From the Office to your Business Bank Account Jan 30, 2014, 9:27 am By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

By Amy Falke

The sun begins to sink as you look over the items on your office desk. You’re ready to go home and you start to think about what you might have for dinner when your glance falls on the small stack of checks that have accumulated over the last 48 hours. Looks like a trip to the bank stands between you and dinner. The pang of hunger momentarily makes an inner-office teller line seem like a practical business pursuit.

Bank of American Fork has a better solution. ExpressDepositTM allows you to deposit checks directly from your office.  This system uses a remote deposit scanner that electronically deposits your checks with a secure, web-based processing system. If this solution is right for your business, we’ll send a bank associate to your office to help with set-up and training.

We already offer ExpressDeposit for less than most banks, and we’re currently offering it for only $1 per month for the first six months*.

*Limited time only. Subject to approval. After six months, the following standard fees will apply to single accounts with an average number of deposits: $1 monthly lease fee, $25 monthly maintenance fee, and transaction fees of $0.05 per item deposited and $0.255 per credit. More options are available for higher volumes of deposits or multiple accounts, contact your business banker for more details.  

Category: Business | No Comments

Traveling and Card Safety Jan 29, 2014, 1:27 pm By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

By Amy Falke

Details of this trip have been buzzing around your head for the past few weeks and now, as you start your drive to the airport, the to-do list runs through your head one more time. You begin to mentally check things off your list. Ask neighbor to take care of animals, check. Adjust the thermostat, check. Call the bank, check.

What? Call the bank—why would you call the bank?

Letting the bank know your travel plans helps prevent an unexpected block on your bank card. Because Bank of American Fork values cardholder safety, we try to anticipate normal cardholder activity. If a cardholder does something that is outside their normal activity, a “possible fraud” alert may be triggered and a temporary block may be placed on the card. This block remains on the card until the customer confirms the validity of the transaction with the bank or with the fraud monitoring service provider.  For example, if most transactions for a card have been in Utah County, when the card registers a transaction in Miami, Florida, it can trigger an alert and may block the card.

The prevalence of international card fraud has caused Bank of American Fork to implement practices that protect customers in these areas, as well. Certain countries have been identified as having higher fraudulent card activity and using your card in these countries may create a block on your card. If a customer is planning to travel internationally, he or she can contact the bank and request that their card be temporarily released from the automatic block. Once the customer returns home, they will not need to contact the bank again. The country blocks will automatically be placed back on the card based on the timeframe provided in the travel plans.

Providing the bank with travel notes of planned locations and time-periods prior to your departure allows the bankcard department to make the necessary adjustments that can ensure uninterrupted card service during and after your trip. For additional questions or to place travel notes, speak to a teller or new accounts person at your local branch, send a secure message through your online banking, or call customer service at 800-815-BANK.

By Amy Falke

Wednesday, January 15th 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Bank of American Fork and CEObuilder invite you to join us for the following event:

CEObuilder Forum – Building a World Class Company through Business Performance Dashboards: Increase revenue and reduce costs without impacting headcount to put 3% of annual revenues back on the bottom line.
Presented by: Alan Davis, CEO of i5 Services

World class actions drive world class results. Come and learn what world class companies like British Airways, Wal-mart, Pepboys, RiteAid, etc. are doing to put as much as 3% of annual revenues back on the bottom line without impacting headcount. Understand how the lessons they have learned apply to your business.

Detailed intensive focus drives world class athletes to the pinnacles of performance. Business Performance Dashboards now make it possible to apply the same type of intensive focus in every area of your company.

Meeting format:
9:00 a.m. – Breakfast
9:30 a.m. – Presentation
12:30 to 1:30 p.m. – Lunch
1:30 p.m. to 4:30p.m. – Debrief and Peer Advisory Panel
(Note: CEObuilder members may choose to close the afternoon session if sensitive matters need to be discussed.)

Location: Bank of American Fork Riverton Branch 2691 W. 12600 South Riverton, UT 84065

PLEASE RSVP NO LATER THAN MONDAY, JANUARY 13th HERE
or by calling Christopher Liechty at 801-642-3094.

Understanding bank behavior Dec 12, 2013, 8:10 am By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

 Guest post by Richard Gray

Recently I was reading an article about how the Bureau of Economics is evaluating and changing the way it will measure U.S. GDP. They are working to better capture intellectual property and reclassify research and development as an investment instead of an expense. Today, most of the efficiencies in business are because of innovation in technology and ideas, and valuating these innovations is important and tricky.

Though it’s well known that valuating intangibles is difficult, many businesses don’t understand why lenders think twice when the collateral behind a loan request is intellectual property or something intangible and hard to measure. However, understanding the thinking behind this behavior can help would-be-borrowers prepare so they can be successful in obtaining financing.

People and businesses make deposits at banks, giving the financial institution stewardship of their assets. Banks must be sure they are safe for community deposits. When banks turn around and make loans, they are sometimes risk-averse because they are protecting community wealth, besides making sure the bank’s own business is sound and safe. A bank’s behavior is not just based on its own interests and needs, so decisions are made with the community and economy in mind. Often, financial institutions are fairly conservative.

Financial institutions are an important part of the infrastructure of communities—playing a key role between depositors and borrowers.

During The Great Recession, more borrowers were struggling to pay back loans, and even defaulting. This caused many banks to be even more conservative lenders, in order to protect depositors. However, with the improvement our economy has been experiencing, banks are ready to loan to businesses that want to grow.

Growth might include a loan to buy the building a business is renting or leasing, commercial construction loans, equipment loans, accounts receivable and inventory loans or export loans. Regardless of the type of loan, the bank will determine whether it will lend based on cash flow, credit, capital and character.

How is a loan decision made? When a potential borrower talks to a loan officer about obtaining a loan, it is crucial for the loan officer to understand the borrower’s plan and situation (a few months ago, I talked about what business owners can do to be loan ready). The loan officer does not make the loan decision, but rather, personally represents you, your readiness and your personal character to a loan committee, giving you the best chance for success. The loan committee determines risk—and I’ll talk more about risk assessment and management another time—and makes a decision about how much risk can be afforded.

After getting to know you and your business, the loan officer has to make a case for funding your loan to a loan committee comprised of various executives at the financial institution. Loan officers are your advocates, and the more information you can provide them, the more compelling their presentation will be for the loan committee to approve your loan. The loan officer needs to be able to present clearly the loan request, business information, management character and financial information.

Again, the loan committee will make a decision based on the borrower’s ability to pay back the loan, to keep safe the community’s wealth and facilitate economic growth.

If you’re worried about a lack of collateral, recognize that bankers understand when a start-up doesn’t have any. In these cases, other considerations include management capability, cash flow, owner’s equity contribution and good character. The more tangibles you can put behind your business, the better the loan committee will be able to measure the risk of lending. This is when it pays to have developed a sound relationship with your banker. Banks are the largest lender of debt capital to small businesses and may be one of the only institutions willing to take a chance on an unproven entrepreneur.

If you’re a business owner looking to grow your business, understanding why banks lend to some and not others can help you prepare. Consider the perspective of an institution that is not just taking on risk for itself, but protecting depositors in the community. Understanding this perspective will help you to prepare so that an outside eye will see your business’ potential for good in the economy and as a safe bet for the community.

This article first appeared in The Enterprise.

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.

Category: Business, Loans | No Comments

Debit, credit and prepaid cards: there are differences Dec 09, 2013, 8:40 am By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

Courtesy of FDIC

Many consumers use debit, credit and prepaid cards, often interchangeably, to purchase goods and services. However, these three types of cards are quite different. Consider the following.

Each card works differently. If you use a credit card, you are borrowing money that you must pay back, in addition to interest, if you do not pay the balance in full by the due date. But, if you use a debit card, which is issued by your bank and linked to your checking or savings account, the money taken from the account is yours and you will never incur interest charges.

With prepaid cards, you are spending the money deposited onto them, and they usually aren’t linked to your checking or savings account. Prepaid products include “general-purpose reloadable” cards, which display a network brand such as American Express, Discover, MasterCard or Visa; gift cards for purchases at stores; and payroll cards for employer deposits of salary or government benefit payments. Be aware of the possibility of unanticipated fees and, with certain types of these cards, the potential for limited consumer protections against unauthorized transactions.

Watch for fees. You may be charged an overdraft fee if you use a debit card for a purchase but there aren’t enough funds in the account and you have given your bank written permission to charge you for allowing the transaction to go through. “You can always revoke that authorization if you don’t want to risk paying these fees, and future debit card transactions will be declined if you don’t have the funds in your account,” explained FDIC Consumer Affairs Specialist Heather St. Germain.

Similarly, a credit card issuer may decline a transaction that puts you over your credit limit unless you have explicitly agreed to pay a fee to permit over-the-limit transactions.

Prepaid cards are sometimes marketed with celebrity endorsements and promotional offers. “While some prepaid card offers seem attractive, remember that you may have to pay various fees on the card,” said Susan Boenau, Chief of the FDIC’s Consumer Affairs Section. “These costs may include monthly fees, charges for loading funds onto the card, and fees for each transaction.”

As an alternative to a traditional checking account or prepaid card, consumers who don’t plan to write checks but do want to bank electronically may want to consider opening a “checkless” transaction account that allows you to pay bills and make purchases online or with a debit card.

Your liability for an unauthorized transaction varies depending on the type of card. Federal law limits your losses to a maximum of $50 if a credit card is lost or stolen. For a debit card, your maximum liability under federal law is $50 if you notify your bank within two business days after learning of the loss or theft of your card. But, if you notify your bank after those first two days, under the law you could lose much more.

Your liability for the fraudulent use of a prepaid card currently differs depending on the type of card. Federal law treats payroll cards the same as debit cards, but currently there are no federal consumer protections limiting your losses with other general-purpose, reloadable prepaid cards and store gift cards. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is considering increasing the consumer protections for prepaid cards, but any action is likely to be a year or more away.

In addition, the funds you place on a prepaid card may or may not be covered by deposit insurance in the event of a bank failure, depending on how the account where the funds are held is set up and whether the bank or the card issuer’s records at the time of the bank closing identify each cardholder’s ownership interest.

For all cards, industry practices may further limit your losses, so check with your card issuer.

Also take steps to guard any cards from thieves. Never provide any numbers in response to an unsolicited phone call, e-mail, text message or other communication you didn’t originate. Immediately review your statement for unauthorized transactions.

To learn more about the three types of payment cards, visit www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/information/ncpw/index.html, which includes an FDIC “quick guide” to understanding the differences in the cards.

December branch spotlight and cookies: Saratoga Springs Dec 02, 2013, 8:45 am By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

We’re celebrating one hundred years of serving Utah communities with free cookie Fridays. Each month one of our 13 branches will be spotlighted—for that month, the spotlighted branch will have free cookies in their lobby. You can read a little bit about the history of Bank of American Fork below, with a history of the spotlighted branch. For a deeper history and to view photos visit here and select “downloads”.

Bank of American Fork was established in 1913 as The People’s State Bank of American Fork. The first two decades after opening brought success for the bank and its reputation for being safe and sound was solidified. Challenges came in 1932, when the People’s State Bank of American Fork closed its doors to prevent a run on deposits. While a third of the nation’s banks did the same and never reopened, the People’s State Bank was open for business nine months later after tremendous sacrifice on the part of its management. The 1940s and ‘50s were better years for banking, and the People’s State Bank of American Fork thrived. In the 1960s the name was shortened to Bank of American Fork and proved itself a technological leader when it made a large investment in upgrading to advanced computerized systems. In the ‘80s and ‘90s, Bank of American Fork began to receive national recognition for being safe and strong. It was during this time that the bank began strategic expansion across Utah, finding communities where Bank of American Fork fit and filled needs. Today, we are proud to be a part of 13 communities, and Utah’s community bank leader.

Saratoga Springs Branch December 29, 2008 The twelfth branch opened as Lehi expanded westward toward Saratoga Springs as the fastest growing community in Utah. As a result of the fast growth, traffic around the Lehi branch was becoming a concern. The branch location was originally ideal, but Lehi’s Main Street had become crowded with retail space and congested traffic. It was getting harder for customers to access the bank, especially during rush hours, some of the busiest time at the branch. Seeing a need for better access for customers and an opportunity as Lehi grew toward Saratoga Spring, Bank of American Fork purchased land there. The branch opened when there were enough loans and deposits to support it. A few years later, Pioneer Crossing opened to connect Saratoga Springs with the rest of Utah County, sky-rocketing the area’s population and increasing traffic at the Saratoga Springs branch.

Don’t forget to stop by the Saratoga Springs branch on Fridays this month and grab a cookie!

Five corporate-culture pitfalls to avoid Nov 27, 2013, 8:00 am By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

Guest post by Richard H. Tyson, President, CEObuilder

There are five common errors made regarding corporate culture. Too often, these pitfalls plant the seeds of failure for companies, both large and small. They are:

PITFALL #1: Failing to recognize how important your company culture is to the success of the enterprise. When culture is left to “drift” into existence, it invariably metastasizes into suboptimal behaviors. To avoid this, successful leaders like Tony Hsieh at Zappos have made the development of their corporate culture a continuous crusade. As Tony says, “Your culture is your brand!”

PITFALL #2: Failing to understand and define the culture you have.  Every business has a culture, but we often are too busy with the stresses of everyday commerce to step back and define the current culture. Recognizing the need to do this, Tony Hsieh led an initiative to create a “Zappos Culture Book,” wherein every employee contributes his or her thoughts—and stories—regarding what the company’s culture is. That book is an ongoing effort. Not surprisingly the number one value employees used to describe the Zappos culture is Culture is Everything!

PITFALL #3: Failing to define the culture you want. After a rigorous assessment of your current culture, it’s easy to stop there. That is a mistake. Analysis of the current culture, complete with all warts and suboptimal behaviors, should be undertaken. Thereafter you should define the behaviors you would like to see manifested in your culture. At Zappos, the list from employees defining their current culture was 37 items long.  After analyzing it, they refined it to 10 core values which empower the day-to-day behaviors of their employees.

PITFALL #4: Keeping culture discussions in the executive suite. Culture discussions should begin with corporate leaders; if they are not highly engaged, culture is destined to drift. However, too often executives feel the need to define all aspects of the culture, failing to engage employees actively in the dialogue that develops, strengthens, and maintains corporate culture. Executives should realize that effective culture development involves both good content (what the culture is or should become) and good process (how culture content is developed and how employees are engaged).

PITFALL #5: Failing to sustain the desired culture. Too often leaders see the development of their culture as an event, rather than a process. They fail to make their culture an essential aspect of their hiring, firing, and operating processes. Once again, Tony Hsieh, is a master of doing this the right way. He insists that Zappos recruits people who fit their culture. They are put through an intensive orientation and training program, after which they are offered a $2,000 check—to go away! You are reading that correctly. Zappos is willing to invest real cash in paying recruits to not work for them if after their initial training, they feel they don’t fit in.

“Once you have a culture, invest in it,” Tony Hsieh said “Recognize that it is a long-term investment.”

That is the essence of great culture leadership: sustaining by investing for the long haul. When you do this, the benefits far exceed short-term excitement; indeed they create the deep commitment and engagement that drive highly successful enterprises.

Richard Tyson is the founder, principal owner and president of CEObuilder, which provides forums for consulting and coaching to executives in small businesses. For 21 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.

Help Utah children by donating stuffed animals through December 16 Nov 25, 2013, 7:40 am By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

 Project Teddy Bear in its 14th 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 the day after Thanksgiving, all Bank of American Fork branches will be accepting donations of new or clean and gently used stuffed animals through December 16.

In 2012, students from Spanish Fork schools brought the stuffed animals they collected during a drive.

This year will be the 14th anniversary of Project Teddy Bear at Bank of American Fork. When the bank started the program in 2000, it collected 237 bears. Since then, more than 52,000 bears have been donated to Utah’s at-risk children.

To see how the American Fork branch is transformed during Project Teddy Bear, check out this Time Lapse Video from 2009 Donations. You can also find testimonials from employees of the treatment centers on Bank of American Fork’s YouTube playlist about Project Teddy Bear.

Finish your holiday shopping in five minutes Nov 18, 2013, 9:00 am By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

Looking for the perfect gift for those hard-to-please relatives and friends?

Didn’t get all your holiday shopping done on Black Friday? Shopped out?

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.

VISA® Gift cards can be used to make purchases in stores, in restaurants, over the phone, online, or anywhere VISA® cards are accepted. VISA® Gift cards are available in any whole-dollar amount from $25 up to $500 when purchased online or up to $750 when purchased in a branch. You can pay for in-branch purchases right out of your Bank of American Fork checking account.

Learn more about VISA® Gift cards and applicable fees, or visit a branch or order online.

VISA®, VISA (stylized) and the name Visa are federally registered Trademarks of Visa.

CEObuilder and Bank of American Fork invite you to join us on Wednesday, December 11, 2013 for a forum and presentation by Ken Burnett, VP/director of training and business development, Bank of American Fork. Burnett’s presentation will focus on successful leadership in business and life. You can also join the conversation on Twitter at #ceobuilder or LinkedIn.

In 1914 Ernest Shackleton set out to be first person to complete the overland crossing of the Antarctic.  Shackleton did not reach his goal. However, through incredible leadership and management skills, he kept every one of his crew alive during an almost two-year struggle.  Using the book Leading at the Edge, Burnett will guide participants through 10 critical strategies Shackleton used to keep his crew alive.  Using an interactive case-study approach the group will discuss each strategy and how to use them to be better leaders in a business setting.  These strategies are critical to successful leadership in business and life.

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.

To prepare for the forum, please read Leading at the Edge: Leadership Lessons from the Extraordinary Saga of Shackleton’s Antarctic Expedition. The book can be found here on Amazon, for about $12 in paperback.

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, December 11. Please RSVP by Monday, December 9 by contacting Christopher at christopher.liechty@bankaf.com or 801-642-3094.

100 Year On Blog
This blog includes articles, information, tips and advice on all things money by the financial experts at Bank of American Fork. But this blog is not one-sided; we want to hear what you think. Share your ideas, experiences and comments to get the dialogue going.

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