3 Questions Every Business Owner Should Ask Their Banker
Amy Lou Blunt • Executive Vice President, Chief Credit Officer
In the early days of establishing your banking relationship, there are important questions to ask your banker directly, or gather from independent resources:
1. Who will be my point of contact? Will they be available?
It is essential to have an advocate at your bank, someone you can meet with regularly, at your office and at the bank, who has the depth and breadth of experience to understand your industry and is willing to commit the time to you and your needs. The relationship should not stop there. Can/ will your banker connect you with the local business circle, which in turn opens leads to customers and other professional services?
2. What is the lending process?
Make sure that the initial stage of the process includes the opportunity for you to sit down with your banker to discuss why you believe you need financing and be ready to identify the stages of your operations, such as when cash flows in and when it is paid out, your growth plans, or equipment purchase plans.
Your banker should be able to propose options for your specific need, rather than a one-size-fits-all solution. Is your company’s size and/or the amount of your loan request within the typical range for the Bank, or will it be an extraordinary request? You will want to know if the approval decisions are made locally, and what is the anticipated timeline from application to approval.
And finally, although no less significant –
3. Is the bank’s financial condition strong and stable?
Of course, you will want to know if the bank is FDIC-insured. That should be a given. But, how well-capitalized is it? You can certainly ask, and should receive a direct answer. That information is also available to the public via Call Reports that are filed quarterly. The level of non-current loans as a percentage of total loans can also be a key indicator. You will want this to be a very low number. There are also industry ratings available, such as the Bauer’s 5-star rating system, which takes a number of these factors into account prior to assigning a rating. In this case, the higher number the better.
In the end, open communication is key to a successful banking relationship. You should feel comfortable and confident asking any question that is important to you, to know you have found the right fit for your banking needs!
What Makes a "Good Banker"?
Amy Lou Blunt • Executive Vice President, Chief Credit Officer
You entrust us with your information, funds and future growth. How do we build a team that is not only deserving of that trust, but can also confidently advise and support you in achieving your business goals?
Banking professionals deal with numerous responsibilities and regulatory compliance in a highly competitive industry. Their mission is your success, the Bank’s success and their own professional success and advancement. With so much on the line, a banker needs to embody a broad range of qualities.
1) The attributes that make up a "good banker" are led, first and formost, by personal integrity
2) Hot on the heels is the ability to exercise good judgment, encompassing knowledge, intelligence, and depth of experience
3) A good tactician can structure transactions and effectively negotiate
4) Highly developed communication skills are critical to communicate clearly and professionally
5) An open personality and enthusiasm for the work contribute to success exponentially
6) The best also see a world beyond their immediate sphere, and commit to outside causes that are important to them
Team building is a challenge across all industries, and banking is truly a collaborative effort. Strong team players set high expectations for their own work, and are not afraid to seek help from others. Great team players recognize the gratification that collaboration brings, committing to the collective effort.
When an organization finds a core team of people with these capabilities, there are few limits to what can be accomplished. With these attributes in mind, we are continuing to build and enhance our RBAZ team of bankers to support your success, our success and our community.
Is Equity Financing Right for You?
By Amy Blunt, Chief Credit Officer, Republic Bank of Arizona
Equity financing provided by an angel investor or venture capital fund (think "Shark Tank") carries no scheduled monthly payments, and provides extra working capital that can be used to grow and market your business. An advantage is that the investor takes the risk – if your company fails, there is no obligation to repay.
However, to offset that risk, you will be granting your potential investor an ownership interest in your company, and a voice in the decision-making process. Profits will be shared, and, should you want to disengage, buying out an investor can be expensive, typically costing a great deal more than the original investment.
Equity financing is a mixed bag of benefit and cost. If you choose the right investor, they could provide expertise in running the company, establish business connections and offer valuable advice; however, the loss of control over the operation, the duty to inform investors of significant events, and sharing business profits can prove costly in the long run.
A final thought
Remember, the equity you have in your company is not only your initial investment, but also includes retained earnings from profitable years of operations. You could potentially create additional equity and free up funds for growth internally, through expense reduction and by minimizing the level of owner distributions to simply cover the income tax obligation. That level of discipline could quickly bolster the capitalization of your company, providing the foundation for growth, either type of financing, and ultimately reward you many times over!
Important Information About Opening A Legal Entity Account
Effective May 11, 2018, new rules under the Bank Secrecy Act will aid the government in the fight against crimes to evade financial measures designed to combat terrorism and other national security threats.
EACH time an account is opened for a covered Legal Entity, we are required to ask you for identifying information (name, address, date of birth, social security number as well as identification documents) for:
- Each individual that has beneficial ownership (25% or more); and,
- One individual that has significant managerial control, of the Legal Entity.
If you are opening an account on behalf of a Legal Entity, you will be required to provide the appropriate documentation and to certify that this information is true and accurate to the best of your knowledge.
We proudly support all efforts to protect and maintain the security of our customers and our country.
Cyber Security Tips
More Tricks, No Treats for Scammers Targeting Small Businesses
It can be scary stuff when fraudsters target your business to bilk you out of money. According to the Better Business Bureau and FBI, it’s happening more and more often.
Don’t get tricked, be on the lookout for these top scamming schemes:
- Tech support alerts. Scammers pretend to be from a well-known company. They may ask the employee to pay them to fix a problem they don’t really have or enroll the business in a non-existent or useless computer maintenance program.
- Threats from a government agency. Fake government agents call threatening to suspend your business licenses, impose fines, or take legal action if your business doesn’t pay taxes, renew government licenses, or pay other fees. Some trick businesses into buying workplace compliance posters that are available for free.
- Make-believe directory listing. This scam fools businesses into paying for advertising or a listing in a non-existent directory one offering little value.
- Fake checks. You may be asked to deposit check and wire some of the money to a third-party because of an overpayment of some kind. Once it’s discovered the check is fake, the scammer already has your money.
- Need for account information. While this is an old one, it’s still used today. Someone impersonating your bank or credit card company calls or emails to “verify account information” to trick you to share your credit card or banking information.
As a business manager or owner, it’s a good idea to keep employees informed about the latest scams targeting businesses, and have a clear policy in place on how to handle a situation if something seems suspicious. For more resources, check the Federal Trade Commission’s website.
Source: Better Business Bureau
The Frightening Side of Smart Home Devices
Reprinted from OUCH! Newsletter
Traditionally only a few of your devices at home could connect to the Internet, such as your laptop, smartphone, or gaming console. However today, more and more devices are connecting to the Internet, from your lightbulbs and speakers to your TV, locks on your door or even your car. Soon, almost every device in your house could be connected to the Internet. These connected devices often go by the name of Internet of Things (IoT) or Smart Home devices. While these connected devices bring a great deal of convenience, they also bring unique dangers.
What’s the Problem?
The more devices that are connected to your home’s network, the more can go wrong. Hackers can program your devices to attack others, vendors can collect extensive information on your activities, or your devices could become infected and lock you out. Many of the companies making these devices have no experience with cyber security and see security as a cost. As a result, many of the devices you purchase have little or no security built into them. For example, some devices have default passwords that are well known or you cannot update or configure them.
How Can I Protect Myself
So what can you do? We definitely want you to leverage connected devices, safely and securely. These devices can provide wonderful features that make your life simpler. In addition, as the technology grows you may have no choice but to use smart devices. Here are key steps you can take to protect yourself.
- Connect Only What You Need: The simplest way to secure a device is to not connect it to the Internet. If you don’t need your device to be online, don’t connect it to your Wi-Fi network. Do you really need your toaster sending you notifications to your phone?
- Know What You Have Connected: What devices you do have connected to your home network? Not sure or can’t remember? Turn off your wireless network and see what is no longer working. It may not catch everything but you’ll be surprised at how many devices you forgot.
- Keep Updated: Just like your computer and mobile devices, it’s critical to keep any and all of your devices up to date. If your device has the option to automatically update, enable that.
- Passwords: Change the passwords on your devices to a unique, strong passphrase only you know. You will most likely only have to enter them once. Can’t remember all your passphrases? Don’t worry, neither can we. Consider using a password manager to securely store all of them.
- Privacy Options: If your device allows you to configure privacy options, limit the amount of information it collects or shares. One option is to simply disable any information sharing capabilities.
- Vendor: Buy your devices from a company that you know and trust. Look for products that support security, such as allowing you to enable automatic updating, change the default password and modify privacy settings.
- Always Listening: If a device can take your voice commands it is constantly listening. For example, your Alexa and Google Home devices can record sensitive conversations. Consider that when you determine where to place the devices in your home and review the privacy options.
- Guest Network: Consider putting your Smart Home devices on a separate “Guest” WiFi network rather than the primary WiFi network you use for your computers and mobile devices. This way if any Smart Device is infected, your computers or mobile devices on your main network remain safe.
There is no reason to be afraid of new technologies but do understand the risk they pose. By taking these few simple steps you can help create a far more secure Smart Home.
In the Community
Grinch-Free Food Drive Yields Over 700 Meals
The competition was fierce. The creativity was phenomenal. And the participation outstanding.
It’s official … the Bank’s 2018 St. Mary’s Food Drive was a can-tastic success!
This year’s annual event featured bake sales, potlucks, game day fun, family meal competitions, mystery food days, and the final event, the Can-struction competition. The events helped keep the (food) drive alive and resulted in six food drive boxes over-flowing with much-needed food items for families in need throughout the community.
Here’s how the events played out:
Bake Sales & Cake Walks – RBAZ staff baked up a storm and donated scrumptious treats to sell during the day and use for a cake walk. The entry fee to participate in the cake walk was, of course, donated food items. What a delectable idea!
Game Day Fun – You could feel the competition in the air as staff members challenged each other to Scrabble, Jenga, checkers, Backgammon and more … but it was all in good fun. And you had to pay to play in the form of food drive can-tributions.
Mystery Food Days – Each Tuesday, team leads would select one item from the list of most-needed foods as the “mystery” item. Whoever brought that particular item in that day won a prize.
Family Meal Competition – Keeping the needs of the families in mind, the two food bank teams were challenged to present a themed meal from appetizers to dessert using the donated food items. The presentations were judged and the winning team won a prize for their Italian-themed meal.
Can-struction Competition – The final event was a highly creative, fiercely competitive challenge to build a structure using donated food items. The two structures featured The Bridge to End Hunger and The Road to Bountiful. The two creative structures were judged and the winning team won a fabulous prize.
In the end, the Bank’s donations totaled 930 pounds! That’s enough to provide 775 meals for hungry and food insecure Arizona families. Read more about how RBAZ has fostered a Caring Culture.
RBAZ Helps Make History
Walking proudly in flip flops, the Republic Bank of Arizona's Community Service Team participated in the UMOM New Day Center Walk to End Homelessness on Saturday, September 22. The team not only helped raise awareness for those experiencing homelessness - we also made history.
The walk at the Phoenix Zoo unofficially broke the world record for the largest 1k race in flip flops. The offical word will come in the next few months. Supporting our local community is one of our core values, and this was one fun way to do it.
We thank all those who participated, including our team leader Nathaniel Spatz. We also want to thank client Karie Cowden, founder of Connect the Dots Promotions, for inviting us to take part in this worthwhile event to raise awareness and funds to help UMOM provide shelter, services, and affordable housing for families, single women and youth experiencing homelessness.
7 Ways to Simplify Your Website Redesign
Sue Thomas • Marketing Manager
I read recently that businesses should redesign their websites every few years. It took a bit longer for Republic Bank of Arizona to accomplish this. But we did it! Our new site launched in June.
For many business owners, a website redesign is a laborious task that feels, at times, endless. But the process is definitely worth it. It’s a chance to reexamine how you want your business to be represented. For us, it was a great opportunity to update our website in step with our new name, new brand, and new location.
While fresh from completing the process, we offer a few tips for businesses considering a website redesign of their own.
1) Get help from the pros
Assuming you don’t have an internal web development team, find the budget to hire a website design company. We contracted with a company that develops websites specifically for financial institutions. With this contract, we get ongoing support with a dedicated account manager, quarterly analytics reports, technical support and more.
An experienced vendor can guide you regarding best practices, changing trends, ADA requirements, security and regulatory compliance, and more. Shop around, get references, and conduct interviews. Your online presence says a lot about your company, so make sure it’s sending the right message.
2) Assemble your team
The size of your company will most likely determine the size of your team. But at the very least, your team should include:
- You, the business owner/CEO. Even if you’re not “creative” you know what you like, you know your brand, and you know how you want your company presented.
- Marketing liaison to work directly with the website vendor and the company decision makers to manage the timeline, collect feedback, provide content and design direction to the vendor, and generally keep the project on track.
- Legal/compliance representative, at least for final review and signoff.
- Internal IT support, if applicable. You don’t want to create a site the IT team can’t support.
- Any additional key executives or decision makers as you see fit.
Keep this core team to a limited number of key members. Too much input and too many opinions can do more harm than good.
3) Establish a solid framework
This is another great benefit of working with the pros. They know the questions to ask the core team to get a solid understanding of the company, objectives for the website, website users, content, and overall design. These “deep dive” investigative sessions are priceless and should provide a great foundation for the website design team to get pretty close to an overall structure, look, and tone for the new site.
Provide the vendor sample websites you like. For our site, we requested the vendor send us links to other sites they developed for financial institutions of a similar size and mission, from which we were able to give them feedback on what we liked and/or didn’t like.
4) Understand the site map
The site map outlines the architectural structure of your website. Make sure you understand it from top to bottom. Ask questions or view sample sites if needed. Once the site map is approved, the developers begin building and coding your pages. Making changes to the site map after it’s approved can be costly and can impact the timeline.
5) Provide clear and detailed feedback
In most cases, the website vendor will provide pdfs of your home page and several interior pages. It’s critical that the core team review these pages carefully, providing clear and detailed feedback to the marketing liaison, who will provide consolidated feedback to the vendor. This is the time to ensure the design and tone are on track.
6) Be patient
The development phase of the project will take several weeks. It’s a lengthy process those of us not in the IT world may not understand. Or perhaps the review process takes some back and forth to get the right look. For us, it was images that seemed to offer the most challenge. Be patient. The vendor wants to get it right, so stay with them. Providing feedback and approvals in a timely manner will help keep the project on track.
7) Get training
Once the website is complete, make sure those assigned to keeping it up to date get the training they need. Once we received the development site to review, we did many of the content changes ourselves to get an understanding of the CMS.
Ask for help understanding the analytics of the site as well. You’ll want to know how your new site is performing, compared to your previous site. Hopefully it’s positive, but if not, you may need to take a second look to determine why.
Respect the Heat this Summer
Here are things you can do to lessen the impact of this summer's extreme heat:
o Drink water, more than usual, and avoid dehydrating alcoholic, sugary, or caffeinated drinks.
o Wear lightweight and light-colored clothing. Businesses might consider relaxing the dress code if appropriate.
o Eat small meals and eat more often.
o Monitor those with a higher vulnerability to heat, including small children.
o Check on employees, family, friends, and neighbors, especially the elderly.
o If engaging in outdoor activity, take longer and more frequent breaks and avoid the hottest parts of the day.
o Provide complimentary bottled water for customers.
o Recognize the signs and symptoms of heat-related illness.
Signs of heat exhaustion:
o Cool, moist, pale skin
o Headache, dizziness, weakness or exhaustion
Signs of heat stroke:
o Vomiting, confusion, a throbbing headache
o Decreased alertness or loss of consciousness
o High body temperature (above 105 degrees)
o Hot, dry skin
o Rapid, weak pulse and rapid, shallow breathing
Don't Forget Fido
Pets need extra care as well during these extreme temps:
o Limit exercise to early morning or evening hours
o Walk your dog on the grass if possible
o Carry water with you to keep your dog from dehydrating
o Provide ample shade and water. Add ice to water when possible
o Make some frozen treats for your pets. Find recipes online
o If your pet likes water, hose her off, turn on the sprinklers, or let her play in a small play pool
For the Quarter Ending September 30, 2018
(November 7, 2018)
As Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer
For the Quarter Ending June 30, 2018
(August 7, 2018)
For the Quarter Ending March 31, 2018
(May 11, 2018)
For the Quarter Ending December 31, 2017
(February 8, 2018)
as Vice President, Commercial Banking
(January 3, 2018)
For the Quarter Ending September 30, 2017
(November 3, 2017)
From RepublicBankAZ to Republic Bank of Arizona
(October 20, 2017)
For the Quarter Ending June 30, 2017
(August 7, 2017)
For the Quarter Ending March 31, 2017
(May 5, 2017)
For the Year Ending December 31, 2016
(February 9, 2017)