Illustrated by Zuza Hicks with elements from Shutterstock

On the Cover: Web of Thieves

Big-name cyberattacks make headlines, but smaller businesses have more to lose.

In cyberattacks against multimillion-dollar companies, computer criminals break in and steal personal information from millions of customers. Though there will be big losses and maybe a high-profile resignation, the reality is, these retail giants will live to sell another day. But the stories that won’t make the front pages involve the most frequent targets, whose survival isn’t guaranteed: small businesses.

Nov 18, 2014 Russell Nichols
(Illustrated by Zuza Hicks with elements from Shutterstock)

Bank Role

3 ways financial institutions can safeguard against cyberattacks

Compared to other industries, banks operate from a unique position, in that they have to focus intently on their own security, but also make sure their clients have the knowledge and tools to protect against computer criminals. Providing that protection usually comes down to a matter of security versus convenience.

Nov 13, 2014 Russell Nichols
Photo by David Angstead, shutterstock

The Big Squeeze on Small Credit Unions

They may be on the verge of extinction

On a hot, sunny morning last fall, 69-year-old retiree Pamela Chappell of Citrus Heights hit rock bottom. She was scraping by on Social Security checks and a tiny pension while paying for medication to treat her lymphedema, a painful swelling in her legs. Then she got a letter from the IRS warning her that it was about to empty her  savings account of $8,000 — every dollar she had — for back taxes.

May 31, 2014 Steven Yoder
Chris Hay, owner and farmer, Say Hay Farms

Land of the Fee

Can micro loans dig farmers out of their financial holes?

Today’s small farmer climbs an uphill battle to find land, secure capital and overcome the hefty start-up costs. Today, farmers make up less than 1 percent of the population (compared to 15 percent in 1950), they tend to be older (the average age is 57) and about 25 percent are expected to retire in the next 20 years. “This is a new problem for human society,” writes Sharon Astyk, author of “A Nation of Farmers.”

Oct 31, 2013 Jeff Wilser
Dr. Mark Gjerde has been managing his business and personal finances with Dan Lawrence, the president of Elk Grove Commerce Bank, a Bank of Stockton branch, since 2007

Elder Appeal

Community banks boost services to retain retirement-bound clients

Robert Fay likes to tell the story of a client whose father worked with his grandmother long ago. She mentioned her plan to move her money to an investment firm. “I told her, ‘You should talk to me.’ After we had gone through all that [our bank could] do, I said, ‘Dorothy, you know I’m going to do the best I can for you.’ She said, ‘I know you will. And if you don’t, I’ll tell your mother.’”

Oct 31, 2013 Esther Shein

Merge or Purge

Community banks contemplate consolidation as regulatory costs grow

Banks throughout the country are putting new practices in place to comply with an onset of new federal regulations prompted by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and other post-meltdown rule changes. Those expensive efforts are sparking major changes and concerns for some of the Capital Region’s smaller lenders.

Jul 31, 2013 Torey Van Oot

Cashing Out

Life among the ranks of the unbanked

Two hundred, four hundred … twenty, forty, sixty, eighty, five hundred …

As the young woman behind the glass divider counts out the entirety of my paycheck, I can’t help but think of how measly it looks before I stuff it in my wallet.

Apr 30, 2013 John Blomster

Banking on Business

Acuity with Rodney Brown

Since 2007, Rodney Brown, 65, has served as the president and CEO of the California Bankers Association, which represents the majority of banks doing business in California.

Apr 30, 2013 Douglas Curley
(istockphoto.com)

Bank of Tomorrow

New sources for business loans

Banks are running up against some odd new competitors these days. Big box retailer Costco is advertising mortgages. Wal-Mart has issued its own debit card. Amazon is offering loans to merchants in its online marketplace.

Feb 12, 2013 Robert Celaschi

Blowing Bubbles

Could Dodd-Frank cause another financial disaster?

The past few years have seen the biggest social upheaval against the banking industry in this nation’s history, and Capitol Hill lawmakers responded with 848 pages of legislation that liberal critics deride as weak and many conservatives call a job killer.

Mar 31, 2012 Allen Young

The Tax Man Cometh

Navigating a criminal investigation from the IRS

Perry Ghilarducci holds a vivid memory from the day the Internal Revenue Service showed up unannounced at his office. Nobody wants a surprise visit from the IRS, and it’s even more nerve-wracking when the agents are from the criminal investigation division and when, like Ghilarducci, you’re an accountant.

Mar 31, 2012 Robert Celaschi

Let’s Twist Again

Banks struggle with large debt and minimal borrowers

The Federal Reserve calls it Operation Twist, named after the 1961 Chubby Checker hit that sparked gyrating hips in dance halls across America. That was also the first year the Fed embarked on a mission to purchase long-term Treasury notes in an effort to drive down interest rates on long-term loans.

Feb 1, 2012 Allen Young