Traci Stier Promoted to Item Processing Officer at Merchants Bank

Traci Stier, Item Processing Officer

Traci Stier, Item Processing Officer

Traci Stier has been promoted to Item Processing Officer at Merchants Bank, according to Kerri Bronk, Vice President and Senior Operations Officer.

“Traci has shown leadership, especially in our most recent bank conversions following acquisitions,” Bronk said. “Traci and her team work with many departments in the Bank and have a daily impact on helping our customers because of the number of checks that process through their area.”

Stier manages all the aspects of Merchants Bank’s ability to accept checks and remote deposit capture files, including setup, testing and the coordination of all the pieces that allow Merchants Bank to accept payments. Stier has been with the Merchants organization for the past 15 years and noted that changes in technology, especially over the past few years, provide for faster responses for customers in processing their items.

“I enjoy and welcome the opportunities I have to assist any customers – both internal and external, to build relationships with people and earn their trust because they know I will take care of their needs,” Stier said.

Mortgage Lender Mary Illetschko Earns Promotion at Merchants Bank

Mary Illetschko, VP/Mortgage Loan Officer

Mary Illetschko, VP/Mortgage Loan Officer

Mary Illetschko has been promoted to Vice President/Mortgage Loan Officer at Merchants Bank in Lakeville because of her exceptional performance, according to Merchants Bank in Lakeville President Dan Vlasak.

“Mary has been a great contributor to the success of Merchants Bank and the Lakeville office,” Vlasak said. “She has been a consistently high producer, ranking in the top three in the organization in total volume for loans closed, and she also helps her mortgage customers become customers in other areas.”

Illetschko has been with the Merchants Bank organization for nearly four years and in the mortgage industry for 24 years.

“I enjoy helping people with their mortgages because you can assist them in making the best choices during an important time,” Illetschko said. “Whether it is the purchase of a first home, refinancing a current home or making the decision to build a new home, people deserve and appreciate good advice from someone who knows the mortgage industry.”

Illetschko said she has been fortunate to receive many referrals from her former clients, and over the past year she’s seen an increased demand for Merchants Bank’s construction loan product, where qualified applicants may be able to start for as little as a 5% down payment.

Construction and permanent financing are subject to separate credit approval. Terms and conditions may vary.

Waikiki Meatballs

BlogRecipeEmployeeFav-WaikikiMeatballsIngredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
  • 2/3 cup cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup onion, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 Tbsp. shortening
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 13.5 ounce can pineapple tidbits, drained (reserve liquid)
  • 1/3 cup vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup green peppers, chopped

 

Directions:

Mix beef, crumbs, onion, egg, salt, ginger and milk thoroughly. Shape mixture by rounded tablespoonfuls into balls. Melt shortening in large skillet. Brown and cook meatballs. Remove meatballs. Keep them warm. Pour fat from skillet. Mix cornstarch and sugar. Stir in reserved pineapple juice, vinegar, and soy sauce until smooth. Pour into skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Stir while boiling for one minute. Add meatballs, pineapple tidbits and green peppers. Heat through.

 

 

Merchants Family Cookbooks are available at all Merchants Bank locations for $15. Proceeds benefit local food shelf programs.

Tip #5: How to Take Action When You Suspect Fraud

SAWFriday

If you suspect fraud on any of your Merchants Bank accounts, please contact us as soon as possible. You can:

According to the terms and conditions of your account, federal regulations require that if your statement contains electronic transactions you did not authorize, you must notify us within 60 days after the statement was mailed to you, or within 14 days for draft/check by phone, or check disputes.

Here are the steps we will take together when you identify an unauthorized transaction. We will:

  1. Determine if a transaction is truly fraudulent, a recording or processing error, or a simple miscommunication with the business or store.
  2. Assist you with calling the business to try to identify the charges subtracted from your account.
  3. Help you initiate a dispute by completing a Dispute Form. You will need to come to the bank to complete this paperwork.
  4. Contact you, as needed, for additional information during the dispute process.
  5. Notify you via mail with the results of your dispute.

During Security Awareness week, June 1-6, 2015, Merchants Bank shared a fraud prevention tip each day. Click here to view previous tips from this week:

Meet Rodney Nelsestuen, Chief Information Officer at Merchants

Rodney with his cat, Tinkerbelle

Rodney with his cat, Tinkerbelle

When did you start your banking career?

I’ve been in the financial services industry for over 30 years. I began as a commercial lender, actually, and did that for seven or eight years. Then, I went into the management as a Chief Credit Officer and eventually became a CEO of a financial institution in Michigan. We did a lot of commercial and ag lending to small and large businesses alike.

My first job as Chief Information Officer was at AgriBank, where I stayed for six years. Then, I worked for CEB TowerGroup, which is a financial services advisory firm. I did a lot of research, wrote reports, published articles and spoke at conferences and other speaking engagements around the world. But I missed “being in the ring,” as I call it. I missed the opportunity to actually practice what I was advising.

From my time at CEB TowerGroup, I learned that I wanted to work at a bank where personal contact is still important. At Merchants, I’ve found this strong culture of personal service and yet a bank that wants to offer digital products that are right at what the industry and its customers need.

Describe one of the biggest changes in technology you’ve witnessed in your career.

There is a dichotomy that’s evolved where the traditional approach of face-to-face service is not going away, but the digital approach and expectations of customers are growing rapidly. It’s more than generational. I see it happening as new digital ideas evolve. The time from developing a digital product to the time it becomes important to the business and the consumer is very short. And that time frame is only getting shorter.

How should customers approach protecting their personal information?

People have to think “I am responsible for my information.” They have to ask themselves…how much do I want to share and with whom? The social network is great, but it opens up a whole new field for fraudsters, so people need to take care with how much they share online. As a customer, I do have to share confidential and private information with the bank if I want a loan.. But, I also expect the bank to protect that information and to stay up to date with security practices. Both sides need to take responsibility.

What’s one thing your mom or dad taught you about money?

You know those ads on TV right now about people cutting their cell phone bill in half? They say “money doesn’t spend itself.” Well, I say “money doesn’t make itself.” Quite simply, they taught me that you don’t spend what you don’t have, and when you borrow, you need to do so knowing how you’re going to pay the loan back. Take charge of your finances, that’s kind of the first step…especially for young people.

If you won the Powerball, what’s the first thing you would do?

I’d pursue my dream of writing the great American novel. I write short stories and fiction. I actually had a book accepted for publication at one time, but it was a small publisher and went out of business before it was published.

Besides money, what’s your favorite green thing?

The first thing my wife purchased after we got married (a long time ago) was a pair of green velvet chairs. We still have them today. They’re not going anywhere.

Have you ever googled yourself? What did you find?

Yes, I have. Actually, there was another Rodney Nilsestuen – from Arcadia and I knew him growing up. I’m originally from Galesville and we both showed cattle in 4-H at the Trempealeau County Fair. He spelled the last name with one letter different and of course that meant we’d debate who got the spelling right. I’m pretty sure I’m right…

Tip #4: How to Know if Merchants Bank is Really Calling

SAWThursday

Merchants Bank will never initiate a phone call or email asking you to verify your Social Security number or account number. If you are asked for this information from another company, please proceed with caution.

Merchants Bank may, however, contact you in the following situations:

  • If mail is returned for incorrect address and we do not have record of receiving an address change request from you.
  • If you are in the process of opening an account with us and we need additional information.
  • If you have submitted an Online Bill Payment and there is a question on the address or company information.
  • If you are enrolled for Online or Mobile Banking and have not used them for a period of time, or your Online Banking account is locked.
  • If you are a business and submit an ACH file; we will verify this with you.
  • If your debit card is captured in an ATM.
  • If your debit card or PIN mailer is returned to the Bank.
  • If fraud is suspected on your Merchants Bank debit or credit card.

In these, or similar, situations, we may contact you. If you do not know the bank employee calling you, we encourage you to write down the information being requested and call the person back by dialing your local Merchants Bank office at a number you have verified on your own through a public source, such as a phone book, or call a bank employee you do know personally.

For additional protection, you may set up a privacy code with the Bank. A privacy code is a 4-5 character combination of letters and/or numbers that the Bank will use to identify you over the phone. To set up a privacy code, visit your local Merchant Bank or contact your Customer Service Representative.

Friendly reminder: In order for any communication between you and the Bank to occur, we need to have your up-to-date contact information. Please contact us if you’ve moved or made any changes to your personal contact information, such as discontinuing a landline phone or changing your cell phone number. You may also update your contact information by logging in to Online Banking and clicking on Other Services.

During Security Awareness week, June 1-6, 2015, Merchants Bank will be sharing a fraud prevention tip each day. Visit our blog or Facebook or LinkedIn pages tomorrow for the next article in our Security Awareness Week series.

How Can I Save Money on My Business Checking Account?

Business Checking

On average, banks offer five different business checking account options, according a comparison study by online resource NerdWallet. If you then consider the number of banks or credit unions in your community, the sheer quantity of choices for business checking may begin to seem overwhelming. To find an account that fits your business, and ultimately may save you money, use the guide below.

1. What type of business do you own?

Some banks offer special accounts to the following types of businesses:

  • Sole proprietorship, government-owned or a non-profit: These accounts usually earn interest, include lower fees and allow more transactions.
  • Small Business: Small Business accounts typically have lower fees and allow fewer transactions.

Merchants Bank offers Small Business, Business, Nonprofit Business and Interest-Bearing Business Checking accounts.

2. How many transactions do you typically make per month?

Many business checking accounts have a pre-determined transaction limit per month. For example, the average business checking account allows 175 transactions per month*. When a business goes over the limit, the bank may charge the business a fee per item. The average excess transaction fee is $0.40 per item and can be as high as $0.75.* If your business makes a large amount of transactions, look for a checking account with a higher transaction limit.

You’ll also want to take into consideration the type of transactions and which you use the most often – check, deposit slip, debit card, point-of-sale, ATM**, etc. Banks may charge different fees or no fee depending on the type of transactions.

Merchants Bank offers different transaction limits per Business Checking account and the type of transaction.

3. Do you need to deposit a large amount of cash on a regular basis?

Some business checking accounts also place a limit on the amount of cash that can be deposited into an account and charge a fee for every $100 in excess of this limit. The average cash handling fee is $0.15 per $100 in excess and these fees can be as high as $0.75.*

If your business deposits cash regularly, look for a checking account with a high cash deposit limit or one that offers no charge for cash handling.

Merchants Bank does not charge a cash handling fee as part of a Business Checking account.

Learn more about Business Checking at Merchants Bank or contact a Customer Service Representative at your local Merchants Bank to open an account today.

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*How Business Checking Fees Work: A Beginners Guide by NerdWallet
**ATM surcharge and foreign fees may apply.
No minimum deposit required to open Merchants Bank Small Business Checking, Business Checking, Interest-Bearing Business Checking or Nonprofit Business Checking accounts.