Attention to merchant services can deepen commercial relationships

In life cash is king but in commercial lending it is cash flow that rules. Bankers interested in helping commercial customers improve their cash positions, therefore, may want to take a fresh look at those companies’ merchant services, says Marnie Ochs-Raleigh, CEO of Evolve Payment. Her suggestion is not without precedent. [Continue]

Challenging times require intentional leadership

Two years ago, after buying my first pair of Brooks running shoes, I wrote about how its CEO (a former highschool classmate) pulled the upstart shoemaker from a cliff’s edge and made it relevant in a market dominated by Nike, Adidas and Skechers. He saved the company through a combination of tough and bold decision-making. I’m not a runner, but I appreciate the fit of my Brooks shoes and have been impressed by the way the company has engendered loyalty for its brand by fostering communities of elite runners.  [Continue]

Commemorative coins help tell story of segregated baseball

In 2020, a year pockmarked by racial tensions and hyper-partisanship, 77 U.S. Senators and 300 U.S. Representatives added their names to an initiative to commemorate Negro Leagues Baseball on the centennial of its founding. This rare display of Congressional bi-partisanship resulted in the Negro Leagues Baseball Centennial Commemorative Coin Act, which authorized the minting of commemorative coins, the sale of which will support the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Mo. [Continue]

It’s springtime for entrepreneurs; time to cultivate business

Inflation. Continued supply chain disruptions. War in Ukraine. Yet another Covid variant. There’s never a shortage of bad news, is there? But if you’re looking for something on which to pin some real hope, consider this economic silver lining: In the last two years, there’s been a significant jump in the number of new business applications. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2021, a record 5.4 million applications were filed to form new businesses. [Continue]

Where have all the de novos gone?

Between the year 2000 and 2008, the FDIC approved 1,042 new bank charters, leading those in the industry to dub that near-decade the “go go” years. Observers of the industry would just as soon forget what happened then. One consequence of the Great Recession is the rapid net decline in total banks, exacerbated by anemic de novo activity. [Continue]

Minnesota de novo sets its sights on entrepreneurs

Fire in the belly. It’s a key intangible that Dan Boeckermann, chair of EntreBank, recognizes in successful entrepreneurs. And Twin Cities banks, with two or three exceptions, have not adequately fueled such entrepreneurial flames. At least, that was what the principal and CEO of Bloomington, Minn.-based Boeckermann Grafstrom & Mayer, a small-business focused accounting firm itself billed as “entrepreneurial,” had been hearing over and over and over again. When Boeckermann decided to spearhead the launch of a new bank to change things, the CPA also looked for “fire in the belly” in the bankers needed to fulfill his vision. “Fire … and a book of business,” he added. [Continue]

The allure of convenience

In my neighborhood, trucks and vans from UPS, FedEx, Amazon, the United States Postal Service, and various grocers rumble past my door with increasing frequency. My husband and I had originally selected our townhouse community because it was set apart from highly-trafficked roads. It was secluded and quiet. These days, I feel like my home has been plopped into the middle of Richard Scarry’s “Busytown.”   [Continue]

Amazing Outside Directors 2022: Don Johnson

When Don Johnson retired from public accounting in 2019, two Minnesota community bankers were, lickety-split, at his door inviting him to join their boards as an outside director. But Johnson was resolute about taking a break from the industry he’d served for 31 years. Though he was 56 and hearing comments that he was “a little young” to be retiring, Johnson and his wife, Wendy, wanted to travel and try new things. [Continue]

Bank, fintech partnership focuses on wealth management

There was a day when customers were willing to wait a week or more to get a face-to-face appointment with an investment advisor. Those days, well, “they’re over,” said Joe Salomone, vice president of Bankers’ Wealth Management, a division of Madison, Wis.-based Bankers’ Bank, which recently announced the release of a digital platform through which community banks can provide “on demand” investment advice. [Continue]

Social engagement for the anti-social

Have you gotten weary of people advising you to master social media? I get it. I often shake my head in disbelief at the fatuous comments I find in my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds. I do accept, however, that just because I don’t like something doesn’t mean it’s not important. (Exercise comes to mind.) You need to engage on social media because that’s where the customers are. [Continue]