Where to find us for summer fun in Utah! Jun 02, 2014, 8:00 am By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

This summer, Bank of American Fork is celebrating Utah’s cities and the wonderful people that live in them. Join us for Community Appreciation Day at your local Bank of American Fork branch for free food, prizes, games and fun.

And don’t forget to wave to us as we float through your city parade!

Alpine  August 9, 10 a.m. August 8, noon-2 p.m.
American Fork   July 19, 9:30 a.m.            July 18, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Draper                July 19, 9 a.m.          July 18, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Eagle Mountain June 7, 10 a.m. N/A
Highland                August 2, 10 a.m.         August 1, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Kaysville July 4, 11 a.m. July 3, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Lehi                       June 28, 10 a.m.         June 27, noon-2 p.m.
Murray                     July 4, 9 a.m.              September 19, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Orem                       June 14, 7 p.m.         June 13, noon-2 p.m.
Pleasant Grove           June 21, 10 a.m.       June 20, noon-2 p.m.
Riverton                  July 3, 6:30 p.m.       July 2, 9 a.m. -5 p.m.
Sandy                     July 4, 6 p.m.             October 1, noon -2 p.m.
Saratoga Springs       June 14, 10 a.m.         June 13, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Spanish Fork             July 24, 9 a.m.                   July 22 & 23, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Be in charge of your credit cards May 05, 2014, 9:00 am By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

Courtesy of FDIC Consumer News


Credit cards can offer numerous benefits to consumers, including a convenient way to pay for purchases, the ability to build a credit history, and the potential for rewards. But to make the most of your credit cards, it helps to be an informed consumer. First, remember that any purchase you make with your credit card is a loan that must be repaid. And as with any loan, it’s important to select the right product for you and to use it wisely.

To help you maximize the benefits and avoid the potential pitfalls, here are our latest tips for choosing and using credit cards.

Choosing a Credit Card

Maximize your ability to get a good credit card by ensuring that your credit report is accurate. Correcting inaccuracies may help you improve your credit history and credit score, which card issuers will consider when deciding whether to offer you a card and how they will determine your interest rate and credit limit. You also can find out if an identity thief has opened credit cards or other accounts in your name (see 10 Ways to Protect Your Personal Information and Your Money).

By federal law, you are entitled to one free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three major nationwide consumer reporting agencies (also called “credit bureaus”) — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Each company issues its own report, and because some lenders do not furnish information to all three of them, it’s useful to request your report from each one in order to get a comprehensive view of your credit history. Go to www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call toll-free 1-877-322-8228 to order free credit reports or for more information.

If you find errors, each reporting agency provides ways to ask for an investigation and a correction. In addition, you can request a correction directly from the entity that supplied the incorrect information.

“Your credit reports play a large role in what credit you will qualify for, so it’s important that they be accurate,” said Jonathan Miller, Deputy Director for Policy and Research in the FDIC’s Division of Depositor and Consumer Protection (DCP). “If you find any mistakes on a report, you have both a need and a right to have them corrected. And, be wary of companies that promise to ‘fix’ your credit report. If there is negative information that is legitimate, there is no way to remove it, although it will expire from your report after a period of time.”

Determine what type of card best meets your needs. First, think about how you will use the card. In particular, do you expect to pay your card balance in full each month or carry a balance from month to month?

If you don’t pay your card balance in full each month, the best card for you will likely be one with a low Annual Percentage Rate (APR). But if you do plan to pay in full each month, you might instead focus on whether there is an annual fee, rewards or other features, such as a waiver of foreign transaction fees (helpful for international trips or purchases).

Shop around and compare product terms and conditions. Although you may receive credit card offers, don’t assume these are the best deals for you. If you decide you need to apply for a card, compare multiple products from several lenders. Various Web sites can help you compare product offerings from different institutions, but be aware that some sites list only companies that pay to advertise there.

What factors should you consider? Federal law requires creditors to disclose important rate and fee information to you before you apply. “This enables you to make apples-to-apples comparisons for the most important factors,” pointed out Elizabeth Khalil, an FDIC Senior Policy Analyst.

Here is additional guidance on how to compare key terms and conditions:

  • Annual Percentage Rate: The APR represents the annual cost of the credit. In general, there are three types of APRs that might be applicable to your card: those for purchases, for balance transfers from another card, and for cash advances. Also pay attention to introductory rates. Some credit offers, such as balance transfers, come with special low interest rates that will increase after the promotional period.
  • Fees: These can include annual fees, balance transfer fees and cash advance fees (in addition to any interest you might pay), foreign transaction fees, and penalties for late payments or returned payments. Determine if fees can change over time, as many cards will waive an annual fee for the first year but will charge it in later years.
  • Rewards: These programs can be complicated, with specific eligibility rules. Know what you need to do to qualify for rewards, which might include meeting spending requirements, and how much you would have to spend to accumulate enough points or miles to get what you want. Also understand what you need to do to maintain your reward points, since they can sometimes expire if an account is closed or considered inactive.

Do your homework before signing up for promotional offers or additional products. Some credit cards come with promotions that are enticing but may cost you more money in the long run. For instance, some credit cards marketed by retail stores offer “no interest” on balances for a certain period of time, such as the first 12 months after purchase. But if you don’t pay off the entire purchase balance by the end of the timeframe that was disclosed, you may be charged all of the interest that accrued since the date of purchase. “With any deferred interest offer, it’s important to pay the balance in full before the promotional period ends,” said Matt Homer, a Policy Analyst at the FDIC. “If you can’t do that, a better fit might be a credit card with a low APR that doesn’t expire after the promotional period.”

Additionally, credit card companies might offer other credit-related products, such as credit protection (to pay, suspend or cancel part or all of your outstanding balance in the event of a specific hardship) and identity theft protection (to monitor your credit reports for signs that a crook attempted to use your name to commit fraud). “Make sure you fully understand how these products work and how much they cost by reading the fine print and asking questions before you sign up,” advised Homer. “Also evaluate whether the price you will pay justifies the value you will get from the product.”

For example, he said, as an alternative to paying for identity theft protection, you can look for warning signs of fraud by monitoring your free annual credit reports, especially if you space out the requests for a different company’s report approximately every four months.

Using a Credit Card

Carefully review your card statements for billing errors and other problems, and report them quickly. The FDIC’s Consumer Response Center reports that billing disputes and error resolution problems and processes are the most common types of complaints it received in 2012 and 2013 related to credit cards. And, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, many consumers are confused and frustrated by the process of challenging inaccuracies on their monthly statements.

If you notice a billing error, such as an unauthorized charge on your statement, contact the card issuer as soon as possible. For guidance, see consumer information from the Federal Trade Commission at www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0219-fair-credit-billing.

Checking your account periodically also can help you monitor your spending. “You may want to sign up for alerts on your mobile phone or through e-mail that inform you when your credit card has hit a specific balance amount or you are close to your credit limit. Other alerts can remind you about an upcoming bill,” Homer added.

Review all communications from your lender. Keep a copy of your cardholder agreement and look at all other mailings from your lender because they may include notices about adjustments to the important terms of your card. For example, a credit card issuer must typically provide customers a 45-day advance notice of an interest rate increase.

Pay on time to limit late fees and protect your credit history. If you miss a payment, you’ll likely be charged a late fee, which can sometimes be up to $35 or more. Late payments are also reported to the major consumer reporting agencies, which can harm your credit history.

Pay as much as you can to avoid or minimize fees and interest charges. While it may sound like a bargain to pay the minimum amount due, the long-term costs can be staggering. You will generally be charged interest on the unpaid portion of your balance at the beginning of a new billing cycle and your credit card issuer may start charging you interest from the time of purchase. If you can’t pay the full amount, paying even slightly more than the minimum amount due can reduce your interest costs.

If you add an “authorized user” to the account, set rules and monitor transactions. Adding an authorized user can be a way to jointly manage your finances (for your convenience) or to help someone else (such as a relative under 21 years old) establish a credit history. But remember that you will be liable for any charges the authorized user makes with the card, so it’s best to have a mutual understanding about your expectations as the account owner. Also consider asking your card issuer to place a spending limit on the card assigned to the authorized user. And, of course, be sure to regularly monitor the account and take appropriate action, if necessary.

Protect your card from fraud. Never provide your credit card numbers — including the account number and expiration date on the front and the security code on the front and/or back — in response to an unsolicited phone call, e-mail or other communication. When using your credit card online, make sure you’re dealing with a legitimate company.

Also, take precautions at the checkout counter and gas pump, watching for card reading devices that look suspicious, such as a plastic sleeve inside a card slot or other possible signs of tampering.

If you have lost your card or are the victim of identity theft, contact your credit card company as soon as possible. Write down the contact number printed on the back of your card and keep it somewhere else that you can quickly access.

Recent security breaches at a few major retailers have some consumers concerned about using their credit cards. Federal law protects consumers from unauthorized activity, and card issuers often will waive any liability for fraudulent purchases that are reported promptly. For more tips on avoiding fraud and reporting identity theft or unauthorized charges, see 10 Ways to Protect Your Personal Information and Your Money.

To try to resolve a complaint, first contact your card issuer. Before calling, think through and summarize what the problem is and what you’d like done about it. This will help you remember the key points of the issue. In case the financial institution doesn’t agree to your solution, think about other alternatives you might propose or accept.

“If you’re having trouble resolving a complaint with the credit card issuer you can consider taking your concerns to the institution’s federal regulator,” pointed out DCP Director Mark Pearce. “Doing so not only can assist a consumer with a legitimate complaint, but it also provides the regulator with important information on consumer concerns and trends in general.”

The FDIC and other banking regulators can’t settle contract disputes between a bank and a consumer, but they often can assist consumers in other ways, such as helping people understand confusing information, contacting the issuer and initiating a formal review process, and/or taking supervisory actions if the institution is in violation of a law or regulation. To find the regulator for an FDIC-insured institution, you can use our online directory at http://research.fdic.gov/bankfind or call the FDIC toll-free at 1-877-ASK-FDIC (1-877-275-3342).

For more tips and information, start at the FDIC Web page “How to Choose and Use a Credit Card” at www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/ccc/choose.html. Another resource is a set of questions and answers developed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at www.consumerfinance.gov/askcfpb.

Save big building your dream home May 01, 2014, 8:10 am By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

One lender, one loan package, one dream home

Building a home means spending a lot of time paying attention to the details, from blueprints to paint and everything in between. Luckily, choosing the loans that will finance your new home isn’t as complicated.

Simplify your financing with a construction loan and mortgage loan from Bank of American Fork. Save big with no origination fee on your mortgage loan if you do your construction loan and long-term financing with us*. In addition to saving money, we’ll save you the headaches that can come with financing your dream home. You can count on the experienced lenders at Bank of American Fork to offer fast approval, low, fixed interest rates, multiple free draws and exceptional service.

Contact us today at 1-800-815-BANK.

* The mortgage must follow a construction loan originated on or before December 31, 2014. Only valid in Utah, Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Tooele, and Wasatch counties. Subject to credit approval.

Free document shredding Saturday in Orem, Lehi, Draper Apr 29, 2014, 8:30 am By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

Don’t forget about our upcoming shred event this Saturday, May 3! Details here.

Mortgage rates steadily rise Apr 28, 2014, 9:00 am By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

Fixed mortgage rates have been slowly and steadily rising, according to Freddie Mac, meaning that now may be a good time for you to stop waiting and consider buying a home.

Don’t let the process of getting a mortgage loan overwhelm you—Bank of American Fork’s experienced loan officers in Washington, Utah, Salt Lake and Davis Counties will help you understand the process, guide you through the paperwork and provide a quick turnaround.

To get you started, here are the steps you will need to take:

Organize your finances. Analyze your finances and figure out what you think you can afford for a monthly payment. Aim to keep the mortgage payment and all other related obligations below 40 percent of your monthly income and stay within your budget when considering homes. When you go to your lender bring pay stubs, tax returns, financial statements, other monthly payments or anything else that may help your lender determine more about your financial situation.

Determine loan type. Your loan officer can help you determine the type of mortgage loan that is right for you. There are several popular options—fixed-rate loans have interest rates that stay the same for the life of the loan, adjustable-rate loans have interest rates that move up and down as the economy changes, high-dollar loans that have higher interest rates and loans through special programs are designed for low-income borrowers or borrowers that need to make a lower-than-normal down payment. Talk to your loan officer to find a loan that fits for you.

Get pre-qualified. Your loan officer will pre-qualify you for a certain amount based on your financial position. You should look for homes that do not exceed this amount plus your down payment and closing costs.

Obtain the loan. Once you have made an offer on a home and your offer has been accepted, your loan officer will help you navigate the loan closing process. This is when you will lock in an interest rate, submit your down payment and pay closing costs and other fees. The whole process typically takes 2-3 weeks.

Pay it off. After closing on your loan, you will be responsible for making minimum monthly payments for the life of the loan, ranging up to 30 years. When the loan is paid off, the lien is released from the title to the home.

Buying a new home is something most people do only a few times in a lifetime, so it’s to be expected that a borrower will have many questions. Don’t be afraid to ask them so you feel confident about the exact terms of your loan and all the costs associated with it.

Don’t let historic low rates pass you by. Call a Bank of American Fork mortgage loan officer at 800-815-BANK or visit our mortgage page to download an application.

Register for BankAF Woman of Steel Triathlon, 5K Apr 25, 2014, 8:10 am By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

Bank of American Fork is once again the title sponsor for the 9th Annual Woman of Steel Triathlon and 5K being held on May 17, 2014 at the American Fork Fitness Center. The all-female triathlon includes a 300-meter outdoor-pool swim, 12-mile bike ride and 3-mile run, and also offers a 5K as a separate race and is a USAT-sanctioned race.

The event honors women who have used fitness to overcome life-changing obstacles. It will also benefit Kids on the Move, a non-profit organization that provides services to families and children with special needs.

Bank of American Fork is partnering with race organizer TriUtah to produce the race. Athletes can go to triutah.com to register for one of the 1,000 triathlon or unlimited 5K spots. Registration is not available at Bank of American Fork branches or via mail.  

Every participant will receive a women-specific technical race shirt, commemorative finisher medal and chocolate at the finish line.

The Bank of American Fork Woman of Steel Triathlon was voted the Best Sprint Triathlon in 2011 by Active.com, the leading online community for millions of active individuals to discover, learn about, share, register for and participate in races, team sports and recreational activities. The Best Sprint Triathlon is a national award that recognizes short-distance triathlons that are ideal for beginner athletes.

Looking for more details about the race course, rules or directions? Visit the 2014 Woman of Steel race page.


Free financial wellness event for parents Apr 22, 2014, 8:00 am By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

 Students and parents of Park Elementary invited to attend financial seminar

Bank of American Fork is sponsoring a fun and educational event for students and parents of Park Elementary School on Thursday, April 24. Brian Nelson Ford, founder and president of 8 Pillars Financial Education company and one of the leading experts in workplace financial wellness programs, will lead a seminar for parents while students participate in a service activity and kickball. Following the seminar and games, there will be BYU Creamery ice cream for everyone. Admission is free.

Ford created the 8 Pillars program to promote financial peace even in times of financial struggle. Ford will share with attendees the best ways to get out of debt and start saving. He’ll also discuss the most common mistakes people make with their money and how they can be avoided, as well as the best ways to teach children about money using old-school values.

This event will be held at Park Elementary, 90 North 600 East, Spanish Fork, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. on Thursday, April 24. Please note that students and parents must attend together. Please contact Heidi at heidi.carmack@bankaf.com or 801-642-3139 with questions.

View-only accounts Apr 21, 2014, 10:39 am By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

A tool to get you the help you need, while you keep the control you want to be independent.

Are you looking for a tool that will allow someone else to help you manage your finances while you maintain control? Are you looking for a solution to help you help someone else manage their finances? Bank of American Fork can allow you to give view-only access to a helper—meaning they can watch for scams or fraud by others and double-check your transactions, without running the risks that joint access can bring.

Joint access can be risky for someone who needs help with their account. When a helper is added as a joint account owner, they are seen as an equal, regardless of who originally owned the account. One of the implications of having a helper that has joint access is that they can make payments or account changes without any approval from the original account owner. Another is that the account and the original owner are vulnerable to lawsuits or tax liability of the joint owner—the money, by law, is seen as theirs and can be seized.

Below are a few of the types of personal circumstances where you might benefit from an account with view-only access.

Persons in the armed forces: If you’re in the armed forces and you’re heading away for boot camp, training or deployment, you might be concerned about how to keep up with accounts you have already. Give someone at home view-only access and they’ll be able to watch for fraud or other account activity without having access to your money.

Missionaries: Do you have a son, daughter, parents or other relative on a mission? They may be unable to check their online banking or account statements as often, and having someone at home that can keep an eye may be helpful. If a parent or trusted friend has view-only access to the missionary’s account, they can watch for low funds or fraud when the missionary doesn’t have time or ability to check.

Senior parents or grandparents: Do you have parents or grandparents that need help managing their finances, or will need help in the future? Putting checks into place now can help your family later. Having view-only access will allow a helper to watch out for fraud or make sure bills are being paid on time without taking away control from parents or grandparents. Read more about how to help protect seniors from fraud here.

Persons who are home-bound or nursing home residents: Perhaps your schedule, abilities or lack of regular internet access make it difficult for you to monitor your account regularly for fraud or unusual activity. You may feel more comfortable if you have a second set of eyes watching out for you. View-only access is a good way to give someone else the ability to watch account activity while you maintain control.

People in long-term rehabilitation centers or long-term hospital care: If you have a family member who suffered an injury, accident or from something else that has caused them to be in long-term care, you’re probably looking for the safest way to help them with their finances. If they have automatic bill pay for their rent, utilities or other bills already set up, you may only need view-only access to make sure everything is running smoothly with their account. Or, if a trusted helper has already been given access to manage finances for the person in long-term care, you may want to consider giving a second helper view-only access to avoid any temptation or accusation of fraud.

Minors: Help your son or daughter learn the value of earning money, saving and smart spending by giving them some financial independence. With an account of their own, they can learn about making wise financial decisions. With some guidance, you can help. Having view-only access will give them some necessary accountability as they’re learning and allow you to help steer them in the right direction. Read more tips about teaching kids the value of money here and find out more about KidSmart Savings Accounts for kids up to 18 here.

Persons on extended vacations: If you’re heading off on a long trip, you may want to consider giving someone at home view-only access to your account to watch for fraud. Whether you’re sight-seeing in another country, hunting, hiking in a national park, exploring a part of the U.S. you haven’t been to, sailing on the coast or taking in scenes from a helicopter, you may be at risk of fraud (find some financial tips for traveling here). If you want to watch for fraudulent transactions or be sure all of your automatic payments go through and you know you won’t have regular internet access or phone service, set up a family member, trusted friend or advisor with view-only access and they can watch your account activity.

Those working overseas temporarily: Are you one of the lucky ones sent to open your company’s office in Beijing? Are you heading to Ecuador to teach English for a summer job? If you’re working overseas temporarily and you’re worried about remembering or being able to check your transactions regularly for fraud, give view-only access to someone at home to help you out. There may be new risks for fraud while you’re traveling (read financial tips for traveling here), and it’s important to keep up regular monitoring of your account.

College students: Perhaps your son or daughter is off at school, with your financial help. You may have an agreement to help pay for their housing and food, and while they need some independence so they can learn important budgeting skills, they may also need some guidance. Having view-only access will give your child the independence and control they need to grow, and also allow you to track their expenditures so you can send the right amount for groceries, at the right time.

During tax season or for accounting purposes: Giving your accountant view-only access may help speed up tax preparation or other accounting and help you go green, since you won’t have to print out months or years of statements.

View-only access is a safe and convenient tool to allow someone else to help you manage their finances while you maintain control. Bank of American Fork can allow you to give view-only access to a helper, so talk to your banker or call 800-815-BANK to find out if this solution might be helpful to you.

How the new consumer mortgage rules may affect you Apr 14, 2014, 10:13 am By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

This year several new mortgage rules went into effect to protect consumers and to reduce the risk of another housing recession. Each of the new rules is meant to address a perceived abusive practice by lenders toward borrowers. For the most part, there won’t be many changes for Bank of American Fork customers, but below we’ve highlighted differences you might see in obtaining a mortgage loan after the rule changes took place in January.

Some changes you may notice:

More-thorough application process.  The Ability to Repay rule, mandatory for all mortgage lenders, is meant to address one of the purported causes of the financial crisis—borrowers entering into mortgage-loan contracts that they were unable to repay.  Specifically, the rule mandates that lenders consider and verify the applicant’s ability to repay before making a mortgage loan. For example, lenders will ask about employment status, income or assets, loan repayment terms, debts, credit history, monthly debt-to-income (“DTI”) ratio, monthly payments associated with the property being purchased like taxes and insurance, and monthly payments on a simultaneous loan secured by the property being purchased. Although Bank of American Fork and many other banks already made mortgage loans responsibly, some lenders disregarded basic underwriting standards and made loans based on the expectation that the loan would be repaid when the property was refinanced or sold, rather than by regular principal payments made by the borrower over time. Lenders now have an extra incentive not to make loans with risky features, such as terms that exceed 30 years, interest-only payments, or negative-amortization payments (where the principal amount increases), and not to make “stated-income loans”, i.e., loans based on the income the borrower lists on the application but which has not been verified by the lender.

It will be harder to get loans with risky features such as balloon payments, terms exceeding 30 years, negative amortization, interest-only payments, and loans to borrowers whose DTI exceeds 43%. Again, most banks, including Bank of American Fork, already made mortgage loans responsibly, but because some lenders didn’t, the new rule gives lenders an extra incentive to avoid these risky features when making loans.

Your lender must provide you with a list of homeownership counseling agencies when you apply for a mortgage loan. Housing counselors throughout the country can provide advice on buying a home, renting, defaults, foreclosures, and credit issues. The counseling agencies on this list are approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and they can offer independent advice about whether a particular set of mortgage loan terms is a good fit based on your objectives and circumstances, often at little or no cost to you. This list will show you several approved agencies in your area. One of the new rules requires lenders to provide this list within three days of application. You can also find counselors yourself at http://www.consumerfinance.gov/find-a-housing-counselor.

You will receive an appraisal even if you do not request it. Lenders are now required to provide home-loan applicants with an appraisal of the subject property even if they do not request it. It must be provided within a certain time before closing, although that timing requirement can be waived by the borrower if the waiver is done early.

Some home purchases will require a second appraisal. When a seller sells a home after owning it for less than 180 days and for a price that is substantially higher than he or she paid for the home, and a lender finances the sale to a new buyer, if the new buyer’s APR exceeds a certain amount, a second appraisal must be obtained from a different appraiser.  The new buyer won’t have to pay for the second appraisal—the lender has to pay for it—but it may delay the closing.

Bank of American Fork is committed to caring for its customers, and that includes keeping you apprised of changes in the banking industry that may affect you. To find specific information, talk to a mortgage loan officer today. Come back often for information and news!

WIB names Richard Beard new chairman Apr 07, 2014, 11:14 am By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

Beard’s expertise in community banking will help WIB lead community banks

People’s Utah Bancorp President and CEO Richard Beard has been named the chairman of the board for the Western Independent Bankers’ Association. His experience with and passion for community banking has positioned him to help WIB support community banks throughout the western United States.

Beard has been the president, CEO and a member of the board of directors of People’s Utah Bancorp and Bank of American Fork since 2004.  He currently serves as a member of the board for the State of Utah Department of Financial Institutions and has also served on the board of directors of the Utah Bankers Association. Prior to his appointment as the chairman of WIB, Beard served on the board and executive committee.

WIB is a trade association that informs, educates and connects community banks with banking-related resources and services to achieve the highest standards of personal and organizational performance. More than 150 community banks in the western states are members. Besides educating bankers, WIB also educates communities on why the community-banking model should matter to local citizens.

Beard and WIB are passionate about the community banking model. Community banks are focused on the unique needs of local businesses and families. Loans are generally invested in the local economy and decisions impacting customers are made locally, by people who live and work in the communities they serve.

According to the Independent Community Bankers of America, community banks fund nearly 60 percent of loans to small businesses, although they compose just 10 percent of the nation’s banking assets. The high-touch, personal service they offer to individuals and communities can’t be matched by banks that make loan decisions a thousand miles away from the borrower’s community.

“When you look to your community banker for a mortgage loan or funding for local business, you can feel confident that they care about what they are offering the community,” Beard said. “Community bankers want to see people get into homes or get the loans they need to grow or start their businesses, and make loan decisions that ensure profits are reinvested in the local economy. We live and work in the community, too, so we have a vested interest in seeing the economy and individuals thrive.”

The number of banks in the United States is shrinking dramatically. In 1990 there were more than 12,000 banks in the country. Today there are less than 7,000, 98 percent of which are community banks.  Some experts predict that soon there may only be 3,000-4,000 banks left after the last economic downturn and with continued consolidation subsequently occurring. WIB is concerned with the shrinking number of community banks, since fewer banks mean fewer choices for individuals and business owners.

Business owners benefit from working with local lenders who have unique knowledge about their communities—Senior Economist and Economic Advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago Robert deYoung calls this “soft information,” and it comes from a relationship-based approach to lending.

Beard’s new position as chairman of WIB will allow him to continue to help preserve this critical community-banking model.

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