Meet Becky Zoellner, Cash Management Specialist

 

ZoellnerBecky

Get to know Becky Zoellner, one of our Cash Management Specialists. At Merchants, we offer a variety of Cash Management services to help businesses improve efficiency, security and more. Our options include tools for collection, disbursement, security and management.

When did you start your banking career?

Becky: I started my banking career in 2009. When I started in banking, I did not plan on it being my career.  However, it wasn’t even a year and I realized I had a passion for working with customers on each of their unique financial situations that brought them into the bank.

What do you like most about your job?

Becky: Every business is very unique.  My favorite part of my job is working with my customers to understand their business. I want to understand where they’re looking to grow and figuring out their strengths and weaknesses and developing a cash flow plan that fits their specific needs. In addition to learning about my customers’ businesses, I enjoy sharing my knowledge of cash management.  You don’t need to be an expert in cash management, that’s my job, but I want you to feel comfortable and have a good understanding of solutions available to help meet your business goals.  

Can you help businesses assess which cash management services make sense for them? How does this process work?

Becky: Absolutely.  I like to talk to owners and managers, preferably within their work environment.  I want to learn about the business and its processes.  What works well?  Where are the struggles?  From there, we can talk about cash management services that can help along with putting together a plan of how to implement them. 

What does community banking mean to you?

Becky: Community bankers take the time to get to know you and your business.  As a community, we’re all working together towards being the best for ourselves and all those around us. I was drawn to a community bank because I firmly believe in having strong, service-oriented values. The most important thing for me is to be able to give customers my best service and that of my team of co-workers.

What are some of the biggest benefits to a business using Cash Management services?

Becky: With cash management services, you get control and understanding of your account activity. The various products and services help with maximizing cash flow and monitoring for fraudulent activity. 

What are your tips for wrapping up your fiscal year?

Becky: Use a trusted expert. My expertise is cash management, your expertise is in your industry and a CPA has expertise in tax law. We have experts so that we know these very important business functions are done correctly. Also, early on, write your financial goals for the next year down! Many individuals and businesses forget that step, but it is so important. After you have your goals defined, writing down a concrete plan to reach those goals is just as important. As the year goes on, set aside time to analyze your progress and see if any adjustments need to be made and what needs to be done to reach those goals.

What do you do to work with businesses around year end?

Becky: Year end is a good time to think about successes and where there are opportunities for improvement.  I’m generally busy meeting with businesses on how to obtain their goals for the following year. Questions I usually ask are:

  • Do you want your staff to be more efficient with their time?  Remote deposit capture will allow your staff to make deposits right at their desk.
  • Are you looking to improve cash flow?  Processing receivables and payables through ACH will provide a better handle on when funds are crediting and debiting your account.
  • What are you doing to ensure your business isn’t faced with the consequences of fraud?  Let’s talk about how our online banking can assist with separation of duties and how ACH Filters and Positive Pay can assist you with daily activity monitoring. And the list goes on.

If you could snap your fingers and own your own business, what would you want it to be?

Becky: I would love to be a travel consultant because I would assume it would require me to travel more!

What’s your favorite thing about supporting local business?

Becky: I love that local businesses genuinely care about their customers’ experience, and that makes it feel like you’re supporting a friend.  Who doesn’t love that?    

 

If you are interested in finding out how your business could benefit from cash management services, contact one of our Cash Management Specialists.

 

Some Cash Management services may have fees that apply.

Hope to See You at these Fall Events

Events-Blog

Join our staff at these great events. Be sure to follow us on our Facebook page for information on these events or pictures from other events you may have missed. 

 

9/21 Spring Grove Window Washing
2 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Merchants Bank in Spring Grove

Get your car windshield washed for FREE! For each windshield washed, Merchants Bank will donate $5 to Raise the Roof, which supports the Houston County Fair youth livestock building project. We hope you can join us! No customer relationship required. Free will donations also accepted.

9/28 Cannon Falls Customer Appreciation
11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Merchants Bank in Cannon Falls

We’ll be serving grilled hot dogs, served with all the fixings, and refreshments in our parking lot. We truly appreciate all of our customers in the community and look forward to seeing you!

11/30 – 12/10 10 Days of Giving
Winona, St. Charles, Cottage Grove, Hastings

Help us ensure no one in our communities go hungry this winter! We are honored to once again coordinate the fundraising efforts to support our local food shelves.

 

A Guide to Getting More: ScoreCard Rewards

ScoreCard Rewards Points Merchandise

Are you getting the most out of the scorecard rewards you earn with a Merchants Bank Visa ScoreCard Credit Card? If you’re earning points, this guide will help you understand:

  • The basics about your rewards points
  • How to view and redeem points
  • Some of our favorite suggestions for redeeming your points

The Basics

How Points are Earned

You automatically earn points with each purchase. Typically for every dollar you spend, you earn one reward point.

However, if you take advantage of our ScoreMore program, you can earn 2x, 3x, 4x or more points. All you have to do is shop at participating retailers, which change throughout the year. You can always find current retailers by visiting the ScoreMore section on the ScoreCard Rewards website.

Your Current Points Balance

Your points balance is available through your account at scorecardrewards.com, mycardstatement.com, or at the top of your monthly credit card statement.

Keep in mind that unredeemed points expire after five years on March 31. For example, points you accumulated in 2014, will expire on March 31, 2019.

Who to Contact

We’re always here to answer your credit card and ScoreCard rewards questions. If you would like help with:

  • Your credit card account: call (800) 944-6285 or email cc@merchantsbank.com (for your safety, please do not send personal information such as account numbers via email).
  • ScoreCard rewards, including questions about your balance or help redeeming points: (800) 854-0790
  • Travel Services, such as booking a flight or car rental with points: (855) 843-5005

Bonus Tip: If you have more than one Merchants Bank Visa ScoreCard, you can have points earned from multiple cards accumulate to one card, making your rewards build up faster. Just contact the Credit Card department for help setting this up.

How to View and Redeem Your Rewards Points

To view your points and redeem, just visit the ScoreCard Rewards website and login. You can also click the View Rewards button when accessing your credit card account through the mycardstatement.com website. Your points balance will then show up at the top of your screen.

From here, follow the steps in this video to redeem your points:

ScoreCard Rewards Video

Redemption Suggestions

When you want to redeem your points, Scorecard Rewards offers a wide variety of items and experiences to choose from. Some of our favorites include:

  • Gift cards. From department stores to movie theaters, you can turn your points into cash at your favorite retailers.
  • Points can also be redeemed for airline tickets, hotel stays, car rentals and more. Plus, if you need help booking your trip, just contact our Travel Rewards experts at the phone number listed above.
  • Had your hopes on a new iPad? Accumulate enough points and it can be yours. ScoreCard Rewards has a great selection of handheld devices for you to choose from.

Using your ScoreCard rewards points efficiently can help make your money go further. Visit our website to learn more about the Merchants Bank Visa ScoreCard Credit Card and our other credit card options. And if you’re ready to start earning rewards, apply now.

Meet Annette Bleninger, Cash Management Officer, CTP

BleningerAnnette

Get to know Annette Bleninger, one of our Cash Management Specialists. At Merchants, we offer a variety of Cash Management services to help businesses improve efficiency, security and more. Our options include tools for collection, disbursement, security and management.

When did you start your banking career?

Annette: I started almost 20 years ago as a Teller. I moved to new accounts and eventually became a Branch Manager. Then I moved to Cash Management, and I’ve been in this field for about 15 years.

What do you like most about your job?

Annette: I really like the variety and the opportunity to meet with business owners and learn about their business.

Can you help my business assess which Cash Management services make sense for us? How does this process work?

Annette: During our first meeting, I like to talk about what your business is currently doing…what works, doesn’t, and what you want to achieve. Then I come back with my recommendations of products and services that would be a good fit to help achieve your goals. I don’t work to sell all of our products and services to every client. I want to make sure I recommend only the most effective and efficient processes for your unique business.

What does community banking mean to you?

Annette: To me, it means being small enough to know each customer and take care of them, but large enough to have the products and services they need. We can provide what you need, but we aren’t the big bank that just considers you a number.

What are some of the biggest benefits to a business using Cash Management services?

Annette: I always like to discuss the top three benefits: save time, save money, and efficiency. Every business is looking to do these things, and we can help with that. There are so many different products and we can figure out which ones would be most beneficial for your business together.

What are your tips for wrapping up your fiscal year?

Annette: Use year-end as a good time to look at the users of your products, such as online banking or payment functions, and determine what updates need to be made. You can use a checklist:

  • Are your users still employed with you?
  • Do they all need access to that product?
  • Is there anyone new that will need access?
  • Are payment limits correct?

Throughout the year, keep track of which users are added, and note any questions or situations you’d like to address. One of the most important things you can do is hire trustworthy people to run things, and keep up to date with core functions and technology. 

If you could snap your fingers and own your own business, what would you want it to be?

Annette: I’ve always thought it would be very interesting to be a travel agent. It may be a dying industry, but it would be so neat to know about all kinds of places.

What are some of your favorite small businesses and why do you like to shop local?

Annette: There are so many cool businesses. When my husband and I go out to eat, we like to go to local restaurants and quaint shops in the old downtown of Hastings. Another benefit of having strong community roots is having these unique places to visit!

If you are interested in finding out how your business could benefit from cash management services, contact one of our Cash Management Specialists.

 

Some Cash Management services may have fees that apply.

Card Security at Your Fingertips: Are You – Your Student – Your Business – Using our Fraud Prevention Apps?

SecurityFraudApps-Blog

Controlling and monitoring your personal or business debit or credit card usage anywhere, anytime has never been easier with our FREE mobile apps My Mobile Money and SecurLOCK Equip.*

With these apps – My Mobile Money for your debit card and SecurLOCK Equip for your credit card – you can protect yourself or your business from fraud by setting custom alerts and controls per card to determine how it can be used. You can even add your child’s Merchants Bank card to monitor their spending and security with alerts as they start the school year.

 3 of Our Favorite Features

Merchants Bank staff uses the apps every day and want to share some of their favorite security features with you. Here are three features you can use to ensure you’re getting the most out of these apps.

Featured Staff

Tina Bechtel Tina Bechtel, Customer Service Representative and Lead Teller in Spring Grove.
Phone: Samsung Galaxy
Michelle Schroeder Michelle Schroeder, Customer Service Manager in Cannon Falls
Phone: Apple iPhone
Mike Swanson Mike Swanson, Commercial Banking Officer in Hastings
Phone: Apple iPhone
Marcus Krings Marcus Krings, Credit Card Manager in Winona
Phone: Apple iPhone

See Every Transaction with Alerts

What if every time your card was used your phone would buzz? You would be able to see how much you were spending on a regular basis. You’d also know immediately if your card was used without your authorization, and then be able to stop any other fraudulent transactions from going through. With our security apps, it’s easy to set up these alerts.

Or maybe that sounds like too many notifications. If you prefer, you can set up alerts for specific types of transactions, including:

  • When you are approaching spending limits you may have set
  • Transactions where your card is not present – such as when you shop online
  • International transactions
  • Purchases at specific kinds of stores, such as gas stations, grocery stores, etc

Our staff loves seeing alerts each time their cards are used and being reassured that the only activity on their cards is their own.

Tina: I’ve been able to detect and stop fraud right through the app. I have notifications turned on for all my debit card transactions and one day I got a notification for a charge that I didn’t recognize. I went into the app and turned my card off and called the Bank right away. Turns out the transaction was fraudulent and because I caught it and turned off my card, I was able to stop other fraudulent transactions that were being attempted.

Michelle: I can’t say enough about the notifications for all transactions. You could set this up to only notify you for transactions over a certain dollar amount, but I love seeing everything that goes through my debit card. For example, I really like seeing the notification for online automatic transactions, like Netflix. Sometimes I forget about automatic payments I have set up through my card, and now I get a little notification when the charge goes through. It’s perfect.

Marcus: I get the transaction alerts from SecurLOCK Equip within seconds of my credit card being used. Since the usage alerts are pretty much in real time, it allows me to react quickly if I see a charge that isn’t familiar. We had a customer contact the Credit Card Department about a fraudulent transaction he saw on his app, and our team was able to take care of it immediately.

Shut it Down – Turn your card off to prevent further transactions

Experience the immediate relief that comes with being able to control the use of your card. With these apps, you can turn your card off to stop any transactions going through. And once you’re ready to use your card again, you can turn it back on and it will be ready to use almost instantly.

Mike: My wife and I have used the on/off for our debit card more than once. If one of us misplaces our card…leaves it in the car, forgets it on the counter or something else, we can just turn it off on the app until we find it. If our cards really were lost, it would prevent anyone else from using them. It’s just nice peace of mind.

Michelle: I’ve had great experience with the on/off function too. I went on a trip to Florida and didn’t want my debit card on. I just went into the My Mobile Money app, slid the on/off setting to off and that it was it. It was that easy.

Marcus: Being able to turn your card off if you know you aren’t going to be using it or if a transaction is unfamiliar is such an asset. It’s all about continuing to minimize your risk of fraud. Limiting the opportunity for fraudsters to act is a crucial part of personal security.

Set Perimeters for Card Use

While transaction alerts and the on/off function give you significant control over your card’s security, the apps have other capabilities that can help minimize the risk of fraud.

Marcus: If you’re looking to shut down access to your card as much as you can to prevent fraud, try using location or types of merchant controls. If you know you never use ATMs, go ahead and turn off ATM functionality for your card. Of course, you’ll have to remember to turn that functionality on if you suddenly need to use an ATM.

Tina: I’ve used the location feature and that’s really handy. You just set up if you only want to allow transactions based on a city, region or state. Transactions attempted from outside that area are then automatically denied. Although, online purchases might be processed elsewhere, so that feature may block an online purchase.

Bonus Tip: Manage Your (Or Someone Else’s) Spending

With customizable controls, alerts for spending limits, and easy-to-find account balances, you can make sure you’re always on track with your budget.

You can also add your child’s bank cards, and receive alerts to see how they’re using them or set spending limits. For many students, going off to college is the first time they will be managing an entire budget. Help them learn about managing their finances and taking their security seriously by equipping them with the right tools.

This feature is also useful when a partner runs into a roadblock on a regular transaction. After all, two heads are better than one:

Mike: If you have more than one person on an account, like my wife and I have a joint checking account, you can have the My Mobile Money app track both of your debit cards on one phone. One time my wife was trying to buy groceries and I got a notification at work that her transaction was denied. I realized that I hadn’t moved our budgeted grocery money over to the right account and was able to use Merchants Mobile Banking to transfer funds so she could finish checking out at the grocery store. That was really handy.

You can download My Mobile Money Access for your debit card here for**:

And you can dounload SecurLOCK Equip for your credit card here for**:

Or you can download the apps anytime from the Google Play or Apple App stores. Or you can visit our website.

If you have questions about downloading the app or would like additional recommendations on its use for you or your business, contact your local Merchants Bank and ask to speak to a Customer Service Representative. Or stop in to see us, we’re happy to help however we can.

*Mobile fraud apps are free, however, text or data charges may be imposed by your mobile provider. Check your plan for details. Your carrier may limit access outside the U.S.

**You will be linking to another website not owned or operated by Merchants Bank, NA. Merchants Bank, NA is not responsible for the availability or content of this website and does not represent either the linked website or you, should you enter into a transaction. We encourage you to review their privacy and security policies which may differ from Merchants Bank, NA. 

Questions About Your Loan?

Loan Servicing Department

Merchants Loan Servicing is Here to Help

As soon as you’ve closed your loan with Merchants Bank, you’re able to chat with one of our most knowledgeable and useful resources: the Loan Servicing department.

Consisting for 16 employees, the Loan Servicing department is prepared to assist you with practically any question related to your loan. Really. Keep reading to learn how Loan Servicing can help you and the top questions department experts are asked.

How to Contact Loan Servicing

Before we dive in, here is how you can reach our Loan Servicing department to ask your loan questions.

To help keep your personal information safe, the department verifies each caller’s identity and uses encrypted email services.

Meet the Team & How They Help

The department is made up of 15 full-time employees and one part-time employee. Loan Servicing has many seasoned employees; the average banking experience of the staff is 13 years and average loan servicing experience is nine years. When you call us, you’re truly talking to a loan expert.

By the numbers, Loan Servicing:

  • Receives approximately 5,000 calls per month from customers and staff who have loan questions.
  • Sends out 12,000 loan payment books every year.
  • Sends out more than 9,800 mortgage statements each month.

In addition to more FAQ questions below, the department can also help you:

  • With any questions regarding your loan payments, how payments are applied to your loan, loan payment books or billing statements.
  • Estimate an early loan pay off date if you’d like to pay extra on your loan.
  • Calculate principal payments to meet an early payoff goal.
  • Setup or change an automatic loan payment.
  • Keep track of your escrow information, from bill payments to helping distribute funds to complete repairs on the damaged property covered by insurance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Our Loan Servicing department is asked thousands of questions each month, but here are some of the most popular. Is your question not on the list? If your loan has closed, they are here to help at the email or phone number listed above.

Questions Covering All Loans (Personal, Mortgage and Business)

Q: Can I change my payment due date?
A: Only for certain types of loans:

  • Personal loans (excluding mortgages) – Contact your Lender to request changing your payment due date.
  • Mortgage loans – Due to Secondary Market requirements (of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac), mortgage payments must be scheduled on the 1st of the month.

Q: Can you help me figure out how to pay off my loan early?
A: Yes, just call or email Loan Servicing. Make sure to include the date (either today’s date or one in the near future) and you’ll receive payoff information verbally or in statement form based on your preference.

If you plan to pay off your loan early and have automatic payments set up, please contact Loan Servicing a few days before your final loan payment. This will provide enough time to cancel your automatic payment and minimize the chances of a duplicate payment.

Q: During tax season, what kind of information can you provide about my loan?
A: Each year Loan Servicing will send you a 1098 statement, which includes much of the tax information you’ll need:

  • Interest paid on your loan for the year
  • Year-end principal balance
  • If applicable, information on the property securing the loan

If you have questions anytime throughout the year – not just at tax time – the department is always able to provide you with your current loan balance.

Q: I think my loan payment was late. When will I be assessed a late fee?
A: Mortgage loans have a 15-day grace period before late fees are assessed. Other personal loans and business loans have a 10-day grace period.

Q: My loan payment is scheduled to pull electronically after the due date each month, so why am I receiving a past due reminder?
A: When a loan payment is unpaid for at least seven days past the payment due date a payment reminder is sent as a courtesy. If you would like to avoid receiving this reminder, Loan Servicing suggests changing your automated payment to no later than five days after the payment due date.

Questions Specific to Mortgage Loans

Q: What happens to the extra money I send to the bank when I round up my mortgage payment?
A: Any additional money on top of your monthly payment is automatically applied to the principal of your loan. By applying extra money to the principal, a borrower can reduce the amount of overall interest paid on their loan.

Q: Can I make partial payments on my mortgage by making a payment twice per month?
A: Unfortunately, no. Because our mortgage loans follow Secondary Market guidelines (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac), if we receive a partial mortgage payment, we are not allowed to keep that payment and must return it to the borrower.

Q: My monthly mortgage payment is set up for electronic payment. Can I opt out of receiving the monthly billing statement or choose to receive the statement electronically?
A: Merchants Bank is required by law to mail out monthly mortgage statements for loans with electronic payments. At this time, we do not offer mortgage statements online.

Remember, if you have any questions about your loan after it’s closed our Loan Servicing team is here to help.

To learn more about our loan options, click one of the links below:

Related Article: Why, What and How: Merchants Bank Mortgage Underwriting

Congratulate New and Promoted Staff

New Staff

Nicole Alleva-Dickey Nicole Alleva-Dickey, Teller, Rosemount
Jodi Butler Jodi Butler, Lead Computer Operator, Winona – Downtown
Paul Butze Paul Butze, VP/Senior Regional Vendor Finance Manager, Merchants Bank Equipment Finance
Jenna Carducci Jenna Carducci, Credit Administration Representative, Winona – Downtown
DillingerCindy Cindy Dillinger, Electronic Banking Specialist, Winona – Downtown
DodsonKristin Kristin Dodson, Teller, Lakeville
FlynnOlivia Olivia Flynn, Credit Administration Representative, Winona
FossumCathy Cathy Fossum, Teller, Winona – Downtown
Victoria Fox Victoria Fox, Teller, Cannon Falls
HaldorsonChris Chris Haldorson, Document Transaction Coordinator, Merchants Bank Equipment Finance
HallTaylor Taylor Hall, Teller, Winona – Lakeside
HundtTrudy Trudy Hundt, Custodian, Winona
JeffriesAustin Austin Jeffries, Teller, Winona – Downtown
Amanda Kauphusman Amanda Kauphusman, Credit Administration Representative, Winona
KiefferLinda Linda Kieffer, Teller, St. Charles
Kaitlin Knott Kaitlin Knott, Teller, Winona – Downtown
LewandowskiRenee Renee Lewandowski, Teller, Onalaska
Conray Ligon Conray Ligon, Electronic Banking Specialist, Winona – Downtown
Chris Livingston Chris Livingston, Trust Associate, Winona – Downtown
Connor Murray Connor Murray, Teller, Cottage Grove
Linh Nguyen Linh Nguyen, Database Applications Developer, Winona – Downtown
PierretDave Dave Pierret, Commercial Banker/VP, Winona – Downtown
Adrian Quilling Adrian Quilling, Customer Service Representative/Lending Assistant, Rosemount
Keela Renswick Keela Renswick, Mortgage Loan Processor, Winona
Whitney Rud Whitney Rud, Item Processor, Winona
Leeandra Schultz Leeandra Schultz, Custodian, Winona
Megan Schultz Megan Schultz, Teller, Cannon Falls
Hope Thilmany Hope Thilmany, Teller, Winona – Downtown
Sue Thilmany Sue Thilmany, Loan Servicing Representative, Winona – Downtown
ThompsonLisa Lisa Thompson, Teller, St. Charles
WesterbergBrittany Brittany Westerberg, Teller, Hastings
Stephanie Wolowicz Stephanie Wolowicz, Customer Service Representative, La Crescent

Transfers and Promotions

AhlmanJoe Joe Ahlman, Electronic Banking Specialist, Winona – Downtown
Penny Beyers Penny Beyers, Credit Administration Representative, Winona
Nancy Brommerich Nancy Brommerich, Director of Customer Assistance, Winona – Downtown
DeckerCory Cory Decker, Electronic Banking Specialist, Winona – Downtown
FernholzJennifer Jennifer Fernholz, Junior Credit Analyst, Winona
GlodowskiBecky Becky Glodowski, Credit Administration Representative, Winona
Laura Greseth Laura Greseth, Credit Analyst Manager/AVP, Winona
Sarah Kiekhoefer Sarah Kiekhoefer, Credit Administration Systems Officer, Winona
Josie Montgomery Josie Montgomery, Lending Assistant, Winona – Downtown
ThruneChris Chris Thrune, Underwriter, Winona
Molli Vodak Molli Vodak, Lending Assistant, Winona – Downtown
warnkenshelby Shelby Warnken, Teller/Vault Attendant, Winona – Downtown
Larissa Verbeke Larissa Verbeke, Junior Credit Analyst, Winona
Kaitlyn Ziebell Kaitlyn Ziebell, Residential Appraisal Specialist, Winona