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.
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.
Whether it’s newly designed branches or banks without branches at all, the banking industry is undergoing a physical transformation as consumers seek improved customer service and more digital options.
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.
This year could provide some of the first expansions in bank lending since 2008. So is the market back up to speed? No. But banks are slowly and smartly increasing their appetites for commercial lending, and the Capital Region will see its share of transactions.
Having just begun using social media in 2012, Safe Credit Union is relatively new to content marketing. But it hasn’t taken long for the company to discover the benefits of engaging online with its customers and potential consumers.
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.”
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.’”
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.
A 2010 Federal Reserve rule requires banks to ask customers if they want to sign up for overdraft protection programs, which often come with steep penalties for making purchases that exceed the account balance. A Consumer Finance Protection Board report released in June suggests the change may not be enough to protect consumers.
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.
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.
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.
On a morning in April, eight representatives of local banks and credit unions walked into the Sacramento Metro Chamber headquarters to discuss the region’s lousy credit situation.
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.
On the list of problems everyone should have, deciding how to pay a financial adviser is near the top, just below picking a Porsche mechanic and choosing between Hawaii and Barbados for vacation.
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.
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.
Big banks have been drawing heat this year. Some is focused, such as the clamor over monthly debit card fees being proposed or tested by several national banks. Some is diffused, such as that from the apparently leaderless Occupy Wall Street movement and its nationwide imitators.
Real estate sales and values have plummeted 40 percent the past few years, but the commercial retail market is buzzing with hungry buyers hunting both bargains and gems.