Kaleb Storm Promoted to Assistant Vice President/Commercial & Ag Banker at Merchants Bank

Kaleb Storm, AVP/Commercial & Ag Banker

Kaleb Storm has been promoted to Assistant Vice President/Commercial & Ag Banker at Merchants Bank, according to Steve Christopherson, Senior Vice President & Commercial Banking Manager.

“Kaleb has really earned this position. He has shown strong leadership skills, an understanding of our community and has been instrumental in our customers’ success as they grow,” said Christopherson.

Storm has been with Merchants as a Commercial & Ag Banker since April 2018. Since coming to Merchants, Storm has served Winona in more ways than financing local businesses. He also contributes his time to the Winona Area Chamber of Commerce both as an Ambassador as well as serving on the Agri-Business Committee, teaching Junior Achievement classes for area schools and with community-focused causes like 10 Days of Giving.

“It has been a privilege to serve the Winona community. I’m very fortunate to work with our wonderful customers and this incredible team. I look forward to continuing to be a trusted advisor and resource for businesses as we all work toward economic recovery,” said Storm.

The Merchants Bank Commercial Lending team is comprised of more than 40 local experts, available throughout our regional footprint. In addition to traditional commercial loans, Merchants bankers specialize in ag banking, SBA loans, floor plan financing and equipment lease financing. As a regional banking leader, Merchants can assist businesses of any size with their business financing needs, including Treasury Management and deposit services.

Merchants Bank is a full service community bank with 21 bank locations in southeastern Minnesota, two bank locations in west-central Wisconsin and a leasing division, Merchants Bank Equipment Finance, in Edina. Headquartered in Winona, MN, MFGI has more than $2.5 billion in assets. Merchants was founded in 1875. Loans are subject to credit approval.

Amanda King Promoted to Assistant Controller at Merchants Bank

Amanda King, Assistant Controller

Amanda King has been promoted to Assistant Controller at Merchants Bank, according to Sue Savat, Chief Financial Officer.

“Amanda is a cornerstone of the Finance team and continues to grow in her role as our company grows. This promotion is a reflection of her expertise and dedication to serving our staff just as we would a Merchants Bank customer,” said Savat.

King has been with Merchants Bank for more than two decades, beginning her career as a Teller in 1998. She joined the Finance Department in 2002 as a Reports Specialist and over the last 18 years she has been promoted to Accounting Specialist and most recently Senior Accounting Specialist.

“I’ve really appreciated the opportunity to grow in my career over last 20 years at Merchants. We have a wonderful team and I enjoy supporting them, so they can support our customers,” King.

Amanda lives in Caledonia on a farm with her husband, Luke, and their four daughters, Jovial, Regan, Kensey and Bayla.

Merchants Bank is a full service community bank with 21 bank locations in southeastern Minnesota, two bank locations in west-central Wisconsin and a leasing division, Merchants Bank Equipment Finance, in Edina. Headquartered in Winona, MN, MFGI has more than $2.5 billion in assets. Merchants was founded in 1875.

Rachel Larson Promoted to Manager of Collections at Merchants Bank

Rachel Larson. Manager of Collections

Rachel Larson has been promoted to Manager of Collections at Merchants Bank, according to Mark McGrory, Chief Credit Officer.

“Rachel is the perfect fit to lead our Collections team. Not only does she understand the risk management side of our business, but as a 20-year veteran on the Merchants Bank team she knows our culture and understands that taking care of our customers is what makes Merchants Bank a great community bank,” said McGrory.

Larson has been with Merchants Bank since 1999 and as an integral part of the Bank’s Audit/Compliance team for the past 16 years, most recently as a Risk Management Officer. Larson also graduated from Merchants’ home-grown leadership program, the I Believe Leadership Series, in 2019.

In her new role as Manager of Collections, she will work with individual loan customers who are experiencing financial hardship and help them with an appropriate workout plan. As an area that affects the overall credit quality of the Bank, Larson and the Collections team will help maintain the asset quality of the Bank by finding workable solution for these customers.

“This new role provides me with the opportunity to interact with customers in a much more personal way and provide the caring service approach that’s in alignment with the Merchants culture. I’m looking forward to assisting customers as possible with solutions for their individual needs,” Larson.

Merchants Bank is a full service community bank with 21 bank locations in southeastern Minnesota, two bank locations in west-central Wisconsin and a leasing division, Merchants Bank Equipment Finance, in Edina. Headquartered in Winona, MN, MFGI has more than $2.5 billion in assets. Merchants was founded in 1875.

Meet Ellen Morehouse, Credit Support Manager

Ellen Morehouse joined Merchants Bank in May of 2011. She started as a Credit Analyst and is now Credit Support Manager. Sometimes these titles can sound a little vague. What is it that Credit Support professionals do at a bank? Ellen provides some context.

Ellen, can you explain what the Credit Support team does?

Sure! The credit support team helps our consumer and commercial lenders keep track of documentation, making sure it’s all accurate and keeping an eye on all the details, really.

One way to break it down is I oversee “Credit Support,” which can be broken up into three departments: the Appraisal and Evaluation Team, the Importing and Reporting Team and the Post-Closing team.

  • The Appraisal and Evaluation Team orders property appraisals and makes sure we operate within legal compliance there.
  • The Importing and Reporting Team makes sure all loan paperwork we need to retain and track are in our systems accurately.
  • The Post-Closing Team takes care of any necessary reporting or documentation after a loan is closed.

What do you like most about your job?

I love the variety. One of the things we really keep an eye on is how all the different areas of credit support work together and how we’re making sure our processes are efficient so that the lenders can work with their customers in a timely manner.

It also helps a lot to have a great team! We all work well together and have a lot of fun along the way.

You were previously a Credit Analyst and now the Credit Support Manager. Beyond the change in job title, how have you grown in your time with Merchants?

I was fortunate to participate in our internal leadership development program, the I Believe Leadership Series, Class of 2019 -2020. That experience really taught me the importance of being able to always come back to a positive mindset.

My biggest takeaway that I do every day now is identify three things I’m grateful for each morning. There’s science that shows that focusing on what you’re grateful for can help keep your mental game strong.

I think that’s something important that I bring to the team, is a positivity that even when the going gets tough, we know how to keep our chin up and get through it all together.

Congratulations, New and Promoted Staff

NewPromotedStaff-Blog

We are happy to have these new employees on our team! If you’re interested in working with these local experts, find your branch.

New Staff

Erin Beier, Customer Service Representative, Lakeside
Samantha Bratland, Teller, Caledonia
Greg Brown, Investment Advisor, Twin Cities
Paula Carty, Underwriter, Winona
Natasha Flynn, Teller, Rochester – Green Meadows
Molly GleasonMolly Gleason, Lending Assistant, Northfield
Austin HeaneyAustin Heaney, Teller, Caledonia
Sarah HuangSarah Huang, Teller, Hastings
Amy Kalember, Mortgage Processing Supervisor, Winona
Mark Little, Teller, Spring Grove
Jon Marley, Market President, St. Charles
Alayna McCarville, Teller, Onalaska
Jolea Tarbox, Teller, Eau Claire
Nicole Williamson, Mortgage Lender, Rochester – Green Meadows

Transfers and Promotions

Angie BooherAngie Booher, Mortgage Loan Processor, Winona
Tony DenstadTony Denstad, Courier, Winona
Becky FaustBecky Faust, Assistant Security/Operations Officer, Northfield
Amy GrossAmy Gross, Lead Teller, Caledonia
Zach KasenZach Kasen, IT Workstation & Peripherals, Winona
JR Larkie, Mortgage Loan Processor, Winona
Rachel LarsonRachel Larson, Manager of Collections, Winona
Heidi McCormickHeidi McCormick, Lead Teller, Northfield
Ellen Morehouse, Credit Support Manager, Winona
Adrian QuillingAdrian Quilling, Mortgage Lender, Rosemount
Tim Shelton, Treasury Management Sales Support, Winona
Tricia SlaytonTricia Slayton, Mortgage Loan Processor, Northfield
Nicci VosejpkaNicci Vosejpka, Lending Assistant, Northfield
Jessica WieseJessica Wiese, Customer Service Representative, Caledonia
Katelyn ZiebellKatelyn Ziebell, Mortgage Loan Processor, Winona

Where You Need Us, When You Need Us: Now and Always

Employee On Phone Wearing A Mask
Dana Christensen, Customer Service Representative

Stocked with hand sanitizer, masks and shields, we’re ready and happy to help you in person in our branches. Although we understand that as communities continue to have positive cases of COVID-19, you might want to limit your “in-person” errands. Or maybe you’re just getting really comfy at home.

Either way, we’re ready to serve you however you prefer to reach us. We wanted to gather up (almost) all the ways you can take care of your banking with us:

1. Online & Mobile Banking

First and foremost, the best way to see what’s going on with your account is our now enhanced Personal Online & Mobile Banking. Of course you can take care of all the basics: checking balances, making a transfer, viewing transactions and deposit images, viewing statements (if you’re signed up for eStatements), paying bills, etc.

But now with enhanced features like 24/7 access to your credit score, account alerts, a budgeting tool and more, you have easier access to more details of your financial situation.

2. Merchants Bank Credit Card App

Hot off the press: the Merchants Bank Credit Card App. If you have our credit card, you can download this free app to:

  • Turn your credit card “on” and “off” giving you peace of mind if you lose your card.
  • Control where your credit card can be used, such as limiting transactions by location or store type.
  • Get real-time data, tracking and insights into your credit card purchases.
  • Receive instant alerts about possible fraud and take action.

3. Our Drive-Ups

Maybe you’re feeling like if you have to do one more thing from home you’ll lose your marbles: hop in your car and head to your nearest Merchants Bank Drive-Up!

Our Drive-Ups can handle pretty much anything you’d do at the teller line. And if you’ve been in touch with your banker and simply need to sign some documents, chances are they’ll be able to meet you in the Drive-Up, but best to discuss options with your banker beforehand.

4. Phone Call

A classic. Tried and true. Give us a ring and we’ll do our best to help. You can contact your local branch or one of our specialty departments such as Electronic Banking, Credit Card or Loan Servicing.

So, if you have a question or concern, we’re happy to help and looking forward to hearing from you, however we hear from you. Stay safe, be well!

Refinancing: Is It For You? An Example

Watch how you could save on your mortgage payments by refinancing.

Why might I want to refinance?

The idea behind refinancing a home mortgage is simple: You’re taking out a new loan to pay off and replace the current one. The goal is to lower your interest rate, reduce the loan term, switch a loan type, or to access the equity in your home.

One reason to refinance might be to shorten the term of your loan – say from 30 years to 15 so you’d pay less money for your home overall.

An Example:

If you currently have a $200,000, 30-year loan at 3.511% Annual Percentage Rate (APR) your monthly payment would be $866.96 (principal & interest), or $319,307.17 total over the term of the loan.

However, if you were able to refinance to a 15-year mortgage with a lower rate, maybe 2.842% APR, your monthly payment would increase to 1,347.75, but you’d pay $242,594.26 total. That’s over $76,000 less overall*!

Other Reasons and Considerations

Another reason to refinance would be to switch from an adjustable rate mortgage to a fixed rate, which would protect you if the adjustable rate were to rise.

Refinancing does come with some costs, which can run into the thousands of dollars. There will be a variety of fees and other expenses, such as points, that will need to be paid up front. If you have to pay 1% on a $200,000 loan, for example, that would be $2,000.

If you’re considering refinancing, speak with your lender about your options and costs before making a decision. They’ll also have a variety of questions about income, expenses and your credit score that can affect your loan and rate.

The ultimate goal is to make sure refinancing makes good financial sense for you.

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*Estimates are based on a loan amount of $200,000 with 20% down payment, prepaid finance charges of $1,343.31 and a credit score of 740.

The actual rate available to you will be based upon your credit history and may be different than the rate disclosed.

Rates are for the financing of a single-family primary residence with a 75-day lock.

If the down payment is less than 20%, mortgage insurance may be needed, which could increase the monthly payment and APR.

Rates also may be higher for cash-out refinances above 70% Loan-to-Value, non-escrowed loans, loan amounts below $100,000 and/or loan amounts greater than $484,350.

30-Year Fixed = 360 monthly payments. 15-Year Fixed = 180 monthly payments.

Payment does not include taxes and insurance and actual payment obligation may be greater.

Figuring Out Your Finances: 3 Tools You Need to Know About

Woman On Tablet Sitting On Couch

There’s a lot of information out there on the web and our website is no exception. You can find a ton of knowledge on our site that can help you stay in the know and be better prepared for all things money:

Calculators

Calculators: Pretty much used for school and figuring out tips. Well, we have some other specific (and super helpful) ones:

  • Predict a monthly mortgage payment
  • Compare renting a place vs. buying one
  • Go with a low-interest loan on a vehicle or do a rebate
  • Map out how you could save $1 million dollars (!!!)
  • Get more insight on many other financial situations

You can find these and SO many others on our website.

Education Center: Money IQ

Money management can be confusing and you might not feel as capable as you’d hope – that’s okay! Or maybe you have it all together and have a great grasp on what you’re doing financially. Either way, you might still have some questions.

Enter: Money IQ! In the spotlight at the top of our Education Center webpage, you’ll find a treasure trove of information on financial basics like getting your emergency savings account in shape and cutting back on spending to specific life situations like keeping track of a wedding budget.

Check out all Money IQ has to offer and start setting yourself up with that financial stability you might be craving.

You can also find video tutorials and click through demos of our financial management tools that are in Merchants Bank Online Banking, such as Credit Sense, our budget tracking tool called Spending and account alerts, as well as many others.

Current Rates

Okay, this one might seem obvious: we have some awesome charts where you can see the most current rates for checking accounts, savings accounts, Certificate of Deposits (CDs) and mortgage loans.

If you’re a numbers person, you don’t have to wonder what the current rate is. And if you like what you see, you can apply right away online. Or, if you have more questions, you can fill out the “Get in Touch” form to the right and your local expert will be in touch!

BONUS: Credit Score FAQs

And one more, because you’re worth it: your credit score questions = answered. We have a specific page of our site specifically dedicated to addressing those common credit score questions.

If you (or maybe your teenager) is wondering about how to build or improve your credit score, this is a great page to check out.

Nicole Williamson Joins Merchants Bank as Mortgage Lender

Nicole Williamson, Mortgage Lender

Nicole Williamson has joined Merchants Bank as a Mortgage Lender, according to Dave Engstler, Branch Manager for Merchants’ Rochester-Green Meadows location.

“Nicole brings valuable experience to our team that will be a benefit to families and individuals across the Rochester area looking for their first or next home,” said Engstler. “With mortgage and refinance rates incredibly low, now is a great time to give Nicole a call.”

Williamson has been in banking for more than 10 years in the Rochester market in various customer service positions, including Mortgage Advisor for the last six years. She is well-versed in the home and construction loan process as well as Minnesota-specific loan program options.

“I joined Merchants because of their community focus and the pride they take in being a partner for their customer’s financial well-being. I am passionate about helping customers achieve their homeownership dreams and find homes where they can grow and make memories,” said Williamson.

Williamson grew up locally in Chatfield, MN and currently resides in St. Charles with her husband, Kyle, and two daughters. She attended Saint Mary’s University in Winona with a double major in Marketing and Management with an emphasis on Entrepreneurship. Outside of work, she and her family enjoy spending time on the water boating and fishing and at their family cabin in Northern Minnesota.

The Merchants Bank Mortgage team is comprised of nearly 20 local mortgage lenders, available throughout our regional footprint, backed by our in-house mortgage processing, underwriting and loan servicing teams. In addition to traditional mortgage loans, Merchants mortgage lenders can assist with mortgage pre-approval, construction loans, and specialized mortgage programs such as VA, FHA, Rural Development and more available through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. We’re committed to being there for our customers after loan closing and service nearly $2.6 billion in mortgage loans annually.

Merchants Bank is a full service community bank with 21 bank locations in southeastern Minnesota, two bank locations in west-central Wisconsin and a leasing division, Merchants Bank Equipment Finance, in Edina. Headquartered in Winona, MN, MFGI has more than $2.1 billion in assets. Merchants was founded in 1875.

Merchants’ Second Quarter Earnings Report Shows Stable Performance and Continued COVID-19 Relief Assistance

Greg Evans, President & CEO

Merchants Financial Group, Inc. (MFGI) has announced financial results for the second quarter and details about COVID-19 assistance provided to its customers, according to MFGI President & CEO Gregory M. Evans.

Second quarter earnings of $8,442,992 were behind MFGI’s 2020 plan by $346,298 and behind 2019 mid-year results by $484,989. June earnings were profitable for MFGI even though the Company reversed $4 million out of income in the form of additional Allowance for Loan/Lease Loss Reserves as a precautionary measure to cover potential loan risk as the challenging economic situation continues to unfold.

“Our profitable performance through two quarters is a source of pride for our extraordinary employee team, which has been intensely focused on assisting our customers and communities experiencing hardship due to the COVID pandemic,” said Evans. “Most gratifying is the feedback I’ve received from clients who are appreciative of how our bankers have been available to them in serving as trusted advisors at this difficult time.”

Since March, Merchants has provided relief to more than 1,300 consumer and business loan customers in good standing in the form of loan payment deferment programs across all product categories. The Bank continues to assist business customers across its footprint with Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) financing through the Small Business Administration and will be accepting applications through the August 8, 2020 deadline. Merchants has been one of Minnesota’s PPP banking leaders, originating more than 1,500 loans with total volume of approximately $200 million. In addition, Merchants reported a 16.1% increase in deposits and origination volume of $478 million of residential mortgage loans through the first half of the year, as customers take advantage of the current interest rate environment.

“We want our customers and communities to know that Merchants will continue to be a source of assistance for those hit hardest by the pandemic and that we take our responsibility as a community bank seriously. We’re here to be your financial partner as you navigate challenges in the coming months,” Evans noted.

The ownership of Merchants Financial Group, Inc. is made up of its more than 440 employees and its shareholders, mostly individuals and families from southeastern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin.

Merchants Bank is a full service community bank with 21 bank locations in southeastern Minnesota, two bank locations in west-central Wisconsin and a leasing division, Merchants Bank Equipment Finance, in Edina. Headquartered in Winona, MN, MFGI has more than $2.1 billion in assets. Merchants was founded in 1875.