Get to Know Julie Augedahl: Mortgage Lender and Home Loan Expert

Julie Augedahl, Mortgage Lender

What do you like best about being a mortgage lender?

Julie: The best part of being a mortgage lender is helping customers fulfill their dreams of owning their own house, whether it be their first home, newly constructed home or vacation home.

How do you approach working with your customers?

Julie: Just smile and be kind! I have found listening is the best practice. Getting to know your customers and their wishes and values is important when purchasing a home!

What is your top tip for homebuyers?

Julie: It really is a best practice to get pre-approved. That way you’re aware of your price range when you’re looking for a home, and have an idea of what kind of house payment you’ll be comfortable with while being able to continue your lifestyle.

How do you stay busy?

Julie: I have two kids that keep me busy. I also enjoy playing golf, softball and volleyball, love to cook and bake as well.

What is something people don’t know about you?

Julie: I lived in Cody, Wyoming for three and a half years. Its beautiful out there everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime.

Whether you’re looking for your cozy first home, something bigger for your growing family or the peaceful lake cabin you’ve dreamed about, you can find your local Merchants Bank Mortgage Lender here: http://bit.ly/2zmcYC1

Is Your Business Bank Account Costing You Too Much?

Your business is constantly changing. When was the last time you reviewed your business accounts to ensure the best return and most efficient cash flow?

Ask the questions below about your current account(s) to reveal unnecessary spending, maximize your earnings and improve efficiency and security.

Infographic explaining how to assess your current banking account for potential savings and earnings increases.

If you’ve answered yes or maybe to even one of these questions, you may be thinking, “I wish a professional could take a look at this for me.” We’d be happy to! We can provide a free, no-obligation account analysis. Just contact a Treasury Management Specialist to get started.

Want to share this infographic? Click to download.

 

Meet the Leadership Team: Mark McGrory, Chief Credit Officer

LeadershipSpotlightMarkMcGrory

Mark McGrory has been with Merchants Bank for over 30 years and has served on our Executive Leadership Team for over 10 years. Throughout this time, Mark has helped many businesses evaluate their viability and learned a lot along the way. We asked him to share some of his expertise.

What has your professional career path looked like?

I started as a Commercial Banker in 1986. I helped customers work toward their business goals for 9 years, then I became the Commercial Banking Department Manager. In 2007, I became Chief Credit Officer. Over the years I’ve learned a lot about what may or may not work for different businesses in a variety of industries.

What kind of professionals make up a strong team to help a business succeed?

It’s important to surround yourself with knowledgeable and experienced people in your field. It’s helpful to have a team of professionals you trust, which should include:

  • A banker
  • An attorney
  • An insurance professional
  • A business mentor – someone who is doing well on a large scale in your field, someone you trust to provide honest guidance, with your best interests at heart.

Have you seen any risk trends in different industries?

One of the big industries that affects communities large and small is commercial real estate. There’s been lengthy expansion in that area over the last 10 years. Some markets have become over-built, which may be starting to create a value bubble. This would certainly have a ripple effect in our local economies.

What are some positive features you like to see from a business during the loan application process?

When we’re evaluating a business’s risk level and deciding when to give them a loan, a lot of factors come into play. But very generally, we like to see a well-run, well-capitalized company; that income vs. debt are well balanced.

Another aspect of a business we like to see is when a company is performing at a higher level than those in their peer group – that is, better than similar businesses in their field.

It’s important to understand how what’s happening in your industry and economy will impact your business’s financial situation.

Tips for managing a stable business?

One of the best things you can do for your business is make sure your team consists of good people you can rely on. Business always starts with people, and a successful one never underestimates the impact of good employees and team members.

Another thing to make sure you continue to work on is understanding the market you’re competing in – be aware of trends and what your customers are looking for. It’s a good idea to subscribe to industry newsletters and perhaps join an association or organization specific to your field.

And finally, take calculated risks – make sure you weigh what you stand to gain vs. what you stand to lose – and when making those business decisions, always have a plan B in case your ideal situation doesn’t work out.

Our commitment to community banking starts with our Executive Leadership Team. The Team pursues continued company success by focusing on our foundation of building community through banking and our Merchants Bank mission and core values . Our Executive Team works with our Regional Presidents, Market Presidents, Managers and all branch staff every day to ensure our customers come first.

Watch our video series to get to know our Executive Team.

Congratulate 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

Katelyn Anderson Katelynn Anderson, IT Operations Coordinator, Winona
Brandy Anderson Brandy Anderson, Lead Teller, Cottage Grove
Elena Beck Elena Beck, Teller, Onalaska
Kyle Brodt Kyle Brodt, Credit Analyst, Winona
John Fitzgerald John Fitzgerald, Custodian, Winona
Cindy Grable Cindy Grable, Credit Admin, Winona
Teresa Holland Teresa Holland, Teller, Caledonia
Mark Jangula Mark Jangula, VP/Senior Regional Vendor Finance Manager, Merchants Bank Equipment Finance
Andrew Millis Andrew Millis, Teller, Onalaska
Melissa Peterson Melissa Peterson, VP/Commercial Banker, Eau Claire
Maria Skradde Maria Skradde, Teller, Eau Claire
Kayla Wegman Kayla Wegman, Credit Analyst, Winona

Transfers and Promotions

Amy Gutierrez Amy Gutierrez, Trust and Estate Specialist, Winona
Alejandra Hernandez Alejandra Hernandez, Customer Service Representative, Lakeville
KringsMarcus Marcus Krings, Credit Card Officer, Winona
ZoellnerBecky Becky Zoellner, Treasury Management Officer, Onalaska

Retirement Account Options: IRA Savings or CDs

Save Money - IRAs

It’s no secret that saving for retirement is important. Whether you’ve been saving for years or aren’t sure where to start, it’s helpful to evaluate your long-term savings strategy.

With so many retirement savings options, just getting started can feel overwhelming. And if you have a savings plan already, it never hurts to consider potentially more profitable or flexible options. Some retirement saving methods to consider:

  • Individual Retirement Account (IRA) Savings
  • IRA Certificate of Deposit (CD)

These accounts are similar to standard savings or CD accounts, but the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) determines maximum contribution and minimum withdrawal guidelines, which are designed to enhance the benefit of your retirement saving efforts. For comprehensive details on contribution and withdrawal guidelines, visit the IRS website.

The First Step: Traditional or Roth?

There are two options for IRA accounts: Traditional or Roth. There are benefits to each kind of account – consult your tax advisor regarding which account would be best for your situation.

At the most basic level:

  • For a Roth IRA you pay taxes on the money you contribute now. The main benefit is tax-free investment earnings. Since you already paid tax on your contribution, the money is not taxed when you withdraw it.
  • For a Traditional IRA you pay taxes when you withdraw money in retirement. You will not pay tax on your contributions, however, the money will be taxed when it is withdrawn.

IRA Savings for More Flexibility

An IRA Savings account functions essentially the same as a regular savings account: you can continue to make contributions as you see fit within the IRS guidelines and you can make withdrawals penalty-free if over the age of 59 ½. It is often used as a “parking lot” for funds until you’ve decided how you’d like to invest them.

You may benefit from an IRA Savings if you:

  • Are just starting to work on your retirement savings plan. This is a good holding place for your funds as you develop a more complex plan.
  • Have had a recent career adjustment – a job change or retirement – to roll accounts from your previous employer into, so you can continue to contribute or withdraw, depending on your situation.

The Pros of an IRA Savings Account:

  • More flexibility to make contributions and withdrawals as you see fit, within IRS guidelines.
  • Penalties for withdrawing before age 59 ½ are generally less compared to withdrawing from a CD.

The Cons:

  • Generally, interest rates on a savings account are lower than a CD.

IRA Certificate of Deposit for More Earnings Potential

An IRA Certificate of Deposit generally offers higher interest rates on your money for a designated period of time – that designated period of time is called the “term”. You are guaranteed to make that fixed rate on your money during the CD term.

A CD is started with one lump sum of money. That lump sum of money will sit in the CD, earning interest for the term of the account, for example, 24 months. If you are 59 ½ or more, you may make withdrawals penalty-free.

You may benefit from an IRA CD if you:

  • Have a larger sum of money that they can leave untouched for a longer period of time.
  • Are 59 ½ or more, as you may have the option to make penalty-free withdrawals.

The Pros of IRA CDs:

  • CD terms make earning interest very clear; it is guaranteed to make that interest rate when left to grow.
  • Generally, higher interest rates are paid on CDs, which could increase your earnings potential.

The Cons:

  • Withdrawing any portion of your deposit before age 59 ½ would most likely result in a large fee.

Other Retirement Options

If you’re interested in learning more or opening an IRA Savings or CD, contact your local Customer Service Representative.

If you’re looking for help creating a complete retirement strategy, visit with one of our Wealth Management experts.

Saving for Fun! The Benefits of a Winter FUNd Account

Winter FUNd

Left Photo: Sandra Pasche, CSR at Merchants Bank – St. Charles with her husband, Mike. Middle Photo: Dana Christensen, CSR at Merchants Bank – Winona with her husband, Mike. Right Photo: Kally Whalen, CSR at Merchants Bank – St. Charles with her husband, Jesse.

How relaxed would you feel if the holidays came around and you were confident you had enough money for gifts and family travel? How excited would you be before a trip if a large sum of money dropped into your account? How proud would you be if you could gift your child with a generous wedding or housewarming present?

Automated savings accounts, like the Merchants Bank Winter FUNd, can make achieving your savings goals easy.

For the months of January through October, you automate deposits into your Winter FUNd account – and that money grows. Then, the first week of November, you collect the total amount you deposited throughout the year – with interest!

Monthly Calendar

The automated process makes it so seamless, you forget you’re saving. Dana Christensen, a Customer Service Representative in Winona said, “I love the idea that the money goes right into the account from my payroll, so I don’t even miss the money. It is a great way to save money without having to think about it or remember to make the transfer.”

The Winter FUNd account has quite a few fans at Merchants Bank – some employees have had theirs for over 15 years. After all, who doesn’t want a gift you give yourself?

Travel

Want to take a family vacation this year? The Winter FUNd is great for saving for trips. Dana uses hers to escape the chill of winter:

“I really love this account! We take a cruise each year in the winter and I use this money as our final payment for our vacation since the timing works out perfectly.”

Sandra Pasche, a Customer Service Representative in St. Charles, also flies south in the winter, but her FUNd account serves to fund a different vacation expense:

“When my husband and I travel this gives me my spending money for our trip. When the money is directly deposited into the account from my paycheck, I don’t even miss it, so when the money paid out I always think ‘Wow! Here’s a chunk of change for us!’”

Holidays 

Maybe the holidays were a bit stressful last year – budgeting for gifts and sticking to it is easier said than done. But the Winter FUNd makes saving holiday money and setting that budget early a little more manageable.

Corene Richards, a Mortgage Closing Specialist in Winona, knows that being prepared makes the holidays that much more enjoyable: “I use my Winter FUNd for Christmas. It puts me at ease knowing that I will always have a set amount set aside and not have to worry about it. I’ve used this account for more than 15 years.”

The Possibilities Are Endless

Other customers have used FUNd accounts to save for projects like home remodel or family events like a wedding. Maybe you want to practice having a mortgage, so you “make payments” to a FUNd account. Then, when that money is paid out, you are that much closer to a down payment on a home. Any goal you have could benefit from a FUNd account.

Merchants Bank Winter FUNd accounts start in January – but it’s not too late to open one now! There’s only one extra month to pay your monthly contribution to catch up. If you know the total amount you’d like to save, we can help you come up with your automatic monthly deposit amount (minimum $25). To open an account or for more information, contact your local Customer Service Representative.

Meet Dave Engstler, Consumer Banker at Merchants Bank

Dave Engstler, Consumer Banker

How long have you been with Merchants?
Dave: More than 15 years. In that time, I’ve always been a Lender with Merchants and always in our Rochester Green Meadows office.

What is your top banking tip?
Dave: Live within your means.

What’s one thing your mom or dad taught you about money?
Dave: Basically, save first.

If you won the Powerball, what’s the first thing you would do?
Dave: I would make sure my son had enough money for college.

Besides money, what’s your favorite green thing?
Dave: I really like pine trees. In Northern Minnesota, it’s pine trees and water. I love that part of the state…just smell and the fresh air.