deposit checks from your workplace, increasing efficiency and saving you time and money.
• Someone just to bounce ideas off of—your community banker is local and is a generalist who sees and works with a number of different types of businesses and may have ideas to help you or know of resources you could use.
While most consumers use their bank only for deposits and loans, others recognize their bank’s experience and utilize it as a business partner. Do you?
Faster decisions. When loans are submitted for approval at community banks, they go through a local committee rather than being sent off to a faraway board for approval. Decisions are based more on the borrower’s total situation than simply a credit score. Local decision-making means faster turnaround by people who know your name.
Greater satisfaction. Banks with assets under $1 billion (most community banks) provide 46 percent of the industry’s small loans to farms and businesses, although they hold only 14 percent of industry assets. Despite the angst against banks that was especially rampant as reported by media during the Great Recession, there is one segment of the population that was still satisfied with their banks: small businesses, from a J.D. Power and Associates study that measured small business customer satisfaction with the overall banking experience by examining eight factors: product offerings; account manager; facility; account information; problem resolution; credit services; fees; and account activities. Another study cites that small business owners are twice as satisfied with their primary bank if it is a community bank versus a large bank (39% compared to only 15%).
Local lenders are the stewards of the financial resources of the communities they serve. Bankers have the unique opportunity of helping people realize their dreams by using the collective wealth of the community to finance those dreams, whether they are a new automobile, a home, starting a new business or expanding an existing one. Local banks can help fund your dreams as you help support the local economy.
Richard Gray is senior vice president of commercial lending and 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 serves on the board of directors for nonprofit Kostopolus Dream Foundation and was the chairman for nonprofit Utah Microenterprise Loan Fund, Salt Lake City.
Financial tips for navigating the change life cycles of your company
CEObuilder and Bank of American Fork invite you to join us on Wednesday, March 19, 2014 for a forum and presentation by CPA Robbie Chidester. His presentation will focus on working through the life cycles of business. You can also join the conversation on Twitter at #ceobuilder or LinkedIn.
From startup to exit, companies will go through several life cycles. Each cycle is different and presents its own unique set of financial challenges. To make the journey even more difficult, these life cycles do not always happen automatically nor are they always adjacent to one another. You may need to cross a chasm of uncertainty and change to get to the next life cycle. Or worse, you might be forced into an unwanted life cycle. Chidester will discuss critical financial strategies and tactics to help you recognize and prepare your company to “cross the chasm” and safely grow to the next level.
Despite all of the rhetoric, business failures are really only caused by one thing—running out of cash. Chidester will discuss how to design and build your company so that you generate increased cash flow.
Chidester has provided financial services to a vast array of clients, including successful companies in the technology, manufacturing, distribution, logistics and professional services. Robbie has provided financial management and advisory services to more than 25 emerging businesses.
This forum will be held at Bank of American Fork, Riverton Branch Conference Room, 2691 West 12600 South, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 19. Please RSVP by Monday, March 17 by contacting Heidi at Heidi.firstname.lastname@example.org or 801-642-3139.
Loan customers who don’t have a Bank of American Fork deposit relationship may now make online payments.
Are you a business owner? Have you ever panicked because you were out of town and forgot to make a loan payment before leaving? Or have you ever had a situation where you missed a few payments and received a collection call from Bank of American Fork? Maybe you felt like you were in a bind because you didn’t have a deposit relationship with the bank so you were unable to make a transfer from online banking.
Now you can set up a one-time or recurring payment for Bank of American Fork loan payments, even if you haven’t set up a deposit account at the bank yet.
1. Access the bank’s website at www.bankaf.com.
2. Scroll down to the bottom of the page under Need Help? and click on Online Loan Payments.
3. To make a one-time payment, click on Quick Pay.
4. To set up a recurring payment, click on New User? and follow the directions to set up a pay schedule.
5. Once the payment is submitted, it will be one business day before posting.
It’s that easy! Remember, we also have a variety of deposit products and online services available. Learn more online.
For more information or help, call 801-815-BANK or find the “Live Chat” service at www.bankaf.com.
You have probably heard the news that 95 percent of U.S. ATMs run on Windows® XP and starting April 8, Microsoft will no longer offer tech support and security updates for this operating system. The good news for Bank of American Fork customers is that Microsoft tech support and security updates have never been our first line of defense for keeping your money safe at ATMs. Bank of American Fork ATMs and accounts have many layers of security to help keep hackers and fraudsters out.
Our ATMs are currently on the Windows XP operating system. We are aware of the tech support deadline and have been working on a solution for several months. Each of our ATMs will be upgraded to Windows 7 this spring—some before and some after the April 8 tech support cut-off. Microsoft will still offer tech support and updates for security threats to Windows 7, a newer operating system than Windows XP.
Besides the layers of security we have in place (that we won’t detail here, to help keep our ATMs and your money safe), we also receive alerts when there are hackers or skimmers and we run reports each day that show abnormal ATM transactions—all independent of the Microsoft security.
As a customer, you still might be concerned about your financial safety. Here are a few tips we can offer:
• You can lower your ATM limit, or the amount that can be withdrawn from your account, by calling customer service at 801-815-BANK.
• You can sign up for smsGuardian™, a text alert service that will alert you to transactions being conducted using your Bank of American Fork VISA® check card via alerts to your mobile phone. Once enrolled, you will receive a text message each time your check card is used for: international or out-of-state check card transactions, purchase authorizations greater than $200, five or more transactions within a 24-hour period or card purchases where the card is not present. You can enroll by visiting www.bankaf.com >Products >Personal >Bank cards. On that page you will find a link to sign up for smsGuardian alerts.
• Always protect your PIN—don’t give it out to anyone and make sure you cover the keypad when entering it at stores or ATMs.
If you are ever unsure about an ATM—whether it appears tampered with or it seems like someone is watching you when you do a transaction—don’t use it and call us at 801-815-BANK.
Microsoft and Windows are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.
Guest post by Angie Morris, CPA, Hawkins Cloward and Simister
Charitable giving is an American tradition. We contribute to charity for a multitude of reasons. For example, to give back to society or to support a cause we feel strongly about. The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University found 88 percent of households in the U.S. give to charity. While there are numerous charitable organizations serving a variety of beneficial programs, the enterprise you feel strongly about may not be represented. Do not let that deter you, as you can still support your cause by establishing a nonprofit organization. Here are the steps you should take to create a nonprofit organization.
If you decide you want to create a nonprofit, your first step is to work with an attorney to create a nonprofit corporation. The attorney will verify that the organization name is available, prepare and file the articles of incorporation with the state, compose bylaws or governing documents and pay the filing fees with the state. Once you receive your articles, you are eligible to apply for tax-exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service. Tax-exempt recognition from the IRS allows your organization to be exempt from paying income tax on the net earnings of your organization. Exempt status will also grant donors a deduction for their contribution to your organization.
Remember, to be tax exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, an organization must be operated exclusively for exempt purposes and the earnings cannot unfairly benefit an individual. The IRS considers exempt purposes to be providing for charitable, religious, educational, scientific, or literary purposes, testing for public safety, fostering national or international amateur sports competition and preventing cruelty to children or animals. As you can see, charitable organizations include a broad range of activities that help the public.
It is important to remember that nonprofit organizations are regulated by state and federal governments. The regulation is in place to protect donors from fraud, and ensure that the nonprofits are serving the public. The IRS has granted you tax-exempt status and they want to follow the work your organization is performing. You will need to file an information return with the IRS annually. If you fail to file a return for three consecutive years, you will lose your tax-exempt status. It is a lot of work to get exempt status, so remember to file. Fundraising requires registration with the states. You should start with the state you are organized in and then any other states where you solicit funds. Registration typically requires an application and a fee paid to the state. States observe organizations soliciting funds over the internet; therefore, if you use the internet for fundraising, make sure you check the state registration requirements to avoid penalties. Come back next month for another article about setting up donor accounts.
After you have established your tax-exempt status, there are several things you will want to do to run your organization properly. The organization should be operated like a business and show measurable results. You need to have as much money coming in as you do going out. Budgeting your incoming cash and upcoming expenses will help you stay on target, allowing you to fulfill your mission. Make sure you keep good records and review them regularly. There are many reporting requirements for nonprofits. A good set of records makes the reporting accurate and easier to complete.
To reiterate, the steps you should take to create a nonprofit organization are:
• Establish a nonprofit corporation and file with your state.
• Apply for tax-exempt status with the IRS.
• Know and follow regulations such as fundraising registration, IRS filings, etc.
• Operate your organization like a business, allowing you to further your cause.
If you believe your cause could benefit by creating a nonprofit organization, talk an attorney today!
Angela A. Morris graduated from Brigham Young University. She is a member of the AICPA and the UACPA. She has served as the treasurer of the Utah Association of CPAs and president of the UACPA Southern Chapter. She is currently the vice chair for the Housing Authority of Utah County, the treasurer of the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce Women’s Business Network, and on the executive board for the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce. Angie loves spending time at Lake Powell and is a devoted St. Louis Cardinals fan.
You play an essential role in the health of your patients. Isn’t it time your financial institution did the same for you? Managing your business requires proper financing and Bank of American Fork may be able to help. Many medical professionals are concerned with how they will be impacted by the implementation of ICD-10 combined with the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.
Slower payment times while you work through the details of these new regulations could impact your cash flow. A line of credit from Bank of American Fork could help ease those cash-flow issues. Or maybe you need to purchase new equipment to update or expand your practice, but are concerned about depleting cash reserves. An SBA loan could make that purchase possible.
At Bank of American Fork, we design products with the financial health of your business in mind to help you avoid the traps or hidden fees that hinder your financial stability. We would like to meet with you to discuss how we can help you. Call us at 801-815-BANK, stop by one of our 14 locations or visit www.bankaf.com today. It’s just what the financial doctor ordered for your business!
Forget paper checks. Now you can accept online payments or donations directly from checking or savings accounts.
Are you a small business owner looking to provide your customers with the convenience of online payments? Bank of American Fork’s ExpressCollect is an online solution that allows businesses to accept online payments or donations directly from their customers’ bank accounts or credit cards. The service is ideal for organizations that do not have access to, or the need for, an online shopping cart but want to provide to their customers the convenience of online payment or donations.
ExpressCollect offers businesses a unique URL at which to accept customer payments and allows each business to customize its payment page with branding, including logos, color scheme and content. It does not require that you store sensitive transaction information on your network. Our professionals will walk you through the minimal amount of technical work required for setup.
It’s an affordable, effective solution that makes collecting payments easier and more convenient for business owners and managers. It may even help business owners and managers to improve cash flow because of timely deposits.
For more information, or to apply for our ExpressCollect service, visit any Bank of American Fork or contact us at 1-800-815-BANK.
The American Fork Police Department is raising money for two new police dogs. These highly-trained dogs help detect narcotics, locate suspects and missing persons, protect the community and guard the lives of officers. The police department has been raising funds since last fall to reach the needed amount of $30,000 for new dogs, training, and equipment. Bank of American Fork matched the first $11,000 donated by the community, and the police department now has approximately $23,900. Individual donations will now be crucial in raising the final $6,000. The police department has established an account here at Bank of American Fork where donations can be made. Contributors can also bring cash or checks to the American Fork police department.
Here is an awesome video from KSL news the other night of the dogs’ training, complete with bite suits: http://www.ksl.com/?sid=28779110.
The Daily Herald also covered the story, so read it here: http://www.heraldextra.com/news/local/k-retirement/article_baded9b8-52de-5e86-8db4-b1178d453faa.html.
The American Fork Police Department has used K-9 units for more than 15 years. For the last seven years, police service dogs Wolf and Duco, have worked side-by-side with Officers Russell Bishop and Ryan Archuleta to keep drugs off the streets, and deter and detect crime in neighborhoods.
At 63 (dog) years old, Duco and Wolf are beginning to suffer from arthritis and other age-related problems, and need to retire. Last fall, the department launched a campaign to raise the $30,000 needed to purchase, train and equip two new service dogs to carry on Duco and Wolf’s legacy.
“Wolf and Duco have been instrumental in protecting and serving the citizens of American Fork and Cedar Hills,” said American Fork Police Chief Lance Call. “Thanks to their efforts, officers have seized tens of thousands of dollars in drugs and paraphernalia, and have apprehended multiple suspects. The generosity of Bank of American Fork and many others will allow us to continue this very important work.”
“As the state’s leading community bank, strengthening the communities in which we operate is central to our mission,” said Richard Beard, president and CEO of Bank of American Fork. “It is an honor to be able to be part of a cause as worthy and meaningful as the K-9 program. Thanks to the efforts of the police department, local businesses and residents, we are close to our goal. As we enter the final stretch of this campaign, we call on those who haven’t yet had the opportunity to support this important program to pitch in, and close the gap. Together, we can all be part of making our community a safer place.”
Currently, there is a security flaw in the Apple operating system affecting iOS devices and Mac® computers. This may allow cyber spies and hackers to grab emails, financial information and other data from online Apple product users.
The good news is that there are three things you can do to help protect your financial information from this Apple security flaw right now:
1. Download the update on your iOS device. This is an update from Apple. You may have received an alert on your phone already, or you will most likely find it in “Settings” under “General.”
2. Use the Bank of American Fork app instead of accessing it through the browser on your mobile device.
3. Don’t access your online banking on a public Wi-Fi network.
Interested in more details about this news?
Our customer service team received a number of calls concerning a major security flaw in the Apple operating system. The exploit could allow cyber spies and hackers to grab emails, financial information and other data from online Apple product users. Affecting iOS devices and Mac computers, the bug allows a hacker to view unencrypted traffic that was believed to be encrypted between the user and a secure website. When a user is doing online banking or ecommerce purchases, all of the user’s traffic could be unencrypted.
To exploit the Apple bug, a hacker would have to be on your local area or Wi-Fi network. If you’re an iOS user, avoid using your devices on public networks—at least in the short-term until you can download Apple’s latest update. When you’re using Bank of American Fork online banking, instead of opening a browser on your device, use our mobile banking apps for the iPad® and iPhone®—they are not impacted by this bug.
The operating systems affected by this bug are as follows: iOS (Apple mobile devices) 6.x before 6.1.6 and 7.x before 7.0.6 and OS X® (Apple computers) 10.9.x before 10.9.2. Apple rushed a fix for mobile devices running iOS, so your device may have updated automatically, you have received an alert on your phone or you can update it in “Settings.”
If you have any questions or concerns don’t hesitate to call us at 800-815-BANK.
Apple, Mac, iPhone and iPad are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.
IOS is a trademark or registered trademark of Cisco in the U.S. and other countries and is used under license.
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.
One of the most common denominators of long-term successful companies is having a skilled management team. Yet many organizations don’t provide manager-specific skill development and instead promote the best individual contributor and hope for the best. This causes a problem: the manager just continues to do what he or she is good at, instead of developing the range of skills needed to manage well. In this article, I will discuss a process for developing management training that will fit any size organization.
Leadership skills are an important part of being a manager. However, they are complementary to management skills and should not be confused. To be a great manager, you have to have great management skills and great leadership skills. We’re going to talk about how to train managers today, and we’ll address leadership skills in another article. You can also look at the series I wrote about how to develop specific manager skills.
The first step in developing the program is putting together a list of skills your managers should be able to demonstrate or outcomes they should be able to deliver. You can ask the rank-and-file employees what they want most from their managers. You should also ask all levels of management to list the five to eight most important tasks they do as part of their job. After you draft that list, ask senior management to verify. This list of tasks becomes your course objectives.
Once you have a list of tasks, you need to determine the overall theme or topic of your training. This overall theme or topic should be in line with the tasks you listed. For example, if your tasks include “information from management needs to get down to front-line associates” and “associates need to know the strategic plan,” then perhaps the overall job is a training session about organizational communication.
The list for my organization boiled down to the following trainings:
• Essential Skills of Leadership
• Interviewing and Hiring Lawfully
• Coaching For Performance
• Employment Law
• Resolving Conflicts
• Managing Change
• Managing Your Resources
• Managing Risk
• Effective Discipline and Performance Assessment
• Developing Performance Goals
• Strategic Planning
• Essential Skills of Communicating
• Project Management
• Associate Development
Once you determine the trainings your team needs, make sure your deliverables for each are clear. Research and develop an outline for your training. For example, if you’re developing training about strategic planning you should research the definition and statistics of the value of strategic planning. Research the who, what, when, why, and how. Who does the strategic planning in your organization? What is strategic planning? Using this approach you will have a lot of background data to include in the training to make it relevant for your associates.
Ask your training sponsor to be specific when you develop deliverables. If management wants managers to explain to associates what the strategic plan applies to them, you need to have activities and exercises that allow managers to practice accomplishing these goals.
Sequence the courses carefully from easiest to most complex, and also around seasonal events. For example, a budgeting course should be near when the organizational budgeting occurs, and the strategic planning course when it is near time to do strategic planning.
One of the best parts of an organically grown management program is the use of subject matter experts to teach their discipline to the learners. For example, the risk/compliance department should teach the managing risk course. Make sure that the expert writes a content outline and then you facilitate them through the content. It’s kind of like teaching a course on Hamlet with Shakespeare in the room—your job is to help the expert teach.
The last critical step is the role of the senior manager once the new manager has been through the program. The senior manager needs to meet with the new manager on a frequent basis to evaluate how using the skills learned in training is going.
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.