BID Daily Newsletter Archives

January 2021

The letter “P” is not used very often. In fact, it is only used 1.9% in texts, which is less frequent than “W” with 2.4% frequency and even “Y” with 2%. Yet, this letter has meant a lot to small businesses, in the form of PPP loans. The good news is that PPP funding is back! PPP has been an invaluable source of funding for many small businesses. The first round that ended in August 2020 provided 5.2MM loans worth $525B and helped cover 80% of small business employment. As our nation’s small businesses continue to struggle, the availability of...
January 20, 2021 - Making Meetings More Productive
One of the five Great Lakes, Lake Superior, is a freshwater lake with the world’s largest surface area. Due to this massive amount of water, you will even see waves! While you may not want to make waves at work, meetings may need to be reviewed for their level of productivity.In 2019, American businesses lost $399B to unnecessary and badly organized meetings. The pandemic increased the hours that workers spend in meetings by about 10%. If the math holds, that means poorly run meetings cost the US $440B last year.With some rethinking of organizational frameworks, using goals as a litmus...
Denmark has 2x the number of bicycles as cars and almost every road has a bike lane. Unfortunately, the abundance of bikes leads to an opportunity for thieves — 17% of Danes have stolen a bike at some point.Similarly, thieves abound in the banking world. Community financial institutions (CFIs) continuously develop ways to fight fraud internally, but their efforts can be greatly enhanced if they also offer resources for customers to detect possible fraudulent activity or attempted social engineering scams. We found four ways that CFIs are helping their customers fight fraud. Likely, you are doing most of these already,...
Apparently, plants have a way of communicating with each other. We are not exactly sure how, but we found this interesting to hear nonetheless.Community financial institutions (CFIs) may not be thinking of talking plants when they think of the landscaping around their branch, yet, landscaping can do more than just make things pretty. We have heard from a few CFIs that have used it to engage with their community and convey a message.Branch design often defines landscaping as an afterthought to the physical structure, reduced to a few shrubs and plants to add a touch of curb appeal at modest...
January 14, 2021 - Embedded Banking Is Expanding
 According to Merriam-Webster, the definition for embed is “to make something an integral part of.” While you may not mind this with some things, like computer code that allows your online banking to work, others are concerning. This is the case with embedded banking.The growing trend of embedding banking services in other, non-financial applications has the potential to chip away at community financial institutions (CFIs) and their customer relationship model. Here are some of the details so that you can be prepared.Goldman Sachs just began offering companies a newly developed software that “embeds business bank account experiences within their own...
Founded in 1889, the Japanese company, Nintendo first sold playing cards, not video games. Long-standing businesses have had to reinvent themselves as the needs of customers changed. Many merchants have had to do this lately as the pandemic shifted customer preferences and behavior. According to the Commerce Department, consumers spent $199.44B online with American retailers in Q3 2020, an increase of over 37% from $145.47B for Q3 2019. Not only that, but almost a quarter (23.8%) of all sales in 2020 were online. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could support those businesses as they continue to thrive?Leading with merchant...
Today is National Pharmacist Day. So, we decided we needed to send a special shout out to all those pharmacists that are working hard to keep us all healthy during the pandemic. While COVID-19 wasn’t the impetus for the banking industry’s acceptance of the need for automation, it has certainly expedited things. Community financial institutions (CFIs) are now turning to automation for a variety of things — from enhancing customer experiences to streamlining functions such as reporting fraud and speeding up wire transfers. In the year ahead, financial institutions are expected to not only pick up the pace of their...
The mobile payment market is expanding rapidly. According to Facts and Factors research, the global mobile payment market is expected to reach $5.5T in 2026 from $290B in 2019.This growth has definitely been stimulated by the flurry of contactless payments and mobile wallets usage spurred by consumer demand and merchant adoption during the pandemic. Debit card transaction growth has been especially robust. The Federal Reserve Bank of SF’s Diary of Consumer Payment Choice report finds debit cards are used the most and they have the highest levels of stated preference at 42%. Both Visa and Mastercard reported a 20% growth...
Have you noticed that many of the AI-driven assistants (Alexa, Siri, Erica, etc.) are female? Apparently, that is not accidental. Research has shown that people prefer hearing a female voice over a male one. There seems to be more to learn about artificial intelligence (AI) these days than ever before.As the banking industry delves into all the ways that AI and machine learning (ML) can be used (e.g., detecting fraud, creating efficiencies, tailoring products), bankers are also trying to understand the regulation and oversight of these tools. First of all, according to the Financial Stability Board, AI is defined as...
On May 29, 1953, Edmund Hillary became the first person to reach the 29,035 feet summit of Mt. Everest and return back home. Similarly, there are many lenders that are waiting to return back to a sense of “normalcy” after climbing the heights of the coronavirus. The lending industry has been in flux as the pandemic has created a number of lending opportunities as well as challenges. Bottom line: most community financial institutions (CFIs) need to book more loans, as deposit-taking far outstripped loan originations last year throughout the industry. According to the FDIC, total bank deposits increased 22.3% in the...
In his 2000 book, “The Tipping Point,“ Malcolm Gladwell describes a tipping point as “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point.” The pandemic may well have created a tipping point in banking technologies.The coronavirus pandemic fundamentally changed certain aspects of banking and made digital engagement an even bigger priority for many FIs. Even post-pandemic, FIs will likely focus on making their operations more efficient, effective, and seamless. To that end, here are a few areas where FIs are likely to focus their technology dollars this year.Digital upgrades in the branch. A recent global survey from Deloitte shows...
Amazingly, in 2020, people were creating 1.7MB of data every second. With all that data, data privacy has become more important than ever.Because of that, community financial institutions (CFIs) work hard to maintain their data privacy policies. If approached the right way, it can not only protect your customers, but also provide your institution with a way to deepen relationships by tailoring services. According to a recent Deloitte report, "Redesigning Customer Privacy Programs to Enable Value Exchange," managing data privacy can actually be an effective way for organizations to differentiate themselves from their competitors. With the right privacy policy, your customers...
According to one source, there are a million bubbles in a champagne flute. That sounds like a lot. But, if that is true, many of us have had our fill of a few million champagne bubbles to usher in a new year and a fresh start.To start off right, we wanted to bring you some regulatory areas to focus on for 2021. While this is just a partial list, we hope it will get you on the right track. COVID-19 flexibility. Regulators will likely continue to give leeway for underwriting decisions on loans to struggling businesses that were thriving before...

December 2020

12/31/2020 - Top 2020 BID Articles (5 of 5)
As we say goodbye to 2020, we bring you our most popular BIDs for the last week of December. This way, you can catch up on a missed BID or enjoy it again, the second time around.Happy reading and Happy Holidays!Five Key Indicators For The CRE Market(Originally published on October 27, 2020)According to one study, sarcasm promotes creative thinking. So, what are you waiting for?These days, however, it will take more than creative thinking to stay on top of the CRE market. KPMG reports that 68% of corporate CEOs expect to reduce their office space. In addition, new firms created...
12/30/2020 - Top 2020 BID Articles (4 of 5)
As we say goodbye to 2020, we bring you our most popular BIDs for the last week of December. This way, you can catch up on a missed BID or enjoy it again, the second time around.Happy reading and Happy Holidays!What To Do With Your PPP Loans(Originally published on August 13, 2020)In a study by the Fetzer Institute, 62% of Americans reported that they needed more forgiveness in their personal lives. Small business customers also want forgiveness -- of their PPP loans.Recent changes to the Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will help more small businesses get their loans...
12/29/2020 - Top 2020 BID Articles (3 of 5)
As we say goodbye to 2020, we bring you our most popular BIDs for the last week of December. This way, you can catch up on a missed BID or enjoy it again, the second time around.Happy reading and Happy Holidays!Five Ways To Boost Employee Morale(originally published on July 23, 2020)Interestingly, it is believed that our ancient ancestors started enjoying wine before the wheel was invented. Supposedly, fruit that fell to the ground and fermented was the first taste of "wine." Many of us are enjoying a slightly different variation of virtual "wine" these days.Physical distancing was bearable for the...
12/28/2020 - Top 2020 BID Articles (2 of 5)
As we say goodbye to 2020, we bring you our most popular BIDs for the last week of December. This way, you can catch up on a missed BID or enjoy it again, the second time around.Happy reading and Happy Holidays!How COVID-19 Affects Men And Women Differently(Originally published on May 15, 2020)Today, people often see teddy bears in windows. The teddy bear hunt is going on in neighborhoods globally, to perk up children (and adults) who feel disconnected. Creativity and fun don't discriminate.A virus doesn't discriminate either. Yet, men and women are enduring different physical, economic, and social fallout from...
12/24/2020 - Top 2020 BID Articles (1 of 5)
As we say goodbye to 2020, we bring you our most popular BIDs for the last week of December. This way, you can catch up on a missed BID or enjoy it again, the second time around.Happy reading and Happy Holidays!Remote Work Practices(Originally published on March 30, 2020)Sweatpants are all the rage these days. Brands like Aeropostale have seen a 23% uptick in women's sweatpants while Russell Athletic has reported a double-digit surge in sweatpant style searches. We know that the coronavirus started this trend. Could it continue even after the crisis? We're not sure we are ready for that.Even...
12/23/2020 - Lessons In Longevity With The Oldest Community Banks
Most of us remember reading about the fateful relationship between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. Yet, before its tragic end, the two of them founded the Bank of New York in 1784. It now operates as Bank of New York Mellon and is the oldest continuously operating bank in the nation. To survive and thrive for more than 200Ys takes some serious determination and often some considerable bulking up. But not all of the nation's oldest banks have supersized since their establishment. Community banks are well represented on the 11 Oldest Banks In America List. These community banks demonstrate the...
12/22/2020 - Is The Tide Shifting For Cannabis Businesses?
KFC chicken has eleven herbs and spices in its secret recipe for chicken. It probably took a while to get to that winning combination. Similarly, it is taking some time to get everything right for cannabis and hemp commerce. Cannabis and hemp merchants have been in limbo for quite a few years. While marijuana has been legalized in many states, it is still illegal at the federal level. This has hampered overall commerce, but. the tide may be changing, albeit slowly.Legislation. More states are approving the legalization of marijuana and the House recently passed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement...
12/21/2020 - PCBB Survey Results Are In - The COVID Impact On CFIs
The saying goes that King Midas turned all he touched to gold. Wouldn't that be nice, especially these days?! Still, things seem to be stabilizing a bit, based on a recent survey of our customers.On Friday, we reported what your peers were doing on faster payments, according to a recent report. Well, today, we share the impact of COVID on your peers, according to our own PCBB survey.In late October, we surveyed PCBB's customers to find out their current thoughts on how COVID was affecting their institution and their outlook for the coming year. Some of the results were surprising,...
12/18/2020 - Faster Payments: What Are Your Peers Doing?
Do you remember the town of Bedrock and the TV show, "The Flintstones"? Even if you do, you may not remember that the currency during those Stone Age years was clamshells. Well, these days, our currency seems to be making way for faster digital payments.We've written in the past about the faster payments revolution and how many large national banks and regional banks are connected to Zelle and The Clearing House's RTP network, noting that many smaller institutions, too, have launched these services or are gearing up to. A recent survey shows just how far banks and credit unions have...
12/17/2020 - Four Ways To Help Seniors Avoid 2020 Holiday Online Fraud
Did you know Chinese Checkers originated in Germany? Sometimes things are not always as they seem. Fraudsters count on facades and consumer confusion, so we offer some tips, especially for your senior customers.The economic fallout from COVID-19 has spurred consumers and businesses to protect their finances more closely. Whether it's a loss of income from layoffs, business disruptions, or troubles with investments, clients of all age groups are looking to re-secure their future. Yet, data from Javelin Strategy & Research & AARP shows baby boomers face a unique risk with higher retirement savings and a reluctance to change their behaviors.The...
12/16/2020 - Three Creative CRE Opportunities For Unused Space
Fun fact: Bubble wrap was invented by accident by researchers trying to create 3D wallpaper. Creativity can lead to thought-provoking results, even in commercial real estate (CRE).There is no doubt that CRE prices are falling, especially within certain sectors. Things could get even more difficult as companies re-evaluate their office space. Yet this situation is leading to some creative opportunities.Indeed, the conventional route of subleasing may not be the most financially feasible right now due to the excess capacity in local markets. For example, close to 30% of total available lease space in Manhattan is sublease space with an average...
12/15/2020 - Diversity & Inclusion Assessments - Time To Be Proactive?
When a train is about to move forward, it blasts its whistle two times. Good to know if you are traveling. But, it may be good to know what the signs are when regulators are moving forward on certain areas too. These days, there are a few things happening within diversity and inclusion (D&I) that indicate signs of moving forward. Regulators and lawmakers are stepping up their call for financial institutions (FIs) to tell agencies how their D&I practices are faring.Currently, FIs can voluntarily choose to file a D&I self-assessment with their respective regulator's Office of Minority and Women Inclusion...
12/14/2020 - PPP-Related Scams To Avoid
Remember the movie, "The Terminator"? This sci-fi thriller set in 2029 came out in 1984 and was #1 at the box office with $4MM in gross revenue. Wouldn't it be nice if we could terminate cyber thieves? They just keep showing up and wreaking havoc.In the face of the pandemic, fraudsters have found a fresh opportunity to prey on the confusion and concern of average bank customers to gain access to privileged information and accounts. Many of these scams are connected loosely to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), so CFIs should take note. The financial scams that people and businesses...
12/11/2020 - SOFR Takes The Spotlight As LIBOR's Days Are Numbered
Words added to the dictionary this year include a couple stemming from the pandemic: social distance and hodophobia (the fear of traveling). 2020 sure has been a rough and long year. As we reach the end of it, the end of LIBOR as a standard interest-rate benchmark is getting closer. With LIBOR's days being numbered, financial institutions have the option of choosing their own new interest-rate benchmarks, including fed funds. Yet, the Alternative Reference Rates Committee (ARRC) has recommended the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) as the best option. Any widely used interest-rate benchmark should have three key qualities, according...
12/10/2020 - Open Banking - What You Should Know
For golf, as with other sports, this year has been different to be sure. Many golf courses closed for periods of time and The Open Championship, scheduled to be held in July in England, was canceled for the first time since WWII. Another "open" that seems to be forging ahead is closer to home - open banking.Open banking allows financial institutions to stay competitive as they engage their customers. Bank customers are now familiar with digital banking and the seamless nature of information flow. For this reason, it is important for community financial institutions (CFIs) to understand the elements of...
12/09/2020 - Bank M&A - Present & Future
The marriage rate dropped to a new low of 6.5 per 1,000 people in 2018, the lowest number recorded. Major events, such as the Great Depression, have affected this number too, so it could dip even more due to the effects of the pandemic.Similarly, in 2020, bank mergers and acquisitions hit their lowest point since 2009 for both value and number of deals. But a report from FJ Capital Management in VA, predicts that the M&A market will bounce back and increase significantly over the next 10 to 15Ys. In fact, the report projects that the US, which currently has...
12/08/2020 - Fed's Program Helps CRA Connections
Did you know Swanson created the TV Dinner because it had 260 tons of frozen turkey left over after Thanksgiving in 1953? Sometimes, you never know how great ideas will come about.One great idea from the Fed is the Investment Connection. In order to meet obligations through the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), community financial institutions (CFIs) can benefit from community partnerships. Yet, vetting organizations for CRA-eligible funds can consume a lot of time and energy. In comes the Investment Connection program. While the Investment Connection has been around since 2011, it may be time to explore some of its benefits.Streamlining...
12/07/2020 - QR Codes For Contactless Payments - Here To Stay?
We thought it curious that the word, "huh" is understood in all languages. Similarly, QR codes have found their way into most countries in varying ways and stood the test of time. Originally developed in Japan in 1994 for tracking materials during auto production, QR codes are two-dimensional barcodes that use multiple encoding formats to link to information stored within an application or website. These days, QR codes are being embraced as a method for truly contactless payments. Unlike regular credit card payments that often require a signature or a pin code, QR payments merely need to be scanned. So,...
12/04/2020 - Holiday Parties A La Pandemic
Saturday Night Live aficionados may already know this, but the first season of SNL started in October 1975 with George Carlin as the host. Hard to believe SNL entertainment is still going strong 45Ys later!As the world's seemingly longest year ever comes to a close, you may be thinking about some entertainment of your own for a company holiday party. Of course, the pandemic is re-shaping how people celebrate the holidays, including holiday office parties. Community financial institutions (CFIs) should not necessarily abandon holiday parties, but the approach will need to be shifted. While holiday gatherings will likely need to...
12/03/2020 - How To Renew Your D&O During A Pandemic
Interestingly, the word "sushi" means "sour-tasting" and refers to the main ingredient of vinegared rice. While insurance prices can be high, director and officers (D&O) insurance doesn't need to put a sour taste in your mouth. We explain how to address your renewals during the pandemic. The market for D&O insurance is hardening, with rates up between 22% and 58% from Q1 to Q2 of this year. An increase in claim frequency and severity began pushing rates up in 2018, and the pandemic has meant higher prices across the board for all kinds of property and casualty insurance.Quotes for D&O...
12/02/2020 - Six Mobile Banking Tips For Maximum Engagement
Strangely, Apollo 17 Astronaut, Harrison Schmitt was allergic to moon dust. Sometimes, it is not easy to know how you will adapt to new environments. But, many community financial institutions (CFIs) have adapted to the adoption of mobile banking. But, there is no time to rest on your laurels. Customer engagement and satisfaction is important for continued success. A recently released Bank Director report speaks to this point, offering sound advice as CFIs move forward with their mobile banking strategy. While the report focused on big banks, we extracted the following advice about must-have features and functions that are relevant...
12/01/2020 - Inquiry & Insight: SERPs, Employee Onboarding, MSLP
We thought it was interesting and odd that the most Googled question globally was: "What is my IP address?" As they said back in school, no question is a bad question because several others usually want to know the answer too. On that note, in this month's Inquiry & Insight (I&I), we hope these questions are of interest to you today.Q: Can you please give us insight into supplemental executive retirement plans (SERPs) so that we can provide another incentive to keep our executives motivated and engaged?A: SERPs are generally designed for senior-level executives. It is a customizable plan that...

November 2020

11/30/2020 - Competitively Recruiting For Longevity & ROI
They say you can attract more bees with honey. But, what if you are not attracting bees but new employees? It may be more difficult these days as studies suggest that many millennials and Gen Zers are turning away from banking. This is especially troubling, considering the important role young blood plays in eventual succession planning. Yet, there are ways community financial institutions (CFIs) can help entice young, vibrant talent to the industry. Here are four ideas:Career development. While salary should not be discounted, a paycheck is not the only thing that young recruits are looking for. Where starting salaries...
11/27/2020 - Digital Ads Are Growing - Why Your CFI Should Jump In
Ben and Jerry supposedly wanted to start a bagel company, but the expense of a bagel machine was too much. They turned to ice-cream instead and the rest is history. Like businesses, community financial institutions (CFIs) understand the idea of reducing expenses, especially these days. This is one reason why we discuss digital advertising today.Over the past couple of decades, digital advertising has transitioned from obtrusive banner advertisements to ads that now blend seamlessly into people's social media and news feeds; they are now the go-to method of advertising for many businesses and can be reasonably priced. While other ways...
11/25/2020 - Credential Stuffing - What It Is & How To Combat It
Since Thanksgiving is tomorrow, there may be a few of you who will be stuffing a turkey and getting out your favorite green bean recipes, even though this year is markedly different from Thanksgivings of years past. Whatever Thanksgiving dishes you enjoy, we hope you stay safe. Having stuffing and staying safe can be a challenge in another way too -- in the cyber world. Credential stuffing is a common cyberattack type in which thieves use lists of compromised user credentials to gain illicit entry to a system. Attackers automatically enter the logins for thousands to millions of previously stolen...
11/24/2020 - Is Suburban Migration An Advantage For CFIs?
According to the National Day Calendar, today is National Sardines Day. You may not run out to get sardines for lunch, but it could be fun trivia to share. While sardines may swim in the same direction to stay in their schools, we are finding people more easily break away from their surroundings with the right incentive. It's no secret that the pandemic (and the subsequent remote work trend) is shifting people from urban centers to less costly suburban and rural areas, where community financial institutions (CFIs) arguably have an edge over their rivals. In fact, Pew Research recently found...
11/23/2020 - CECL Is Still On The Horizon - Three Considerations
While most of the globe has been explored, Pitcairn Island off of New Zealand, and Palmerston Island in the South Pacific are relatively uncharted territories. Speaking of uncharted territory, the pandemic definitely blew all of us off course from our plans for the year. Further, we remain in unchartered territory as we budget and plan for 2021, with trillions of stimulus dollars pumped into the economy and a continued shortage of coin. With all of this and more, CECL may not have been top of mind. Yet, it is still coming. For most non-SEC filers, CECL starts in 2023. To...
11/20/2020 - Five Best Practices For Top Employee Satisfaction
According to a FastTrack 360 survey, 71% of executives reveal that employee engagement is critical to their company's success. While this may be obvious, it may be a good time to review a few ways that financial institutions are keeping employee satisfaction high, especially these days, and compare with your own.So, we decided to share some of the best practices of the 85 institutions that made American Banker's list of "Best Banks to Work For" as provided by the CEOs. Communicate frequently. Reach out to your employees regularly, particularly those working remotely. Email frequently, hold video conferences, conduct regular "pulse"...
11/19/2020 - Banking Regulators Discussing Climate Risks
The barometer was first invented in the 1600s in Italy. We have come a long way with our weather tools since then, which is a good thing since our weather events seem to need them these days. Banking regulators are taking note too with a more focused look on the effects of weather and climate. The Federal Reserve's latest Financial Stability Report includes climate risk for the first time, noting "Federal Reserve supervisors expect banks to have systems in place that appropriately identify, measure, control, and monitor all of their material risks, which for many banks are likely to extend to...
11/18/2020 - Creating More Connections With Millennials
We found out that the term "millennial" can be credited to the historians, Neil Howe and William Strauss, who used it in their book, "Generations." Yet, there are actually 30 other names for this generation, such as Generation Me and Echo Boomers.For the last 10Ys, appealing to this generation has been a goal of many organizations and countless studies have been conducted on how to engage them and win their business. After 10Ys, it's hard to pin down traits that apply to everyone in this diverse group. Yet, we are going to try to highlight a few themes that community...
11/17/2020 - What International Business Customers Want From Their CFI
When you think of Sweden, Volvo and IKEA may come to mind, but you may not think about vodka. However, Sweden is the largest exporter of vodka (Absolut), with 20.6% of total exports. France comes in second at 18.6% and Russia is third with 7.4%. Creative businesses seem to find ways to enter and even overtake international markets. While the coronavirus had originally affected international trade, it seems to be normalizing to an extent. So, it could be a good time for community financial institutions (CFIs) to prepare to serve those customers with international trade business.Firms that import or export...
11/16/2020 - Bank Charters For Tech Giants?
Ever wonder where the name, Google, comes from? It is supposedly a twist of the term "googol" which means the number one with 100 zeros, implying a huge amount of data on the search engine. Google's aspirations have certainly pivoted, along with other tech companies, as they now focus on the financial industry. Tech giants have been inching their businesses deeper and deeper into the world of banking over the past few years, and it looks like their efforts could be helped along by a recent OCC proposal. The Task Force on Financial Technology is currently reviewing a proposal that would enable...
11/13/2020 - Opportunities With The Internet Of Things
Did you know that Antarctica is the only continent without bees? While bees seem to have challenges reaching that continent, the Internet of Things (IoT) doesn't. This continent gets internet access via satellite systems.Considering it is so widespread, IoT is here to stay and is even growing by leaps and bounds. Of course, in the wake of the pandemic, the hands-free aspect of many IoT devices has become more appealing and is expediting its adoption. According to the firm Gartner, 25B IoT devices are expected to be in use by 2021, and Mercator Advisory Group previously found that payments generated...
11/12/2020 - Three Tips To Succeed With Wealth Management Services
A new report by UBS and PwC shows that 2,189 billionaires worldwide have a combined wealth of $10.2T vs. the previous record of $8.9T in 2017. Wealth management of that crowd would be very lucrative!While not many community financial institutions (CFIs) offer wealth management services, it may be an area to explore and worth the extra time, especially with low-interest rates and tight margins. Not only could you add fee income, but you could fill additional needs of your current customers and make their relationship with you even stickier. With that in mind, we bring you three proven ways to...
11/10/2020 - Four Tips For Your Next Regulatory Examination
Glaucoma damages the optic nerve and leads to blindness. Luckily, many of us get annual eye examinations which are vital in its detection. Another type of examination - the regulatory kind - is also important and the pandemic has created additional exam questions. We help you address them.You and your peers have been doing all you can to help customers who have been hit hard financially. While you have followed all procedures and guidelines, it has been an unpredictable time when your customers needed a little extra help. While regulators have signaled that they would not automatically adversely rate COVID-related...
11/09/2020 - Small-Dollar Loans: An Update
In 1916, the first Uniform Small Loan Law allowed up to 3.5% monthly interest on loans of $300 or less. From there, two-thirds of states implemented similar versions of it. While these loans have not often been embraced by FDIC-insured financial institutions (FIs), this sentiment may be changing.Most recently, Bank of America made headlines with the announcement that it was getting into the payday loan market. Customers can now borrow up to $500 (in increments of $100) for a $5 flat fee regardless of the amount advanced to their account. Digital bank Varo, followed suit shortly after, announcing advances for...
11/06/2020 - Four Pandemic-Specific Loyalty Rewards
According to Bain & Co., bumping up customer retention by only 5% can boost profits by 125%! That is a good reason to re-examine your loyalty programs to ensure they are still relevant.These days, loyalty programs are pivoting to include pandemic-specific customer needs. Instead of a regular shopping or dining discount, some are offering freebies like free delivery instead. The popularity of loyalty programs has never been higher. A recent study by daVinci Payments found that 97% of American adults now participate in loyalty programs. Furthermore, another study found that nearly nine out of 10 bank customers in the US...
11/05/2020 - Inquiry & Insight: Businesses, Mobile-First Card, Remote Workers
Do you know which planet was the first to be discovered with the telescope? If you guessed Uranus, you are right. Not all questions have one right answer though. Today we bring you our thoughts on three questions provided by bankers that you may find of interest regarding women and minority-owned businesses, mobile-first credit cards, and remote employee feedback. Q: Women and minority-owned businesses face special challenges and it's even more of an issue during the pandemic. What are some things our institution can do to help them?A: There's a long-held attitude among many of these businesses that they will...
11/04/2020 - Three Ways to Help Your Customers Amid Financial Anxiety
NASA has evidence that it could rain glass on a planet named HD 189733b. That would be a little stressful for the inhabitants, if there were any. On Earth, many people have lots of other forms of stress right now, including financial stress.During this unprecedented time, your customers are likely feeling a great deal of anxiety, and it's not just about whether they could contract COVID-19. The American Psychological Association finds that 70% of Americans are stressed out about the economy and work. Many small business owners are concerned that they may have to significantly curtail operations (again). Even if...
11/03/2020 - Will Financial Institutions Look Like Dentist Offices?
What do dentists and community financial institution (CFI) branches of the future have in common? More than you may first think.Today's bankers might not think of dentistry when contemplating the business model of their branches. But in fact, the professional office model, in which specialized, one-on-one service is provided by appointment, might well be the way more branch client service is handled in the future.As Mike Carter, executive vice president of advisory firm Strategic Resource Management said to S&P Global Market Intelligence in the summer, "In the future, the bank branch will be a lot like going to the dentist...
11/02/2020 - More Regulators Helping Community Bankers
In 1777, Frederick the Great gave an official statement advising everyone to drink beer instead of coffee. He was raised on beer-soup and thought it was much healthier than coffee. Some official statements are more reasonable than others; we cover two of those (proposed rules) today.In an earlier article, we discussed the flexibility that banking regulators are providing. Today, we cover proposed rules by the CFPB and FinCEN that are looking for comments.CFPB and lending to minority and small businesses. Under Section 1071 of the Dodd-Frank Act, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is required to specifying how financial institutions...

October 2020

10/30/2020 - Payment Trends Now And Post-Pandemic
At the end of 2019, popular payment apps included Tabbedout, LevelUp, and Mint. Meanwhile, DoorDash and GrubHub have become more widely used lately. There is a lot to keep track of these days with payments. We know that you are watching these fast-moving trends to see how they develop and how they could affect your customers. To help you out, we bring you some highlights from The Strawhecker Group on a number of payment-related trends: Contactless payments. This had been an area of growing importance before the pandemic, but hyper-sensitivity to contact has only made the movement in this direction...
10/29/2020 - Four Mistakes To Avoid With Technology Development
Apparently, the average American eats between 3,000-5,000 calories during Thanksgiving dinner. Hitting the 5,000 calories may be something some of us would like to avoid this year! There are things to avoid when working on technology development too.Not unexpectedly, over half of financial industry C-suite executives and senior management want to put new technologies into place in the near future, according to a July survey by Broadridge Financial Solutions. These days there are many ways to provide technology products to your customers. That can make it difficult. To keep your customers happy and stay on top of the right technologies...
10/28/2020 - Fed's Flexibility Helps Community Bankers Serve Customers
Weirdly, instead of "cheese", Victorians said "prunes" when getting their picture taken to mimic a smile. Hearing that regulators are willing to be flexible might make a few bankers smile without either "cheese" or "prunes."Michelle Bowman, a Federal Reserve Governor, during her speech at "Community Banking in the 21st Century" indicated that community banks supporting customers in good faith during the pandemic can expect flexibility from banking regulators. In its supervision of community banks, the Federal Reserve recognizes that it needs to balance safety and soundness on one hand, with the role of filling critical financial needs on the other....
10/27/2020 - Five Key Indicators For The CRE Market
According to one study, sarcasm promotes creative thinking. So, what are you waiting for? These days, however, it will take more than creative thinking to stay on top of the CRE market. KPMG reports that 68% of corporate CEOs expect to reduce their office space. In addition, new firms created during the pandemic have been designed around a remote workforce with a smaller physical footprint. Meanwhile, small businesses are still struggling as forbearances are coming to an end, creating further pressure on landlord cash flow. Eric Rosengren, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, raised this very...
10/26/2020 - Helping Budding Entrepreneurs During A Pandemic
Not surprisingly, the US has the highest rate of early-stage entrepreneurship (15.6%) in the developed world, and 87% of early-stage business owners expect to add employees. They are an important part of the economy. But, a global pandemic hasn't made things easy on them. Still, many entrepreneurs are actually starting new businesses.According to a recent JustBusiness survey, one in five entrepreneurs have identified new business opportunities and set out to launch them since the virus outbreak -- half of whom are first-time entrepreneurs. Not surprisingly, roughly a quarter of the individuals trying to launch new ventures are people who were...
10/23/2020 - Could Google Affect Lending And New Talent Pools?
Some of the silliest college mascots we have heard were: a pickle, an artichoke, and a slug. But, trying to pay for a college education is far from silly and Google is attempting to provide an alternative with its new certificate program. The tech giant recently introduced its new Google Career Certificates program which is sure to make educators sit up and take notice. But, it could also have ramifications for community financial institutions (CFIs) as they continue servicing their customers and look for talent.The value of a college degree. With higher education costs soaring with seemingly no end in...
10/22/2020 - Three Ways To Engage Minority-Owned Businesses
According to The Brookings Institution based on the most recent Census Bureau data, almost 40% of Americans under the age of 16 are Black, Latino or Hispanic. While they may not be business owners yet, it may not be long before they think about their future and the opportunities of a business owner.Even today, communities of diversity offer sources of new customers for many community financial institutions (CFIs), and many of these business owners are still struggling through this pandemic. Consider the PPP loan program, which has been a lifeline to many small businesses. But Black and Latino business owners...
10/21/2020 - Bank M&A Antitrust Under Review
In the 1500s, monks noticed an explosion on the side of the moon. This was most likely a meteor "merging" with the moon and leaving a huge crater as its mark. Some mergers definitely have a greater impact than others. In that vein, the Department of Justice (DOJ) is conducting a wide-ranging examination of its bank merger antitrust review policies, and the result could favor smaller banks. Changes under consideration could allow smaller bank mergers to move forward without full antitrust reviews. Such a change could have the effect of removing the DOJ oversight of many of these bank mergers...
10/20/2020 - Conversations With Bankers On Lending And 2021 Planning
Did you know that sea cucumbers eat with their feet? Sometimes things can be a little upside down, especially in today's world. But, to ensure that this is minimized, bankers are having tough conversations with their borrowers. This is one of the things we heard in our recent conversations with our client community financial institutions (CFIs) on how they are approaching lending, as the pandemic continues. We would like to share some of the highlights of these conversations. Existing customers. Many lenders are focused on existing customers, to ensure that their institution maintains a fairly stable loan portfolio base. With...
10/19/2020 - Reasons To Consider One-Stop Bill Payment
Amazon, Walmart, and Target are names that come to mind for one-stop shopping. People want simplicity and one-stop shopping. Now, paying bills can be done in one-stop. Have you considered this for your financial institution?The world of banking has become increasingly mobile, particularly with many first-time users embracing electronic payments during the pandemic. It is no longer sufficient to just offer straightforward online bill payments. Many fintechs and other merchants now provide aggregated bill payment offerings using electronic bill payment and presentment (EBPP) technology. This provides access to detailed invoices from multiple merchants or service providers. It offers flexibility to...
10/16/2020 - Three Reasons Why MSLP Is Viable
You probably didn't realize that it is National Yorkshire Pudding Day. If you are not sure what it is, we looked it up. It is a popover of baked unsweetened egg batter eaten as a side dish, often with roast beef. Not everyone may be looking for Yorkshire pudding, but it is nice to have it as an option.Similarly, it is nice to have lending options for your customers. As the pandemic slogs on, you may be looking to bring in more business and continue helping your customers, especially those that may have been too big for the Paycheck Protection...
10/15/2020 - Faster Payments Are Here - Are You Ready?
We thought it interesting to learn that continental plates can drift as fast as our fingernails grow, which is 20x faster than first thought! Speed is on everyone's mind with payments these days, and the research is clear: US consumers and small businesses want faster, secure payment options. To that end, more options are on the way. We give you a quick update on real-time payment solutions and why it is important for community financial institutions.Faster payments options. The Clearing House and Zelle have already launched real-time payment services. These are used extensively, mainly through the big banks and consumers...
10/14/2020 - Password Management Reminders In A WFH World
The computer password was created in 1960 by Fernando Corbato of MIT. Its original intent was to keep individual files private, while users worked on them. Fast forward 60Ys and the idea of private information has expanded exponentially. Despite decades of advancement, the primary form of security for many bank employees is still the password. Furthermore, with many bank employees working from home in recent months, the potential risks of basic password security are becoming more evident. With so many personal and professional sites and networks requiring passwords, most folks on average have to remember at least 90 passwords. Because...
10/13/2020 - Inquiry & Insight: Stock Buy Back, Branches, Diversity
Did you know the unicorn is the national animal of Scotland? This is due to its importance in Celtic mythology. Sometimes you don't find things out if you don't ask. In that spirit, we provide you with some of our readers' questions and our insight in addressing them. Q: With all that's been going on, might it make sense to buy back stock?A: We've seen several recent share repurchase agreements, which could be for a number of reasons, including the desire to offset lackluster demand. Plus, with many bank stocks trading below tangible book value, buying back shares can be...
10/09/2020 - The Latest Signs Of Business Optimism
Trivia Nights became popular in the '70s, yet they have had a resurgence. In fact, two OH bartenders turned it into a $1.5MM business in 2019! Talk about having a good idea and running with it! There are many businesses with good ideas that are now on hold, but that may be changing.The pandemic has been a difficult time for millions of businesses. Yet, recent data is pointing to increasing business optimism. A rising index. After three consecutive quarters of declining optimism, small-business owners are feeling more positive, with increasing expectations for the future. In August, the NFIB Small Business...
10/08/2020 - Three Strategies To Manage Child Care Issues
Many of us have heard that young kids can't remember a lot before age 3. This is called "infantile amnesia" because the hippocampus (in charge of episodic memories) is not fully developed until after 3Ys old. From then on, they learn and grow quickly. Yet, the current pandemic has shifted some of their learning environments quite a bit. Limited child care has become a serious issue as workers try to return to the workplace. A recent Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia survey found that nearly half of the manufacturers in that region had difficulties recalling furloughed workers or hiring new...
10/07/2020 - Agribusiness Trends To Watch
Since Halloween is coming this month, we thought we would check on the heaviest pumpkin recorded last year. That honor goes to a 2,517 lb. pumpkin grown in NY. As you think about that relative to your own front porch jack-o-lanterns, we bring your attention to some of the latest ag trends.While many farmers have planted crops the same way for years, some are coming up with innovative business solutions and pivoting crops according to demand. This means they will need you more than ever. So, we not only lay out some of the current trends, but also give some...
10/06/2020 - Five Leadership Tips For Remote Teams
Gallup reports that 70% of US employees stated they were working from home at least partially in May. This number surged from 7% prior to the pandemic. Needless to say, with teams spread out remotely, leading the workplace has changed dramatically in the last few months.Today, success with a remote workforce depends a lot on your employees, but predominantly, it depends on your leadership skills in managing a remote team. While we know you have been working on this for a while now, we thought we would share five tips to continue employee engagement and encourage higher productivity. Communicate. Schedule...
10/05/2020 - Fighting Back Against Mobile Banking Fraud
Newton's third law states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. So, it should come as no surprise that as mobile banking usage has soared since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, so too has mobile banking fraud.According to a report from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, mobile banking activity increased by 50% in the first five months of 2020. Add to that the stimulus checks that were mailed out to people as part of the CARES Act, and a large portion which were deposited remotely. These are all facts not lost on cyber criminals, who...
10/02/2020 - Thanking Customers Especially During The Pandemic
Did you know that baby sea otters can't swim right away? Their moms wrap them in kelp to keep them buoyant until they learn to swim on their own. It is nice to get help when you need it most and community financial institutions (CFIs) have always been good at giving help to their communities. In fact, CFIs are masters of community involvement and thanking their customers. During these challenging times, it is even more important. So, we wanted to highlight some of the creative ways that we have heard some CFIs are doing this. You may get some good...
10/01/2020 - Pandemic Prompts CFOs To Use More Automation
Poland has a crooked forest where hundreds of trees bend at a 90-degree angle and point north. Sometimes you may have to make a turn to get where you need to go. As the pandemic lingers on, CFOs are making a turn or two as well, with automation. Many are rethinking how best to manage their needs, both short-term and long-term, and finding automation can help. We provide some insight from a new report from Tipalti, "Rebooting Finance Teams for the Robot Revolution." as you consider automating some finance processes with your teams. Day-to-day management during the pandemic. Only 14%...

September 2020

09/30/2020 - Four Ways To Engage Gen Z Employees
In August, a Swiss town experienced "chocolate snow" with a malfunctioning ventilation system at the local chocolate factory. Having chocolate falling from the skies could lure some potential employees into a community. However, you may want to consider some more practical options to engage your Gen Z employees (those born 1996-2015). Yesterday, we discussed Gen Zers as business customers . Today , we discuss how to engage Gen Zers for recruitment and employee retention. Already a force to be reckoned with, they currently account for 68MM US adults. By 2025, these young people will represent one in five workers, according...
09/29/2020 - Four Ways To Attract Gen Z Business Owners
"Drip" and "glow up" are adjectives used by Generation Z meaning wearing expensive things and looking better than before. If you don't know these words, you may want to change that as this generation is becoming more important.Gen Z, people born after 1996, has often been overshadowed by the huge and powerful millennial segment. But, coming into their own in an age of mobile access and social media, this generation will likely exert a noticeable impact on the financial world, especially as businesses. They will soon represent the largest US consumer population. Currently, Gen Z constitutes 40% of the market...
09/28/2020 - What Banks Should Know About Crypto Custody Services
The Fed reports that it costs 19.6 cents to print the $100 bill and that a missing watermark and security thread are the best ways to detect a counterfeit bill. That is comforting to bankers. But with cryptocurrency being used more these days, bankers will face new challenges and need to rely more heavily on regulators for guidance, if they decide to go down this path.The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) recently published a letter clarifying national banks' and federal savings associations' authority to provide cryptocurrency custody services for customers. While banks now have the go-ahead to...
09/25/2020 - Strategic Planning Considerations During A Pandemic
The Hass avocado is named after a CA mailman, Rudolph Hass who patented it in 1935. If he gets royalties on every Hass avocado sold, he really had a successful strategic plan!These days, it is not as easy to create a successful strategic plan. Most financial institutions build annual strategic plans by updating those from the year before. Yet, with the arrival of the pandemic, strategic plans will need more scrutiny than previous years. This year's strategic plan will require new approaches, tactics, and priorities that help your institution move forward in a world in which everything you knew six...
09/24/2020 - Three Steps Forward In The LIBOR-SOFR Transition
Time-off requests have plunged 25% as vacation plans were dashed and uncertainty remains around the coronavirus. Last year in July, there were just over 70.3K vacation requests from employees at 3,000 companies. This year that number fell to around 52.7K. Not only has the pandemic pulled many away from their vacations, but it has also pulled financial institutions away from their post-LIBOR plans. Many bankers may hope or expect that regulators will still push the LIBOR deadline. Yet, regulators on both sides of the pond have been clear that their December 2021 deadline to transition away from LIBOR is a...
09/23/2020 - Four Steps For Virtual Employee Onboarding
Various sources report that the raccoon is the mascot for 2020 -- it wears a mask, compulsively washes its hands and if you leave out one "c", its letters rearranged spell "corona." As you chuckle at this idea, we bring your attention to one specific area affected by the coronavirus, employee onboarding.Physical distancing and remote working don't seem to be going away anytime soon due to COVID-19. So, as community financial institutions resume and step up their hiring, they need to accommodate these situations. This can be challenging as you need to not only onboard through remote channels, but also...
09/22/2020 - A Refresher For Complaint Management
Thai Airways has grounded flights due to the coronavirus and is awaiting bankruptcy protection approval. In the meantime, trying to make lemonade out of lemons, the airline - known for its high-quality cuisine - decided to open a theme-based pop-up restaurant that serves 2,000 meals a day! Similarly, customer complaints are no one's idea of fun, but, you can make lemonade out of lemons here too. These may provide warning signs of problems with your institution's compliance and risk management. A strong complaint-management program can validate inherent risk, ensure control effectiveness, identify compliance and operational weaknesses, and help your institution...
09/21/2020 - Will Drive-Through Banking Continue?
As far as we know, the first drive-up window teller was at Grand National Bank in MO in 1930. Fast forward 90Ys and we are seeing a resurgence of this banking channel. For some time, experts have been telling bankers that branches are undergoing profound changes and that the old ways of transacting business need to be reimagined. Yet, the experts never expected COVID-19, which has brought back one of the previous staples of branch banking: the drive-through teller.The Revival of the Drive-Through Teller During COVID-19Across the country, drive-through tellers are making a comeback. Customers are responding strongly to banks...
09/18/2020 - Looking Outside Of The Core For Technology
While it is hard to pinpoint the exact temperature of the earth's core, it is somewhere between 7,952 degrees Fahrenheit and 10,800 degrees Fahrenheit. Either way, it is hot in there!Another core that has been a hot topic lately is core providers. As most financial institutions (FIs) implemented more technology amid the pandemic, a growing number are looking outside their core provider for these services. More and more FIs have been casting a wider net for technology services in recent years, which Bank Director's annual technology survey illustrates. Only 41% of respondents said they depend on their core provider to...
09/17/2020 - Three Key Liquidity Risk Management Reminders
In Colombia, dried ants are the typical movie theater snack, not popcorn, and they cost a whole lot less. When you are managing your liquidity, that is important. Liquidity management is always important for bankers, but especially during times like these. In addition to that, the government stimulus has created a situation where financial institutions are suddenly flush with liquidity. Yet, this is likely only for the short term, as circumstances start to change. As such, it is imperative to stress test your liquidity risk. You may be comfortable with liquidity risk, but it could still be helpful to review...
09/16/2020 - Disasters Are Striking - Is Your Institution Ready?
Antarctica has hurricane-force winds every three days! Yes, it is considered the windiest place on earth! Luckily, most of us don't have to deal with those conditions. But still, disasters seem more prevalent in our neck of the woods these days. Wildfires in the West. Tornadoes in the Midwest. Hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Coast. Natural disasters seem more frequent and community financial institutions (CFIs) seem to find themselves on the frontlines of disaster response more often. Now might be the time to review your plans. As you prepare, we bring you some timely reminders. Fine-tune...
09/15/2020 - Which Type Of Financial Institutions Will Cut Jobs?
Interesting fact: not only can people be allergic to cats but cats can be allergic to people. This is not often the case since our bathing habits are usually more rigorous than those of most cats.Another area covered more rigorously these days is expenses. Bankers are looking for all ways to tighten the belt including contemplating job cuts. When the pandemic and economic slump first prompted widespread job losses, banks were among those most likely to maintain employment levels. Indeed, a number of banks and financial, institutions, including Citi, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America, pledged not to cut jobs...
09/14/2020 - Make Your App Stand Out In The Crowd
Did you know that a bottle of wine consists of around 700 grapes? Think of all the fruit you are drinking the next time you have a glass of Chardonnay or Pinot Noir! Just as wine has a lot of grapes, Google Play Store and iTunes have a lot of apps and they are increasing every day. According to Statista, about 40% of community banks had a mobile app in 2018. Since this was 2Ys ago and pre-COVID-19, we believe this number is a bit higher today. So how do you stand out amongst the thousands of banking apps out...
09/11/2020 - Two Ways To Cut Costs for Greater Profitability
John Lloyd Wright, Frank Lloyd Wright's son, invented the toy, Lincoln Logs. Remember those? While new inventions can increase your profitability, so can cutting costs.These days, many community financial institutions (CFIs) are finding that staying profitable involves cutting costs. To that end, bankers are looking at potential places to trim expenses. We cover two big areas that can help.Digital banking. The pandemic has made some potential cost-savers clearer than others. Some CFIs were already shedding branches, but an uptick in digital banking, plus a mostly successful move to remote working for some, may push some CFIs to reassess their branches...
09/10/2020 - Adapting Performance Reviews For Working Remotely
Coca-Cola was the first soft drink consumed in space. Pepsi came eight hours later. Still, Coke's performance looks better in this case. While not up in space, we definitely are experiencing a new set of circumstances. How are your employees performing through it all?We are now six months into remote working, and it is unlikely that is going to change anytime soon. This type of work practice has now become the "new normal" and businesses, including community financial institutions (CFIs), may need to review and adapt the way they assess their employees' performance under these conditions. Not only that but,...
09/09/2020 - Three Ways RegTech Could Help Your Institution
Did you know one of the differences between alligators and crocodiles is that crocodiles can't stick out their tongues? Strange and fascinating. But, we wonder what methods were used to test this fact! Before you dig too deep into that, we bring up Regulatory Technology (RegTech) as a method used by some bankers these days to stay compliant. With ongoing regulatory demands and faster payments, financial institutions (FIs) have become more focused on efficient and effective regulatory compliance methods. For this reason, it's little surprise that RegTech has become one of the most popular subsets of FinTech development. FIs know...
09/08/2020 - M&A In 2020 - Sweet Or Sour?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, around 530k crashes are caused by improper lane changing and merging. Just as improper traffic merging can have its consequences, bank mergers without the right elements can quickly sour these days.The pandemic has been tough on bank M&A activity, particularly for the megadeals that headlined banking news last year. Through the first seven months of 2020, the number of bank deals dropped by almost two-thirds, while the total value plunged by more than 80%. The first seven months of 2019 saw 150 announced deals worth $43B. But just 56 deals were announced...
09/04/2020 - Inquiry & Insight: Security Plans, Gen Z, Profitability
Do you know why the average house cat sleeps about 16-20 hours a day? We found out from PetMD that even house cats are "hardwired like big cats" so they need to rest up in case they need to go "on the hunt." In today's Inquiry & Insight issue, we have some banking-related questions to answer from some of our readers, which we thought you might appreciate. Q: The pandemic is forcing financial institutions to rethink their security plans. What are some different approaches we could consider to mitigate threats?A: With more staffers working remotely, financial institutions (FIs) have faced...
09/03/2020 - Helping Millennials Through The Crisis
The word "toxic storm" may conjure up images of hazardous materials, negligent compliance, and bad weather. Luckily, that doesn't seem to happen often. But, when a member of the Federal Reserve uses the phrase "toxic storm", our ears perk up.A policy analyst at the St. Louis Fed used those words to describe the precarious financial situation millennials are facing. Today, we share some relevant data on this group as well as some strategies to help your millennial customers survive and even thrive. The St. Louis Fed laid out three reasons why COVID-19 could prove a more difficult setback for millennials...
09/02/2020 - OCC Proposes A Special Payments Charter
Experts believe there could be as many as 760MM mobile contactless payment users worldwide by the end of this year. Faster payments are a big deal and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) recently made a move in this area. The OCC is set to introduce a special purpose payments charter for nonbank payment processors and fintechs -- a move that bank and credit union trade groups strongly oppose.Payments Charter 1.0, slated to launch this fall, would be akin to a national money transmitter license that preempts state licenses, according to Acting Comptroller Brian Brooks. About 18...
09/01/2020 - Using AI To Reduce Bias
The New York Times reported that the movie "b" will feature the "first fully autonomous artificially intelligent actor," Erica. She was created by a Japanese roboticist and she is practicing lines with local actors, awaiting production to start. Artificial intelligence (AI) is not only being utilized by Hollywood, but also becoming more widely used in the financial industry too. Fraud detection and online customer engagement are a few ways. Some are also using it to help make better credit decisions and to reduce racial and gender bias. While the use of machine-learning algorithms within AI decision-making systems may not completely...

August 2020

08/31/2020 - How Your Employees Can Solve Customer Problems
A mature leafy tree makes as much oxygen seasonally as 10 people inhale in a year. With as many as 6MM trees on average planted in the US each year, that is a lot of oxygen! Trees sure are useful. Another tree many companies use is a decision tree. Today we discuss how these decision trees can help your customers.Many banks construct decision trees to help their employees solve customer problems. If the problem is A, do this. For a problem in category B, do that. You reward them when they help a customer quickly. But by doing this, are...
08/28/2020 - Digging Deeper With Your Borrowers
Did you know that baby porcupines were called porcupettes? Even as babies, they can be prickly. Another area that could be prickly is PPP follow-up, including forgiveness and extensions. As of August 8th, the SBA reported that over 5.2MM loans have been made through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). While bankers have worked hard to meet their customers' needs with these loans, more hard work is still ahead of them.Somewhat lost in the chaos of the current COVID-19 pandemic is the fact that many lenders are also looking at renewals, extensions, and new loan requests from their borrowers. The challenge...
08/27/2020 - Is It Time To Update Your Digital Account Onboarding?
The longest skateboard trip was over 7.5K miles, according to the Guinness World Records. Before you think of dusting off your own skateboard and giving it a whirl, we discuss another kind of board -- digital account onboarding.There has definitely been an increase in digital account openings during the coronavirus. Some customers need new accounts for their stimulus checks while others may be trying to build up their "rainy day" fund since it has been pouring lately. Digital bank, Chime, reported having record account openings during the first couple of months, and as the crisis keeps going, online account activity...
08/26/2020 - Strategies To Mitigate Credit Crunch
During his lifetime, Vincent Van Gogh only sold one painting for the equivalent of about $109. Not only that, but it took 20Ys after his death to be recognized as a gifted painter and get the credit he was due. These days, bankers everywhere are grappling with another kind of credit -- helping their customers through the current crisis.For the week ending August 9th, 3.6MM homeowners were in forbearance with the total number of loans in this category dipping to 7.21%, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. While this number has decreased, the pain for some may not be ending....
08/25/2020 - Ransomware Resurgence
The film "All the Money in the World" depicts the real-life kidnapping of one-time-richest-man in-the-world J. Paul Getty's grandson -- and his controversial refusal to pay the ransom. In the 50 years since this iconic story came to light, the issue of whether paying extortion is a good or bad idea has been hotly contested. Nowadays, extortion has moved to the digital realm. More hackers see ransomware schemes as a quick way to make cash, by gaining access to and locking up businesses' important data and systems, which they will release only when a ransom is paid. Ransomware has been...
08/24/2020 - Google & Financial Institutions - Possible New Partnerships
Google was founded in 1998 and 4Ys later, it was used as a verb on a popular TV show. In 2006, it was officially introduced in the Oxford English Dictionary. Now, Google is making headlines again with banking partnerships. The tech giant plans to offer digital bank accounts through Google Pay, offering budgeting tools via an FDIC or NCUA-insured account. Recently, partners include community banks, marking an expansion of earlier agreements with a large multinational bank and a credit union. On the one hand, it's another example of tech giants honing in on traditional bank territory. Apple recently introduced a...
08/21/2020 - Strategies For Institutions To Stay Independent
Many young adults want independence. But, it is especially hard these days. TD Ameritrade recently surveyed young millennials (24-29Ys old) where 57% say that the coronavirus has largely affected their financial independence.Similarly, many community financial institutions (CFIs) are trying to hold onto their independence. While some may be turning to mergers to increase stakeholder value, others still want to remain independent. It may be tough during a pandemic, but it can be done successfully. Having the right strategies in place can increase the strategic importance of independence for your shareholders, customers, and community. Here are some key strategies to start....
08/20/2020 - What 5G Could Mean For Banking
As of this month, 3.5B people worldwide use smartphones. That equates to 44.85% of the global population. It is no wonder that technology advancements are demanded these days, which keeps financial institutions (FIs) busy investing in technology. According to research conducted by AT&T and IDG, 81% of FIs have made technology changes at the corporate and/or branch level in recent years. Now, 5G will likely be a part of that technology upgrade. Telecommunications companies like AT&T and Verizon have already begun rolling out new high-speed 5G network technology in some parts of the country -- and this will affect financial...
08/19/2020 - FDIC Guidance Broadens Employment Pool
Did you know that pinball and dancing used to be illegal in some states? Sometimes, crimes can be re-evaluated for their effects on society. Similarly, the FDIC recently decided that certain individuals who committed trivial crimes in the past should have the opportunity to work at financial institutions (FIs). This change Could expand the pool of eligible banking employees, and that could be particularly helpful for community financial institutions (CFIs). The recently finalized change means that individuals who were convicted of small crimes in the past won't be automatically blocked from job openings at FIs, or be forced to go...
08/18/2020 - Three Branch Security Tips During COVID-19
While bears and tigers often top the list as the most dangerous animals, so do human beings. It is not surprising then that bankers need to take extra precautions these days trying to ensure bank security.A financial institution's first retail delivery channel has always been the branch. Even though digital banking has surged lately, the branch remains in many ways the best way for bankers to connect with customers. But keeping branches secure has become a bit more challenging, with some of the effects of COVID-19, such as face coverings and physical distancing.Here are a few tips for how CFIs...
08/17/2020 - Stress Testing And Liquidity
According to a Harvard study, 55% of Americans were more stressed in May than in January. COVID-19 has really stressed us out...even bankers, as they work on their stress testing. All bankers are busy stress testing their loan portfolios, to find out the potential effects of COVID-19. Getting a quick assessment is invaluable to see how loan losses will affect capital. In addition to loan portfolio stress testing, liquidity stress testing is also imperative. Combining liquidity and credit stress testing provides a more complete picture around your institution's resiliency.Liquidity depletion. Most bankers have experienced a rise in liquidity given the...
08/14/2020 - Creative Ways To De-Stress Your Staff And Customers
According to Bobby Flay, the ideal grilling time for a medium-rare burger is four minutes on one side and 5 on the other. We know that there are a lot of burgers being grilled this summer. But, there are other fun things to do even with the limitations of COVID-19. So, today we thought we would offer some creative ways to help de-stress customers and employees during these unprecedented times. Drive-in movies. One idea is to host drive-in events for community members, making sure of course, to comply with applicate state and local laws. Consider, Walmart's announcement that it would...
08/13/2020 - What To Do With Your PPP Loans
In a study by the Fetzer Institute, 62% of Americans reported that they needed more forgiveness in their personal lives. Small business customers also want forgiveness -- of their PPP loans. Recent changes to the Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will help more small businesses get their loans forgiven -- but it also leaves community financial institutions (CFIs) on the hook for longer, meaning extra costs and a growing administrative burden. Are CFIs better off keeping the loans and associated work in-house, selling the loans now and letting someone else deal with the hassles, or hiring a vendor...
08/12/2020 - The Pandemic, Cashless Payments & The Unbanked
Pandemics are not new. There have actually been five in the past 100Ys, the Spanish Flu, Asian Flu (H2N2), Avian Flu (H3N2), H1N1, and now COVID-19. Still, this one has caused a lot of suffering, physically, emotionally, and financially. One group that is especially vulnerable financially is the unbanked.COVID-19 has encouraged more online purchasing, a catalyst for more cashless payments. Many stores have become cashless too, to keep their employees and customers safe by eliminating currency as a possible transmission source. Yet, the unbanked mainly use currency for purchases and so this shift has limited their purchasing opportunities.According to the...
08/11/2020 - Customer Review Sites Share Your Safety Efforts
The first online review site, Epinions, started in 1999 and was bought by DealTime (shopping.com) in 2003. Since then, sites such as Yelp, Angie's List, and Google have added customer reviews to their sites.Due to COVID-19, customer review sites have expanded the information provided, from product quality and customer service, to include sanitation and safety efforts taken by businesses. Community financial institutions (CFIs) can use these sites too, to capture the steps they are taking in their branches and communicate with their customers.Given consumers' heightened interest in the risks associated with venturing into publicly accessible spaces, Yelp has expanded the...
08/10/2020 - Main Street Lending Program Could Help
According to the Washington Post, there are 3,134 Main Streets in the US. That number has been declining, but the Fed's Main Street Lending Program (MSLP) may help.GDP recorded a record slide in the second quarter, shrinking at a 32.9% annual rate. As the economy continues to struggle, small businesses continue to grasp for help. While many bankers have helped businesses get funds through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), one government program that hasn't gotten as much attention is the MSLP. But, that may be changing.Both programs are aimed at helping small- and medium-sized businesses obtain financing. Yet a key...
08/07/2020 - Keep Moving With LIBOR's Transition
Something we found surprising is that Queen Elizabeth is a trained mechanic. While you ponder that strange fact, we hope you don't find the transition from the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) surprising.LIBOR's days are numbered, as the clock continues to tick towards its December 31, 2021 expiration. Though COVID-19 has turned the focus to a myriad of new challenges, there has yet to be an announcement delaying the transition. If community financial institutions (CFIs) want to ensure they are aware of their total LIBOR exposures, they need to continue moving forward with their transition plans. COVID-19 has definitely changed...
08/06/2020 - Insights For Your Strategic Planning
La Paz, Bolivia is the capital city at the highest altitude worldwide -- 11,942 feet. While you likely aren't planning any South American trips in the near future, we thought this was interesting trivia. But, now we bring you back to the US to review findings of a new report by Deloitte. This report projects US commercial banks' balance sheet and profitability over the next 5Ys. These findings and our insight could prove helpful as you begin the strategic planning season. In Deloitte's baseline scenario, to which the firm attaches a 70% probability, recovery won't kick-start until mid-2021. The firm...
08/05/2020 - Should You Be Doing Banking-As-A-Service?
The most popular desserts in the US are: chocolate chip cookies, apple pie, cheesecake, pecan pie, carrot cake, and ice cream. It is likely that at least one of these dessert offerings is making your mouth water. So, while you ponder your next sweet treat, we provide you with some information on setting up another type of offering: Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS).BaaS is an end-to-end process that allows financial institutions to provide more services through application programming interfaces (APIs) with third-parties seamlessly. BaaS not only provides customers with value-added services, but could also create a new revenue source for your institution. One...
08/04/2020 - Ways To Manage The Coin Shortage
Does anyone remember the days when a phone call at a phone booth cost only a dime? Well, today -- if you can find a phone booth -- that call would cost 50-75 cents. Not only has the cost gone up, but coins are hard to find too.It's not that all the coins have vanished. The US has around $48B worth of coins in circulation. In a normal year, the US Mint might make as many as 12B new coins. But then, things changed due to COVID-19. Between January and May 2020, the Mint made about $4B in new coins,...
08/03/2020 - Inquiry & Insight: Compliance, AI, Strategic Initiatives
Q: Which is the most curious letter? A: Y? Ok, so that joke was a little goofy, but we wanted to get you into the mood for our latest Inquiry & Insight issue. This monthly issue allows us to address questions from our readers and provide you with some possible points of discussion as you begin your day.Q: We're considering a new compliance management system. What are some of the considerations?A: A good first step is to understand how much you're spending on compliance. To help in this effort, banks could consider a tool developed by ABA to help measure...

July 2020

07/31/2020 - Should You Consider Gig Workers As Customers?
There are several definitions for a gig. One is a light two-wheeled carriage pulled by one horse; another is the short form of gigabyte (data). But, today, we talk about the gig that means a job, especially one that offers flexible hours and income potential. Gig work (independent contracting and freelancing) is definitely here to stay. The number of gig workers has grown significantly over the past few years. Also, as COVID-19 expedited the shift to remote work and more job layoffs, there was more competition to fill gig jobs. As such, the "gig" customer may now be one that...
07/30/2020 - The Unique Financial Needs Of Women
We found out that fish cough. Even though we don't know why fish cough, we do know that many men and women infected with COVID-19 are coughing, and have other serious symptoms too. Men and women may have an equal chance of contracting COVID-19, but when it comes to the financial impact of the virus, it is a different story. Many of the industries hit hardest by the pandemic are those where women comprise the majority of employees -- areas such as hospitality, retail, education, administrative support, and personal services. Women have also been affected more deeply with schools closing...
07/29/2020 - New Technology Update: KYC Video Authentication
A group of kittens is called a kindle. Yet today, the word kindle has a strong association with the Amazon e-reader, that has integrated into the fabric of our lives. Another technology that seems to be integrating into the lives of some bankers and their customers is know-your-customer (KYC) video authentication.Several banks in the UK, Europe, and India are beginning to utilize KYC video authentication that connects customers to agents in real-time to verify their identity for mobile account openings and remote services. With the COVID-19 pandemic and mandatory physical distancing continuing, this may be something that American financial institutions...
07/28/2020 - Merging In The Face Of A Crisis
The founder of Wendy's, Dave Thomas, didn't graduate from high school. But, he got his GED in 1993 and his GED class voted him "Most Likely to Succeed." This goes to show that even when the future may not look bright, things can change all of that. Similarly, some bankers right now may be looking at mergers as "the things" that could change the outlook for their financial institution. The economic downturn has been tough for many community financial institutions (CFIs). For some, a lifeline may be to merge with a stronger bank. A merger could not only help resolve...
07/27/2020 - How To Mitigate Currency Risk For Your Customers
The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in Louisiana is considered the longest continuous bridge over water in the world. Pretty impressive! Bankers are also acting as a bridge for their international customers to their overseas suppliers and customers in a way that mitigates their risk.International trade affects many companies, even those that aren't obviously engaging in overseas business. A firm might buy its materials in the US and sell its products to Americans -- but the machinery used to make its materials comes from overseas. Even the most local businesses could have international links in their supply chains.International commerce has grown substantially...
07/24/2020 - The Personal Touch In Digital Banking
According to American Express, the typical American tells 15 people after they have had a bad customer service experience. We know you are more tuned into your customers than most, but it is important to stay tuned in, including your digital banking services.With so many Americans staying at home, the use of online and mobile services has increased across multiple industries, including banking. For some community financial institutions (CFIs), it has been hard to keep up with the growing demand. But, what if the secret to digital banking isn't technology? That may be music to your ears. When looking at...
07/23/2020 - Five Ways To Boost Employee Morale
Interestingly, it is believed that our ancient ancestors started enjoying wine before the wheel was invented. Supposedly, fruit that fell to the ground and fermented was the first taste of "wine." Many of us are enjoying a slightly different variation of virtual "wine" these days.Physical distancing was bearable for the first few weeks or so perhaps. But now, more than four months in, it is beginning to take a toll. According to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, two-thirds of respondents had symptoms of depression at times, under COVID-19's lockdown measures. Additionally, two-thirds of employers have stated...
07/22/2020 - Steering Clear Of Unemployment Fraud
Did you know Duncan Hines was a real person? He was a restaurant critic from Kentucky, but we know the name as a box of cake mix. People may not always be who we think they are, and these days bankers need to be especially aware of that as unemployment fraudsters are hard at work.It's tough to steal money from people who don't have any. But a government program to help the unemployed? Unfortunately, that looks a lot like a well-stocked fishing hole for fraudsters. Unemployment benefit fraud is making the rounds, reaching into bank accounts to make off with...
07/21/2020 - FinCEN Guidance On Pandemic Fraud Scams
There are objects that people used to think protected them from poisons, including opals, emeralds, and sharks' teeth. Wouldn't it be nice if it were that easy to protect against fraud?It's an unfortunate reality that fraudsters remain relentless in times of crisis. It's imperative for community financial institutions (CFIs) to be on alert for possible warning signs because, oftentimes, customers will be targeted directly. With this in mind, we direct your attention to a recent advisory by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) about pandemic-related impostor scams and money mule schemes. Here are some red flags for CFIs to share...
07/20/2020 - Is Divestment An Option?
Interestingly, the Vatican's bank is the only one that gives ATM customers the option to use Latin for their transactions. We think options are good. So, today, we bring up the idea of divestment as an option.As the banking industry struggles with the impact of COVID-19, with soaring unemployment numbers expecting to lead to major defaults, many financial institutions are looking at their own operations for divestments. Just as the 2008 credit crisis drove financial institutions to divest business lines and loan portfolios, the fallout from the coronavirus has many of them gearing up for divestments within the next 2Ys,...
07/17/2020 - Developing Your Banking App - The Time May Be Right
If you want to boost your focus, you may want to look at pictures of cute animals. At least, this is what a Japanese study found. We aren't asking you to look at pictures of bunnies today, but we do want to get you to focus -- on banking apps.The message from customers is clear: they want a way to reach your bank virtually, at any hour, to conduct both routine and new business. In other words, they want an app. According to a recent Citi poll, 91% of bank customers prefer using an app to visiting a branch. While...
07/16/2020 - The Latest Regulatory Stress Test Findings
The Great Sphinx of 2500 BC is still one of the largest statues today, standing larger and taller than a six-story building. Clearly, it was built for stability. Another kind of stability involves stress testing, bankers, and the Fed.The Fed has given its thumbs-up regarding the stability of the banking industry's largest players -- at least for now. But, financial institutions should not let their guard down; the coronavirus has proven more long-lasting than first anticipated. After running Dodd-Frank stress tests, along with additional testing directly related to the impact of COVID-19, on the nation's 34 largest banks, the Fed...
07/15/2020 - Key Technologies Used To Communicate With Customers
Before the coronavirus, the average number of times that people checked their phones daily was 58. If you figure a 12-hr day, that would be more than once every 15 minutes. These days, that number has surely gone up and with that, certain technologies are being used more too.Physical distancing due to COVID-19 hastened the use of technologies that make it easier for customers to interact with their community financial institutions (CFIs). With residual uncertainty in opening up some branches to full capacity, we give you a rundown of three key technologies used more frequently by financial institutions to stay...
07/14/2020 - Frustrated PPP Applicants Could Become New Customers
We thought it interesting that the only animals found blushing are humans. Try making your pet blush and see if we are right! In the meantime, we want to pivot to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and how you may get additional customers due to their frustration with the process.PPP promised to be a lifeline to small businesses struggling in the pandemic-related economic crisis. But indeed, many small businesses became so frustrated with how their financial institutions handled PPP loan applications that they are now ready to switch to another financial institution. This is good news for community financial institutions...
07/13/2020 - PPP Fraud - How To Protect Your Institution
Before he was president, Abraham Lincoln was the wrestling champion in his county in IL. Of the 300 matches, he lost only one. Fraud is something that bankers are always wrestling with, but these days, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has given rise to a greater fraud opportunity.The PPP has radically increased the amount of lending to small and mid-sized businesses with 4.9MM loans made as of July 6th. But the complexity of the application process and the goal of doling out money quickly have made it a prime target for fraud. Even before the crisis, the results of an...
07/10/2020 - Is It Time For A Fintech Partnership?
Since summer is here. We thought we would remind you how to treat sunburn pain. According to the American Academy of Dermatology: 1) cool baths/showers; 2) aloe vera; 3) ibuprofen; 4) drink extra water; and 5) keep skin protected until it heals. While you consider all that, we wanted to update you on why having a partnership with a fintech may not burn you as much these days as previously.There is no doubt that the ongoing pandemic and its effects have underscored the importance of digital banking channels. With this continued demand, community financial institutions (CFIs) that work with financial...
07/09/2020 - Three Ripe Ways To Refine Your Lending Process
The tomato is believed to come from Central or South America originally. There are 7,500 varieties, of which the heirloom variety is quite popular. Depending on the soil, water, and sun, you will get a different resulting crop. Similarly, businesses are finding the challenges of COVID-19 are affecting their result in different ways. Even as businesses reopen, things are still in flux. Some businesses may shift to more online sales, need to reduce face-to-face interactions, and face unique credit challenges through this transition period. As businesses reopen and change gears, it may be time for community financial institutions (CFIs) to...
07/08/2020 - What Is Needed During The Second Wave Of COVID-19
It seems that the largest wave on record to have been surfed is a whopping 100ft by British surfer, Tom Butler. That must have been quite daunting, as could be the case for bankers too, potentially facing another wave of coronavirus cases.Just as some community financial institutions (CFIs) and their customers were starting to think about a return to a measure of normalcy, the number of cases started rising significantly in certain areas of the country. Now, there's renewed concern of a second wave. Given these unfortunate happenings, we may need to continue working remotely and have reduced branch services....
07/07/2020 - Risks Associated With Contact Tracing
Tracing can be interesting, family tree tracing, for example. Intriguingly, Confucius has the longest traced family tree in the world covering 80 generations. While you consider some of your own family tree tracings, we jump into another kind of tracing -- contact tracing.Yesterday, we touched on contact tracing in one of our Inquiry & Insight discussions. Since it is likely to grow as a topic of interest as businesses start reopening during the pandemic, we thought we would take a deeper dive into it today.As businesses are reopening, many are doing so cautiously and looking to implement contact tracing as...
07/06/2020 - Inquiry & Insight: Back To Work With The Coronavirus
There are interesting jobs that many of us have never heard of, such as "chicken nugget taste-tester" (self-explanatory), Netflix "tagger" (they binge-watch then tag shows), and "Snoozetern" (they get paid to sleep on mattresses). As bankers get back to their job at the branch, there are questions to answer. We answer a few of them for you today.Q: How do I make sure our customers feel comfortable about coming back to the branch, especially our seniors?A: Like many grocery stores have done, financial institutions should consider offering hours when only seniors are allowed to bank. Stock up on pens so...
07/03/2020 - The Right Time 4 Financial Literacy 4 Kids
You may not have thought about it, but 4 is the only number with the same number of letters as the meaning of its name. As we bankers know, numbers are pretty cool, but wouldn't it be nice if more kids thought this way too?Many children around the country are stuck at home this summer, as scores of camps have closed and summer plans have been canceled. With so many parents anxiously searching for enrichment activities for their children, what better time for banks to introduce fun financial literacy programs designed to teach children about financial matters.Certainly, there's a need...
07/02/2020 - What Have Your Peers Been Doing In This Crisis?
There is evidence that Viking men wore makeup. While we're not exactly sure why, it may have helped them with their warring duties in some way, shape, or form. Many banks have been working hard on their duties too -- counseling customers, doling out PPP loans, and working hard to ensure employees' safety. Amid these efforts, it's easy for a bank to feel like an island unto itself. In reality, we're all in this situation together. Bank Director's 2020 Compensation Survey helps to illustrate that; so, today we wanted to share some of the numbers so you could benchmark your...
07/01/2020 - Potential Blind Spots in Risk Management?
Risks are everywhere, even during a celebration like the Fourth of July. On average, 180 people need emergency room treatment every day during the month of July, due to firecracker injuries.There are innumerable risks with COVID-19 too of course. Some even expect its impact to lead to a deep recession, thereby increasing the likelihood that there will be more bank failures on the forefront. In light of this reality, community financial institutions (CFIs) should take the time to revisit their risk management plans. Even before the pandemic, the number of bank failures was already inching up, with 25 community banks...

June 2020

06/30/2020 - Assessing Capital Using Economic Data
The top 3 most stressful events in life are: 1) death of a loved one; 2) divorce and 3) moving. Of course, many of us would add stress testing your loan portfolios during COVID-19 to that list.Last Friday, the Fed announced the results of its annual stress test. While testing the big banks, the Fed came to the conclusion that they are strong enough to weather the continuing coronavirus crisis. Yet, loan losses could add up to $700B for them, so they clearly need to watch their capital levels. Although losses would not be that high for community financial institutions...
06/29/2020 - Net Interest Margins And Interest Rate Swaps
Babies learn to smile before they can speak, so smiling must be important. We know that these times are not exactly smiling times, but, hopefully we can give you something to smile about (or at least make you feel less stressed) in regards to your margin.While some community financial institutions (CFIs) may already have been preparing for a possible recession before COVID-19, the speed with which the current economic crisis arrived caught everyone by surprise. The Fed's interest rate drops (combined with aggressive bond-buying) have helped backstop the economic fallout from the coronavirus, yet the interest rate squeeze on CFIs...
06/26/2020 - Leadership Communication During The Transition
As the well-known leadership guru Peter Drucker noted, "Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things." As we transition from crisis to recovery mode, communicating effectively is definitely one of the right things. Three months ago, we covered leading during a crisis. Here we are going to delve deeper into what is needed to reassure everyone during this transition, which will continue to be a time of uncertainty and angst for many staff members. As you are working through the logistical and practical details of the recovery process, keep in mind these facets of good leadership communication....
06/25/2020 - Pay Considerations With Remote Workers
At the end of last year, a parking space in Hong Kong sold for almost $1MM. Costs definitely vary, depending on where you live.Businesses are thinking about this too, lately. As remote work proved to be a viable option for many businesses over the last few months, several of them are contemplating making this practice more permanent for at least some of their staff. This could change some of their staffing costs. Is this an idea you have been contemplating too?One big company is making a dramatic shift on this front. Facebook's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg recently announced that he expects...
06/24/2020 - Helping Customers Through the PPP Forgiveness Process
A few years back, a math class did an experiment and found out that Double Stuf Oreos are only 1.86x greater than regular Oreos. Crunching the numbers is not only important to Oreo-loving math students, but also to bankers.Bankers have been crunching the numbers a lot lately, especially with the new Paycheck Protection Program. We know many of you have been working with your small business customers with these PPP loans and will need to help some of them with loan forgiveness too. So, we wanted to provide you with six pointers to help shepherd those borrowers through the loan...
06/23/2020 - Community Financial Institutions And Social Change
In the 1800s in Ireland, people used turnips to carve jack-o-lanterns instead of pumpkins. I am guessing that turnips were a bit larger than they are today, as things change over time. Society can change over time too, as is evident with the recent shift in public sentiment. Over the past year, the values of tolerance and equality have increased in importance for the US population in general. According to consumer intelligence firm Resonate, 53.7% of the population deemed equality as an important value as of June 2, while 52.3% deemed tolerance as an important value. Equality rose 10 points...
06/22/2020 - How Subchapter V Bankruptcy Could Help Your Customers
In an average lifetime, the human heart beats about 2.5B times. In these times, it may be beating faster than usual, but small businesses may have a reason to bring it back down to normal. Bankruptcy has just gotten easier for small businesses. A new Subchapter V bankruptcy code took effect in February of this year and is available to small businesses that fall within lower financial thresholds. While it falls under Chapter 11, Subchapter V is more streamlined, simpler, and less costly than Chapter 11. Subchapter V could help small businesses with loans from community financial institutions (CFIs) restructure...
06/19/2020 - Getting Ready To Resume Full Services Post COVID-19
Opossums don't officially "play dead" as rumored. They actually faint due to overexcitement. Since some branches have been temporarily closed or operating at a reduced level, bankers may be overexcited to reopen their branches and resume full-service levels too. But, things will be different as they do.What this means will differ by region and institution. So, today we provide a couple of examples along with a short checklist to get you started. We found that one Midwestern FI has reportedly begun to repopulate its offices, starting with 9% of its remote workers. The institution has had to work through issues...
06/18/2020 - Optimizing Your Website For Voice Searches
We were amused to find out that a newborn giant panda is only as big as a stick of butter. Boy, what amazing growth! Voice search devices such as Amazon Echo and Google Home have also had amazing growth. When they first came on the scene a few years ago, they were novelties, but today they are widely used by consumers. Not only are they using voice searches to gather information, but also to make purchases and even execute banking transactions. Furthermore, the adoption is poised to increase, especially with the surge of all things digital due to COVID-19. Given...
06/17/2020 - Getting The Most Out Of The Last Days Of PPP
It has been reported that coyotes outrun roadrunners by 23 mph. Similarly, community financial institutions (CFIs) seem to have outpaced both regional and big banks when it comes to PPP loans. Though the deadline for the PPP approaches and demand has slowed, great opportunities still exist. Today we discuss where to locate more demand, possible new legislation, and looking beyond the PPP eligibility period.The latest SBA PPP report shows $130B is still available, after over 4.5MM loan approvals. With an estimated 30MM+ small businesses in the US, more businesses may still be in need and qualify. The SBA shows 56K...
06/16/2020 - Keeping Seniors Engaged With Digital Banking
The oldest customer complaint, which was carved into a clay tablet, actually dates back 4000Ys to Mesopotamia. While we don't expect you to get many (if any) of these complaints, with more digital banking users these days, you have surely provided additional customer service. COVID-19 and the need for physical distancing forced many people who had previously resisted mobile banking -- particularly seniors -- to adopt online banking, mobile apps, and even cashless payments. But as branches reopen, community financial institutions (CFIs) will need to be proactive if they want to keep seniors engaged with digital banking. Out of necessity,...
06/15/2020 - Will We Transition To SOFR In 2021?
The summer months usually include lots of ice cream. So, we thought it was interesting to learn that sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia is the medical term for brain freeze or ice cream headaches. All of us have likely experienced this strange sensation. But, bankers will likely be experiencing sensations of another kind -- relief -- if the transition to SOFR (Secured Overnight Financing Rate) is pushed out due to COVID-19.The end of LIBOR (London Inter-Bank Overnight Rate) as the common benchmark index for loans and other transactions was supposed to be in phase-out mode this year. Then the coronavirus hit. Financial institutions...
06/12/2020 - Bank M&A Climate: Is There An Urge To Merge?
Herbert and Zelmyra Fisher of NC have the Guinness World's Record for the longest marriage -- 86Ys. They both have since passed, but what a successful union! Another type of union, bank M&As, was expected to flourish in 2020, until COVID-19 occurred.Bank M&A activity ground to a halt as the coronavirus crisis arrived. The economic upheaval may be a short-term damper though. A recent report by Deloitte suggests that the urge to merge is still there and financial institutions (FIs) that are ready to grow may find opportunities later this year as weaker institutions look for lifelines. Indeed, even scuttled...
06/11/2020 - Inquiry & Insight: Lenders Staying Financially Fit
A recent study from the University of Copenhagen shows that after exercise, a body automatically cleans up its muscles so they stay healthy. While staying healthy physically is important, lenders know that it is also important to stay healthy financially.With this in mind, in this issue of Insight & Inquiry, we share some questions from lenders nationwide and provide you with our insight. Q: When are lenders going to start charging off loans? A: The St. Louis FRED database provides charge-off rates on Commercial and Industrial ("C&I") and Commercial Real Estate ("CRE") loans for "banks not among the 100 largest...
06/10/2020 - Bridging The Technical Skills Gap
Did you hear that a buried treasure worth millions was actually found in the Rocky Mountains? We didn't think things like that happened. While the latest technology is not exactly buried, it is a treasure that many bankers realize they need more than ever. The COVID-19 global pandemic has expedited the banking industry's reliance on and utilization of a multitude of technologies -- from security measures to amplified digital banking capabilities. In a matter of days, community financial institutions (CFIs) had to equip employees to work from home securely, and satisfy a surge in digital banking demand. This confluence of...
06/09/2020 - Reap More Fee Income With Wealth Management
According to a recent poll by Gallup, 55% of Americans say they own stock. This has been pretty consistent over the last decade too. Just as not every American owns stock, not every community financial institution (CFI) counts wealth management services among its offerings. However, for those that do, now may be the right time to review your wealth management plans, as fee income becomes more important.While the wealth management industry uses a variety of compensation models, charging a percentage of assets under management (AUM) might be the most common. According to Simon-Kucher research, average AUM fees have declined from...
06/08/2020 - After the PPP - Now What?
There is a 40-pg Guinness World Records document explaining the definition of a waffle for waffle competitors. We know that bankers have enough documents to read these days, especially with the PPP, but, we found it interesting nonetheless.Community financial institutions (CFIs) have done great work so far with the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Entrepreneur magazine reports that many borrowers have had better luck in accessing some of the nearly $700B set aside for small businesses by working with smaller financial institutions (FIs). In fact, the SBA reports that 44% of all PPP loans were provided by institutions with assets under...
06/05/2020 - Will Negative Interest Rates Happen In The US?
Since 2012, Boring, OR and Dull, Scotland have been sister cities. Yet, negative rates are anything but boring and dull.The pandemic has weighed profoundly on the global economy and several central banks are starting to think of Plan B, including negative interest rates, in case the economic recovery falters. Since we don't often hear about negative interest rates in the US, today we dig into this topic to try to answer the question: Will negative interest rates happen in the US?Negative interest rates are generally used when governments fear deflation, and they have exhausted other options. The idea is that...
06/04/2020 - Virtual College Recruiting During The Pandemic
We were surprised to find out that newborn babies have almost 100 more bones than full-grown adults. This allows babies to curl up in the womb and then be more flexible during delivery.These days, it seems bankers need to be more flexible too. With COVID-19, many colleges are already weighing the possibility of switching to all virtual classes in the fall. With virtual college life, community financial institutions (CFIs) will need to rethink their approach to recruiting college graduates. In the same way that many jobs across the country quickly morphed into remote positions in response to the global pandemic,...
06/03/2020 - A Taste Of Today's Commercial Real Estate Market
In the ruins of Pompeii, ancient versions of takeout restaurants were excavated. Apparently, the Italians were way ahead of us in the convenience provided by their restaurants. As restaurants, along with other businesses, are starting to open up, we are all waiting with bated breath. How will they adapt? Can they modify as needed, even as they open and more information becomes available on safety practices? Will employees feel comfortable coming back? There are many questions to answer. While we can't answer these questions, we wanted to provide you with some interesting stats on the CRE market in May along...
06/02/2020 - Long-Term Benefits Even After PPP
The Oscar Statue costs $400 to make, but it must be offered to the Academy for $1 before reselling it elsewhere. Not a great resale value, but the benefits in receiving one go beyond that $1. Similarly, community financial institutions (CFIs) may not be making much money by administrating small business loans through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). However, many are motivated by the chance to help small businesses survive -- while reaping other potential long-term benefits.Long-Term Relationships. Problems with the PPP launch underlined the value of personal banking relationships. Certain business customers missed out on the first round of...
06/01/2020 - Cloud Services - Strategy And Risk
There are lots of different types of clouds: cumulus; stratus; stratocumulus; and nimbostratus, among others. But, the clouds getting all of the attention these days are cloud services. It is a different time, to be sure. With businesses pushed to work remotely, cloud services have increased dramatically. In fact, Microsoft noticed a 775% increase in demand for its cloud services during the crisis. Like many businesses, community financial institutions (CFIs) may have turned to cloud service providers to streamline some of their workflow processes as they manage business off-site too. Cloud Strategy. To start, it is important to have a...

May 2020

05/29/2020 - New Technologies Facilitating Businesses Reopening
A British study indicates that chewing gum could increase your concentration. Whether it will be due to chewing gum or not, we figure businesses will need to sharpen their concentration to be sure reopening will be successful. As non-essential businesses are beginning to open back up, they require new protocols and it looks like technology will play a major role in these efforts to keep customers and employees safe. While practices such as wearing face masks and stepping up disinfecting are expected for any business reopening, businesses also need to control the number of people they let in. To help...
05/28/2020 - Changing Lending Practices
Hibernation takes place in winter, but estivation (summer sleep) takes place in summer by snails, earthworms, and frogs among others. It may sound tempting to slumber through summer, but lenders are still busy. With unemployment numbers high, businesses still struggling, and uncertainty still remaining, many banks have been assessing the situation and tightening their lending standards. As you review your situation, we wanted to give you some highlights of the Federal Reserve's latest Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey on Bank Lending Practices, to help you navigate these unchartered waters.According to data from the Fed's report, as of the beginning of...
05/27/2020 - Regulatory Changes For International Remittance Transfers
The letter "Q" is the only one in the alphabet that is not used in any US state name. We had to double-check that, so if you want to sneak away and check, we understand. Another thing you'll want to check is if you are still considered a remittance transfer provider, according to the regulations. On May 11, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) updated its remittance rules which could affect some community financial institutions. If you currently provide under 100 international remittance transfers (such as wires or international ACHs) per year for consumers, nothing will change. Yet, if you...
05/26/2020 - Mobile Credit Card Apps Becoming More Important
Many people have been busy with DIY projects, as they spend more time at home -- painting walls, putting up a backsplash, transforming a backyard living space, etc. To make it easier and safer, many DIYers have been using mobile credit card apps during the pandemic. But, they are not the only ones.Even before COVID-19, according to a PYMNTS and Elan payments report in December 2019, 102MM consumers (40.5%) had downloaded a mobile card app. These days, with physical distancing and just now loosening stay-at-home orders, along with fears of cash as a coronavirus contaminant, mobile card acceptance has certainly...
05/22/2020 - Safely Reopening Your Branches
As of May 10th, Gallup reports that 72% of Americans were happy compared to 67% as of April 5th. This improved emotional health leads to higher consumer confidence and will help businesses (including financial institutions) as they start to reopen.According to a survey from the American Bankers Association, 42% of bankers believe they will have employees back in branches and resume regular business operations within 30 days. An additional 31% of bankers predict this will occur within 60 days and 10% of bankers think it will be more like 90+ days before this happens. But while returning back to the...
05/21/2020 - Top Six Stress Testing Tips During COVID-19
We have heard there are beaches in the Maldives that glow in the dark. Right about now, it would be nice to enjoy some beach time. But, it looks more like stress testing time than beach time. While there are routine things to look for when stress testing in today's world, there are also some new areas to address. In order to help you with this, today we provide you with our six Stress Testing Tips for COVID-19.Sensitivity Testing. COVID-19 is an example of the need to do sensitivity testing as well as scenario testing. For instance, can my portfolio...
05/20/2020 - COVID-19 Risk Analysis
Did you know that goldfish can tell the music of one composer from another? Maybe not. But, all bankers know that the coronavirus is creating a symphony of risk these days.In considering the impact of COVID-19 on virtually all aspects of life, we find ourselves using words like "unprecedented." With this new reality, we also feel compelled to view credit risk in a much different way than ever before. With such a critical task, in such an unknown (and developing) environment, it is valuable to have the right approach and not rely solely on what we have done in the...
05/19/2020 - The Main Street Lending Program - A Summary
We thought it was interesting to find out that a group of ferrets is called a business. They must be very busy creatures indeed to form so many businesses. While you ponder that thought, we turn to the latest Fed program to help another kind of business -- small and medium-sized businesses.As part of the CARES Act, the Fed is willing to fund up to $600B as a participant in qualified loans, where the Fed (through a Special Purpose Vehicle) will purchase up to 95% of eligible loans, thereby sharing in the credit risk alongside the "lead lender." This lending...
05/18/2020 - Remote Meeting Management
New Zealand kea parrots are known to sing to others when they are in a good mood, making them the first known non-mammal species to communicate "with infectious laughter," according to a study published in Current Biology. Meetings are no laughing matter, but they are a good way to communicate, especially with a greater number of remote workers. Yet, with the increased distance, they can also be more challenging. So, today we provide you with a guide for remote meeting management to keep performance and productivity up. First and foremost, you should determine if a meeting is needed. While this...
05/15/2020 - How COVID-19 Affects Men And Women Differently
Today, people often see teddy bears in windows. The teddy bear hunt is going on in neighborhoods globally, to perk up children (and adults) who feel disconnected. Creativity and fun don't discriminate.A virus doesn't discriminate either. Yet, men and women are enduring different physical, economic, and social fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. The results of these differences will likely impact the business environment and economic recovery. Physical. Men and women have strikingly different COVID-19 death rates. In the US, 2x as many men as women have died from COVID-19 as of mid-April. In Western Europe, men represent about 69% of...
05/14/2020 - Serving Your CRE Business Customers Going Forward
We found out that having 10 or more trees on your block can actually make you feel as healthy as someone 7Ys younger! We are not sure how they figured this out, but this is according to a study reported in the nature journal, Scientific Reports.We don't have to tell you that the world of commercial real estate (CRE) lending has changed virtually overnight given the coronavirus, making you likely feel at least 7Ys older. Many local businesses with long histories of success had to close, and others followed. It is anticipated that many businesses will not recover given a...
05/13/2020 - New Cyber Risks With COVID-19
Did you know dogs sneeze to show they are play-fighting? So, no need to worry about your pooch, if you hear him sneeze.Unfortunately, one thing you still need to worry about is cybercriminals. COVID-19 has provided a major opportunity for these bandits. Many of you have likely been hearing this, so we wanted to share the latest information. According to "The Cyber Threat Impact of COVID-19 to Global Business," from cybersecurity firm IntSights, cybercrime has ramped up significantly with the outbreak. From targeted phishing efforts to phony coronavirus mobile apps, malware, and more, cybercriminals are taking full advantage of every...
05/12/2020 - Interest Rate Swaps and Loan Modifications with COVID-19
COVID-19 has affected our everyday lives in many ways. We are spending more time online (for work and with friends), baking more often (flour and yeast has been sold out in many areas), and honing our skills as personal hairdressers (with some interesting results). The coronavirus has definitely changed things. One of the ways it has changed life for business owners is that many business owners need loan modifications quickly. If you are like many community financial institutions (CFIs), you are looking for nimble and diverse ways to help your customers with this need. Interest rate swaps give you a...
05/11/2020 - The State of Small Business
Starbucks opened 85% of its stores last week, with new protocols like online orders, pick-up, and drive-through only. If you have been longing for a Grande cup of caffeine these past weeks, hopefully, you have now satisfied your craving. While Starbucks isn't a small business, it looks like businesses are starting to open up again. So, today we report on the state of the small business. It is definitely a difficult time to own one of the 31mm small businesses in the US. While ordinarily, these firms provide about half of the nation's gross domestic product, during the coronavirus pandemic,...
05/08/2020 - Consumer Behavior Changes During COVID-19
American consumers seem to be mixed on the economy right now. While 70% feel we are in a recession, 48% believe things will get better over the next six months, according to Gallup. How this influences their behavior will play out in the next few months. In the meantime, we wanted to bring you some highlights of recent COVID-19 consumer behavior changes. Practical & conservative spending. The Commerce Department reported that in March consumer spending dropped 7.5%. At the same time, it reported that personal income decreased by 2%, the largest decrease since 2013, as employers started to lay off...
05/07/2020 - Remote Work - For Recruiting & Retention
People have discovered new hobbies during this crisis: making candles, gardening, photography, baking, among others. Now may also be the time for you to discover new ways to use your existing remote work practices as a competitive advantage in recruiting and employee retention.Community financial institutions (CFIs) have sometimes struggled with recruiting fresh talent -- particularly for positions in IT, cybersecurity, and other in-demand fields, and in rural areas. At least 60% of the CEOs surveyed by PwC for its Banking and Capital Markets Trends 2019 say it has become much more difficult to hire qualified employees in banking and capital...
05/06/2020 - COVID-19 Loan Modifications - Risk Rating
Because of the issues around COVID-19, the REAL ID deadline is pushed out to October 2021, according to Homeland Security. This is one of many changes due to COVID-19. Loan modifications have also changed.Many lenders have already completed COVID-19-related loan modifications to help their borrowers. These are short-term accommodations granted to borrowers who had been performing previously, but are now experiencing hardship. Normally, these modifications would likely be labeled a Troubled Debt Restructure (TDR); but, temporary regulatory guidelines are suspending that requirement. Many bankers are finding that there is a complex web of inter-related issues when considering these modifications including...
05/05/2020 - Social Distancing And Healthy Employees
Did you know there is a website that showcases artists whose shows had been canceled due to social distancing? Social distancing has affected us in many ways to be sure.Social distancing hasn't only impacted our daily routines either; it has also impacted our health. While it has definitely helped to curb the spread of the coronavirus, other health impacts have not necessarily been as good. After nearly two months of working from home and social distancing, people are starting to feel some of the longer-term health effects. Most people are reporting some level of insomnia, nightmares, fatigue, anxiety, loneliness, and...
05/04/2020 - Inquiry & Insight - More Coronavirus Questions
There is a common belief that stress turns your hair gray. Well, a Harvard study seems to have confirmed this. Stress damages the pigment in the hair follicles, which in turn can lead to gray hair. Any more gray hair out there these days? Well, we hope we can reduce some of your stress by answering a few of your questions. Q: So many of our customers are now working remotely. What are some ways we can best support them?A: Certainly, remote check deposit and digital banking are low-hanging fruits. Beyond that, community financial institutions (CFIs) might consider offering accounts...
05/01/2020 - Post-COVID-19 Office Design And Practices
In 1968, Mr. Propst invented the Action Office System, which became the office cubicle and provided "a social kind of privacy" for employees. The cubicle is likely to have a resurgence in 2020 as businesses start opening up after weeks of lockdown orders.Some businesses and companies have already started reopening, but things will be different. There will be social distancing, and masks and temperature protocols in place. Since many of your customers have commercial real estate, we thought we would share some of the ways office design and practices could change due to COVID-19. Furthermore, you may find that these...

April 2020

04/30/2020 - Banking Redefined Post-COVID-19 - Institutions (Part 2 of 2)
Interesting fact: the earliest scripts of Back to the Future portrayed the time machine as a refrigerator instead of the DeLorean. I guess that shows one way adjustments are made. On that note, we continue talking about adjustments made around COVID-19 in the banking industry. After yesterday's discussion on customers, today, we discuss the shifts financial institutions (FIs) have made. The spread of COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown pushed many financial institutions to increase communication channels, embrace new technologies, and firm up business continuity. Some of these are likely to continue as FIs have integrated and tested them in the...
04/29/2020 - Banking Redefined Post-COVID-19 - Customers (Part 1 of 2)
Fossils show sharks existed 450mm years ago which is 2x as long ago as dinosaurs. Just as those were likely uncertain times, we are experiencing our own. Luckily, it feels like we may soon see the light at the end of the tunnel. In preparation for that, in a 2-part series, we address the shifts customers and financial institutions (FIs) have made due to this crisis and which ones are likely to continue even after the crisis. Today, we start with customer behaviors that are likely to remain.Using two-way video. At the end of last year, just 17% of bank...
04/28/2020 - Morale-Building During COVID-19
The COVID-19 crisis has been tough on our kids. Some tips to help include: allowing them to develop new hobbies, talk about the importance of their role in the family, and support them through the uncertainty.This crisis has also been tough on our employees. As this crisis continues, it is more important than ever to keep up morale among your teams. It is complicated with a spread-out workforce. But, it is crucial as employees may feel more isolated and disjointed from the rest of their team. Not only that, Smarp.com, an employee communications platform, found that companies having high employee...
04/27/2020 - Community Banks Continue Making A Difference
Long before this crisis, community banks were already actively helping those who were the most vulnerable, and they continue to do so. Today, we focus on many of those banks and round out Community Banking Month by saying we are truly grateful for all community banks and their local outreach. Employees at Exchange Bank in CA get paid time off to participate in a long list of charitable events, including United Way's Day of Caring and the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. Last year, the bank donated $826,620 to more than 300 organizations.Employees can wear jeans to work on...
04/24/2020 - Social Media Tips During COVID-19
Did you know that eggplants are considered berries? So are avocados, tomatoes, chili peppers, and bananas. While you consider a fruit salad including eggplant and chili peppers, we thought we would discuss social media use during COVID-19. You may not think now is the time to work on your social media skills. However, now may be the ideal time. We have found three ways that community financial institutions can use social media through the COVID-19 pandemic.Provide customer support. Using social media as another way to provide customer assistance is important as people look for help. Make sure to include accurate...
04/23/2020 - COVID-19 And Your CRE Portfolio
We found out Lego has an underground vault with 500 iconic sets for viewing. What a cool way to keep them all together! Similarly, many commercial real estate (CRE) borrowers are trying to keep their investments together these days.It is not easy for your CRE customers given the current COVID-19 and economic situation. Certain businesses are doing better than others; generally, grocery stores are still busy, while restaurants have taken a big hit. As you know, it is important to know how your business customers are doing, especially your CRE borrowers. According to the Trepp Bank Research (March report), the...
04/22/2020 - Job Loss And Economic Recovery
Are you like many Americans who have eaten a few more baked goods since the stay-at-home restrictions? Doing our own research on this, a one-pound loaf of banana bread is quite easily consumed in a day. While on the topic of consumption, there seems to be a lot of economic news to consume these days too.The stream of news may be constant, but the total economic impact of the coronavirus crisis is still unknown. It is difficult to balance between social distancing to keep people safe and not waiting too long for the economy to recover. While several economists have...
04/21/2020 - Is Your Data Security Plan Ready For COVID-19?
In a Gallup poll from April 3-5, 71% of Americans said that they would "wait and see" what happens with the coronavirus before getting back to a routine, even after the government lifted COVID-19 restrictions. This hesitancy to change is understandable when you consider the tremendous changes we have experienced in the past few weeks. Cyber risks have changed too, so reviewing your data security plan for coronavirus-readiness is critical. While most community financial institutions (CFIs) had a formal data security plan before the outbreak, cyber risks have since increased as staff moved to working remotely. But, CFIs can make...
04/20/2020 - Community Banks Keep Making A Difference
At a time when community support matters more than ever, community banks show that they have always been stepping up to take care of the world around them. To continue our Community Banking Month coverage, we highlight good works around children/students, financial literacy and support. However, we know that all community bankers support their communities in many ways, so we thank you all!In TX, Worthington National Bank collected school supplies and more than 638 boxes of cereal for the local charity, Communities in Schools. First Reliance Bank in SC held its annual Soup Day, a charity that buys holiday gifts...
04/17/2020 - Transitioning Your Communications
While you may still be thinking of ways to get that prized hand sanitizer, Durham Distillery, makers of Conniption Gin, quickly realized that they could help out. Their gins come from 95% corn-based ethanol alcohol -- plenty to kill viral germs. Just bring your own #2 plastic bottle with a sealing lid and sign a waiver. They certainly have a good message to communicate.During this pandemic, communication has focused on being immediate, urgent and short. This was necessary as a lot of information was coming through and needed to be shared quickly. However, once things start leveling off a bit,...
04/16/2020 - Three Steps To Assess Customer Profitability Post-COVID-19
Need more sleep? Maybe a hammock could help. Scientists found that a hammock's rocking motion actually provides nappers with a deeper sleep than in beds. So, while you start your online search for hammocks, we bring up the discussion of evaluating your customer profitability post-COVID-19.While you may not be thinking of customer profitability as much these days, customer relationships are always important. Right now, you are working on filling the immediate needs of your business customers, which is crucial. PPP loans, loan modifications, and line extensions are all likely often discussed to ensure that your banking customers stay in business....
04/15/2020 - Stepping Up Technology During The Coronavirus
Cisco reported that there were 5.5B meeting minutes on Webex the first 11 business days of March. Can you imagine what that number looks like now? Technology is definitely being pushed to new heights with the heightened levels of remote working, and it doesn't stop there. The development of technology within the banking industry has long been on the rise, but the COVID-19 crisis is stepping it up in new ways that could have a long-term, global impact.As countries scramble to contain the coronavirus, some places have turned to geolocation and data analytics to help with their efforts. In the...
04/14/2020 - Recap Of The Fed Webinar On PPPLF
On April 10th, the Federal Reserve Bank hosted a webinar to provide more details on the Paycheck Protection Program Liquidity Facility ("PPPLF"), which is the upcoming facility provided by the Federal Reserve System to allow lenders to pledge their PPP loans in exchange for liquidity. As not all lenders could attend, we would like to recap some of the key points for you (subject to change as terms are updated or revised).First, it is important to understand that PPP and PPPLF are distinct programs (though obviously related). PPP loans are made by lenders to your small business borrowers. These loans...
04/13/2020 - Community Banks Making A Difference
The CDC reports that there are 18mm healthcare workers in the US. While it is also the fastest-growing sector, in today's world, they are working harder and longer than ever before. They are all really making a difference out there.While the world is still managing through the effects of the coronavirus, today we wanted to specifically remember the difference that local bankers make in their communities throughout the year. Some work at food banks, others organize financial literacy programs, and still others donate blood, distribute school supplies and build houses for humanity. This month is Community Banking Month, so we...
04/10/2020 - Liquidity And Capital Management During COVID-19
During this pandemic crisis, it is imperative that bankers remain cognizant of all changes in directives and rules affecting our industry to properly manage liquidity and capital. These rules and statements are coming fast and furious almost every day, so keeping up is very difficult right now. We are providing the information as it comes, but here is a quick recap below: The Fed announced that they are pausing examination work in community banks for the next 30 days and extending the time to respond to non-critical findings.The FDIC released an interagency statement and FAQs on loan modifications.The Fed has...
04/09/2020 - Key Takeaways Of The CARES Act
As the world struggles with the economic devastation caused by COVID-19 in just a few weeks, the federal government has provided important assistance with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This $2.2T economic stimulus package was designed to help many individuals and businesses that are already feeling the impact of lost income. The CARES Act enables financial institutions to help small businesses with $350B in assistance.Here are a few of the most important aspects for you and your customers: The leverage ratio for community banks has been temporarily decreased to 8% from 9%. The creation of "Paycheck...
04/08/2020 - Inquiry & Insight - Coronavirus Questions
A former athlete in the UK ran 26.2 miles (a marathon) back-and-forth in his small 20-ft backyard on April 1st. He did this in an effort to raise money for the National Health Service to fight the coronavirus, and the event was live-streamed. People are finding interesting ways to address the needs of today. We have some other ways you can address the needs of today -- for your employees and customers.Q: What are some ways community financial institutions (CFIs) can keep their customer service quality high during the coronavirus? A: It all starts with finding proactive ways to be...
04/07/2020 - COVID-19 Insights
You may have heard that ravens in captivity can actually be trained to speak better than parrots. That said, they may not be as fun to live with.You have likely also heard that the Federal Reserve and the FDIC are permitting 30-day grace periods for FR Y-9C and Call Reports. It's great that the regulators have listened to bankers. If you're like us, you'd prefer not to use the grace period and have as much normalcy as possible. But each institution needs to do what it needs to do.For those of you who are finalizing your financial statements, I'm sure...
04/06/2020 - Health And Wellness During The Coronavirus Crisis
During the '70s, crocheted blankets, lava lamps, and TV dinners were all the rage. The Brady Bunch was the show to watch and the Bee Gees were "Stayin' Alive." Did that exercise distract you a bit from today's crisis? That was the intent, as one of the ways to help you with your wellness. Crises often give leaders many avenues through which they need to lead. The health and wellness of your staff is definitely a top priority for this particular crisis. As we find ourselves past the first few weeks of the coronavirus, it could be a good time...
04/03/2020 - How The Big Banks Are Managing The Coronavirus
Did you hear of the two big Navy 1k-bed hospital ships headed to LA and NY respectively? They will likely make a big impact.Big banks are also making an impact as they deal with COVID-19. Let's look at what the big banks are doing, to see if there are things that can be done on a smaller scale too.Helping Customers: Many banks are waiving fees and deferring payments, upon request. Some, such as BBVA, will offer penalty-free withdrawals of CDs, while others like Santander will increase the ATM withdrawal limits and waive wire fees. Others are helping by increasing credit...
04/02/2020 - Bankers Ask Regulators For Help - Part 2
The coronavirus has taken us by surprise. Bankers are working hard to support their customers as many business customers are unprepared for this unprecedented economic impact. As we mentioned yesterday, we recently asked community bankers to tell us their top three concerns with regards to COVID-19 that regulators should know.Today we continue with the feedback we received from bankers on their most important regulatory concerns. If you weren't able to read the first part of this two-part series, Community Bankers Ask Regulators for Help - Part 1, feel free to do so now. Other Regulatory Relief - Bankers are so...
04/01/2020 - Bankers Ask Regulators For Help - Part 1
While it is April Fool's Day today, we are not fooling you on some of the latest regulatory developments. The coronavirus crisis has created lots of questions. So, on March 22nd, we asked community bankers for their top three concerns with COVID-19 that regulators could help them address. We received hundreds of responses, which we sent to the regulatory agencies promptly, so they could hear directly from community bankers. Today, we wanted to start summarizing the feedback in a two-part series. Look for part two tomorrow.There are many thoughts on how to assist borrowers including, loan modifications, deferred payments, and...

March 2020

03/31/2020 - CRA Considerations During COVID-19
As the coronavirus continues to affect many in the US, the Fed, FDIC, and Office of the Comptroller have issued a joint statement addressing the importance of financial institutions continuing to serve their customers, specifically those with low-to-moderate income.US banking regulators are considering giving financial institutions bonus regulatory points for lending to low- and middle-income borrowers hurt by COVID-19. Financial institutions may also earn extra points by showing leniency to borrowers hurt by the current pandemic, especially when those borrowers lack significant financial resources. While serving them must be consistent with safe and sound banking procedures, these agencies realize how...
03/30/2020 - Remote Work Practices
Sweatpants are all the rage these days. Brands like Aeropostale have seen a 23% uptick in women's sweatpants while Russell Athletic has reported a double-digit surge in sweatpant style searches. We know that the coronavirus started this trend. Could it continue even after the crisis? We're not sure we are ready for that.Even before COVID-19 began upending people's lives and forcing companies around the world to put business continuity plans into action and widespread work-from-home policies, working remotely was a trend that was gaining speed. While it is not easy to shift many employees to remote access, there are definitely...
03/27/2020 - Leading During A Crisis
Earmuffs were invented by a 15Y old, which shows that all ages can be innovative. That is a good thing, but right now we especially need scientific innovation, as we battle the coronavirus. The coronavirus has affected many of us. Social media has shown the long lines and out-of-stock shelves in the grocery stores as people plan to hunker down if infected. $113B is the potential loss for the airline industry due to a drop in passenger revenue, according to a trade group estimate. With the NBA season suspension, the association stands to lose around $972mm in TV ad revenue...
03/26/2020 - COVID-19 - FDIC Guidance On Capital And Liquidity Buffers
The FDIC, the Federal Reserve Board and the Comptroller of the Currency issued a statement on new rules for use of capital and liquidity buffers during the coronavirus crisis. The statement includes a Q&A to respond to inquiries. The highlights of the statement include:Banking organizations are encouraged to use their capital and liquidity buffers which were designed to respond to adverse situations like the effects of coronavirus. It allows institutions to continue to serve households and businesses. The agencies expect banking organizations to continue to manage their capital actions and liquidity risk prudently.The agencies also issued an interim final rule...
03/25/2020 - FOMC's Drastic Measures For Unprecedented Times
On Monday, the FOMC made some drastic decisions to put additional measures in place to help the current economic situation by providing additional credit resources for households and businesses. "Aggressive efforts must be taken across the public and private sectors to limit the losses to jobs incomes and to promote a swift recovery once the disruptions abate." The agency is expending its "full range of authorities" to provide the robust support needed. Here are the highlights that the FOMC will do: Support for critical market functioning. The Federal Open Market Committee will purchase Treasury securities and agency mortgage-backed securities in...
03/24/2020 - FDIC FAQs For Financial Institutions And Customers
We know everyone wants information quickly these days, so we have come up with a shorter version of the BID. We will use this format when there is especially pertinent COVID-19 information, information on pandemic planning, regulatory guidance, or insights on the current market. This way, you can easily skim, but still dig deeper, where needed. The FDIC recently released FAQs for both financial institutions and consumers. Because of this unprecedented situation, the agency wanted to provide as much guidance and resources as possible. We provide you with a brief synopsis of the FDIC Financial Institutions FAQ. We also encourage...
03/23/2020 - COVID-19, Housing, Jobs, And Other Indicators
Did you know that sleep actually cleans your brain? With these turbulent times, you will need more brainpower, so sleep away!While the US and international economies try to grasp the full financial impact of the coronavirus, we wanted to remind you where the housing market left off before this pandemic occurred and provide some initial insights into the impact on the job market and other economic indicators.Before the coronavirus, an older overall population, rising housing prices, and a nationwide shortage of affordable, entry-level homes were all pushing buyers' average age toward 50. As we have all heard, high student loan...
03/20/2020 - Tips To Increase Loan Growth
We just ran across a study that found diners who used larger forks ate less. This seems counterintuitive. But, I guess if it helps drive healthy eating, why not give it a try?Switching from food to banking, today we cover another driver -- loans. Loans are a top driver of a community bank's profitability, particularly residential mortgage and commercial real estate lending, according to a survey done by Independent Banker magazine. Banks say that they expect loans to be the biggest source of revenue growth in 2020, but they also expect loan growth to be challenging this year. These five...
03/19/2020 - Training Your Staff On Digital Banking
Training is big business. Last year, $83B was spent in the US on training. For bankers, mobile banking training is one of the most important areas. So, we focus on that today.Many of you may have spent a bundle launching all the latest digital banking tools, particularly to woo more millennials and GenZers. Yet, older customers often seek help trying to figure out how to use them. Is your staff equipped to support your customers on these technical advancements?It's critical to train your staff not only on how to navigate each digital product and service you launch, but also how...
03/18/2020 - BEC Compromise - An Update
Brain functions happen through connections called synapses. Now, research has shown biological and artificial synapses can happen through the Internet. Technology seems to really allow scientists to step up their game!Unfortunately, cybercriminals seem to be stepping up their game too, when it comes to targeting businesses. Phishing attacks known as business email compromise (BEC) are so sophisticated that they are 20x more successful than the typical phishing emails sent to consumers. While many people now know the dangers of clicking on unsolicited links, cybercriminals are tailoring spear-phishing efforts to business employees to make them far less obvious. In BEC attacks,...
03/17/2020 - Coronavirus Contingency Plans
Today is St. Patrick's Day, which is Ireland's national day. Last year, 500k people participated in the celebrations throughout Ireland. But, the coronavirus is impacting public events, and this year it looks like these celebrations will be impacted too. Just days ago, the WHO declared the coronavirus a pandemic. So, it is definitely a good time for community financial institutions (CFIs) to review their business continuity plans and ensure pandemic planning is included. Traditional business continuity plans could be less effective if they don't incorporate the risk of widespread illnesses.To help, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) just updated...
03/16/2020 - Big Banks Report On CECL
Did you ever think the day would come that you would pay extra for that middle airline seat? Apparently, some airliners are adding an inch to the middle seat and then adding a premium price for the extra comfort. We will soon learn if this strategy works or not. Something else to learn is how CECL implementation is going for the big banks. Community financial institutions (CFIs) have a breather before they'll need to comply, but the law went into effect for the largest banks on January 1, 2020. While we started covering some of the big banks' expectations back...
03/13/2020 - Open Your Institution's Silos
Community financial institutions (CFIs) know customer service is critical to keep customers. In fact, research by American Express finds 90% of Americans use customer service as a factor when deciding whether or not to do business with a company, and 81% feel businesses either meet or exceed their service expectations. These days, people have different expectations for businesses, and you need not look further than online retail giants, such as Amazon, for proof. They have established a new standard for personalized customer experience. These companies understand their clients, make recommendations, and anticipate their needs. Customers want the same experience when...
03/12/2020 - Chatbots For Employee Advice
Believe it or not, there are over 246mm US mobile internet users as of January and an estimated 57mm are using mobile banking. Given such large numbers, it is not surprising that chatbots are becoming more popular too.As a quick reminder, chatbots are simply software programs that have a conversation with you online. Some of these are so good they can sound and act like humans even. Given many community financial institutions (CFIs) are continually thinking about how to help employees, chatbots should be considered.That is because a growing number of people are suffering from things like stress, burnout, and...
03/11/2020 - Fighting Fraud With The Latest From FICO
George Washington did not have wooden teeth, contrary to popular belief. However, he did have only one natural tooth for his inauguration as president in 1789. He had a customized set of choppers comprised of ivory, gold, and brass. Bankers also need to have teeth in their fraud-fighting these days as cyber thieves bite down on bank customers and profits. As cyber thieves become ever more sophisticated, identity fraud remains one of the banking industry's top security concerns. This is particularly true because peer-to-peer (P2P) payments are typically irreversible and becoming more and more popular. At the same time, community...
03/10/2020 - How To Prepare For The Digital Evolution
Making change for a dollar is pretty easy, even if there are 293 ways to do it. Also, the dollar bill has not been changed since 1963 and the first face to appear on it in 1862 was Secretary of Treasury Salmon Chase (not George). Other changes, especially in digital banking, are not so easy. It happens that just when you map your digital journey, another player shakes things up or technology zooms ahead in a big way. So, how can community financial institutions (CFIs) best prepare for the industry's next stage of digital evolution?Leverage your compliance expertise & relationships....
03/09/2020 - Business Credit Cards - A Good Opportunity?
Interesting fact: Blood donors in Sweden get a text once their blood is used. It must be a good feeling to know you have helped another person so directly. One way bankers can help businesses directly could be through credit cards.Credit cards for entrepreneurs could be an untapped market for community financial institutions (CFIs). This insight comes from a few different studies, which we want to highlight today.While just 3.3% of small businesses have business credit cards, the market has the potential to expand to $700B by 2022, according to a report by Mercator Advisory Group. So, knowing this, what...
03/06/2020 - A Laundry List To Get More Deposits
Some of the weirdest places we have heard people stashing cash are: in their high heels, in a TV, in their roof, in the bathroom, and swallowing it. Undoubtedly, all bankers think depositing it is much safer and more practical. The competition for deposits is fierce, as fintechs and big tech enter an already crowded space. There are many ways to compete here, so we thought we could provide you with some suggestions. One or two or a combination of them could be the winning way to collect more deposits and customers.First, you can offer higher interest rates. Some financial...
03/05/2020 - It's Never Too Early For Succession Planning
You may not know this, but termites live longer than any other insect -- even the cockroach. It has been said that the queen termite can live up to 100Ys! Most CEOs probably don't work at their financial institutions that long, so it is always a good time to do succession planning. Succession plans give financial institutions a chance to assess the skills that future executives will need, decide which staffers are most promising, and deliberately cultivate those people's skills. Succession is a critical topic for business longevity, and it's of increasing interest to regulators. Unfortunately, some directors struggle to...
03/04/2020 - Maximizing Your Branches
Unless you are an avid gardener, you may not know that tree branches are not constructed to grow back once cut. However, dormant buds in that spot often grow into branches instead. In the same vein, instead of cutting your branches, you may want to think about maximizing them instead.Read the financial press and you'll learn that banks all over the US are getting rid of or repurposing their physical branches. Recent research shows, however, that many community financial institutions (CFIs) are keeping theirs, especially in rural areas. The key to doing this successfully is simple to say, but harder...
03/03/2020 - How CECL Affects Bank Investors
Some of the basics when investing are: 1) set investment goals; 2) look at your finances; 3) diversify your investments; 4) keep informed. Some of the same ideas are used by bank investors as well. We bring up investors because another change for banks ties into planning for CECL. Investors and analysts are already making adjustments to market valuations, based on how much they project CECL will affect the loan portfolio. This could also be a reason to start early with CECL for some banks too. Consider that investors want to project future earnings and the impact of CECL will...
03/02/2020 - Inquiry & Insight - Open Banking, Cyber, AI
There is an interesting custom in Scotland, where you paint your door red when you have paid off your mortgage. So, the next time you see a red door in Scotland, you know you don't need to ask the owner if they are feeling pretty close to financial freedom. Today though, we were happy to get some interesting questions from our readers. We hope you enjoy the answers. Q: We're watching the open banking trend very closely. What do we need to do if we decide to go this route? A: Certainly open banking offers significant enough opportunities to warrant...

February 2020

02/28/2020 - Data Collection And Customer Trust
In case you were wondering, the data still shows the average college graduate earns 80% more than high school graduates. That is interesting when you consider only 51% of US adults consider a college education to be "very important." For financial institutions (FIs), many things can be considered very important too. Data analysis for instance, is becoming increasingly important for FIs. Yet, a large percentage of consumers are distrusting of the ability of companies and organizations collecting their data to keep it secure. While more regulations are going into effect to ensure consumer data is properly used, community financial institutions...
02/27/2020 - If You Can't Hire Them, Train Them
Research by French bank Societe Generale looked at data from the past 2Ys and found that investors only have ~22% chance of picking a stock that beats the S&P 500 index. When your financial institution (FI) gets ready to pick someone as a new employee, we hope your percentage is much higher. After all, hiring the right talent is a challenge for all businesses, which is why training existing staff is critical.Community financial institutions (CFIs) are not alone in having trouble finding or retaining qualified talent with the tight labor market. A report from Glassdoor provides some numbers on the...
02/26/2020 - Customer Experience & Employee Compensation
A lot happens when people get engaged. Surveys find people spend about $5,000 on an engagement ring, and 20% pick it out as a couple. Also interesting, 50% buy a ring from a brick and mortar store, and the same percentage buy it less than 2 months before proposing.No matter what your financial institution (FI) offers as a proposal to customers, things are certainly hyper-competitive. As such, trying to offer the best customer experience is very difficult when looking to win over new customers and retain existing ones. Indeed, as customer experience becomes more of a call-to-action for FIs in...
02/25/2020 - Do You Have Cyber Alert Fatigue?
Warren Buffett, also known as the Oracle of Omaha, and one of the best investors in the world has some advice for you. He says the difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything. His point -- constant focus drives success. To be successful when it comes to cybersecurity, you have to focus too. After all, there are many security tools that can identify potential threats to your financial institution (FI), but there are also many false positives too. This massive ongoing flow often overwhelms information security professionals. This issue...
02/24/2020 - Data Privacy Laws - What You Should Know
Saving for retirement makes sense, so we remind bankers to tell your employees that 401(k) contribution limits in 2020 allow people to save $19,500/year vs. just $6,500/year in an IRA. Another thing that makes sense for community financial institutions (CFIs) to monitor closely is data privacy. It is quickly becoming a hot-button topic for social media networks, retailers, and financial institutions (FIs) alike. Indeed, the issues surrounding who controls consumer data really began to swell a little more than 3Ys ago, with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union, which went into effect in May 2018. It...
02/21/2020 - A Refresher On Automation And AI
According to Pew, 18% of Americans admit to seeing a ghost and 29% say they have "felt in touch" with a person who has passed. Whatever you believe in connecting with people who have passed or from the past, today we shift your focus to the future. With all the focus on artificial intelligence (AI), it can be easy to overlook a far simpler but effective cousin: automation. For community financial institutions (CFIs) watching the rise of AI solutions at big banks, and worried about being left behind, much simpler automation can provide a way to improve processes and profits...
02/20/2020 - Learning From Fannie And Freddie With CECL
Spiders and the webs they spin are amazing. Spider silk is 5x stronger than the same weight of steel. It is shiny in order to attract insects. Many spiders replace their entire web every day, and spider silk transforms from liquid to solid thread as it leaves the body. As you ponder this, we direct your attention to another sticky topic, CECL.Congress has suspended CECL rule implementation for FNMA and FHLMC as the Department of the Treasury takes a look at its possible impact. Like other financial institutions, FNMA and FHLMC must follow the rules of CECL. Yet, if these...
02/19/2020 - Portfolio-Level Analysis Of CRE Loans
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates there are no formal requirements for becoming a life coach. That said, some of the best life coaches suggest the following to improve your life: 1) Focus on what's important; 2) Have less stuff; 3) Avoid worrying about matters that don't really matter; 4) Get organized; 5) Change gradually; and 6) Show compassion. While these are good, we have another tip to make your life as a banker easier.Portfolio-level analysis of Commercial Real Estate (CRE) loans can help community financial institutions (CFIs) better understand concentrations and how risky exposures might be in a...
02/18/2020 - Risk And Compliance - What Your Peers Say
Since you are reading the BID today, we thought you would be interested to know which countries read the most hours per week: India (10.7), Thailand (9.4) and China (8.0). The US came in at #24 with 5.7 hours. As you read further, you should also find a risk management study that we surfaced of interest. Not surprisingly, regulatory concerns among financial institutions (FIs) continue to mount. Some points of contention highlighted in a recent Wolters Kluwer study produce some things to think about.The latest survey includes responses from 704 banks and credit unions. The survey seeks to measure the...
02/14/2020 - Getting Real With Faster Payments
Since it is Valentine's Day, we thought you would be interested to know: over 50% of Americans celebrate this day, coughing up about $19.6B per year! Women spend about 19% of what men do or about $64 vs. $338.With that kind of spending, faster payments will make celebrating easier for those that procrastinate, to be sure. But, going "real-time" with payments has been an issue for banks. While the Fed will offer a real-time payments option in the future, in the form of "FedNow", other alternatives are emerging too. Here is an update. The Clearing House (TCH) is owned by...
02/13/2020 - MasterCard's Digital ID
Gallup reports 70% of decision-making is from emotions and only 30% is from logical considerations. While we think bankers skew more often to the 30%, the lightning speed of technology sometimes forces you to go more "with your gut." So, today we want to bring you up to speed on the latest use of technology. MasterCard has a new pilot -- letting customers store digital identities that don't contain personally identifiable information (PII) on their smartphones. This would be done with tokens, showing that the data has been verified by a reliable source. This idea in various forms is certainly...
02/12/2020 - Employee Fraud Prevention
Did you know that a Stanford study has found that the body has changed and that the average normal body temperature for someone is 97.5 degrees Fahrenheit vs. the accepted 98.6 degrees? Fever prevention protocols may be changing, if this becomes widely accepted. Today though, we talk about another kind of prevention -- employee fraud prevention. As businesses with tight-knit staff, community financial institutions (CFIs) find it especially upsetting when they discover that one of their employees is dishonest. Like any other business though, CFIs need to take practical steps to prevent employee crime. As a term, embezzlement happens when...
02/11/2020 - Is M&A Still A Good Idea?
Did you know that according to Gallup, those organizations which have an "engaged culture" perform above and beyond their cohorts by 147% in EPS? If you are thinking of M&A, this is something to keep in mind, to be sure.If you are contemplating M&A, we thought you should also know that bank mergers and acquisitions dropped off sharply in Q4 2019, as financial institutions took a breather from the hectic Q3. While the total number of deals for the year reached 266 vs. 257 in 2018 according to S&P Global Market Intelligence, that is mainly thanks to the jump in...
02/10/2020 - Small Business Capital Needs
We just read about a study with mice and flies that showed how a naturally occurring protein, Sestrin, produces the benefits of exercise. When this protein was maxed out in flies, they were capable of more activity, even without exercise. Where this goes, we don't know. But, the idea is to help geriatric patients or those with mobility issues. Could this even mean exercise may be a thing of the past? Exercising your lending to small businesses is definitely not a thing of the past, and today we continue our discussion on this topic from our article last week, Lending...
02/07/2020 - Smartwatch Banking - Is The Time Now?
To blow your mind this morning, we note that scientists say the average cumulus cloud floating along in the air actually weighs about 1.1mm lbs! It seems along with the fluffy floating, they certainly carry a lot of water too. Most people don't even think about the weight of clouds, just like very few people think very much about banking using their smartwatch.Smartwatch banking used to be only for the most tech-savvy financial institutions. But now, it can be another nifty tool for community financial institutions (CFIs) to offer, particularly to millennials and Gen Zers.A record 45mm smartwatches were shipped...
02/06/2020 - Fine-Tuning Your Tech Strategy
Geckos are interesting critters. They can turn the stickiness of their feet on and off whenever they please. But, no matter how sticky they are, their feet cannot stick to Teflon. While you strategize trying this out as an experiment, perhaps, we bring up another strategy closer to bankers around technology.Developing a successful technology strategy can be difficult for any enterprise and especially challenging for community financial institutions (CFIs). So, you may want to check out the most recent 2019 Bank Director's Tech Survey. It offers a chance to see how you stack up against your peers and can differentiate...
02/05/2020 - Lending To Small Businesses
Every month an average of 543,000 new businesses are started, according to Yahoo. That is a huge number, but it is also worth noting that sadly only a fraction of those may survive. As community financial institutions (CFIs) know, lending to small businesses can be tricky, especially if they are new ones.In such cases, it is important to use both loan officers and underwriters who have extensive expertise on which small businesses will have enough cash flow, especially during economic downturns.This is especially true for SBA and USDA loans, which come with complex loan documentation and underwriting requirements. More and...
02/04/2020 - Rate Reductions And Profitability
It has been said that each American will eat about 6,000 pizza slices throughout their life. We love pizza, so that number seems low. That is also good news for pizzerias and the community financial institutions (CFIs) that serve them, as this love will keep many of these businesses profitable. Speaking of profitable, our focus is on customer profitability today.When it comes to profitability, the emphasis is often on new deals and new clients. This makes sense in one way, especially for relationship managers/loan officers. However, overall profitability is a multi-dimensional process, and existing customers are eager to do more...
02/03/2020 - Insight & Inquiry - Fraud, Branches, CRE
Do you like butter? You might not think much about it, one way or another. But, if you did, you might be interested to note that someone wrote a 368-page book on it, appropriately titled, Butter. The questions we answer are a bit more relevant than that one. So, we hope you find some good insight in today's publication.Q: What are some strategies to achieve smarter fraud detection? A: Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming significantly more important for community financial institutions (CFIs) in reducing fraud. One of AI's main use-cases is anomaly detection or trolling for unusual behavior that smacks...

January 2020

01/31/2020 - The Middle Course Of Management
Are you a cord-hoarder? You know what we are talking about - those people who can't seem to get rid of old electronics' cords. Many of us struggle with this, maybe longing for a simpler electronic time. No matter what though, you probably want to recycle those cords soon, if you haven't already.In the world of community financial institutions (CFIs), some employees may be longing to cut the cord to their manager perhaps. This is usually because of either micromanaging or undermanaging. We look at three steps to find an effective point between the two.Undermanagers tend to avoid conflict. They...
01/30/2020 - Stepping Through Technology Disruption
The state of VT is sparsely populated in certain areas, which is one reason pundits say led to issues around big renewable energy goals. The state had so much wind and solar energy going through the low-capacity transmission lines at the same time, that there was congestion. This meant the energy was not available when needed. A new technology may help by storing renewable energy until there is a lull in the transmission lines. Technology can be pretty amazing, but for community financial institutions (CFIs), it can cause sleepless nights too. This is especially true when you consider the biggest...
01/29/2020 - Thwarting Faster Payment Fraud
Early last year, a story surfaced of a trio of thieves that entered a video camera store outside of Detroit. The problem was the store had cameras inside and out running pretty much 24x7. When the employees weren't looking, these thieves stole a charger, which was all caught on camera. Needless to say, they were also caught. Clearly, some thieves are pretty stupid, while others aren't. Faster payments could potentially provide more opportunity for thieves, so community financial institutions (CFIs) need to be on the lookout.Faster payments are growing in popularity among US consumers and financial institutions. To put things...
01/28/2020 - Extending Your Social Media Through Employees
Did you know that there are now 3.2B social media users worldwide? Almost 91% of millennials are social media users along with 78% of Gen X. While Gen Z wasn't mentioned in this study, they are surely up there in percentages as well.Of course, social media also presents a myriad of challenges for community financial institutions (CFIs). Regulatory concerns and limited staff are only a couple of them. Yet, as your customer demographics shift, it is clearly important to stay involved in social media. Today, we'll explore why you should consider expanding the number of employees who represent your institution...
01/27/2020 - Risk-Based Loan Pricing Strategy
Whistle Labs recently launched a wearable device for dogs that manages the animal's health much like the Apple Watch does for humans. It is amazing what products can be developed with a big enough market and a keen strategy. Another type of strategy, risk-based loan pricing, is more for bankers though.Community banks and smaller credit unions currently have 9% of all small-business loans under $100K. A risk-based pricing strategy can give all of these community financial institutions (CFIs) a chance to improve market share without increasing risk.The Fed's small business credit survey indicates that 77% of small-business loan applicants had...
01/24/2020 - The Coming Of Digital ID Cards
The DMV has a huge database. Think about it--anyone who has ever needed any kind of service from the DMV has been captured. This is then modified each time people move or have a moving violation. Now, the DMV may soon have to expand their data warehouse because digital ID cards could be coming.Digital licenses are quickly gaining traction and could significantly impact the way that the banking industry verifies an individual's identity. Electronic identification cards recently rolled out in CO and mobile license programs are in the works within states, such as IA and OK, in addition to 10...
01/23/2020 - Collaboration Tips For Bankers
From an early age, kids seem reluctant to share and the reason may have been found in a study by the University of Waterloo. The results showed that children as young as 3Ys old have a concept of ownership, so they don't feel the need to give up things that are owned by them.Parents know that teaching kids is all about teamwork and sharing though, and the same holds true in banking. Working together with others is almost always more productive than trying to handle challenges on your own. According to the findings of a recent survey from Harvard Business...
01/22/2020 - Taking A Page From Netflix's Playbook
If you are a Netflix subscriber, you may not be surprised to find the top 3 shows in 2019 were: Stranger Things, Lucifer and Orange is the New Black. If you haven't watched them, the good news is that you can binge-watch any of these to catch up.Speaking of Netflix, financial institutions (FIs) are taking a page from Netflix's playbook these days, by analyzing data from individual customers to provide them with extremely tailored offerings. These include banking services to discounts at retailers. Moreover, this trend is one that is only expected to pick up speed. Much like the way...
01/21/2020 - Mobile Fraud And Trust
As you gear up to capture more customers this year, you might find it interesting that JD Power's 2019 US Retail Banking Satisfaction Survey finds only 4% of customers switched banks last year. One reason for low switch rates could be that more customers are fully embedded in their banks and using online and mobile channels heavily too. As more customers conduct financial transactions via mobile though, bankers know that cyber criminals have flocked in too. This makes it increasingly difficult for bank customers to trust their mobile interactions. According to research released by TransUnion's fraud prevention unit, iovation, suspected...
01/17/2020 - Cybersecurity Trends In 2020
It has been said that 80% of the jobs we will be doing in 2040 aren't even around today. That is just crazy when you think about it, as is the growing role of artificial intelligence (AI) in hiring for these types of jobs. Technology has many benefits to be sure, but the incredible boom is also causing cybersecurity problems.Not surprisingly, a recent survey finds an overwhelming number of community bank CEOs (96%) cited cybersecurity risk as a very important or important risk factor to their bank. Given this being top of mind for so many execs, here are three...
01/16/2020 - How To Succeed With Your Business Customers
Girl Scout cookie season is soon upon us and a new flavor is joining the fan favorites of Thin Mints, Tagalongs and Samoas, Lemon-Ups. This may well test many New Year's Resolutions, but these cookie sales also build business skills for the kids. Who knows, perhaps these early stage entrepreneurs will even be new small business customers for many financial institutions in the future. This is where we turn our attention today.Most community financial institutions (CFIs) have ramped up their focus on small businesses, but relatively few have seen the growth in this segment that they'd like. Understanding why is...
01/15/2020 - CRA - A New Proposal
Did you know that Russia is the largest country in the world by land mass, coming in at a whopping 17mm square kilometers, according to Statista? Canada is second with 9.985mm, then the US with 9.83k and China with 9.6k. As you think about each community in these big countries and how they interact with each other, we shift your attention to the new Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) proposal.The FDIC and OCC have proposed changes to CRA regulations intended to both expand the ways banks can receive credit and reduce their regulatory burden. Of note, the Fed is proposing additional...
01/14/2020 - Strategies For Reducing Branch Costs
Generation Z (ages 7-22Ys) orders for food delivery are the fastest growing, according to NPD Group research. This group is even finding ways to deliver food to school so they must be hungry indeed (although many schools have banned it). It looks like customers are getting younger by the day--something to think about when it comes to branches.According to published reports, costs associated with branch networks are in the range of $600k to $2mm per year, depending on size, location and other factors. This is a hefty chunk of change, despite economies of scale brought about by digitalization and consolidation....
01/13/2020 - LIBOR To SOFR - The Latest Update
Have you heard? The Hershey's Co. known for its chocolate will be saying goodbye to its three 26-ft long Kissmobiles. These vehicles were each made from three giant-sized chocolate kiss candies and drove around the country since 1997. It is often hard to say goodbye, but, that is what bankers will be doing soon with LIBOR too. While Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) is the designated replacement for the LIBOR rate, it faced its first test recently. The results raised new concerns about its usage and implementation. Community financial institutions (CFIs), working diligently on preparations for the planned phase out...
01/10/2020 - Is It Time For Mobile Wallets?
Mobile wallets are being used more these days. The most popular, in-store digital payment methods, according to McKinsey were: Apple Pay (40%); Google Pay (20%) and Samsung Pay (16%). Not surprising, perhaps, but it is nonetheless incredible to see that these three captured more than three-fourths of the payments in store.Also, not surprising that more community financial institutions (CFIs) are now joining the mobile wallet phenomenon, as more and more customers--particularly millennials and Gen Zers--are demanding the service.In 2019, over 36% of smartphone users across the globe are expected to make an in-store mobile payment at least once every six...
01/09/2020 - How To Use The Extra Time For CECL
Strange things have often been sighted in Las Vegas. But, did you hear about the pigeons that were sporting cowboy hats? This happened for a week in mid-December. No one seems to know why or who. One with a red hat was named Cluck Norris and another with a pink hat became Coo-Lamity Jane. I guess Las Vegas is still entertaining the masses in unique ways these days!After you finish looking for the video footage of these cowboy pigeons, we bring your attention to a topic that is more realistic--CECL and the latest news on the timing.The Financial Accounting Standards...
01/08/2020 - Severe Weather Patterns And Banking
Science and weather can be interesting. For instance, did you know that mild weather in the fall can mean we see bigger spiders inside our houses? Or that the chilliest temperature recorded was -89.2 degrees Celsius (-128.56 degrees Fahrenheit)? Or even that raindrops can fall at more than 30km/hr?While you ponder these facts, we wanted to touch on the topic of severe weather and real estate today. Whatever your thoughts on climate change, severe weather patterns are affecting the real estate market. Flood prone communities are at risk of losing property value, and down the road, mortgage lenders could be...
01/07/2020 - Biometric Payments - What You Should Know
Did you know that the idea of using the iris pattern of your eye for identification was first brought up in 1936? Frank Burch, the ophthalmologist responsible for this idea, would likely be surprised by how long it took to actually put his idea to use. Yet, today people are still incredibly skeptical when it comes to security measures that involve storing their fingerprints or irises in any sort of database. Despite such concerns, biometric payments are expected to exceed $1.67T per year by 2023. With this level of growth, it is important to know what this means for your...
01/06/2020 - Inquiry & Insight - Public Banks, Deposits, Google
We looked up the origins of the word, "question" to find this: "Utterance meant to elicit an answer or discussion." Today we have a few of those, and so we provide some points of discussion to start your day. Q: Now that California has legalized public banking, what could the potential impact be if the movement continues to grow?A: While not a new concept, momentum has been growing across the US for public banks--owned by the people of a state, city, community or country. Overall, it should be an interesting development to follow. While some community financial institutions (CFIs) may...
01/03/2020 - CSBS Community Banking Update
It is said that internal surveys typically get about a 35% response rate vs. about 10% or so for external surveys. Experts say surveys should take
01/02/2020 - A Look Back On 2019 And Planning For 2020
A University of Scranton study finds only 8% of people attains their New Year's resolutions. So, as you slowly get back to work after the holidays and ponder that data point, we take a moment to recap major events from last year, as we look forward to what bankers can expect this year.Market Rates: Since loans are a huge piece of profitability at community financial institutions, we focus there first. Last year was a decent one for loan opportunity with a base market rate of about 2.70% and a corresponding loan rate of 5.20% to 5.70% or so. This year...

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05/01/2018 - A Taste For C&I

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06/01/2017 - Re-envisioned Branches

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