New Staff Here to Help You

At Merchants Bank, we are happy to welcome new employees and celebrate new positions filled by current staff. These frontline employees are all looking forward to serving you. Take a moment to congratulate them.

LouwagieJimJim Louwagie has joined Merchants Bank as a Commercial Banker in Lakeville. Jim has had an extensive background in banking, including working for Bremer, Wells Fargo and Signal Bank. In addition, Jim was a Bank President/Team Lead for Anchor Bank for six years. Most recently, Jim was the Chief Operating Officer for BDS Laundry Services. Jim is happy to be back in banking and at Merchants Bank.


MonfreJasonJason Monfre has joined Merchants Bank as a Mortgage Lender in Rochester. Jason was recently a full-time student and worked at the Charter House at the Mayo Clinic. He also previously worked at America One Finance as a Branch Manager/Owner and at Ameriquest Mortgage as an Account Executive. Jason loves sports (basketball, football, and baseball) and played baseball in college for the Indiana Hoosiers and the Minnesota Gophers. Jason loves to play guitar and sing, especially with his one year old son.  He is originally from Milwaukee, WI and is a big Brewers and Packer fan.

ShannonTriciaTricia Shannon has joined Merchants Bank as a Part-Time Teller in Caledonia. Tricia previously worked at Alco as a Group Manager for ten years. She lives in Caledonia with her five daughters, grandson and four cats. To relax she enjoys crocheting.

Why Follow Merchants?

Merchants Bank, Social Media, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn

More and more people are following us on social media. But, why would you want to do that? How would you benefit?

Find the Fun. Banking isn’t all business. We help you connect to fun events happening in your community and around the region. Plus, we’ll share pictures at events that have already taken place. “Like” us at

Build Your Business. Periodically, we share great tips and insights we learn that might help your business. We encourage you to use LinkedIn to connect with us and others in the business community.

It’s Not Scary. Following us on You Tube gives you access to the best information we have in educational material. If there’s something that you don’t understand about banking, we may have a video that helps to explain it. If there’s something you’d like to learn about., take a look at

So, make sure to see what we’re doing on social media and then join in.

Hope to See You at These May Events!

Merchants Bank, Community Events

Our staff invites you to join them at these great events throughout April. Be sure to follow us on our Facebook page for information on these events or pictures from other events you may have missed.

5/16 Spring Grove Syttende Mai Parade: 1:30 p.m.

Look for our Spring Grove staff as they celebrate our five-year anniversary during the Syttende Mai parade.


5/16 Armed Forces Day Recognition: 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
At Merchants Bank in St. Charles

Please join us for cookies and refreshments in our lobby to honor those in our military.


Concerned About FDIC Insurance Coverage for Your Business?

Merchants Bank, CDARs, ICS

Deanna Ellinghuysen, Merchants Bank Customer Service Representative and CDARS/ICS expert, explains the details and benefits of CDARS (Certificate of Deposit Account Registry Service) and ICS (Insured Cash Sweep) accounts.

Q: How does a CDARS or ICS account work?
Deanna: CDARS, a Certificate of Deposit account, and ICS, an insured cash sweep account, provide additional FDIC insurance for deposits in excess of $250,000 – the standard insurance amount set by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Your money is automatically deposited in amounts of less than $250,000, which allows for compounding of interest, through a network of pre-selected, highly rated banks. This ensures that your entire amount on deposit is FDIC insured.

Q: Why would my business open a CDARS or ICS account?
Deanna: If your business has over $250,000 worth of excess funds and is concerned about FDIC insurance, a CDARS or ICS account is for you. If you want to protect your large deposits with FDIC insurance…these two products are the tools. It’s really about peace of mind. In addition, if you’re publicly funded, a CDARS or ICS account could help you avoid the extra bookwork associated with pledged funds.

Q: What are the terms rates for CDARS and ICS accounts?
Deanna: CDARS accounts are similar to other certificates of deposit at Merchants Bank. Businesses can choose a term from four weeks up to three years. The rates follow our CD rates by market and can be found at

ICS accounts allow for more flexibility because it works like a savings account. Businesses can make unlimited deposits, there is no minimum balance and six withdrawals are allowed per month. Current rates can be found at

Q: How do I open a CDARS or ICS account for my business?
Deanna: You can contact the Customer Service Representative at your local Merchants Bank to start the process. We open it for you and the distribution of funds to other banks is automatic. We like to say these accounts are great because the customer works with one bank, has one rate and gets one statement. It’s that simple.

To learn more about CDARS and ICS for your business, contact us.

CDARS and ICS accounts are also available for individuals. Ask us for more details.

When Can I Retire?

Merchants Bank, Trust, Nate Birkholz

Trust products may not be FDIC insured. Please ask a Trust expert regarding FDIC insurance coverage as it relates to Trust products.

The most common question I’m asked is “Can I retire?” Of course, the biggest concern we hear is regarding the amount of money that’s set aside for retirement… “I have to dig into this bucket. I hope the bucket is big enough.” Here’s how the Trust Department tackles this tricky question on a daily basis.

Q: How will I know when I can retire?
A: There are a few factors you need to consider when building your retirement timeline: your income, spending habits, assets and retirement goals. We can build a snapshot of where you are now and then help you determine how you’ll get to where you want to go. People have different retirement goals…some people want to travel; some people want to see their money grow; some want to visit their grandchildren in different states every year. Once you pull together all these details, it’s easier to put dates and timeframes to your retirement.

Q: When is the best time to create a comprehensive retirement plan?
A: You should begin the deep planning of your retirement three to five years before you plan to retire. It’s important to take a comprehensive view of your retirement at this time, with a focus on your income, spending habits, assets and specific retirement goals.  Our Trust Department can help you create this comprehensive plan and also manage your portfolio to make sure we meet your retirement goals.

Q: What questions will be answered by my comprehensive retirement plan?
A: Through our planning process we can answer a number of questions, including:

  • How will I handle the “what if” scenarios? If I lose money, if I gain a large inheritance, etc.
  • How much more do I need to save and how do I get there?
  • Do I need to continue working and for how long?
  • Which accounts should I take my retirement money out of and when?
  • How charitable can I afford to be?

Planning doesn’t answer every question, but it does help us make informed decisions.

Your Money Working for You
We want to put together plans that help people take as little risk as possible and still accomplish their goals. It’s hard to go from working for money to money working for you, but we are here to help you manage that transition.

I would encourage anyone that’s working to be actively engaged in their retirement planning. Look at the retirement calculators on our website to get a picture of your retirement, be aware of how much you’re saving and the balance of your retirement accounts. Our trust department is also a great resource, and we would be happy to help you. Don’t hesitate to contact us today.

What is Mortgage Pre-Approval and Why Does it Matter?

Merchants Bank, Mortgage, Pre-approval

In 2014, approximately a third of Merchants Bank customers who applied for a construction or mortgage loan also took the step to get pre-approved. While mortgage pre-approval should be a crucial part of the home buying process, buyers don’t always perceive it as necessary or valuable.

What is mortgage pre-approval?
Mortgage pre-approval is a simple application process that can be completed in person or online to determine if you qualify for a mortgage. Your credit and income information are the main factors in determining qualification. If you do qualify, a pre-approval will also let you know the mortgage amount qualify for.

Why should I get pre-approved?

  1. Find your house faster.
    Mortgage pre-approval will give you a clear picture of the type of home you can afford. You’ll be able to narrow your housing search to homes within your price range and save yourself the heartache of falling in love with a house outside of your price range.
  2. Know your potential expenses.
    With a pre-approval, you’ll have a set loan amount you’ve been approved for prior to property selection. Your pre-approval should also determine how large of a down payment will be needed. In addition, make sure to take into account other potential housing expenses such as a home inspection, fees (realtor, appraisal, filing fees, etc.) and taxes. With all of this information, you’ll be able to make accurate predictions for your housing expenses and mortgage payment.
  3. Have confidence and move quickly when making an offer.
    Some of the best homes can sell quickly and if you don’t have your paperwork in order, another person may make an offer on your dream home before you can. With pre-approval you avoid the hassle and can have confidence that you’re putting in your best offer. Plus, sellers appreciate the assurance that comes with buyers who are already pre-approved for a mortgage.

Interested in applying for mortgage pre-approval? Visit our website to or your local Merchants Bank.

Subject to credit approval.