A year that put us to the test

2020 reminds me a little of the George W. Bush presidency. It was progressing rather undistinguishedly, and then 9-11 happened. That changed the tone of the rest of his presidency. This year started out unremarkably, continuing a gradual economic expansion that had started more than a decade ago. Then COVID-19 hit and, all of a sudden, it’s like we entered a different world.  [Continue]

Can banks cash in on Employee Retention Credit?

When the CARES Act was signed into law in March of 2020, it introduced the Employee Retention Credit as an alternative to employers who didn’t meet the criteria for a PPP loan. It provides a 50 percent credit on qualified wages of an eligible employer. Guidance has evolved since the ERC was first released, offering an opportunity for some banks to qualify.  [Continue]

The language of gratitude wields great power

Many of you operate family-owned banks. How might personal notes of gratitude play into prospecting for new business? Imagine a young couple in town who recently closed on a mortgage receiving an email from your president reflecting on the excitement he or she felt when they had closed on their first home. Could such a personal note offer a word of caution borne of experience? Imagine the impact of such a personalized communication from a new friend at the bank. [Continue]

Housing, hotels hit hard as pandemic rages on

When it comes to banks’ commercial real estate lending portfolios, hospitality properties are among those likely to suffer most during the pandemic, while segments of multi-family housing face a very uneven path ahead. [Continue]

The anatomy of a senior scam

Scams aimed at senior citizens are on the rise; bankers are often witnesses, which can put them in a quandary. On the one hand, they are obligated to execute legal transactions initiated by customers, including withdrawals; on the other hand, they can sometimes spot unusual customer behavior which may be an indication of fraud. [Continue]

Where is the industry headed in 2021?

Rows of soy plants in a field

From weather disasters and a pandemic to an increased use of technology that is helping farmers control their own destinies, ag bankers in central states experienced a lot in 2020. Now they look ahead to what 2021 holds, expecting more of the same challenges and uncertainty. [Continue]

Will 2021 deliver catastrophe for commercial real estate?

When the coronavirus struck, people across industries were sent home to work and once-bustling office spaces turned ghostly quiet. Months later, many offices remain empty. And, as the pandemic rages on (and on), and businesses delay asking people to return, one must question the future of the office. Will employers need less space (or more) to bring its people back? Do businesses need people back? [Continue]

Low commodity prices continue to haunt ag

The year began with some optimism on grain prices and improved trade conditions with China, Canada, Mexico and other countries. Then COVID-19 hit in March and everything changed. Commodity prices for crops and livestock dropped rapidly; ag banking experts from across the region weigh in on the local impact. [Continue]

Foster trust in order to delegate successfully

When you’re on vacation, are your coworkers or direct reports frequently contacting you for solutions to normal work issues? The good news is that you are in the driver’s seat when it comes to empowering your team to make decisions in your absence. [Continue]