Do You Dread Going to Work?
I thought about this after I listened to a very inspiring keynote speaker who gave a glimpse into her organization's culture. Culture, in my opinion, is a really fun word that somehow describes (without a formal written definition) the foundation of a company. It shapes how employees are treated, how employees work, how employees treat each other and how employees treat customers. Much like a family, each company culture is different; each has different expectations, rules and ideals. I realized during my nearly 13 years at MutualBank, I have been part of a caring, family-type culture, that wants its employees to be their very best.
Now, let's get back to my original question, do you dread going to work? I can honestly say I haven't and I don't. I admit, on occasion, I might have dreaded some aspect of the day, for example getting up in the middle of winter when it's dark, cold and I have to brave the icy roads. This, however, is no reflection on MutualBank. It's more due to my love for my warm bed and sleeping in.
What really struck me when listening to the keynote speaker is how managers should support, encourage and uplift the important things in their employees' lives - both personally and professionally. Thankfully, I work for a manager and company that does support and uplift employees in their professional and personal quests. Specifically for me, MutualBank provides me paid time off to pursue one of my all-time passions - Drag Racing. Yes, believe it or not, I work at a bank during the week and I am a high-speed drag racer on the weekend. Technically, I wear suits, on average, six days a week - one or two of those days just so happen to be a racing suit. But, I digress.
This type of culture and this type of flexibility from my manager and from MutualBank further invests me into my job and the company. I'm not the only employee who benefits from this culture. Several employees take time to volunteer, belong to philanthropic organizations, serve on boards or participate in a variety of other activities. It goes back to that culture I talked about earlier. MutualBank employees are encouraged and coached to pursue personal goals just as much as they are coached to achieve their professional goals.
Do you have a desire to achieve more, personally and professionally? If so, I would encourage you to check out a career opportunity at MutualBank Visit our career page and see if there is an opportunity waiting for you.
Equal Opportunity Employer
Using Social Media? Protect Yourself Against Fraud.
Social media is great! We love to post our pictures, chat with friends and connect with companies and people with which we may have lost touch. However, we need to make sure that what we put on social media doesn't affect our security.
I'm sure you're asking me, "how could this happen?" Let me give you a hypothetical example.
Mary Jones has accounts at her local bank. She loves her online banking and bill pay for its convenience. Mary is a busy mother who doesn't have time to write checks and send in payments. Her local bank, who is very security minded, makes Mary set up security questions on her account so they can verify if Mary is the one accessing her account. Mary is very busy so she just does the normal security questions, mother's maiden name, etc. She doesn't want to, nor has time to think about it too much. Mary also loves social media and puts pictures of her family and pets on social media.
One day Mary goes online to check her balance and realizes money is missing. What happened? Did she leave her debit card somewhere? No, it's still in her purse! What happened?
What happened is that Mary chose easy passwords and security questions/answers. A cyber thief figured out Mary's password was her dog's name. And when Mary changed her passwords as her bank advised, the thief was able to get the new one because he knew the security questions. How did he get them, you ask? Her social media account! Remember, she posted pictures of her dog and of her mother, tagging her in the photos, which shows her mother's maiden name!
So what do you do? Get rid of your computer? Live like a hermit? No, I'm not suggesting anything that drastic. Here are a few tips:
- When choosing or creating security questions, make them something people don't know and won't know about you. (Consider providing a different answer to the security question than what the correct answer would be.)
- Make your passwords difficult to crack. Use letters and characters. Check and change them often.
- Be careful what you post on social media. Talking about your family is certainly OK, but if something you are posting is an answer to your security question, think again before you post.
Everyone loves social media. It truly is a great tool for connecting with others. But, with just a little work, you can make it safer and help protect against fraud.
Small Business - Protect Against Account Takeover
Do you own a small business? Did you know that small business is one of the top targets for online fraud? According to Symantec's June 2012 Symantec Intelligence Report, 36 percent of all targeted attacks during the first half of 2012 were directed at businesses with 250 or fewer employees and they continue to increase at a minimum rate of 24 percent with an average of 151 targeted attacks being blocked each day during May and June.
As a business owner you must take steps to protect yourself against online fraud such as corporate account takeover. The American Bankers Association defines corporate account takeover:
What is Corporate Account Takeover?
Corporate account takeover is a type of fraud where thieves gain access to a business' finances to make unauthorized transactions, including transferring funds from the company, creating and adding new fake employees to payroll, and stealing sensitive customer information that may not be recoverable.
The American Bankers Association has created a resource for small business owners to access information about account takeover and steps to take to protect yourself and your business. Please go to the American Bankers Association website for more information regarding Corporate Account Takeover.
Remember, you can call us anytime. Let us know if you have questions or concerns for your bank accounts. Call 800-382-8031 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who's on First? Account Titles and Why It's Important.
What names are on your checking account? This sounds like a pretty simple question, but you would be surprised how many people are unclear about it. If you are married, perhaps you do not have both you and your spouse on the same account. There are many reasons why this may be the case. Maybe you and your spouse have separate accounts. Perhaps when you opened the account, the other person wasn't present or maybe you have had major life changes. There can be many reasons why.
Think back to when you opened your account one, five, 15 or more years ago. Is everything the same as it was back then? Have you revisited your account set up to ensure your account reflects the stage of life you're in now? Let's discuss why it might be important to do a quick review of your accounts. It's something that may take you a few minutes, but can be very worthwhile.
- Access to your money- This is the most obvious reason, but very important. Anyone named as an "owner" on an account has access to the money within it. They can write checks (on checking accounts), withdraw money, or even close the account. It is important to ensure whoever is named an "owner" on your account is someone you trust and is supposed to have access to your money.
- Estate Planning- If you were to pass, do you have beneficiaries named on your account? Having a beneficiary named can help with the distribution of your funds should something happen to you. Also, you may consider having an additional owner that may be able to help with bills if you are unable to do so.
- FDIC Insurance- FDIC Insurance coverage can vary depending on how your account is titled. Please consult your MutualBanker to see what would benefit you the most.
- Peace of mind- Sometimes it helps us relax if we know that in the event of something happening, expected or unexpected, our accounts are in order. It can provide peace of mind knowing there will not be a burden left on those responsible for handling your estate.
Account titling can be something that we would be glad to help you with at your local MutualBank Financial Center. You should have an account review on at least a yearly basis to make sure your present life situation is reflected in your bank accounts. This is very important as banking becomes more dependent on electronic banking, such as mobile banking, online banking, etc. Also, as an estate planning tool, you need to be sure that your assets pass to who you want them to go to in the event of an unexpected tragedy. This is important whether you are 18 or 80!
Let us at MutualBank help you live a better life!
The Importance of a Well-Diversified Investment Portfolio
It’s only early September but the somewhat below normal temperatures makes it feel like autumn even though the official start is still a few weeks away. That cool crispness of the early morning brings back memories of heading off to school for another year. As I sit here thinking about the young men and women returning to a Ball State that is much different since my last class there I recall other changes.
In the mid-1980s well before most of today’s college students were born, I was a young stock broker working in a world most of them would find horrifying- no iPods, no cell phones, no texting(!), and almost no personal computers. We did have a computer or two around the office mostly for the accounting department. They weren’t an essential tool for me as they are today.
Somewhere back in that time a certain trend in the investment markets began. As the 80’s boom got rolling and the economy grew, interest rates started falling. While there have been ups and downs along the way the overall trend has been down for decades.
I laugh a little now recalling a conversation with the head of the firm I worked for back then and agreeing with him that an 8% long-term municipal bond rate was what seemed to be acceptable to most of our clients who wanted tax-free income. Anyone looking for even half that rate of interest today is going to be very disappointed.
Declining interest rates are a problem for people who depend on their savings to generate income for them as many of our clients do. The situation has never been worse than the last few years as our government has tried to revive the economy with policies that push rates down even more. The benchmark 10-year Treasury note recently hit an all-time low under 1.5% and that’s reflected in all interest bearing investments.
People who invested in 5-year bank certificates of deposit as recently as 2007 received 5% interest but now face a 70% reduction in income as those CDs mature. The rates being offered do not even make up for the reduction in the buying power of the dollar caused by inflation.
Another trend that represents a possible solution to this problem is the tendency of stock dividends to rise over time. The dividends paid by the stocks in the S&P 500 stock market index have more than tripled since 1988 and have increased or stayed the same in all but 19 out of the 98 quarters since then.
But isn’t there more risk to principal in stocks? Yes there is or at least there has been greater volatility. The S&P 500 has grown in value more than fivefold in the last 25 years but there have been and will be periods of decline. The last significant one was in 2008 and the index has recovered about 80% of that decline so far. Dividend income also fell in 2008 but surpassed its old high two years ago.
Of course not every stock in the S&P 500 is a dividend payer and not every one is an attractive investment. MutualWealth Management Group can select stocks appropriate for your needs and design a well-diversified, managed portfolio that may minimize volatility risk and maximize your income and growth potential. A total portfolio may also include some bonds which may further dampen volatility.
Costumes for a Cause
As the summer draws closer to an end, we start gearing up for all things Fall. This includes working with companies who offer Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) to their employees, reviewing retirement plans and investments and helping individuals prepare for the upcoming holiday season. One staple event for MutualBank this time of year is the beginning of our United Way campaign.
MutualBank is a pacesetter company, meaning we run our company campaign prior to the start of the formal United Way campaign. This year, we wanted to do something a little different with our campaign kickoff meeting.
In order to make it fun and raise extra money for United Way, we thought of a contest. We selected several fun costumes and thought about who our employees might be willing to pay money to see wearing them. A couple of executives came to mind and we put the plan into action. Employees voted on the costume by paying $1.00 per vote. At the meeting, we provided a photo opportunity where employees could pay $1.00 to have their photo taken with our executives.
Fortunately, Pat Botts, President, and Lynda Stoner, Vice President and Regional Manager, were great sports! They are willing to do whatever it takes to raise money for United Way. Clearly, you can see that based on their costume. The winning costumes were "Thing 1" and "Thing 2" from The Cat in the Hat.
And who says bankers can't be fun?
Above: (L to R) Lynda Stoner, Pat Botts
Below: (L to R) Lynda Stoner, Sue Godfrey-United Way,
Michael Brown-United Way, Pat Botts
Teaching Children about Money
I dread the beginning of school, because I know that means I start hearing the statement, “I need money for…………….” On a weekly basis there is something that my children need (or think they need) money to buy or do something at school. Usually I grumble a little bit and then one of them will say, “Just get the money at the bank.” Convenient that I work at a bank and they have all the money I need, or so my children think.
When do we decide to teach our children about money, hopefully before it is too late. When I started working at 16, I lived at home and had very few expenses. So every week I cashed my check and had my weekly spending money. Like most youngsters, cash in the pocket meant I must spend it as soon as possible. I know that if I would have saved ½ of my paycheck from ages 16 to 22, I would have had a pretty decent savings to either buy a car, down payment on a house, pay down school debt, etc.
There will always be a debate on whether to give children an allowance or pay for chores and while we do not currently do either at home, maybe we should. How will our children learn how to save, to be charitable, or make financial decisions if we do not train or equip them? One of the reasons we are in the economic crisis today is that we all were spending more than we made. Spending more than we have is definitely one trait that we must not pass down to our children.
The reality is, waiting until our children get a job at 16, 18, 22 or at whatever age, may not be the right answer. By then, it might just be too late. We all must learn that we must budget and make decisions on each of our priorities. While we expect our children to learn a lot at school, we must also make the decision to teach our children along side with the schools to make our communities better.
Financial Confessions from an Old Geezer
It’s back-to-school time. Early August, really? Back in my day (aka “old geezer comment coming next”), we didn’t start school until after Labor Day! What is it with the here and now – it’s changing faster than ever, and it is simply hard to keep up! (Especially for us geezers, right?)
I’ve shared with you that we have a teenager in the house. She will be actively driving come next spring. She is polishing up her defensive driving skills in the meantime. I am asking my teen to put some money away to purchase a car at some point. I will help, but I certainly won’t be buying that Porsche she has a photo of on her smart phone.
Chances are good, that if we become a three-car family, there are some options we will look at – saving money for an old clunker (after all, I drove a 1963 VW bug back in 1979), seeking out a car loan for a little newer vehicle (also possibly translated as a “safer” vehicle), and my lender recently even enlightened me that I could roll a vehicle loan into my mortgage loan – for convenience, of course. I have a little time to consider the options, and see how well my teenager is saving money for her future transportation.
College expenses are going to be hefty, also, though we have a few more years. Finding money to set aside to help our daughter – go get those scholarships, young lady! – is tough. The 529 College Savings Plan is there to help us, help her. She will also need to have some “skin in the game” for school – it’s no longer “like it was, back in the old days.” But we will do what we can, by taking advantage of setting aside some money, and planning – for her future.
Also creeping up on me is my own retirement. While it is off on the horizon just a bit, I need to be accountable to have set aside enough money so I can live a retirement lifestyle I’ve dreamed of – you know, traveling with spouse, family, and friends! I want to live that dream, and so I have to prepare. I do my best to set aside money and contribute to my employer’s 401(k) plan. By putting some money there, my company matches me, in essence, giving me “free” money on top of my own contributions. But is it enough? That’s hard to say, so I, on occasion, I also talk to a financial adviser.
I encourage my spouse, who works in a small family business, to set aside some money in an IRA. We cannot rely on Social Security, if it will even be there, and so, it is important we spend time planning for our financial future. The future. It will be here before we know it. My goal is to be a financially prepared, old geezer.
What Should You Do If Your Email Account is Hacked?
We have seen an increased number of customers who have had their email accounts hacked…in other words someone has gained unauthorized access to an email account and may attempt to commit fraud using your email account.
Signs that your email account might be hacked:
- You cannot get logged into your email account and/or not able to reset your password.
- Your friends report to you that they are getting strange or large numbers of email from you.
- Your inbox is full of message failure notices that you didn’t send.
- There are messages in your Sent, Draft or Outbox folders that you don’t recognize.
- Your email signature lines have changed…look for additional links and odd phone numbers listed.
- Your contact list has been deleted and/or there are contacts you don’t recognize.
- You’re not getting any email messages at all.
What to do if you suspect your email account is hacked:
- Change your password…if you are unable to do so call your email provider immediately…be prepared to supply additional verification to them on who you are.
- Notify folks in your address book to be on the lookout for spam and phishing type emails from you.
- Notify your bank immediately that your email account has been compromised so they can be on the lookout for fraudulent account transaction requests…do this even if you don’t bank via the Internet.
- Consider closing the email account out and establishing a new email address.
- Consider having a backup email account that you don’t publish to anyone in order to have a means to communicate via email and some providers offer password recovery services to backup primary email accounts.
Steps to protecting your email account:
- Frequently (at least every 90 days) change your email account password.
- Do not store any passwords in email especially passwords to Internet banking.
- Do not store account numbers or account statements in email folders. Store them offline on your computer and back them up preferably to a separate disk drive.
- Review your bank accounts activity online at least weekly looking for suspicious transactions.
- Empty the trash folder when you close email.
- Do not click on links inside of an email from an unknown source.
- Make sure your computers have virus/malware detection/removal software that is updated frequently.
(Many times your Internet Service Provider provides these tools free of charge.)
- Remember that if something in an email sounds too good to be true…it probably is.
- Only share your email with friends on social media sites making sure that it’s not visible to everyone on your public profile.
Remember, you can call us anytime. Let us know if you have questions or concern for your bank accounts. Call 800-382-8031or email email@example.com.
Announcing a new App!
View Archived Posts
Do you have a smartphone? According to this blog I stumbled upon, there are 91.4 million smartphones in the United States.
Advantages of a smartphone include:
- Accessing whatever you want
- Whenever you want
- And in a readable format
Mobile apps are the key to accomplishing those three things. There is a mobile app for everything from banking to calorie counters. There are apps for helping you identify the constellations and even for finding the cheapest gas near you.
So if there is an app for nearly everything, wouldn't you want an app for your favorite reward program?
We are excited to share with you an app that will help you manage your
UChoose Loyalty Rewards! With the UChoose Rewards app, you can:
- View your point totals
- Redeem points for items UChoose
- Scan items to see if they're available through UChoose Rewards
(And even find the closest place and lowest price!)
- Redeem eCertificates on your phone and in the store!
The cashier can scan your phone!
Not only do you get UChoose Loyalty Rewards, but now you can choose when and where you manage your points all through the UChoose Rewards app!
Need a last minute gift, but want to use your UChoose points? Go to the app, redeem your points for an eCertificate, then redeem the eCertificate in the store!
In a matter of minutes, you can manage it all!
Download the app today! It's free! The app is available for iPhones and Android models. Simply go to iTunes or Google Play and download the
UChoose Rewards app today!