BID® Daily Newsletter Archives

October 2021

Do you know the first known type of dinner plate was actually made out of bread? This medieval plate was called a trencher. While wood, pottery, and metal were also used for trenchers, bread was the main trencher substance used well into the 1500s. It was especially helpful in soaking up sauces, piling on the meat, and providing an easy way to season the food. Dinner plates have come a long way.These days, CFOs at community financial institutions (CFIs) have a lot piling up on their plates, coming out of the clutches of the pandemic. Many are continuing to face...
According to Statista, the lowest land area not covered by water is the Dead Sea shoreline at about 413 meters below sea level. Pretty impressive, considering that the lowest point in the US is Death Valley at 86 meters below sea level. With one million visitors annually, Death Valley demonstrates that being at the lowest point is not always where you want to go.Unfortunately, bankers are still seeing lending activity at a record low level. Yet, it can’t stay this way forever. Startups have been forming at high rates and will need capital to stay in business. The Census Bureau...
Inc.com identifies a poor leader as someone who disrespects employees, lacks integrity, and communicates poorly. There have definitely been a plethora of movies covering bad bosses. From 9-to-5 in 1980, Working Girl in 1988, Office Space in 1999, to Horrible Bosses in 2011, most of us have experienced a bad manager on the big screen. Yet, many experience bad managers in real life too.Now is the opportune time to have meaningful discussions with your managers to ensure they support their employees and the company culture. The biggest reason that people leave employers is bad managers. With the pandemic disrupting labor...
Almost a third of American adults have used a dating website or app to find love (or something like it). Further, 54% say that relationships that start online have as much of a chance of succeeding as the in-person equivalent. As in-person service is often the bedrock of a successful community financial institution (CFI), these statistics — and what they suggest about trends in human behavior — spell both good and bad news for many institutions. By now, it should come as no surprise that digital technologies are fundamentally changing the financial services sector, with many customers increasingly expecting their...
In the midst of apple season, we thought it interesting to find out that the shelf life of apples, if frozen properly, can last indefinitely! While the best quality can be found within the first year, as long as they were kept at a constant temperature of zero degrees Fahrenheit, apples are safe to eat no matter how old. Old apples may be safe, but old endpoint security is not. With cyber threats increasing at a rapid pace, up-to-date endpoint security is more important than ever. More devices (the endpoints) are being used by all businesses and they are vulnerable...
It is Seafood Bisque Day today. If you haven’t made this soup before and you feel like trying, you will have to do some research first. We found over 50 recipes that take as little as 20 minutes and as long as 2 hours and 45 minutes. Sometimes, when you take more time in the process, you end up with a better outcome, or in this case, with a better seafood bisque. But, we will let you decide!For CECL, that is definitely true. For most institutions, CECL implementation needs to be completed by January 2023 and these financial institutions are...
The largest commercially sold cheeseburger weighed in at 1,794 lbs. and cost almost $8K! It took 4Ys for Mallie’s Sports Grill & Bar in Detroit to figure out the best way to cook and serve this huge burger. While it was on the menu in 2017 when it hit the Guinness Book of World Records, some items are just too big to consume.On the other hand, it is no secret that in the tech world, giants, like Google and Facebook, have been consuming startups left and right to broaden their reach into other industries, including the financial industry. These consumer...
Did you know that a group of toads is called a knot? This seems a bit odd since you don’t often see toads in a cluster, let alone “tight as a knot.” But, the next time you see a group of toads, you’ll know what to call them.We have found that many small businesses are calling themselves international businesses these days, especially with the boost of e-commerce last year. The global market gives many businesses a second chance when their market slows down or changes direction. In fact, the Small Business Administration notes, “Two-thirds of the world’s purchasing power is...
Every day, we are all faced with the need to make a multitude of decisions. In fact, some sources estimate that the average adult makes up to 35K decisions of some kind each day. While this figure is difficult to verify, we do know that choices about careers and work are probably some of the most important decisions people make during their lifetime. Following yesterday’s article about labor trends, today we’re digging deeper into those trends and providing strategies for community financial institutions (CFIs) to identify potential candidates and attract them to join their institution. The shrinking talent poolThe unpredictable...
Did you know that sleeping while at work is culturally acceptable in Japan? Inemuri — which means to be present while sleeping — has been practiced in Japan for over 1,000 Ys and is often regarded as a sign of an employee’s diligence and dedication. Of course, sleeping on the job is a big “no-no” for American employees. But, with the pandemic fundamentally changing the ways in which we do our jobs, could Inemuri happen here too? While we don’t know the answer to that question, we can review the effects of these changes and outline tips to help your...
We were surprised to find out that the first commercial winery did not open in Virginia, New York, or California. Believe it or not, it opened in Kentucky in 1799 by John Dufour, a Swiss vintner. He found a perfect spot on the Kentucky River. From there, he set up his winery and was on his way to spreading his special wines throughout the region. Similarly, the transition of LIBOR has been spreading throughout the banking industry. A recent LIBOR transition survey from Crowe LLP focused on community financial institutions’ (CFIs) preparedness. So, we share some of the findings, allowing...
October 12, 2021 - Are Shared Branches Possible?
Timeshares initially sprang up in England following World War II and were later brought to the US in the early 1970s. The prospect of affordable access to appealing vacation properties with shared maintenance fees has since attracted close to 10MM people in the US alone to buy into timeshares. Over the years, however, many people have soured on the seemingly endless annual maintenance fees, especially with the rise of AirBnB, so this trend is waning.Pooled maintenance fees may be driving many people out of timeshares, but the idea of sharing building expenses is now enticing financial institutions (FIs) in the...
October 08, 2021 - Storytelling 101 For Bankers
Many say that storytelling started on the Chauvet cave walls in France about 36K Ys ago. It then moved from a visual tradition to an oral one and then later with written representation as more people learned to read. While storytelling today is often done to children, everyone enjoys a good story.Telling a story that conjures up imagery and emotion for the audience, will be remembered and more impactful. One marketing strategy that community financial institutions (CFIs) can leverage to effectively market products and services is storytelling. Human beings don’t remember data nearly as well as we remember stories. A...
Did you hear that Google is buying an office building in NYC for $2.1B? This price tag makes it the most expensive office building sale since the pandemic and one of the priciest office purchases in American history. Maybe this will kick off more activity in the real estate office space.   There has surely been activity in the credit union-community bank M&A space. As more community banks sell to credit unions, more questions arise about tax subsidies, price premiums, and the potential effect on the industry. In March of this year, we first reported on the uptick of credit union...
Rent is still historically high in many places. According to the Apartment Guide, the cities with the highest average rent are New York City ($3825), San Francisco ($3188), Boston ($3117), San Jose ($2476), and Washington D.C. ($2199). Needless to say, there are many happy landlords out there!  Yet, not all landlords have high-paying tenants. Many have struggled during the pandemic. But, now, the recent ending of the federal eviction moratorium provides an opportunity for landlords to start looking for new, paying tenants. If this shift is successful, landlords behind on loans to community financial institutions (CFIs) could start paying back...
The world is increasingly connected. In fact, 35B internet-connected devices are forecasted for this year, growing to 75B in 2025. That means more cyber risk. Since October is cyber security awareness month, we wanted to provide you with some key ways to stay on top of your patch management to keep your institution and customers cyber safe. With the exponential rate that new vulnerabilities in software are uncovered, community financial institutions (CFIs) are increasingly under the gun to ensure their internal and customer-facing software is properly “patched” as soon as possible. According to IT security provider, Kaspersky, exploiting unpatched vulnerabilities...
Shaquille O’Neal divulged that he once spent $1MM in one day when he was young and newly rich — by buying three expensive cars and lots of jewelry for himself, family, and friends. However, he forgot to take into account his agent’s salary, taxes, and other outflows, which put him in debt by $60K.Many consumers went on a bit of a spending spree with pent-up demand after last year. The US Commerce Department recently reported that the personal consumption expenditures price index (PCE) increased by more than 3.6% YoY, which is the quickest surge in three decades. With this rise...
The state of Arizona accounts for three of the ten sunniest places on earth: Yuma, Phoenix, and Tucson all have over 3.8K hours of sunshine a year, with Yuma boasting an average of 4,015 hours. While not everyone will be able to enjoy their place in the sun, this may be of interest to some of the 72MM American baby boomers currently thinking about where and how to spend their retirement. These baby boomers own around 40% of small businesses in the US — and many of them have most of their wealth tied up in their companies. So, their...

September 2021

09/30/2021 - Regulatory Update & Focus For Your Next Exam
Webinars are not new. They have been around for close to 30Ys as a business tool. In 1993, it was even used as the first live stream of a rock concert with the precursor of today’s ubiquitous online video technology. Webinars have come a long way since the 1990s. Recognizing the importance of technological advancements, the Fed provides many webinars as a channel to share information with bankers and provide a forum for questions. In one of its August webinars, the Fed asked bankers how they thought their communities were faring today vs. last year. About 73% of bankers believed...
09/29/2021 - Opportunities With Nonemployer Firms Abound
Do you happen to know what South American city’s inhabitants are called “portenos”? If you guessed Buenos Aires, you are right! This nickname comes from the fact that many people came to Buenos Aires, Argentina by boat through the city’s port from Europe. Another thing you probably know is that small businesses without any employees on payroll are called nonemployer firms. These types of businesses represent about 81% of all small businesses. Since this segment is valuable to community financial institutions (CFIs), we wanted to highlight new data coming from the Federal Reserve that provides more insight into this group....
09/28/2021 - Is Low-Code Or No-Code Worthwhile To Stay Digitally Competitive?
The Swedish furniture store, IKEA started in 1943 and has grown to be the biggest furniture store worldwide. This DIY furniture approach has grown to a market of almost $14B globally, according to Statista. Many of us have recollections of the endless screws, washers, and furniture components needing our attention to create the resulting chair, table, or bookcase.Whether or not your organization chooses to utilize any IKEA DIY hacks while sprucing up your workplace, your institution may be willing to try a similar approach when it comes to technology. As community financial institutions (CFIs) and other organizations find it expensive...
09/27/2021 - Top Five Places Where CECL Calculations Can Go Wrong
During the time of the dinosaurs, a full year included 370 days. With the moon’s gravity continuously slowing down the Earth’s rotation, our days are getting longer — by approximately 1.7 milliseconds per 100Ys. Even though bankers have more time in their day, with CECL implementation coming, there are many considerations and decisions to make. So, time is of the essence. Not only that, but certain steps can take more time than others. One of the areas that can take extra time is calculations. You will have data from more than one source, including internal data sources. Consolidating and analyzing the data...
09/24/2021 - Strategic Planning For 2022 Requires Proactive Leadership
We have heard that kids aren’t shy to share details about their parents with their teachers. Some topics discussed include money problems, divorce issues, politics discussed, and more. Just keep that in mind when you head to Back-to-School Night or that parent-teacher conference later this year!On a similar note, this past year and a half have proven to be a tough teacher for all of us. One of the main teachings was that priorities can shift quickly. With this perspective, this year’s strategic planning is especially important. In June, before the Delta variant had widely spread throughout the US, we...
09/23/2021 - Syndicated Loan Market Offers Lending Possibilities For CFIs
Today is National Pot Pie Day. We were surprised to find out that this dish actually originated in ancient Rome and eventually reached England. From there, it found its way to our shores, where eventually Swanson made the first frozen pot pies in 1951. With the fall season upon us, you may want to enjoy this popular comfort food in celebration of today. Many bankers not only need comfort food, but also comfort in knowing that their liquidity will be put to good use. Buoyed by government relief, deposits surged at many financial institutions (FIs) at the start of the...
09/22/2021 - PPP Forgiveness Audits – What Should You Know?
We found many acts of heroism by everyday people. A 29Y old tackled a shooter in a waffle house, a 22Y old rescued a toddler hanging from an apartment balcony, and a band of restaurant employees and customers pulled an SUV off of a little boy who was hit and pinned by it. These good Samaritan acts saved the day by coming to the rescue when it was needed most.When it was needed most, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) rode to the rescue as well, keeping small businesses and their owners economically afloat. As we have heard, many of the...
09/21/2021 - Five Steps To Bring Back Internship Programs
Many of us are quite familiar with Dunkin’ Donuts, especially mornings before work. But, did you know that the first store opened in Quincy, MA in 1950? Not only that, but this original Dunkin’ is still open after more than 70Ys!As bankers return to their offices, they not only need coffee, but also interns. As you remember, a good internship is a win-win arrangement. Interns gain valuable work experience and can test whether they’d enjoy a career in banking. Community financial institutions (CFIs) gain an opportunity to develop relationships with Gen Z students, who might be interested in banking and...
09/20/2021 - Digital-Only Spin-Offs For CFIs?
In the world of television, a spinoff show can sometimes become more successful than the original one. (i.e., Frasier from Cheers and NCIS from JAG). Similarly, as an increasing number of financial institutions (FIs) launch their own “digital-only” brands or neobanks, there is great interest whether these can meet or possibly exceed the success of the main FIs. For a while now, large banks around the globe have been spinning out their “digital-only” brands, aimed at wooing the more online- and mobile-friendly customer. In recent years, several large US FIs have taken this leap as well — like JPMorgan Chase,...
09/17/2021 - Hybrid Branches – The Best Of Both Worlds?
Pizza delivery started already in 1889, yet it was first reserved for royalty and the upper class. Princess Margherita of Savoy was sick and asked for Italian food. The pizza was delivered and thus, the Margherita pizza got its name and continues on today! The desire for optimal branch services delivery continues on today too for many bankers. Last month, we discussed branch strategy. As a follow-up to that discussion, today we dig deeper into hybrid branches. We explore why customers still visit branches, ways to integrate technology into the branch, and discuss a few big bank examples for the...
09/16/2021 - Overall Lending Market Signs
Amazingly, the full tank of a jumbo jet contains enough fuel for an automobile to drive around the world 4x. Jumbo jets go through a gallon of fuel per second. Imagine if your car had that kind of combustion. Wherever you would be heading, it would be done with a blast. Bankers had hoped they would be heading towards loan growth by now at jumbo jet speed, with increased spending and economic recovery translating into more demand for credit. But in the first part of the year, extra liquidity from government aid and deferred spending helped fiscally sound borrowers retire...
09/15/2021 - Balancing Fintech Partnerships & Regulatory Compliance
It is believed that the Olmecs (living in what is known as Mexico now) were the first people that consumed chocolate in 1900 BC. They drank their chocolate from round jars called tecomates. Little did they know that this substance would be blended with whipped cream, coffee, and ice into Frappuccinos some 4K Ys later! They probably wouldn’t have a clue how to keep up with their tecomates!For community financial institutions (CFIs) trying to keep up with digital technologies and innovation, fintech partnerships and mergers are often the way to proceed. Yet, the shifting fintech arena makes staying competitive without...
09/14/2021 - How To Choose The Right CECL Vendor
Did you know that on this day in 1951, Purdue University developed the first seedless watermelon? What would summers be like without the joy of sweet, juicy seedless watermelon? Since summer is in our rear-view mirror now, there is another date that is soon coming into our headlights, January 1, 2023. Most bankers know the date of January 1, 2023 — the date when most community financial institutions (CFIs) with assets of less than $1B must implement the current expected credit loss standard (CECL). This deadline will be here before you know it. Some CFIs are doing their own CECL...
09/13/2021 - How To Balance Customer Profitability& PPP Forgiveness
Today is National Peanut Day. Since school is back in session and many school children eat peanut butter and jelly (PB&J) sandwiches for lunch, we thought it was interesting that the average student will have eaten 2K PB&J sandwiches by the time they finish high school! That is an abundance of peanut butter and jelly!Right now, though, bankers are more focused on the abundance of liquidity. Cash is sitting readily available at financial institutions to deploy into earning assets. But, with loan demand weak and interest rates still low, options to make excess cash work to the advantage of the...
09/10/2021 - Seven Strategies To Gain & Retain Diverse Employees
An interesting piece of trivia — surgeons perform better after watching video games. Surgeons who played video games for three hours or more per week were 27% faster and had 37% fewer mistakes, according to one study. Asking if your surgeon plays video games may not be easy, but it could be important for your overall health.  Similarly, attracting and retaining diverse workers could be important for the overall health of your institution. Not only does it help lift up everyone, but it can also help the bottom line. Studies have shown that a diverse workforce brings additional perspective to...
09/09/2021 - FIs Reveal Their IT Spending Priorities
Do you happen to have an old Apple-1 computer (not pictured here due to licensing restrictions) collecting dust in your house, by any chance? If you do, you may want to dust it off and contact an auction house promptly. We found out that 7Ys ago, one of these early Apple computers sold for $905K! Only 200 were made and they were assembled by co-founder, Steve Wozniak, according to CNBC. You could invest in the very latest technology at that price!Investing in technology has become an important part of staying competitive for financial institutions (FIs). With strategic planning coming up,...
09/08/2021 - Natural Disasters Keep Coming – Preparing With Fresh Eyes
State mottos actually started as far back as colonial times, with the state of CT claiming to be the oldest one. “He Who Transplanted Still Sustains” originated from the Saybrook Colony in 1639. These mottos started as ways for the colonials to represent their attitudes and beliefs and they live on, as many have been integrated into state seals and flags throughout the country.Mottos are not the only things that are spread countrywide. In virtually every part of the country, natural disasters are becoming an increasingly large part of life. Indeed, in November 2020, the World Health Organization reported that...
09/07/2021 - Three Steps To Optimal Digital Onboarding
In the words of Barbra Streisand as Broadway’s Fanny Brice in Funny Girl, “People need people.” While this still rings true generally, more businesses are opting not to need people when opening a bank account lately. According to a recent interview with a top executive at one Southwest community financial institution (CFI), consumer online enrollment increased by 47% during lockdown (as compared to the four months prior), while business customer online enrollment jumped more than 100%. Business customers have a clear appetite, not only for digital banking and payments, but also for account onboarding digitally. While many CFIs offer digital...
09/03/2021 - Staying Vigilant With MFA
In honor of Labor Day on Monday, we found some trivia you might find interesting. Labor Day was first celebrated as a parade of 10K Central Labor Union workers in NYC on September 5, 1882. It became a federal holiday in 1894. Labor Day is considered the end of summer (when it used to be tradition to stop wearing white) and is the “unofficial NFL season kickoff” with 99% of all first games happening the Thursday after Labor Day. Get your finger food ready for those football gatherings!While finger food is yummy, make sure to keep those fingers clean and...
09/02/2021 - Is Wealth Management The Key For Your Institution?
Did you know that from 1912 to 1954, the Olympics included events for different types of art? Aside from the traditional sporting events, Olympians could compete in painting, sculpture, architecture, literature, and music — provided their submissions were "inspired by the concept of sport.” These events may have been eliminated due to a lack in the number of competitors. Community financial institutions (CFIs) definitely don’t see a lack in the number of their competitors. With more and more intense competition, they need to continually find new ways to adapt and thrive. Providing wealth management services is one way to compete...
09/01/2021 - BaaS Transactions Hit $22.5B & Continue To Grow
With shelter-in-place orders making many feel isolated during the pandemic, animal adoptions across the country experienced a huge spike. So much so, that some shelters literally ran out of animals in need of homes. This surge of pet adoptions is believed to have saved roughly 4MM animals. Of course, pet adoption isn’t the only thing that has experienced a surge of interest since the coronavirus. The pandemic has also fueled the growth of Banking as a Service (BaaS) and adoption over the next year is only expected to increase. With community financial institutions (CFIs) seeking new revenue sources amidst ongoing...

August 2021

08/31/2021 - Are CRE Lending Prospects On The Upswing?
It probably isn’t surprising to hear that many Americans were unhappy last year. But, we found that only 14% of Americans reported that they were very happy in May 2020, according to a University of Chicago survey, conducted each year for the past 50Ys. It is the lowest level ever reported, with 29% being the previous low point. While we await the release of the 2021 survey results, we are hopeful that they are more positive.  One area that looks more positive is CRE lending, which could spell more opportunities for community financial institutions (CFIs). According to the Q2 survey...
08/30/2021 - Retaining Talent As Workers Rethink Career Goals
Throughout their short 5-7 week lives, worker bees have no choice but to slave away — finding food, tending to their young, cleaning and guarding the hive, and making sure they have sufficient nectar stores for winter. With hives having 20-80K worker bees, it can get crowded at their workplace too. Luckily, working Americans have a bit more choice in how they spend their time. But, this can cause some issues for employers, including community financial institutions (CFIs).According to Prudential’s May 2021 Pulse of the American Worker Survey, the pandemic has made many Americans take a long, hard look at...
08/27/2021 - How To Reduce “The Uncertainty Zone” Of Fraud
Do you remember The Twilight Zone? This sci-fi TV program ran from 1959-1964 and received critical acclaim and several awards for its creative episodes, which included such young stars as Robert Redford, William Shatner, Carol Burnett, and Elizabeth Montgomery. Just as this show pushed the boundaries of reality, legal boundaries are pushed and broken regularly by fraudsters. Dealing with these thieves can lead bankers to another type of zone — The Uncertainty Zone. When defending against fraud, there is a wide range of what’s considered a suspicious transaction. Many of these transactions could fall into what’s called the “zone of...
08/26/2021 - The Challenges Of Pandemic Protocols & Branch Security
Since today is National Dog Day, we thought we owed it to all of the canines out there to highlight the benefits that dogs provide to their families. According to the American Kennel Club, the top five science-based benefits are: 1) companionship; 2) helping you live longer; 3) lowering stress; 4) making you exercise, and 5) helping you cope with crises like PTSD. They are not only man’s best friend, but everyone’s best friend!While not in the top five, another benefit some dogs provide is protection and security. While this may not be practical for bank branches, branch security has...
08/25/2021 - Barclays & Mastercard – Latest RTP Developments
You may not know that “pub” is short for Public House. But, it makes sense when you learn that in the early days, a British pub was known not only for drinking beer, but also for socially gathering in the center of town. But most interestingly, the British pub actually started as an Italian wine bar, dating back to the days of an invading Roman army in 43 AD. Something to ponder the next time you drink a pint of Newcastle, perhaps. Another British creation, Barclays, recently became the first large bank to partner with Mastercard for its global real-time...
08/24/2021 - Minority-Owned Businesses Get Support From FIs
Teachers work hard — on average 10 hours a day and 52 hours per week. Over 92% use their own money for classroom supplies. They are seen as second, only behind military personnel, for their contribution to society. Yet, they earn 14% less than those in other professions with similar levels of education. Since the new school year has started for many children already, we want to remember how much of an impact teachers make. Minority-owned businesses are also making an impact. There are 4MM minority-owned businesses across the country with annual revenue of around $700B. If you include nonemployer...
08/23/2021 - Hospitality Industry – Is It Out Of Intensive Care Yet?
“Cold hard cash” was a phrase that came about when merchants and traders noted a difference between durable coins that were cold and hard vs. gold and silver coins that were warm and wore out faster (soft). Today, the phrase usually refers to both coins and paper money and means it is immediately usable for payment, compared to other sources of payment such as credit cards.   Unfortunately, cold hard cash eluded the hospitality industry for many months due to COVID-19. With people stuck at home and not traveling or eating meals out, the pandemic caused more than 670K hotel jobs...
08/20/2021 - Key Areas Of Anticipated Regulatory Scrutiny
Ever wonder how much pasta the average Italian eats every year? More than 51 lbs. according to Statista and 63% eat pasta almost every day or daily. Compare that to 15.5 lbs. per year for North Americans on average. Italians sure do load up their plates with plenty of pasta!President Biden has had a full plate lately, with the pandemic. Yet, as some normalcy starts to return, the Biden Administration will likely get around to some delayed agenda items. That means community financial institutions (CFIs) need to be prepared for a greater focus on banking regulations. These four banking areas are...
08/19/2021 - Is It Time To Review Your Branch Strategy?
Trees have many positive attributes. They provide shade, shelter, block noise, filter rainwater for better soil absorption, and even increase property values. It is a good thing that they are the longest living thing on Earth, with some trees in existence for 5,000 Ys!Financial institutions (FIs) have many positive attributes too, but unfortunately, some of their branches are not as long-lasting as our trees. More than 13K bank branches closed between 2008 and 2020 — a figure that amounts to 14% of all branches. That’s according to a report by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition. While it’s not surprising that...
08/18/2021 - Bringing Your A-Game To Communications
If you think your brain is off the clock once you are deep in sleep and dreaming, think again. Scientists have discovered that it is possible to communicate with people even when they are in the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep — the deepest phase of sleep where the voluntary muscles in your body that are controlled by your brain are essentially paralyzed. After training people on how to answer questions using their eyes, subjects were observed until they reached the REM stage of sleep. At this point, they were asked questions such as simple math equations. Several...
08/17/2021 - Four Reasons CFIs Are Acquiring Nonbanks
Itching can be caused by many things, including rashes, bug bites, and food or medication allergies. The Mayo Clinic says if the itching lasts longer than six weeks, it is considered chronic and can lead to infection, scarring, and affect your quality of life. Remember to keep calamine lotion handy!Luckily for community financial institutions (CFIs), many nonbanks are itching to sell these days, including fintechs and wealth management firms. It is a hot market right now. M&A activity between financial institutions and fintechs is expected to escalate, as the number of fintechs continues to skyrocket. The entire global fintech market...
08/16/2021 - Three Ways To Help Your SMBs Automate Their AP Processes
In 1970, Wendy’s opened its second restaurant, including the first modern-day, drive-through window. This new idea revolutionized the fast-food business. By the 1980s, it was reported that 50% of fast-food business was done via drive-through. This idea caught on with other businesses as well that wanted to help streamline services for their customers (although financial institutions had drive-up windows already in 1930). Yet, streamlining can take longer for some to adopt than others. Despite the rising wave of digital improvement in business technology, accounts payable (AP) departments, especially at small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), have been well behind the AP/AR...
08/13/2021 - Gen Z Employees Need Three Things To Stay Happy
Today is International Left-Handers Day! So, we want to acknowledge all 12% of the global population that considers themselves left-handed. Interestingly, in North America, the percentage of left-handed people has risen. Only 6% of those 65+Ys say they are left-handed while 15% under 30Ys old say so. The reason for this big difference may be the fact that left-handedness had been discouraged in earlier years. We celebrate you all today!Left-handedness may be one quality that more Gen Zers possess, but there are plenty of others. As we noted yesterday in our discussion of Gen Z customers, they are educated, financially...
08/12/2021 - Appealing To Gen Z – A Competitive Advantage
We missed National Ice Cream Day on July 18th, but we thought it was interesting to report the most popular flavors before the end of the summer. Plain vanilla ice cream took the top spot, with rocky road, green tea, coffee, and birthday cake ice cream flavors all four tying for second place, according to a recent study from Instacart.If today’s teens and twenty-somethings, also known as Generation Z (Gen Z), were representing an ice cream flavor, they would hardly be considered vanilla. They are diverse and smart and provide a huge new opportunity for community financial institutions (CFIs). This...
08/11/2021 - How CFIs Can Prepare For Rising Rates
London cabbies train longer than any of their peers. They first study 3-4Ys, then learn the shortest routes around the city on a motor scooter before finishing with intense oral exams. While this surely prepares cabbies for the uncertainties of London traffic, it is unlikely to help with disruptions like Uber and Lyft. Similarly, even with the best training, most bank management couldn’t have anticipated the current flux of economic conditions. Just as things started to feel normal, supply and labor shortages persisted, prompting inflation at a faster click than expected. To counter this rising inflation, rate hikes could now...
08/10/2021 - How Can You Keep New Customers From Switching?
In 1941, the first TV commercial aired on a local channel in NY during a baseball game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies. It was promoting Bulova Watches, lasted 10 seconds, and cost between $4 and $9. Only 4,000 people watched it, but it changed TV and advertising, as it successfully captured the attention of customers. It lasted for a while and then later people found a way of switching channels during commercials.  Just as TV viewers switch channels when their needs aren’t being met, bank customers have been switching financial institutions. As a community financial institution (CFI), you...
08/09/2021 - Supporting Single Parent Employees For A Win-Win
Fatherhood isn’t quite the joyous experience for the male praying mantis as it is for humans. These insects, named for the prayer-like position of their front legs, are well known for their unique mating habits. After mating, the female praying mantis rips off the head of her partner and consumes it as a source of nutrition. The single mom plight of the female praying mantis made us think about the rising number of single parent households in the US today, though thankfully, this is for different reasons. As we all try to get back to life post-pandemic, challenges still remain,...
08/06/2021 - Five Ways To Support Artists And Generate Business
While artists are often called starving, there are some that do quite well. The top list of artists currently consists of Damien Hirst, Painter/Sculptor with an estimated net worth of $1B, Jeff Koons, Sculptor worth $500MM, and Jasper Johns, Painter worth $300MM. Even though these are at the top of their field, there are others that likely make a decent living at their craft. This is a good reason to consider artists as customers. While maybe not top of mind as business customers, some artists have been successfully courted by community financial institutions (CFIs). Supporting creatives can reap multiple benefits...
08/05/2021 - What Is Keeping Risk Managers Busier Than Ever?
We found it interesting, but not necessarily surprising, that pound cake got its name from the fact that the original recipe called for a pound of each ingredient. Today, those measures have been adjusted somewhat, possibly due to the smaller size of our dessert plates? However much pound cake you want to enjoy, make sure that you clear your plate, as our parents taught us. Risk managers at community financial institutions (CFIs) have a lot to clear from their plates — and the pandemic has only accentuated their critical function. With increased digital banking, fintech partnerships, and uneven recovery in...
08/04/2021 - Financial Institutions Of All Sizes Increase DEI Efforts
Skittles candies have been on the market since 1974 and are widely recognized for their multi-colored and multi-flavored pieces. But did you ever wonder where the candy got its name? Skittles are actually small bowling pins used in an ancient Egyptian form of ground billiards/bowling that is still played today. However, when most people think of Skittles they think of the candy and its “taste the rainbow” slogan that highlights the confection’s brightly colored pieces. Not surprisingly, it has been strongly embraced by the LGBTQ community.Skittles’ “taste the rainbow” slogan made us think about some of the efforts that the...
08/03/2021 - Is It Time To Defer Compensation?
Do you know the largest island in the world? Great Britain? Borneo in Malaysia? Actually, travel north and you will find it – Greenland. It is the largest in area with 822.7 sq. miles, owned by Denmark with a population of almost 57K. While contemplating the size of Greenland vs. that tropical island you would prefer to visit, we bring you back to reality with deferred compensation. Do you currently have deferred compensation? If income tax rates go up, many bank executives will pay a larger portion in taxes — unless they enjoy deferred compensation. Deferred compensation plans have been...
08/02/2021 - Key Strategies To Promote Digital Engagement
NY restaurant, Serendipity 3, just broke the Guinness World Record for the most expensive French fries at $200! Chefs Calderone and Schoen-Kiewert wanted to provide their customers with an exclusive and delectable culinary experience and so “Crème de la Crème Pomme Frites” was created. This top-of-the-line potato dish includes among other things “Upstate Chipperbeck potatoes, Dom Perignon Champagne, batches of pure cage-free goose fat from France, Gruyere Truffled Swiss Raclette that has been aged for 3 months, and 23k edible gold dust.” Even at $200, there were several customers lining up for them. Luckily, to keep your digital customers happy,...

July 2021

07/30/2021 - Big Tech Approaches To Streamline & Secure Passwords
The 1993 introduction of the E-ZPass electronic toll collection system changed the way people travel on major highways in the Northeast overnight, ending the practice of digging for coins or stopping to pay and get change. Today, the E-ZPass system, one of several electronic toll collection systems in the US, enables travelers to instantly pay tolls using a payment card without having to come to a stop. Much in the way that E-ZPass streamlined access through tolls, Apple and Google are working to streamline secure access to online accounts. Passwords remain the main way that accounts are protected, yet they...
07/29/2021 - The Fed’s New CECL Tool
Today is National Chili Dog Day (the last Thursday in July). Since we find ourselves around the height of summer, this makes sense. Summers are filled with moments at the fair, the beach, and assorted barbeques with chili dogs, sausages, and hot dogs. Hot dog producers say that an average of almost 40% of all hot dogs are purchased during the summer months.While enjoying a chili dog or just a regular hot dog, you may not be thinking about CECL. But, once you finish enjoying your taste of summer, you should give CECL your full attention.Among surveyed bankers, 25% said...
07/28/2021 - Ag Lenders Show Resilience And Promise Ahead
Have you heard of Oxpecker birds? They are found standing on the backs of rhinos to eat the bugs from the rhino’s skin. Not only that, but they also provide a warning to the rhino when they notice a predator lies ahead. Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone tell you what lies ahead?  Many ag lenders are specifically wondering what lies ahead, as they are getting mixed signals lately. While we don’t have a crystal ball, we provide you with the latest data, giving you a clearer picture.The overall pictureThe Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI) overall dropped to...
07/27/2021 - Update: The Overdraft Challenge
US history is filled with “firsts.” While it is hard to capture all of them here, a few include: the first solo, nonstop, transatlantic flight (1927); the first time a man walked on the moon (1969); the first woman Supreme Court justice (1981); and the first Black US President (2008). While these major historical events led us to where we are today, another “first” may be shifting things specifically for the financial industry.Just recently, Ally Bank made headlines as the first major bank to eliminate overdraft fees. The move comes as a number of other financial institutions are rethinking their...
07/26/2021 - Chip Shortage Affects Bank Card Availability
Potato chips were first made in Saratoga Springs, NY and so were called, “Saratoga chips.” The folk tale says that NY chef, George Crum, made his fried potatoes extremely thin after Cornelius Vanderbilt sent his potatoes back multiple times saying they needed to be thinner. While George thought that it would make Mr. Vanderbilt realize he was being unreasonable, he loved them and the rest is history.Potato chips are still in wide supply these days, unlike other types of chips. Post-pandemic supply chain shortages are affecting many areas, especially computer chips. Now the shortage could impact the availability of the...
07/23/2021 - The Rising Financial Clout Of Millennials
Can you guess the band with the most songs hitting #1 on the Billboard chart? If you are a baby boomer, you likely guessed The Beatles and you are right. They had 20 songs topping #1. While the boomers enjoyed The Beatles, the millennials preferred the music of The Wallflowers, Smashing Pumpkins, Green Day, and Foo Fighters. The band names definitely got more creative as time went on!Millennials may be creative, but many have struggled financially. It has been widely accepted that this generation is not doing as well as other cohorts. However, there are some signs that this could...
07/22/2021 - FFIEC Update Provides More Clarity On Exams
Of the top 10 highest summits in North America, nine of them are in AK. The 10th highest is Mt. Whitney in CA at 14,495’ high. Unless you are a seasoned climber, it is not easy to traverse any of those mountains.It may not always be easy to traverse regulatory guidelines either, but it is imperative. So, with the latest guidance from the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) on June 21, 2021, we wanted to provide you with the highlights. The FFIEC updated four sections and the respective examination procedures of the Bank Secrecy Act/Anti-Money Laundering (BSA/AML) Examination Manual....
07/21/2021 - Managing The Rush From Staycation To Vacation
Buckingham Palace officially became the London home of the British monarch in 1837, when Queen Victoria ascended to the throne. But it wasn’t until 1911 that the beautifully ornate gates surrounding the palace were added into the equation. Whether your latest vacation involves Buckingham Palace or not, the vacation floodgates have definitely opened.With schools out for the summer and many people suffering from prolonged pandemic-induced cabin fever, people are desperate for vacations. Most organizations can expect to be inundated with requests for time off over the summer and into the fall — particularly as people scramble to use up vacation...
07/20/2021 - FDIC Announces Tech Sprint To Help Unbanked
With the Summer Olympics in Japan starting in a few days, we thought it would be interesting to learn some trivia on track and field. The word “sprint” was first used to describe fast running in 1862. Thomas Burke of the US won the sprint of the 100m dash in 12 seconds in the first modern Olympics of 1896. In the last 100Ys, the 100m record has been whittled down by 0.1 seconds every decade.Sprints can be tiring if training is not comprehensive. But, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is ready for its “tech sprint” through FDITECH, bringing millions...
07/19/2021 - “Insuring” Cyber Success For SMBs
Did you know that Alektoraphobics are extremely afraid of chickens? While only 9% of the US population have this phobia, it can be intense for those that suffer from it, as just the thought of a chicken can trigger this fear.There are many things to fear out there, but right now, cyberattacks are high on the list for many bankers and businesses. The myriad recent mega cyberattacks, like those on the Colonial Pipeline and more recently Kaseya, have caused huge, far-reaching ripple effects on critical infrastructure and impacted millions of people. Not only that, but cybercriminals are also moving downstream....
07/16/2021 - Digital Account Opening – Is It Table Stakes?
The golfer with the lowest PGA 18-hole score is Jim Furyk. He made his mark on golf history with a 58 at the 2016 Traveler’s Championship. Nine other golfers have come close to his achievement at 59.Javelin Strategy & Research recently published a scorecard of a different kind — this year’s Small Business Scorecard, which had some interesting findings. Ian Benton, Senior Analyst of Digital Banking at Javelin reports, “Only half of the top 24 US banks offer digital account opening for small businesses, but it should be table stakes.” He further notes, “Banks that force business owners to call...
07/15/2021 - Five Indicators That Your Brand Needs A Makeover
Did you know that the oldest piece of clothing is an Egyptian linen dress found in a tomb that dates back more than 5,000 Ys? It’s an amazing find as most clothing disintegrates over time. It is considered “ancient haute couture” and resides at the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, University College London. While you consider the age of your own favorite piece of clothing, you may also want to think about the last time you reviewed your institution’s branding. An institution’s brand shouldn’t be changed out regularly. Yet, many community financial institutions (CFIs) stick with their branding long after...
07/14/2021 - Can Profitability Increase In A Low NIM Environment?
Today is Bastille Day, when a group of revolutionaries stormed the bastille (prison) to get weapons and free prisoners. This event started the French Revolution in 1789. Frenchmen throughout the world consider this their Independence Day and celebrate with parades, fireworks, and parties. With travel picking up, Paris is likely to be quite busy with celebrations this year.Even though the economy is opening up more this summer, many bankers aren’t quite celebrating, like their French cohorts. With the announcement of the Federal Open Market Committee predicting rates will remain low for a while longer, net interest margin (NIM) will continue...
07/13/2021 - Five Steps To Plan For Digital Currencies
Coins are often left behind or lost and not seen as valuable. Yet, the TSA reported gathering over $960K in loose change left in security bins in 2018. That is a chunk of change! Knowing that may prompt you to claim those quarters and dimes (and even pennies) next time you travel.While coins are still valuable, digital currencies are growing fast. According to PR Newswire, digital currency’s global market will grow by a compound annual growth rate of 3.5% between 2021-2026. Governments around the world, including the US, are taking note, with some moving forward with digital versions of their...
07/12/2021 - Using Data To Expand Your Institution’s SBA Lending
We create a lot of data these days. The estimated amount is around 1.145T MB every day, which equates to 1.7MB of data per second! But, it is not the amount that counts, it is how the data is used. This is especially true for community financial institutions (CFIs), as they look to leverage their data to increase SBA lending. CFIs have a lot of customer data. Not only that, but more data can be discovered through third parties to expand your customer’s lending profile. With lending activity at a low point, using this data to identify specific customers needing...
07/09/2021 - Update - SEC’s Climate Change Regulations
Climate change isn’t just shrinking the size of glaciers, it is also shrinking the size of certain animals. According to the findings of a 23Y research project by the University of Cape Town, the mountain wagtail bird has gotten lighter as temperatures have risen by up to 33°F over the past century. Based on fossil evidence, scientists were already aware that the size of animals became smaller during previous eras of global warming. It appears that climate change and size are also related, though inversely, when it comes to the banking industry. Large banks seem to be accepting the Securities...
07/08/2021 - Real-Time Payments - Myths & Facts
Greek mythology is ripe with stories of heroism, love, and tragedy. Some of the most popular tales include Pandora’s box, Theseus and the Minotaur, King Midas and his golden touch, and Icarus. While some myths provide entertainment or even valuable lessons, others can sway decisions based on incomplete information.Certain real-time payment myths are leading some community financial institutions (CFIs) to think that real-time payment services aren’t for them. They see a choice between the expense and disruption of a big technology switch and the risk of losing account holders by not making a change, and then make the easiest choice:...
07/07/2021 - PPP Insider Loans Extended – Pros, Cons & Pitfalls
Experts say that it takes about 10-20 minutes for most people to fall asleep. If it takes longer, you may have kept your body too alert through caffeine or recent exercise. If you fall asleep too fast, you could be sleep-deprived. In fact, 70% of Americans state that they don’t get enough sleep at least one night per month, while 11% say that is the case every night. If you find yourself nodding off reading a book after dinner or while lying in the sun, you may be a part of one of these groups.Regulators are definitely not nodding off,...
07/06/2021 - Time To Review Your Coaching & Disciplinary Process?
According to Guinness World Records, the narrowest house is located in Poland and was built in 2012. The two-story home is 3 ft. wide at its most narrow. It has only 151 sq. ft of total floor area, and yet fits a bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom. Needless to say, working from home could be a bit problematic for this homeowner.Yet, the pandemic’s restrictions turned homes into workplaces for many workers, including financial institution employees. The arrangement was more productive than many people expected — but it still left many employees largely supervising themselves. Now that vaccines allow many people to return...
07/02/2021 - How To Minimize Current Balance Sheet Disparity
Many Americans found comfort in food during the pandemic. Add to that the fact that gyms were closed, and it is not surprising that many Americans gained weight during the pandemic. A recent University of California, San Francisco study reported that the average American gained between 1.5 and 2 lbs. per month during the pandemic! Another survey by Harris Poll reported that of the people that gained weight over the past year, the average gain was 29 lbs.Financial institutions (FIs) experienced their own version of gaining a bit too much during the pandemic, but we’re not talking about extra pounds...
07/01/2021 - Approaches To Stay Connected With Small Businesses
A study showed that being optimistic has great health benefits, including 2x the likelihood of having robust cardiovascular health. Another study showed that optimism reinforced immunity. So, it is good to see small business optimism growing from last year.In April 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic, the Small Business Optimism Index read a measly 90.9. Over a year later in May 2021, the Small Business Optimism Index was 99.6. Nevertheless, things are not totally rosy for businesses these days. While things are opening up, small businesses still face challenges. Labor shortages, supply chain issues, and more continue to affect...

June 2021

06/30/2021 - C-PACE Is Growing – What Should You Know?
Did you know that a lightning bolt unleashes energy that is 5x as hot as the sun? The released energy warms up the atmosphere to nearly 30K degrees Celsius — like detonating a ton of TNT! Knowing how powerful energy can be, it is not so strange that energy efficiency is increasing in importance in the commercial real estate (CRE) sector. Commercial property owners and communities alike are setting some big goals to improve energy efficiency, reduce carbon emissions and increase resiliency related to extreme weather events. The challenge is how to pay for those sustainable initiatives. One solution that...
06/29/2021 - Four Strategies To Fight IVR Fraud
Do you remember the olden days when cameras were stand-alone devices that you had to lug around just in case you needed it? Well, since today is National Camera Day, we thought it was appropriate to remind you how far we have come with cameras. These days, it is easy to capture a picture — just pull out your smartphone! Smartphones make everything easy, even actual phone calls. When a customer calls a financial institution (FI), they typically go through a phone tree and an interactive voice response (IVR) system. FIs have spent time and effort making IVRs more user-friendly...
06/28/2021 - Considerations For A Successful Workplace Transition
In 1964, Randy Gardner, then a 17Y old teenager living in CA, broke the existing Guinness World Record for the longest time anyone stayed awake. To beat the former record holder, the teenager remained awake for 11 days and 25 minutes. After setting his record, he promptly slept for over 14 hours straight. Though we aren’t aware of anyone staying awake that long over the past 16 months, one thing is clear — nearly everyone is tired. Tired from the effects of the pandemic, including working from home full-time. However, just because many people are tired of working remotely on...
06/25/2021 - A Fresh Approach To Modern ATMs
Sometimes you just want a bit of alone time. A Swedish restaurant picked up on that sentiment. This restaurant has only one table available in the picturesque countryside outside of Stockholm. The restaurant serves one diner at a time, by delivering a three-course vegetarian meal via a basket sent along with a pulley from the cook’s home. It is so popular that it is booked up through the summer. While this restaurant takes the idea of stand-alone experiences to a whole new level, a growing number of financial institutions (FIs) are using a fresh, stand-alone approach with their ATMs. Let’s...
06/24/2021 - Increasing Finance App Usage - How to Respond
In 1883, James Ritty and John Birch patented the first cash register. The idea started when Ritty, a salon owner, was captivated by a device that counted the rotations of the propeller when traveling on a steamship and thought it could help his business. These days, financial apps have mostly taken over that job and then some.Keeping up with the times, many community financial institutions (CFIs) are providing a banking app for their customers. But, that may not be enough for some customers. Many bank customers are using third-party financial apps, a trend that the pandemic has only exacerbated. Understanding...
06/23/2021 - Three Effective Succession Planning Strategies
Most people think that retirees like traveling. Well, that seems to be true, according to an AARP survey. In fact, 99% of baby boomers said they traveled for leisure, with the average boomer taking four to five trips per year. They are definitely a force to be reckoned with. If you include people 50Ys+, the amount spent on leisure travel runs about $125B annually. After a year of crisis, it’s a good bet that there may be more bank leaders considering the lure of travel and retirement. Since the industry has changed with higher digital adoption, there also may be...
06/22/2021 - How To Square Up The Latest Competition
You may have heard about the cicadas that started surfacing in May after 17Ys feeding underground. They appear in large groups according to a period cycle of 13Ys or 17Ys. When the temperature of the soil hits 64 degrees Fahrenheit, they make their entrance. Looking for mates, the males emit a noise hitting 95 decibels. The mating season can be quite competitive as predators are trying to take the cicadas down at the same time.Similarly, in the financial industry, there is heavy competition. Last week, we discussed the rise of neobanks in the market. Today, we discuss another rising competitor...
06/21/2021 - Three Eco-Friendly Payment Card Strategies
With no wind or erosion on the Moon, the footprints of the astronauts are expected to be there for centuries. Meanwhile, footprints on Earth can disappear pretty quickly, depending on the type of soil and weather, with fresh footprints fading over time as they age. Another footprint that is getting attention these days is the carbon footprint. In recent months, there has been significant pressure on businesses to reduce their carbon footprint, in the face of increasing mainstream concerns about long-term environmental impacts. Accordingly, many financial institutions (FIs) have been busy looking for opportunities on this front.Some steps have already...
06/18/2021 - Business Email Fraud Is Growing
You may not know this, but today is National Go Fishing Day. Going fishing sure sounds appealing, as summer sets in. Yet, with all the cybercriminals doing their own phishing, you may not want to take the day off just yet. Cyber thieves are getting bolder every day  , as we highlighted yesterday. While much attention recently has focused on ransomware attacks, including the one that shut down an east coast oil pipeline company, Business Email Compromise (BEC) and Email Account Compromise (EAC) fraud remains one of the most common scams affecting business and individual bank accounts. According to the...
06/17/2021 - Ransomware Attacks On Community Banks
Did you know that Henri Matisse’s painting, “Le Bateau”, was hung upside down in the MoMA for a period of time? It wasn’t until a stockbroker who was quite familiar with the painting noticed this and rectified the error. That said, recent events have proven that community financial institutions (CFIs) are not too small to go unnoticed by cyber thieves. DarkSide and Ragnar Locker are two cybercriminal groups known for hacking into systems, stealing sensitive information, and then demanding a ransom or else posting all of the information. Last month, they posted evidence of a hack into Colonial Pipeline on...
06/16/2021 - Top Takeaways For FSA Loan Forgiveness
The Paycheck Protection Program provided much-needed assistance to small businesses. Loans administered totaled $521.2B in 2020, with $279.4B forgiven as of May 24, 2021, and $81.5B of loans still under review.There is more loan forgiveness coming. This time from the US Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA). Since quite a few community financial institutions (CFIs) make loans guaranteed by the FSA, here are some of the details of this loan forgiveness program: FSA loan forgiveness eligibility. Per the American Rescue Plan Act enacted in March 2021, the FSA will soon be forgiving loans backed by the FSA and made...
06/15/2021 - Neobanks Are Growing – Are They A Threat?
Kane Tanaka of Japan is the oldest living person alive in the world at 118Ys old. This is quite an accomplishment, but she is not the oldest person who ever lived, yet. That achievement goes to Jeanne Calment of France who lived to be over 122Ys old, before she passed in 1997.  Neobanks haven’t quite been around that long, but they aren’t new, as their name suggests. In fact, the first one showed up 12Ys ago in 2009. But, they have largely focused on a certain segment of the population — young and digital natives — and have a limited...
06/14/2021 - Virtual Cards Are Here – What Should You Know?
It is no surprise to anyone that e-commerce grew last year. Still, to see that it increased by 44% in 2020 YoY is pretty amazing, with online sales representing over 21% of total retail sales.As online commerce continues, several financial institutions are taking the opportunity to make their payment cards “virtual.” Since community financial institutions (CFIs) are finding ways to leverage new technologies for the benefit of their customers, we wanted to provide you with an update on virtual payment cards.What are virtual payment cards? Virtual cards are computer-generated digital credit or debit cards issued by financial institutions, as opposed...
06/11/2021 - How To Compete With Marketplace Lenders
Some interesting news: tea seems to be a natural source of fluoride! We are told that it can protect you from tooth decay and gum disease. As you contemplate switching out your coffee for tea this morning, we shift to something more important these days — sourcing loans.With low loan demand, every sourced loan is important. Not only that, but the market players have changed, making it more competitive. The share of loans sourced by marketplace lenders has skyrocketed from 5% to 38% over the past 5Ys. Furthermore, the global market is forecasted to hit close to $559B in 2027....
06/10/2021 - Private Social Networks Engage Customers
ConnectU may not be a name you recognize. But, it launched in 2004 and kicked off a whole new way of engagement — social networking — even before Facebook. The idea was to create a virtual Harvard yearbook with the added feature of community interaction. Recognizing the impact of this type of connection, Mark Zuckerberg decided to start his own site and the rest is history. Financial institutions (FIs) are learning that successfully courting and engaging customers through social media sometimes involves more than just utilizing the usual sites, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. While outside of US borders,...
06/09/2021 - Four Best Practices For Changing Culture To Stay Competitive
We found it interesting that almost everyone on Earth had brown eyes until about 10K Ys ago. At that time, there was a significant genetic mutation from the Black Sea that changed brown eyes to blue. Today, around 8% of the global population has blue eyes. Imagine how different the world’s population would look, if eye color hadn’t evolved.The financial industry is evolving too and many community financial institutions (CFIs) are learning that they need to adapt or they could be left behind. That adaptation can come with significant culture change, as the organization might need to be more innovative...
06/08/2021 - Helping Small Businesses With Supply Chain Disruptions
We are all looking forward to summer activities like pool parties and lounging by the pool with a good book. Yet, pool time may need to wait, as chlorine products are in short supply, due to last year’s surge in demand with stay-at-home orders and fire damage to a major chlorine producer. Hang in there!Supply chain issues from the past year extend well beyond the world of pool supplies. As businesses nationwide are trying to open up, they are finding several challenges await them. Supply chain disruptions and rising prices are a couple of big ones they face. These challenges...
06/07/2021 - Remote Core Conversion Benefits May Outweigh Downsides
There are many different types of “core” — from core body strength workouts to apple cores to core company values to “rock you to your core” devastating events. Yet, all of these allude to the central or main part of something. In banking, the core is where financial institutions keep their data. So, successful core conversions are critical.During the pandemic, most banks and vendors handled core conversions remotely. The strategy worked out well most of the time, and the trend will probably continue as the new normal. We lay out some of the benefits as well as some of the...
06/04/2021 - Banking M&A Rebounding To Near Pre-Pandemic Levels
Waves are fascinating. In the Northern Hemisphere, the size of waves varies more than in the Southern Hemisphere. But, if you want to go to the place with the largest waves, you will need to travel to the Agulhas Current which is off the west coast of South Africa. Waves in that area measure over 100 ft high. Now, that would take some skillful surfing!Looking at waves of mergers, bank analysts began predicting this type of wave, particularly involving small and regional financial institutions (FIs) in 2020. That wave appears to have arrived. There has been a string of small-and-mid-sized...
06/03/2021 - Strategic Planning – Has It Changed Since The Pandemic?
Strangely, we found out that today is National Repeat Day. Still, it makes sense as we focus on strategic planning which is repeated every year to ensure that the right goals and projects are on track. Even though this is something bankers do every year, will it be different this year — in a post-pandemic year? How can community financial institutions (CFIs) use this past year as a reference for its goals and progress when it was so unprecedented? What learnings from the pandemic can be incorporated into strategic planning this year? We provide some thoughts around this timely topic.Pandemic strategic...
06/02/2021 - Coin Shortage Meets A Cashless Economy
Interestingly, there have been six different formulas for pennies. In the early days, they were mainly made of copper. But today, zinc is the main component and the pennies are simply plated in copper. Pennies, in addition to other coins, were in short supply during the pandemic. People weren’t using cash and the Fed closed down the Mint. Now that things are picking up, is the coin shortage over? Surprisingly, not yet. We give you the details and explain why coins are still important, even as we move closer toward a cashless economy.Coin shortage updateRecently, the Fed issued a notice on...
06/01/2021 - Teaching International Business Customers The Value Of Hedging
Hedges, tightly planted rows of shrubs, were originally used to define a boundary line and serve as a barrier to keep livestock from wandering off. While this likely still holds true in some areas, most of us enjoy the decorative purposes of hedges.Another type of hedge that we enjoy can help financial institutions to manage business risk and interest rate risk. It can also help customers who need to manage their own risks around volatility in interest rates and foreign currency exchange. Community financial institutions (CFIs) that teach and convert business customers on the value of hedging can solidify relationships...

May 2021

05/28/2021 - Social Media Complaints – What You Should Do
Saying “please” and “thank you” as part of common courtesy started around the 1500s by the middle-class merchants during the commercial revolution. Today’s merchants (your business customers) often say “please” and “thank you,” but there may be times when they don’t — and they may even exhibit that discontent on social media.  Everyone wants to please customers, especially on social media. But how should you interact with an unhappy customer on social media? Very carefully. We give you some reasons why you may need to acknowledge the issue, but shouldn't engage deeply with unhappy customers on this platform. We will...
05/27/2021 - Why The Gig Worker Should Get Your Attention
In the 1940s, the Pepsi-Cola Company began giving gold watches to longtime employees when they retired as a thank you for the time they had devoted to the company. This practice was adopted by many major businesses and remained commonplace for much of the 20th Century. Yet, as time changed, so too did the idea of people dedicating their entire career to a single organization. Today, the average person will hold 12 different jobs during their work life, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistic Not only has the number of jobs that people have worked changed over the years,...
05/26/2021 - What To Consider For Digital Inclusivity
In 2018, the CDC reported that as many as 25% of American adults, or 61MM people, live with some type of disability. “At some point in their lives, most people will either have a disability or know someone who has one,” states Coleen Boyle, Ph.D., CDC director. The Americans with Disabilities Act, passed in 1990, came well before mobile banking websites and apps, but courts have widely interpreted the act to apply to digital mediums. Beyond just the legal imperative, there’s a business reason to ensure all customers —whether they have poor eyesight, are hard of hearing, or have mobility...
05/25/2021 - Four Ways To Successfully Ramp Up SMB Lending
Amazingly, there was a tunnel built underneath the Euphrates River joining two parts of Babylon back in 2160 BC. This was the largest underwater tunnel until 1824 when a tunnel was built underneath the River Thames. These were incredible feats!  Turning to more of a metaphorical tunnel, we can finally see the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. As the economy continues to gain steam, community financial institutions (CFIs) will be looking for ways to use their liquidity and boost small and medium-sized business (SMB) lending. Here are four ways to do that.1. Leverage automated processes. As SMBs...
05/24/2021 - How The Pandemic Has Shaped Fintech-CFI Partnerships
Do you happen to know which big reptile got its name from the Spanish meaning, “the lizard”? If you guessed the alligator, you are right. This is a good example of how things evolve and look different over time. Many people realize that things won’t look the same post-pandemic including financial institution-fintech partnerships. There are two key drivers which may explain not only how this partnership is changing, but also how you may want to approach it post-pandemic.  Digital banking explosion. Digital banking is not going to retract after the pandemic. In fact, 73% of US adults believe that fintech...
05/21/2021 - Big Banks Return To The Office Post-Pandemic
As businesses and banks alike start returning to the office, we found some interesting Post-It note trivia. It takes 5,430 Post-It notes (about 55 packs of 100) to cover a medium-sized car. Apparently, this is a common enough prank that these calculations have been made.When making calculations of when to return to the office, certain variables need to be considered, such as the number of vaccinated employees, available building space and work stations, technical tools now available, etc. Since the big banks set the pace for much of the financial industry, we highlight their intentions, so you can learn from...
05/20/2021 - Cryptocurrencies Are Growing – Is It Worth Jumping In?
It was recently announced that Broadway theater tickets are on sale for shows, such as Lion King, Wicked, and Hamilton, due to open to full audiences starting September 14th. As the theater scene gets back to business, we thought it curious to find out that actors are only allowed 90 seconds between scenes for costume changes. Talk about fast changing! For more fast changes, we look to the world of cryptocurrencies. With the fast-changing landscape surrounding digital currencies, it can be hard for community financial institutions (CFIs) to keep up. To help you stay up-to-date, here’s a primer.More interest and...
05/19/2021 - Keeping Family-Owned Banks In The Family
As people start thinking about possible summer vacations, a few popular tourist attractions come to mind. Mount Rushmore, Faneuil Hall in Boston, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Walt Disney World, Niagara Falls, and Hollywood to name a few. Maybe you have some other ideas. There are definitely many more ways to entertain yourselves. Family-owned banks have sometimes found their family members entertaining other ideas too — including selling the bank. As founders pass away, family members, who have not previously expressed desires to sell, may start entertaining this idea. It can cause challenges and internal conflict, which leads to uncertainty...
05/18/2021 - Options For Legal Support In Today’s Market
Believe it or not, there are 1.33MM lawyers in the US, according to Statista. Since 2013, the number of lawyers has outnumbered the jobs available for attorneys and this has been exacerbated by automation in the legal industry. The good news for some lawyers is that bankers need their services more than ever these days.There are many reasons why community financial institutions (CFIs) have been seeking out extra legal counsel lately. Stepped-up regulatory compliance, new forms of cyberattacks, expanded complexity of third-party contracts (especially with fintechs), and new M&A vehicles, including special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), are a few reasons...
05/17/2021 - Podcasting is Smart Marketing for CFIs
Did you know that audioblogging (the precursor to podcasts) started back in the 1980s? But, it wasn’t until portable playback devices came out, such as the iPod, that they started catching on. Currently, there are over 2MM podcasts with more than 48MM episodes! With so many podcasts, it seems everyone is making them these days, and topics are varied between celebrities, business, health and fitness, and current events. Not surprisingly, Business Insider has forecasted that podcasting will be a $1B industry in 2021. But, why should community financial institutions (CFIs) consider producing podcasts, as part of their marketing efforts? Simply...
05/14/2021 - CRE Outlook is Positive As Economy Ramps Up
Believe it or not, today is National Dance Like a Chicken Day. We are not quite sure how that started. But, if you feel like strutting your stuff and doing the chicken dance, today is the day to do it. These days, many people may be doing a happy dance along with you. The economy is looking better with an average expected GDP growth rate for this year of 4.7%.It has been reported that Q1 2021 had an annualized GDP rate of 6.4%, putting us squarely on track. Vaccinations are up, cases are down, and businesses are actively opening up....
05/13/2021 - Facial Biometrics Help FIs Fight Onboarding & KYC Fraud
It took Walt Disney nearly 20Ys to convince author P.L. Travers to sell the screen rights to her popular children’s novel, Mary Poppins. But, even after landing those rights, the renowned 1964 film almost didn’t happen, as Travers seriously disliked Disney’s decision to combine animation and live action scenes within the musical. Yet, movie audiences didn’t share the author’s opinion, advancing the combination of animation and live action in films. The Disney Company is once again pushing the envelope for the sake of customer experience. Disney’s testDisney recently tested a face-based entry system at its Disney World theme park that uses...
05/12/2021 - Resuming CECL Compliance Planning
We found some dishes take hours to make such as beef stew, French bouillabaisse, and slow-roasted pork belly from the Philippines. While on the back burner, these dishes become flavorful and crowd-pleasing. But, putting other things on the back burner could be anything but crowd-pleasing.Community financial institutions (CFIs) that put current expected credit loss standard (CECL) work on the back burner during the pandemic are finding they need to once again bring it to the front burner and begin planning and implementation steps.As many bankers are discovering, CECL can be more than a straightforward change in accounting methods. It has...
05/11/2021 - Educate Your Board On Post-Pandemic Strategies
There are about 5300 universities and colleges in the US, including eight Ivy Leagues. While we found it interesting that more presidential candidates have graduated from Yale University than any other university in the last 30Ys, there are certainly many other schools that have educated a variety of American leaders. A financial institution’s board leadership is an integral part of the institution’s success. As the pandemic seems to be winding down, one area that may be worth addressing is board education. The focus for many board members has been on getting through the crisis, yet now is the time to provide...
05/10/2021 - Cybercrime & The Dark Web: 3 Steps to Stay Vigilant
According to Cybersecurity Ventures, the cost due to global cybercrime is expected to reach $10.5T annually by 2025, growing 15% YoY. That is a staggering number. To help mitigate increasing security risks and data loss, community financial institutions (CFIs) must consider not only how they are being breached, but where stolen information could be funneled.With the increase in “everything online” this past year, including shopping and banking, it is hardly surprising that organized cybercriminal syndicates and nation-states are scaling up both the pervasiveness and the professionalism of their tricks, including selling their information on the dark web. After infiltrating bank...
05/07/2021 - An AI Primer For Increasing Efficiency
Apparently, there is a student of artificial intelligence (AI) who thinks that humans and robots will be able to marry legally by 2050. We are not quite sure about this, but interesting trivia nonetheless. We have been writing about AI for a few years now. When we started, it was pretty cutting edge and expensive, so many community financial institutions (CFIs) weren’t too interested. These days, we see it all around us and the financial industry is implementing AI as it realizes some important benefits. Most recently, we discussed RegTech, which is an AI-driven way to manage regulatory compliance and...
05/06/2021 - 4 Ways Digital Marketing Transitions You To The “New Normal”
Learning new things can sometimes change your view of the world. For instance, did you know that Australia has worms that can reach over 4 feet long? Or that night butterflies’ ears are on their wings to make sure they can hear and avoid bats? Certainly, COVID has changed the way all of us view the world these days too. Along with that change, community financial institutions (CFIs) have had to shift how they market to both existing and prospective customers. As we enter the “new normal” and then the “next normal” before the economy really revs back up, we offer...
05/05/2021 - FIs Will Spend $130B on RegTech By 2025
Even though music is largely streamed digitally these days, there is a resurgence of vinyl too. Believe it or not, vinyl records have been around since 1948. The first LP (long play) record was crafted by Peter Goldmark with approximately 21 minutes of playtime on each side. Though it hasn’t been around since 1948, a technology that has been around for a few years and is getting bankers’ attention is regulatory technology (RegTech). RegTech is rapidly ramping up. In fact, banks will spend more than $130B on regulatory technology by 2025, according to a recent study released last month by Juniper...
05/04/2021 - Encouraging Small Talk Within Your Institution
Since its launch in 1955, The Guinness Book of World Records has never failed to entertain, especially when it comes to some of the smallest things on the planet. For instance, the world’s smallest living dog, Miracle Milly, is a female Chihuahua in Puerto Rico and measures just 3.8 inches tall. When she was born, she actually fit inside a teaspoon. Then, there’s the world’s tiniest fidget spinner, which measures only 0.20 inches, and took a team of eight people roughly two months to create. Guinness has no shortage of small things to talk about.When it comes to topics such...
05/03/2021 - Officer Incentive Plans & Profitability
Michael Phelps won a record number of gold medals at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. He is the youngest, most decorated Olympic athlete – with a total of 28 medals at the age of 35Ys old. While that is amazing, it is not so strange that Olympic athletes are naturally incentivized by the reward and honor of a gold medal.Financial institutions may not have gold medals, but they have incentive plans that help motivate their teams. Now is the time to begin designing next year’s plan to provide time for adequate discussion and buy-in at your institution. A well-designed...

April 2021

04/30/2021 - Subscription Banking – Is It Time For Your Institution?
You may be seeing roses emerge again as the blooming season starts. There are over 150 species and thousands of hybrids, ensuring that roses come in almost every color. The fragrance is heavenly, but watch out for those thorns!  For community financial institutions (CFIs), fees can be a thorny issue, and the pressure to obtain fees makes things even thornier. To help with this dynamic, CFIs might want to consider subscription banking.While we have covered subscription banking in the past, we thought it was time to revisit this business model. This model bundles together banking services — and associated fees...
04/29/2021 - Helping Your Customers Combat Online Crime
Agatha Christie wrote, “Murder on the Orient Express,” which is considered to be one of her best works, in 1933. The Belgian detective Hercule Poirot sure had it easy compared to searching for online criminals today.Online crime has surged during the pandemic, as the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received a record number of complaints in 2020 and more than $4.2B in losses reported by victims to US authorities.Already banking regulators have cracked down and cyber scrutiny is high, with more likely to come. Just recently, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, sent a letter...
04/28/2021 - Residual CRE Impact From The Pandemic
Apparently, the proverb “speech is silver, silence is golden” came from the Arabic culture through Spain and then into Germany. It finally made its way into American vernacular from German immigrants in the 19th century. One topic where silence may not be golden is on the state of commercial real estate (CRE). As we finished our first quarter discussions with bankers, it appears that many bankers are silently waiting to see what will happen to their CRE portfolios.  As the economy recovers, let’s summarize the pandemic-driven challenges to CRE and see where things could be heading. Retail. The pandemic drove one...
04/27/2021 - Inflation & Interest Rates – Where Are They Going?
Did you know that Venus is the planet that has the hottest average temperature of 880 degrees Fahrenheit? While Mercury is closer to the sun, it appears that Venus’ thick atmosphere traps the solar heat to push its temperatures above Mercury’s meager 800 degrees. Hot stuff overall!Talk of rising inflation ahead has become another hot topic of late in the wake of big price jumps in sectors such as gas, lumber, and single-family homes. What are economists saying about inflation, and what does this mean for consumer spending, interest rates, and bank strategy? We provide some insight on these topics...
04/26/2021 - Community Bankers Will Continue Saving The Day
From helping children in need to raising money to fight cancer, community banks around the country are performing acts of kindness and support in their communities. As we wrap up Community Banking Month with our last special issue, we highlight banks that have helped homeowners, adopted families during the holidays, treated local business owners to lunch, and helped addicts rebuild their lives. Yet, as always, we know this is only a sample of all the good work that community bankers do. Acts of kindnessIn Oakland County, MI, Waterford Bank supports Habitat for Humanity, donating time and money toward mortgage relief, home...
04/23/2021 - Should Your Institution Consider Creating A CDO Position?
Americans eat a lot of hamburgers — 50B burgers each year, according to the US Department of Agriculture. That equates to almost 2.5 burgers every day for each of us! While you think about where you will be getting today’s burger, we share some ways that the financial industry is beefing up its diversity.These days, more financial institutions are increasing their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs, including elevating DEI initiatives to the C-suite by adding a Chief Diversity Officer (CDO). There are some good reasons for this.Publicly-traded reporting requirementsDEI is becoming a business imperative within the corporate world, particularly...
04/22/2021 - Four Critical Reminders To Transition From LIBOR To SOFR
Levi Hutchins was the first one to invent an alarm clock in the US — in Concord, NH in 1787. Believe it or not, it wasn’t patented but it only had one alarm, at 4 a.m. to wake up Levi for work. Similarly, the alarm is ringing this year for the LIBOR to SOFR transition.Time is ticking away with LIBOR’s discontinuation, and regulators are urging financial institutions to act now to ensure a smooth transition. While we have been reporting on this since the announcement of LIBOR’s cessation was made, it is increasingly important to get preparations in order.As bankers...
04/21/2021 - Stay On Top Of PPP Changes For Your Customers
 Most of us are familiar with Life Savers Candy. But did you know it was first introduced 109 years ago? Clarence Crane of OH created it as a candy that could withstand the summer heat and named it based on its “life preserver shape.” Another lifesaver has been the PPP and there are more changes that could continue to help.Many community financial institutions (CFIs) have experienced first-hand how the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has helped many small businesses survive. But, it has been challenging to keep up with some of the updates. For this reason, we give you the latest...
04/20/2021 - Five Strategies Toward Effective Vendor Management
There are about 9K farmers’ markets across the country with each often having dozens of vendors, which adds up to over 200K vendors. Of these 200K vendors, not all vendors are alike. They provide different products, such as flowers, food, and crafts, and different levels of quality. This is also true of vendors in the financial industry.  As community financial institutions (CFIs) turn to these vendors for help in providing services and boosting profits, the need to properly manage them increases. Getting the most out of vendors requires diligent vendor management, which includes closely monitoring vendor performance and costs and...
04/19/2021 - Community Bankers Keep Saving The Day
Last year’s fire season set records across the US. As of November 27, 2020, the year saw 52,113 wildfires burn nearly 9MM acres — 2.3MM more acres than the 10Y average, and nearly twice the area that burned in 2019.Not only that, but 1 in 7 children (11MM) are living in poverty in the US. Due to the pandemic and its economic ramifications, more than 40% of children live in households that are finding it difficult to sustain even the most basic needs. With this in mind, in our third Community Banking Month issue, we wanted to highlight some of...
04/16/2021 - $21 Trillion Opportunity In Cross-Border Payments
Ever wonder which international land border is the longest? The Russia-China border may come to mind, yet that is only the 6th longest border at 4,209 km. The longest is the Canada-US border at 8,890 km. Not surprisingly, Canada is one of the top countries for American businesses to send and receive cross-border payments as well.Community financial institutions (CFIs) can now offer cross-border payment capabilities to their commercial customers (and not just to Canada) far easier and less expensively than ever — which can spell great opportunity for all as the market is on fire.Indeed, the cross-border payments market, now...
04/15/2021 - Core Deposit Growth Sets Your Institution Up For The Future
We have read that there are 21 things that are used to ask for a wish. Can you guess all of them? Wishbones, birthday candles, dandelions, and fallen eyelashes made the list, of course. But, did you know about white horses, wishing stones, and acorns? With all of these ways to make your wishes come true, it may not be surprising that bankers saw one of their biggest wishes come to fruition in 2020. At the beginning of 2020, many community banks cited the need to grow deposits as one of their primary business goals. Little did they know that the...
04/14/2021 - Update: State Online Data Privacy Laws
Did you know that it is illegal to use blasphemy in the state of MI? Or that it is against the law to swear at a sporting event in MA, if you are 16 years or older? And that dance halls are not allowed to be open on Sundays in SC? There is no shortage of laws that are still on the books within individual states past their intended use. Of course, many of these laws are no longer enforced. But while states may now overlook some of these more outdated laws, don’t expect that to be the case when...
04/13/2021 - Four Ways To Keep Your Landlord Clients Afloat
Did you know that “pips” is the appropriate name for the dots on the dominos game pieces? Still, spots or dots work too, just as long as the players know the terms used. On the other hand, lending terms and their payments can be more tricky these days, as the pandemic continues to affect landlords and their bankers.Past-due rents are still a heavy burden for many landlords. Government stimulus checks have provided some relief to tenants and forbearance assistance has been a help to landlords. But the problem has grown so large that it may not be easily resolved, either...
04/12/2021 - Community Bankers Save The Day Again
There are around 4,750 community banks nationwide that local businesses and community members rely on, not just for financial services, but for outreach and assistance. We continue to celebrate every community banker with our second issue for Community Banking Month. Today, we highlight efforts made to assist minority communities, help college graduates, and teach financial literacy. Join us in our celebration, while patting yourself on the back for an ongoing job-well-done! Minority outreachThe Freedom Bank of VA created a new, $50K revolving loan fund, designed to help provide financing and technical assistance for entrepreneurs of color in the Washington D.C....
04/09/2021 - Physically Fit Bank Customers Are Fiscally Fit Too
According to Freeletics, 74% of Americans say they used at least one fitness app during the COVID quarantine and Harrison Co. reported that 40% of survey respondents had never exercised at home before the pandemic. Americans were definitely exercising more as they were limited by their activities. Let’s hope that trend for fitness continues.Evidence is growing that the better a customer takes care of their physical health, the better they take care of their financial well-being too. Of course, this can also bode well for their financial institution; so much so that some institutions are now offering customers rewards and...
04/08/2021 - Appealing To The $143B Spending Power Generation
In Japan’s Ashikaga Flower Park, a 150Y old wisteria tree resides, which is believed to be the oldest living wisteria in that country. Still, that is a youngster compared to the Japanese Jomon Sugi that some believe is over 5K Ys old! A youngster of the human kind, Gen Z, is making its way in the world, drawing the notice of many bankers.Born between 1995 and 2010, Generation Z not only represents the newest up-and-coming segment of banking customers —  but one of the largest, most diverse, and knowledgeable demographics. Depending on the data, between 73MM and 78MM Americans fit...
04/07/2021 - ACH Disruptions Remind Bankers of BCP Importance
The Guinness World Record for the farthest distance for stone skimming is almost 400 ft by a Scotsman named Dougie Isaacs. That stone likely sent multiple ripples along its path. Similarly, we find ripples can be felt along the digital global payment system when glitches or outages occur. One such event happened recently.During one recent appearance before Congress, Fed Chairman Powell was briefing members about the government’s digital payment system, and how important this year would be to its continued development. As he spoke, the Fed’s system was disrupted for about four hours due to an apparent internal hiccup. Apart...
04/06/2021 - 3 Ways To Keep Performance High With Hybrid Employees
The first patent for a hybrid (gasoline-electric) vehicle was filed in 1889 in IL by William H. Patton and was for a rail-car propulsion system for trams and small locomotives. But it wasn’t until 1997 when mass-produced hybrid automobiles finally hit the market with the Toyota Prius in Japan. Though hybrid vehicles still only represent a small fraction of the automobile industry, they are increasingly popular.Much like hybrid vehicles, the idea of hybrid work arrangements has been around for a while. Yet, with the pandemic and the need for social distancing, hybrid work arrangements were pushed to the forefront, along...
04/05/2021 - Community Bankers Save The Day
According to the nonprofit organization Feeding America, unemployment during the pandemic has greatly increased food insecurity in the US. Compared with 2018, 2020 saw the number of people considered food-insecure rise by 13.2MM, to a total of 50.4MM. These Americans weren’t certain of getting the nutrition they needed; 17MM of those were children. April is Community Banking Month, a time we celebrate by talking about the various kinds of outreach community bankers do. We begin by highlighting banks that have been working with food banks and meal delivery to help stem the increase of hungry Americans or thank specific segments of...
04/02/2021 - CRE Recovery Looks Mixed – Winners and Losers
Published in 1859, “A Tale of Two Cities” is considered by many to be the most famous of all of Charles Dickens’ books, as it has been adapted into plays, radio segments, movies, television shows, and podcasts. These days, we are even seeing glimpses of it in the financial industry.  Lenders looking for cues on what’s ahead for commercial real estate (CRE) lending activity and valuations are finding a story that reads a little like this classic novel — “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” As we review the last year, some CRE sectors...
04/01/2021 - How Is FedNow Coming Along?
Today is April Fool’s Day. But, we promise not to fool you. We thought it was interesting to read about its origins, but it is somewhat of a mystery. Some believe it had to do with the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, as the weather can be unpredictable. Others think it had to do with the change from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar — those who didn’t realize the change were considered fools. But, today, we are not fooling when we say that FedNow℠ is ahead of schedule. The Federal Reserve is making such good progress on...

March 2021

03/31/2021 - Learning To Swim In Liquidity – What Can Bankers Do?
We heard recently about a survey, conducted for the Red Cross, that found that while 80% of Americans said they could swim, only 56% of the self-described swimmers can perform all five of the basic skills that could save their life in the water. As you build your post-pandemic plans, this may be up for consideration as many bankers are swimming in cash these days. Thanks to continued injections from government actions and low loan demand, many financial institutions are awash in cash. But for how long will this last? We lay out some of the economic indicators to try to...
03/30/2021 - Community Banks And Credit Unions – New Friendships?
Friendships may not always make sense. For instance, Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg, Mel Gibson and Britney Spears, or even dogs and cats. But, they often share similar values to foster these friendships. Similarly, community banks and credit unions (CUs) may not always see eye-to-eye on a variety of issues. But, in spite of this, several community banks are nowadays regarding CUs differently and even reaching out to sell them their banks or specific branches. Reasons to sell. As the financial landscape shifts, so do some of these relationships. Some community banks are struggling with thinning net interest margins and decelerating loan...
03/29/2021 - Four Ways To Progress With Corporate Governance
The term “corporate governance” became official when it was entered into the US Federal Register in 1976. After this addition, regulators and companies had a way to classify business best practices and create benchmarks.Not surprisingly, when it comes to corporate governance, many shareholders want companies to be responsible. But, these days, that often includes environmental and social elements too. Consider findings from Deloitte’s 2020 global risk management survey, in which 47% of respondents say it will be an extremely or very high priority for their institutions to improve their ability to manage ESG (environmental, social, and governance).How should community financial...
03/26/2021 - Put Your Referral Programs In Gear
According to one source, 78% of B2B marketers find that referral programs generate good or excellent leads. While this may seem obvious, with the past year’s focus on health and recovery, it likely hasn’t been top of mind. Now may be the time to put it there. Community financial institutions have utilized customer referral programs for commercial and retail customers for years and often realized great success. Various studies show happy customers can be your institution’s greatest champions and generate a firm’s best leads. In a year with low margins and high volatility, good customers can be your best source of...
03/25/2021 - Trade Finance Can Grow International Business
According to a SurveyMonkey survey, around 80% of Americans drink coffee, with 69% drinking it for its taste, and 62% drinking it for the extra burst of energy. So, when you are drawn to your next cup of coffee, you know you are in good company.  Another area that is drawing people in these days is trade finance. A growing number of funds and institutional investors are drawn to the returns offered by trade finance. The reasons they like this asset class are largely the same reasons that community financial institutions (CFIs) can also benefit by offering trade financing to...
03/24/2021 - Reaching More Customers By Going Viral
Contranyms are interesting. They are words that have two almost opposite meanings, depending on how it is used. While you can screen (hide) your skin from the sun using sunblock, when you screen a movie you are putting it on display for everyone to see. Similarly, when we talk about something going viral, the word is negative when it comes to things like the pandemic, yet when used regarding something on social media or the internet, it is positive. Going viral on social media indicates great demand or a high level of interest. In the case of the latter, there is...
03/23/2021 - Six Steps Your Institution Should Take Towards SOFR
A day on the planet Mercury is actually equivalent to two Earth years. Talk about having more time in the day! Many bankers wish that they had more time in the day to address the many projects on their plate lately.Although the implementation of CECL and the myriad of issues related to PPP loans have dominated bankers’ time, it is important to keep the upcoming transition from LIBOR to SOFR on top of mind as well. It remains one of the regulators’ top areas of focus for this year, with the adoption deadline set for December 31, 2021.Back at the...
03/22/2021 - Three Key Areas Impacting Customer Profitability
According to National Geographic, the land mammal with the longest tail is actually a giraffe, which can reach 8 ft. This was a bit of a surprise to us! Another surprise is that we seem to be at the tail-end of the pandemic. As more vaccines are administered and more businesses open, there are several factors impacting our local and national economies which will affect bank profitability. Better, faster decisions will be made if our data and assumptions are current and if customer profitability is reviewed regularly. To guide you with this review, we provide you with three key areas impacting...
03/19/2021 - Branch Closures – The Influencers & The Future
Interestingly, some trees such as pines, poplars, willows, and maples, shed their branches annually in a “self-pruning” process. While that may work for these trees, shedding bank branches doesn’t always work as well for bank employees, customers, or communities.S&P Global reported that over the past 12 months, there has been a net loss of 2,563 branches — 3,585 branches shuttered while 1,022 were opened. Although the pandemic has definitely had a hand in speeding some of these closures along, how will the post-pandemic world affect branch closures? Bankers and experts alike have been weighing in on this issue. We look...
03/18/2021 - Zoom Fatigue Is Still Here – How It Affects Us And What To Do
It has been calculated that some executives spend up to an average of 23 hours per week in virtual meetings. This has been taking a toll on all of us, according to new research from Stanford University. Even as businesses, including community financial institutions, get back to the office, these virtual meetings will likely continue to a certain degree. So, we wanted to provide you with some insights from Stanford’s study to help your management teams and staff.According to a recent Stanford University study, most people find hours on Zoom, the ubiquitous video conferencing platform — or any other such...
03/17/2021 - Five Ways To Grow Your Business
Today is St. Patrick’s Day which means wearing green, eating corned beef and cabbage, and for those over 21, drinking Guinness beer, as we join the Irish in this cultural and religious celebration. In the US, we have come to adopt many customs of our immigrants, including St. Patrick’s Day. But, immigrants provide much more as they become more intertwined in the American fabric. According to Pew Research, as of 2018, there were 34.5MM foreign-born legal residents (aka immigrants) in the US. Staying true to our origins as a country of immigrants, the percentage of immigrants as a share of...
03/16/2021 - Merchants Optimistic About Contactless Payments
The experts say that if you come in contact with a bear, you should remain still, stand your ground, and slowly wave your arms so that it knows you are not prey. This doesn’t sound like the easiest way to stay contactless, but supposedly it is the best way nonetheless. One contactless option that seems a bit easier is of the payment variety. Merchants are finding contactless payment technologies help keep business flowing. Contactless payment technologies are getting more and more popular among small business merchants, propelled by shifts from the pandemic, and are likely to stay. By the end...
03/15/2021 - Stemming The Exodus Of Women In The Workplace
As of March 2, there have been over 115MM coronavirus cases worldwide, over 2.5MM deaths, and almost 91MM considered recovered. There is nobody left who hasn’t been negatively impacted by the pandemic one way or another. But while job losses due to the pandemic have been felt far and wide across the country, societal factors have led to women leaving the workforce at a disproportionate rate. Thus, there is a risk that the banking industry, among others, could be left with a dearth of senior women once the pandemic finishes. While each institution is unique, it is important to understand...
03/12/2021 - Helping The Underbanked And Unbanked
Most people have heard of the Spanish Steps in Rome. But, did you know that it is comprised of 138 steps, built in the 18th century, and connects the Spanish Embassy and the church of Trinita dei Monti to the Holy See and Spanish Square? It is amazing to think how many people are connected by these steps. In the present day, taking steps to connect to underbanked and unbanked people is something many bankers are trying to do.Banks are taking important steps to help unbanked and underbanked individuals gain access to needed financial services. This is especially important these...
03/11/2021 - What SMBs Are Looking For In International Payment Solutions
The Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that exports increased by $6.2B to $190B and imports grew by $3.8B to $256.6B from November to  December 2020. This shows that international trade is inching forward, and with it, so is small business international activity.According to the Office of the US Trade Representative, small businesses that export “grow faster, add jobs faster, and pay higher wages.” In an increasingly global world, more small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have relationships overseas with customers, suppliers, or both. These firms need to make and receive payments from overseas sources, and they expect to do so at...
03/10/2021 - How To Test For Volatility In A Post-Pandemic Normal
Auguste Rodin’s bronze statue, The Thinker, was originally commissioned in 1880 for a doorway area called, The Gates of Hell. While this area was based on Dante’s “The Divine Comedy”, some would say that with the pandemic and economic disruptions, we have passed through similar gates. Further, just like Rodin’s statue, bankers have been prompted to think deeper about the interplay of risks for their institution. For instance, expected loan losses are particularly difficult to calculate during the pandemic, with many businesses struggling, some thriving, and government assistance programs keeping many afloat. The economy is rapidly showing signs of strength....
03/09/2021 - Three Ways To Add More Board Diversity
Interestingly, Seymour Island had penguins that stood at six feet tall and weighed 250 pounds about 40MM Ys ago, according to bones that were found. As times change, adaptions are made. This is true with bank boards too.Lately, banks have made modest improvements in diversifying their boards, but they’re not where they should be yet. That’s according to a finding from Bank Director’s inaugural 2020 Governance Best Practices Survey, which took place in February and March 2020, just before the pandemic forced many banks to close. A total of 159 CEOs, chairmen, chairwomen, and independent directors of banks with less...
03/08/2021 - Three Ways To Improve The Customer Experience
According to Bain & Co., if you boost your customer retention by 5%, your profits can increase by as much as 125%! While many community financial institutions (CFIs) consider their customers more than just a way to make a profit, this is definitely a nice bonus for a good customer relationship. Knowing this, it is not surprising that even though many priorities have changed amid the pandemic, the customer experience continues to be top of mind. Indeed, it’s second to the top in terms of priorities through 2021, according to the Financial Brand’s Digital Banking Report. More than half of...
03/05/2021 - What Are Banks Saying About M&A In 2021?
While crawling, talking, and walking are typical milestones for young children, it is not always easy to note when there is simply a delay vs. atypical behavior. Observations, assessments, and analyses are all important ways to differentiate the two. Looking at the development of bank M&A in 2021 can be handled similarly. Last year was definitely atypical when it came to bank M&A activity. Once the pandemic took hold, M&A activity screeched to a halt, with a measly 3 deals announced in April and May, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. Acquisitions picked up slightly in the summer, yet the...
03/04/2021 - Three Steps To Get Started With Open Banking
The phrase “open sesame” comes from French Antoine Galland's 18th-century story, “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.” Yet, it has been popularized here by the world of animation through Disney’s “Aladdin.” While “open sesame” hasn’t shown up in the banking world yet, open banking definitely has. Open banking, or open finance as it is often called, has attracted a lot of buzz lately due to the rise in digital banking. Open banking is defined as financial institutions sharing customer data digitally with third parties, with consent, to provide a more engaging banking experience. While many community financial institutions (CFIs) may...
03/03/2021 - 50% Of People Would Switch Banks For Biometric Cards
According to a survey by OnePoll, 64% of those surveyed said they are germophobic now, due to the pandemic. Respondents reported washing their hands 10x per day, in addition to using hand sanitizer 8x per day. Though vaccines are now being actively distributed and administered, the public’s concerns about touching public surfaces remain high. This has not only led to a significant boost in electronic and mobile payments over the past year, but also driven demand for contactless payment options such as biometric bank cards. Further, with public demand for contactless payment options expected to increase, community financial institutions (CFIs)...
03/02/2021 - Should CFIs Worry About Peak Oil?
The movie, Grease, debuted in 1978 and became both a commercial and critical success. Brylcreem, a combination of mineral oil and beeswax, and poodle skirts were all the rage for a while again due to its popularity. While oil has definitely worked its way into many consumer products, including cosmetics and haircare, as an energy source, oil may have reached a peak.  As the nation and world turn increasingly to renewable energy, a long decline in oil demand is approaching, and that has broad economic implications. While it won’t happen overnight, it is important to prepare for the effects of...
03/01/2021 - How Do You Identify & Fight Synthetic Identity Fraud?
Synthetic fabrics can trace their origin back to 1855 when George Audemars, a Swiss chemist, discovered how to artificially replicate silk using mulberry bark pulp and gummy rubber. Unfortunately for community financial institutions (CFIs), synthetic reproductions have morphed into multiple channels, including fraudulent ones, as in synthetic identity fraud.  Synthetic identity fraud is when false identities are created and used to make fraudulent purchases and open counterfeit accounts and loans. While not new, financial institutions now lose more than $6B annually to synthetic identity fraud. With this as an increasing problem, CFIs need to understand the latest issues around it...

February 2021

02/26/2021 - Help Your Borrowers With Tax Breaks On Forgiven PPP Loans
Believe it or not, the fax machine was invented back in the 1840s. While it took a little longer to hit the mainstream, bankers used the fax machine in the normal course of lending and other business for decades.Still, with its shiny, easily smudged paper, it is a good thing that fax machines are not the only way to conduct business anymore. As of February 7, 2021, community financial institutions (CFIs) under $10B had granted 653,684 loans totaling $53,430,722,294 under the new 2021 Paycheck Provider Program (PPP), showing how fervently CFIs continue to serve their small business borrowers. For those...
02/25/2021 - Three Ways To Help Small Landlord Customers
The Cleveland Clinic reports that 85 out of 100K US adults report having pinched nerves each year. Most of these cases are for people over 50Ys old; yet, as many of us are still sitting at dining room tables as pseudo office desks these days, that number could increase. Another group that is likely to get more pinched these days is small landlords whose tenants continue to suffer economically due to the pandemic. As a result, the community financial institutions (CFIs) that lend to them could also be pinched.Delinquencies on mortgage loans for one- to four-unit dwellings in Q4 2020...
02/24/2021 - Leadership Traits Are Evolving
Being able to wiggle your ears is an evolutionary trait that started with the need to pinpoint sounds. Once humans started living in groups, it was less important. This may explain why only 15% of the population can wiggle their ears today!Evolution is not just for survival traits like wiggling ears, but also for becoming better leaders. Financial institution CEOs have many important roles to play and these roles have evolved over the past several years as times have changed. Today, more than ever before, they need to interact with a larger group of stakeholders. They are reaching out to...
02/23/2021 - Using Biometrics While Mitigating The Risks
Biometrics use has been growing steadily and is expected to only speed up. The global biometrics market is expected to reach $68.6B in 2025, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.4%. It is important for community financial institutions (CFIs) to incorporate biometrics as they provide an important way to protect customer data. Still, there are risks. We give you an update on biometrics and how to mitigate the evolving risks. Biometrics have come a long way. According to the Biometrics Institute, there are currently 15 different types of biometric data. Facial patterns, iris scanning, and hand geometry plus 11...
02/22/2021 - Retain Deposits With Technology
According to Statista, the US savings rate in October 2020 was 13.6%. While this fell from a whopping 33.7% in April, it is still six percentage points higher than the rate in February 2020. The savings rate will get back to normal levels eventually though. When that happens, you will want to be ready. As the economy expands and spending increases, we expect that inflationary pressures are likely to cause the cost of funds to increase. When that happens, having a plan in place to retain deposits will put you ahead of the curve. Here are a few ways to...
02/19/2021 - Your Next Exam & Tough Questions On Climate Change Risks
Since the rainy season is still here, we wondered which US city has the most rainy days? Seattle? Portland? New Orleans? Actually, Rochester and Buffalo in NY tied for the top spot with 167 rainy days per year. However, Seattle residents may refute this!Regardless of the various views on rainy days or climate change, good bankers know to pay attention to shifts in regulatory focus. So, while climate change risks are not yet incorporated into bank examiner supervisory manuals, the topic continues to pick up steam amongst the regulatory agencies as ongoing weather events may have the potential to impact...
02/18/2021 - Helping SMBs Ramp Up Digital Disbursements
Interestingly, 5K year-old tablets show that workers in Mesopotamia were paid in rations of beer. Even back then they had pay stubs! Yet, payment with beer is no longer common practice and payments overall have advanced light years since ancient Mesopotamia.Still, for companies that provide services to small- and midsized-businesses (SMB), getting paid has sometimes taken longer than desired. But, as payments and financial services have become more electronic, digital disbursements are changing the game.Digital disbursements give businesses a smooth and immediate payment process to and from vendors and customers. Consumers have already expressed high interest in digital payments through...
02/17/2021 - From Pandemic To Productivity Challenges
Hard to believe that the board game, Clue, has been around since 1947. Colonel Mustard, Miss Scarlett, and Professor Plum have seen millions of mysteries solved in the hall, conservatory, and kitchen with the candlestick, wrench, and rope since then.It is no mystery that the working world has changed in the last 12 months. Gone are the days of the standard eight-hour workday. In its place is a new reality where people have a hard time disconnecting from work, especially as many still work remotely. While 83% of employees don’t believe working remotely affects their productivity, and 94% of employers...
02/16/2021 - Three Secrets Of Successful Fintech Partnerships
You may not know this, but 28% of IT professionals conceal the fact that they work in IT from family and friends to avoid having to give free tech support. These days, though, more community financial institutions (CFIs) than ever are reaching out to fintechs for tech support to keep up with customer demands so they don’t have to bother family and friends anymore. More and more community financial institutions are partnering with fintechs to bring even more value to their customers, especially after the digitization spurred from the pandemic. According to Cornerstone Advisors, 86% of credit unions and banks cite...
02/12/2021 - How Will CECL Affect Your Institution’s Securities?
It has been estimated that on a clear night away from city lights, as many as 5K stars would be visible to the naked eye. Bankers are more likely to be looking at their loan loss estimates these days than up the stars. Still, we thought it was interesting nonetheless.The financial press is full of news about CECL’s effect on loans, as well as how the effects of the coronavirus will affect CECL’s implementation. Yet, community financial institutions (CFIs) will need to understand and strategize around the effect the new standard will have on their institution’s investment securities too. These...
02/11/2021 - Relationship Value Pricing And Customer Profitability
Since Valentine’s Day is on Sunday, we thought it interesting to share that it only takes about 4 minutes to decide whether you like someone or not. Supposedly, this has to do with body language and the tone of your voice. That said, it takes a bit longer for bankers to know how the relationship with their customer will work out. One thing that can help — relationship value pricing. Relationship value pricing can be an effective strategy for improving a community financial institution’s (CFI) fee income and determining the worth of the overall customer relationship. This is especially important...
02/10/2021 - Passwords – Are Their Days Numbered?
Experts say that the best time for the brain to learn is between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and then again from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. This timing could be helpful to know when learning new passwords. Yet, many bankers and experts alike are looking at other options for passwords as well.  Financial institutions have always been a top target for cybercriminals. But as online compromises have spiked the past year in the face of the pandemic, many experts are questioning whether the ubiquitous password is enough in securing work-based access. The human element. Entering a user name and...
02/09/2021 - Using Influencer Marketing To Engage Customers & Talent
Apparently, people speak an average of about 7K words a day, with some speaking even double that number. So, it is not surprising that trying to break through the stream of words to reach your customers can be a challenge. Today, we look at influencer marketing as a way to do this. Influencer marketing in social media is hot right now and community financial institutions (CFIs) are getting in on the act.Influencers typically have a dedicated following because they are perceived as experts in their particular field or activity. As such, their followers trust their recommendations about brands. Influencers can also...
02/08/2021 - Security Operations Center – Is It For You?
Apparently, disappearing socks is no longer a mystery. One family took apart its washing machine when it was not functioning properly and found that socks had slipped through the thick rubber ring that allows you to tightly seal the door. According to a GE quality engineer, this can happen at high spinning speeds. While not a mystery, another type of SOC, Security Operations Center, is helping financial institutions deal with the head-spinning cost of cybercrime. With new cyber threats emerging daily, you may be hearing more about SOC as a way to batten down the cybersecurity hatches. While this approach may...
02/05/2021 - Startups Find Opportunities – Your Institution Could Too
While we don’t advise doing it at home, coconut water has apparently been used “as a short-term intravenous hydration fluid” according to the National Library of Medicine. Many businesses are definitely in need of similar life-saving provisions these days, but the current environment has created amazing opportunities for startups as well.When it comes to COVID-19, community financial institutions should not forget that there is another side of the proverbial coin. There is no question that the global pandemic has taken a negative toll on businesses across the board, leaving many people unemployed or under-employed and struggling to make ends meet....
02/04/2021 - FedNow℠ Service Is Making Progress – What You Should Know
According to Acumen Research and Consulting, the worldwide B2B payments transaction market will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6% from 2019 to 2026 and is expected to reach over $63T by 2026. Many factors are affecting this rapid growth, including the advancement of payment technologies along with the continuing demand for faster payments by consumers and businesses alike. All payment platforms have seen increased demand, especially during the pandemic. So, it is exciting to see that the Fed’s faster payments solution, FedNow ServiceSM, is making great strides.While the FedNow Service isn’t expected to fully launch until...
02/03/2021 - Credit Migration Trend – Where Is It Heading?
Birds have been known to migrate up to 16,000 miles and reach speeds of 30mph to reach their destination at the right time. That means it could take some birds 66 days to reach their destination. Talk about perseverance! Bankers also need perseverance in dealing with their own migration — credit migration.Bankers are always on the lookout for credit migration trends, even more so now as deferrals are less prevalent and lenders hone in on loans that show more persistent performance issues. With a new round of stimulus coming, the full impact of the ongoing pandemic may be tamed; however,...
02/02/2021 - The COVID-19 Vaccine And Your Employees
Americans collectively watched more than 57B minutes of “The Office” in 2020, making it the year’s most heavily streamed television show, according to Nielsen. Between social distancing and cabin fever, it’s not surprising that so many would seek out a little comic relief. Or maybe the show’s popularity reflects the fact that people yearn to return to shared workspaces. But, before that can happen, businesses will have to determine whether or not they will require employees to get the COVID-19 vaccination and, if so, how they will handle the details.While the availability of coronavirus vaccines is still primarily limited to...
02/01/2021 - Educating Your Customers About SIM Swap Fraud
The only insect that can turn its head is the praying mantis. Its average life span is 1Y and there are 1,800 species around the world. Gardeners often welcome these insects since they eat many garden pests. Criminals that prey on bank customers through their phones are another kind of pest we focus on today.Criminals who take over your customer’s phone can tap into their bank accounts and make off with their funds. Unfortunately, instances of SIM swapping have risen sharply over the last few years. Defining the problemSIM swapping occurs when a thief impersonates a user and attempts to...

January 2021

01/29/2021 - Employee Diversity Boosts Engagement & Performance
Today is National Puzzle Day and most of us have done a puzzle or two during the pandemic. Demand has soared to the point where one handcrafted puzzle went for as much as $4,500! Increasing diversity within an organization can also be puzzling. But, today, we shed some light on why and how to do this.  In the wake of the past year’s inclusion-focused rallies and events, community financial institutions (CFIs) are increasingly embracing a more committed effort to add gender and racial diversity to their internal organization. This is being done not only to increase employee engagement, but also...
01/28/2021 - The Year Ahead In Anti-Money Laundering Compliance
According to an assistant astronomy and astrophysics professor from UC Santa Cruz, the Earth is worth about $5 quadrillion. He used the Earth’s mass, temperature, age, and other factors that directly affect its ability to support life. If planet investing was possible, no doubt money launderers would try to use it to their advantage. Yet, this year could be a monumental one for money launderers and financial institutions. Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulatory efforts that have been percolating for years are starting to take shape. Given the change in administration and the fact that AML reform has had bipartisan support in...
01/27/2021 - LIBOR To SOFR – Next Steps To Keep You On Track
We thought it was interesting to find out that the term “scuttlebutt” has its origins from 1800s naval history, as this was what contained drinking water for those on the ship. A ship’s version of a company water cooler where sailors gathered to share information. The end of LIBOR is definitely more than just water cooler talk or scuttlebutt. So, today, we give you the latest update.  The end of LIBOR matters to financial institutions all over the world, because so many interest rates are pegged to the sunsetting standard. But community financial institutions have a particular reason to care...
01/26/2021 - How Can Wire Automation Help Your Institution?
Automation is not new. This term was first coined around 1946 in the automotive industry “to describe the increased use of automatic devices and controls in mechanized production lines.” It is attributed to D.S. Harder, a Ford Motor Company engineering manager at that time.Even though it is not new, automation in banking was definitely advancing prior to COVID-19; but, the pandemic put it in high gear. One of the areas that specifically saw increases in automation was wire processing. As businesses looked for commerce opportunities across geographic boundaries, several community financial institutions (CFIs) stepped up with wire automation. Here are...
01/25/2021 - Categorizing PPP Customers For Customer Profitability
It may not be surprising to hear that Star Wars is considered the most profitable movie of all time. This is not just due to the 1977 movie itself. Its success stems from 12 released films in the series, its Disney rides, and merchandise galore. Likewise, bank customers could have other sources of income that make them more profitable. Finding that out is part of the process for bankers.Now that the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has started up again, it is a good time to look at PPP customers and their profitability, possibly finding other areas of income. Based on...
01/22/2021 - Opportunities Emerge As Digital Banking Increases
Do you remember hearing about putting pepper on a toddler’s thumb to stop them from sucking it? Sometimes it takes a negative event or experience to trigger certain behaviors. In today’s case, the pandemic certainly triggered specific customer behaviors. The pandemic accelerated industry trends and changed consumers’ banking and payment habits, says a study done by Javelin Strategy & Research. Despite their beginnings in a time of tremendous stress, these changes have created openings for financial institutions to bring in more business. Digital banking increased. Banking customers were already doing less of their banking in person, but lockdowns and quarantines...
01/21/2021 - PPP Lending Is Back . . . And There Are Changes
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...
01/20/2021 - 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...
01/19/2021 - Four Ways To Help Your Customers Fight Fraud
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,...
01/15/2021 - Bank Landscaping For Greater Engagement
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...
01/14/2021 - 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...
01/13/2021 - Merchant Businesses Generate 2.6x More Revenue
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...
01/12/2021 - Automation Keeps Your Institution Competitive
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...
01/11/2021 - How One Of Your Peers Succeeded With Mobile Wallets
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...
01/08/2021 - Staying Compliant With Artificial Intelligence
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...
01/07/2021 - Three Ways To Manage 2021 Lending Challenges
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...
01/06/2021 - Four Banking Technology Spending Trends In 2021
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...
01/05/2021 - Your Data Privacy Program Can Be A Competitive Tool
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...
01/04/2021 - Top 5 Areas Of Regulatory Focus For 2021
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...

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