Tag Archives: products

Are Banks Lending Money to Small Business?

There is a misconception that was especially popular during the banking crisis of the last several years and that continues today at some level. As a small business lender, I often get asked if banks are lending money to small business. The misconception being that banks–including community banks–are just sitting on their hands and are unwilling to invest any loan dollars into small business growth. The reality is very different, at least at the community bank level. The FDIC recently released a report that stated while community banks only have a small percentage–14%–of industry assets on their books, they account for 46% of all small loans originated to businesses and farms in the United States. I would argue this fantastic percentage of small business loans from community banks is the result of community banks being invested in their communities, leadership and decision makers who live and work in the areas they serve, and community bankers who are invested in seeing small businesses in their towns and cities succeed. First National Bank has seen great small business loan growth in the last 18 months, and I know other area community banks have made a similar commitment to finding and helping creditworthy small business owners grow and thrive.

More Perspective on TAG

In case you’re interested, here is an interesting (if you like this sort of thing) article on the TAG program I posted about earlier. I don’t necessarily agree with every point about why we should keep the guarantee program for bank deposits, but I do agree there is still a lot of uncertainty in the market right now and caution may not be a bad thing. Also, keeping the program is not a taxpayer funded project because banks are the ones paying into the insurance program.

What’s my Credit Score?

According to a recent report by Smartcredit.com, only 4% of people access their free credit each year. The government originally started requiring the three major credit bureaus—Equifax, Transunion, and Experian—to provide a free annual report every year to encourage credit education, reduce fraud and identity theft among consumers. Given the 4% utilization rate, it appears the effort may not be working according to plan. However, credit monitoring is big business as more and more players are entering the market for your financial management dollars. Here are five things to consider regarding personal credit management and your free report:

1. Annualcreditreport.com is the ONLY government sponsored site that offers a free annual report from each of the three credit bureaus. There are countless copycats and plenty of other legitimate providers, but make sure you know what kind of site you’re visiting before you invest money with a credit monitoring service.

2. This site (annualcreditreport.com) allows users to choose the method and timing of report orders. The reports can be ordered at the same time or staggered over the course of the year: user option. Also, the credit history report is free, BUT it does cost to get a FICO score as part of the order.

3. Once you order a report from one of the bureaus, it’s not free again for a full year.

4. Since the report is designed to promote awareness, it makes sense to use the report to familiarize yourself with the content of your report. If there are errors or fraudulent information on your history, there are ways to dispute the information and get the report corrected. It’s important to dispute the information immediately so when good credit matters—loan, insurance, and job application to name a few—your record will be correct and accurately reflect your history.

5. As identity theft and security breaches of personal information become more common, it is essential to protect identity and monitor fraudulent activity. All three of the main bureaus, and many other quality credit monitoring providers, offer ongoing protection in various forms. It would be very wise to use annualcreditreport.com as an introduction to your credit, and then find a service to help you monitor your credit and personal information moving forward. It is much easier to plan ahead and purchase protection than it is to try to pick up the pieces after you’ve been victimized by identity theft.

Member FDIC Equal Housing Lender

If your odds were 1 in 30 How Daring Would you Be?

There is a 1 in 30 chance that you were a victim of identity theft in 2008. In addition, there is a 1 in 10 chance that you’ve already been a victim of ID theft at some point in your life. There are some other eye-opening statistics at the bottom of this post that I borrowed from spendonlife.com. It seems like identity theft is happening more and more often to more and more people. And, the thieves appear to be getting more and more creative.

I don’t want to bog you down with piles of numbers but here a few key statistics to help lay some groundwork. There are 307 million people and 232.4 million adults in America according to the 2009 US Census. Of those, (according to Javelin Strategy and Research) 50.2 million are using a credit monitoring service to keep track of their credit history. That leaves 182.2 million US adults who are NOT monitoring their credit. And finally, 10 million people were victimized by identity theft in 2008. There are too many numbers to really break down in one blog post, but my one overriding thought is that there are too many unassuming people out there who do not appear to be adequately protected.

The assumption I take away from this is that people look at ID theft protection as just another form of (unwanted and unnecessary) insurance. I know there are people who don’t necessarily think they need insurance and assume it’s a waste of money UNTIL they have a loss. Then, they’re true believers and wouldn’t ever be caught dead without it.

At the Bank, we offer identity theft protection. There are various levels of protection that can be relatively inexpensive. However, it is one of the products almost no one ever uses. Why is this? Do people not see value in identity theft protection? Is identity theft something that people don’t see as an imminent threat? OR, is there another avenue for identity theft protection (i.e. through a homeowners insurance policy) that provides better value? Given the statistics below that demonstrate the enormous cost to victims of ID theft (both time and money), the cost of protection seems like money well spent.

I would love some feedback on this topic so feel free to comment and let me know what you think about identity theft and people’s general response to it. If you’re bored by the topic feel free to let me know that as well, or throw out some other suggestions.

Thanks for reading.

IDENTITY THEFT STATISTICS (courtesy of spendonlife.com)

Victims
• There were 10 million victims of identity theft in 2008 in the United States (Javelin Strategy and Research, 2009).
• 1 in every 10 U.S. consumers has already been victimized by identity theft (Javelin Strategy and Research, 2009).
• 1.6 million households experienced fraud not related to credit cards (i.e. their bank accounts or debit cards were compromised) (U.S. Department of Justice, 2005).
• Those households with incomes higher than $70,000 were twice as likely to experience identity theft than those with salaries under $50,000 (U.S. DOJ, 2005).
• 7% of identity theft victims had their information stolen to commit medical identity theft.

Discovery
• 38-48% discover someone has stolen their identity within three months, while 9-18% of victims don’t learn that their identity has been stolen for four or more years (Identity Theft Resource Center Aftermath Study, 2004).
• 50.2 million Americans were using a credit monitoring service as of September 2008 (Javelin Strategy and Research, 2009).
• 44% of consumers view their credit reports using AnnualCreditReport.com. One in seven consumers receive their credit report via a credit monitoring service. (Javelin Strategy and Research, 2009).

Recovery
• It can take up to 5,840 hours (the equivalent of working a full-time job for two years) to correct the damage from ID theft, depending on the severity of the case (ITRC Aftermath Study, 2004).
• The average victim spends 330 hours repairing the damage (ITRC Aftermath Study, 2004).
• It takes 26-32% of victims between 4 and 6 months to straighten out problems caused by identity theft; 11-23% of victims spend 7 months to a year resolving their cases (ITRC Aftermath Study, 2004).
• 25.9 million Americans carry identity theft insurance (as of September 2008, from Javelin Strategy and Research, 2009).
• After suffering identity theft, 46% of victims installed antivirus, anti-spyware, or a firewall on their computer. 23% switched their primary bank or credit union, and 22% switched credit card companies (Javelin Strategy and Research, 2009).
• Victims of ID theft must contact multiple agencies to resolve the fraud: 66% interact with financial institutions; 40% contact credit bureaus; 35% seek help from law enforcement; 22% deal with debt collectors; 20% work with identity theft assistant services; and 13% contact the Federal Trade Commission (Javelin Strategy and Research, 2009).

Costs
• In 2008, existing account fraud in the U.S. totaled $31 billion (Javelin Strategy and Research, 2009).
• Businesses across the world lose $221 billion a year due to identity theft (Aberdeen Group).
• On average, victims lose between $851 and $1,378 out-of-pocket trying to resolve identity theft (ITRC Aftermath Study, 2004).
• The mean cost per victim is $500 (Javelin Strategy and Research, 2009).
• 47% of victims encounter problems qualifying for a new loan (ITRC Aftermath Study, 2004).
• 70% of victims have difficulty removing negative information that resulted from identity theft from their credit reports (ITRC Aftermath Study, 2004).
• Dollar amount lost per household averaged $1,620 (U.S. DOJ, 2005).

Perpetrators
• 43% of victims knew the perpetrator (ITRC Aftermath Study, 2004).
• In cases of child identity theft, the most common perpetrator is the child’s parent (ITRC Aftermath Study, 2004).

Methods
• Stolen wallets and physical paperwork accounts for almost half (43%) of all identity theft (Javelin Strategy and Research, 2009).
• Online methods accounted for only 11% (Javelin Strategy and Research, 2009).
• 38% of ID theft victims had their debit or credit card number stolen (Javelin Strategy and Research, 2009).
• 37% of ID theft victims had their Social Security number stolen (Javelin Strategy and Research, 2009).
• 36% of ID theft victims had their name and phone number compromised (Javelin Strategy and Research, 2009).
• 24% of ID theft victims had their financial account numbers compromised (Javelin Strategy and Research, 2009).
• More than 35 million data records were compromised in corporate and government data breaches in 2008 (ITRC).
• 59% of new account fraud that occurred in 2008 involved opening up a new credit card and store-branded credit card accounts (Javelin Strategy and Research, 2009).

Now you can have your cake and eat it too

In the not too distant past, banking locally at a community bank probably meant you had to make a sacrifice. Sure, community banks know who you are and can better serve you because they are owned and operated locally. And, you can trust they will do everything they can to take care of your banking needs because community bankers know that helping local residents and businesses promotes growth and a higher quality of life.

But the problem has been that in order to get these great benefits of banking locally, you also had to sacrifice access to technology, variety of products, or lack of access to your money if you left the area.

Well times, they are a changin’.

First National Bank (and many other community banks) are leveling the playing field. In the last month we’ve introduced free mobile banking, launched a new and improved website, and are in the process of developing other new deposit products that will be available May 9. Most of the products and services you use at big banks are now available at the same community institutions that provide the great service and local touch you appreciate.

So come to FNB to have your cake…

“Hey First National Bank, If You’ve Got all that Money…

…don’t build a new branch, just pay me a higher interest rate!!” 

 I’ve heard this statement a few times since First National Bank announced it will be building a new branch on Trenton Avenue in Findlay.  On the surface, it’s a fair question and there is logic behind the question that might go something like this: “It takes a lot of money to expand and build a new building.  First National Bank is building a new building so they must have a lot of money.  Wait a minute, if they have all that money, why don’t they just raise my rates so I can actually make something on my deposits?  Typical bankers!”

 This is a logical question, but it is missing a key ingredient that explains why we’re building and not paying higher interest rates: supply and demand.  The interest we pay on CD’s and deposits has a direct correlation to supply and demand.  If we have a large demand for loans—in other words people and small businesses are growing and need financing—we also need to have deposits so that we have funds to loan.  When we need deposits, we pay higher rates to attract those dollars.  At the moment, the Bank (and the rest of the banking industry) does not have a large demand for loans in large part due to the stagnant economy. 

 We also have a huge supply of deposits right now, in large part because people are saving more, spending less, putting their money somewhere safe, and reducing debt.  When we have excess deposits and loan demand is low we can only invest our cash safely at a rate of around .15%.  If we’re only earning .15%, our margin is negligible and doesn’t provide much of an incentive to invest in securities or pay a premium on deposits.  We would just be losing money on those higher paying deposits: not a good way to run any business.  So the short answer to the statement above is that the rates we pay are a reflection of supply and demand and are also reflective of the return we can currently get on our own investments.

 Another point to consider is that the new branch is an investment and a use for the Bank’s cash.  Instead of taking profits to build a branch, we are taking excess cash and investing in buildings instead of loans.  Since the overnight fed funds investments only earn us .15%, and we have plenty of excess cash, we can take some of our dollars and put them into buildings at a relatively low cost considering the alternative is to take those dollars right now and make .15%.  It is a very inexpensive way to grow moderately over the next few years and hopefully generate nice income for our shareholders.  We do anticipate the branch will create additional demand for loans and will eventually put an upward pressure on deposit rates.  So, according to our logic, building a branch should actually cause deposit rates to go up, albeit over a period of time.

 Finally, consider our regulatory burden.  At this point we have no idea how much the Dodd-Frank bill is going to cost us but we do know it will be expensive.  These regulatory costs—and other fixed costs—can be spread over a larger base (with the new branch) and increase our operational efficiency.  Being more efficient is another way for us to save money, allowing us to pass savings on to our customers.  If we do not become more operationally efficient, it will put additional downward pressure on rates because it will be more expensive for us to operate. 

So the 30 second summary of all this is as follows: “Our new branch is an investment in the future.  We currently have the excess cash to invest in our future through construction and hopefully spread our fixed costs over a larger base.  This should allow us to be more competitive in the future as the economy improves.  This will ultimately provide our customer with a better return.  The hope is also to better serve our current customer base with the new location and better serve Findlay and the surrounding area with two branches instead of one.”

FDIC

Reader Poll: Perception of Community Banks

I was at a bank product conference a couple weeks ago and heard this mantra over and over again: “people feel like they are giving something up in order to bank with a community bank.”

I’ve never really looked at community banking in this light because I work at the Bank.  I know which products and services I need and First National has all of them.  But, I suppose if you see banking as a commodity and you’re used to seeing ads for Chase/Bank of America/Wells Fargo and all the great products they offer, then perception is reality.

So, help me out.  What is your perception of community banking compared with “mega” banks?