Congratulate New and Promoted Staff

NewPromotedStaff-Blog

New Staff

AmiotTony Tony Amiot, Document Transaction Coordinator, Merchants Bank Equipment Finance
Alyssa Anderson Alyssa Anderson, Teller, Cottage Grove
Larissa Andrist Larissa Andrist, Teller, Rochester
Stacey Boelter Stacey Boelter, Mortgage Loan Processor, Winona
Ann Burrow Ann Burrow, Administrative Assistant and Customer Service Representative, Onalaska
Rebecca Decker Rebecca Decker, Trust Associate, Winona
DodsonKristin Kristin Dodson, Teller, Lakeville
Brice Eggert Brice Eggert, Loan Servicing Representative, Winona
Jordan Frederick Jordan Frederick, Commercial/Ag Banker, Winona
Nick Haugen Nick Haugen, Computer Operator, Winona
Karla Johnson Karla Johnson, Loan Servicing Representative, Winona
Nick Moon Nick Moon, Commercial Consumer Evaluation & Appraisal Specialist, Winona
Wendy Murphy Wendy Murphy, Loan Servicing Representative, Winona
Kayla Pronschinske Kayla Pronschinske, Custodian, Winona
SheltonTim Tim Shelton, Teller, Winona
Maija Trenary Maija Trenary, Teller, Hastings
ZiermanAnn Ann Zierman, Document Transaction Manager, Merchants Bank Equipment Finance

Transfers and Promotions

DeGeorgeJennifer copy Jennifer DeGeorge, Assistant Vice President, Secondary Market Mortgage, Winona
Dan Nistler Dan Nistler, Market President, Rochester

Merchants Homegrown Approach to Leadership Development

IBelieveLeadershipSeries-Blog

L-R: Alberta Rosburg, Heidi Viestenz, Alissa Gibson, Mike Swanson, Andrew Althoff, Libbie Longfield, Marcus Krings, Vicky Kamrowski, Sarah Danielson, Dawn Stenberg, Sue Blagsvedt, Kim Kubis, Jim Vrchota, Wendy Cagle, Rachel Larson, Ken Graner and Kristine Valk.

We all want a team of talented staff. A business with skilled employees who care deeply about their customers is on the road to success. The people who work for your business can make a big difference. At Merchants, we feel this combination – our talented team coupled with personalized service – is what sets us apart from other financial institutions.

Attracting and retaining difference-makers as part of the Merchants team has always been important to us. We also feel it’s one of the reasons we’ve celebrated so many successes. That’s why we’re proud to have launched the I Believe Leadership Series, Discovering the Leader In You! in 2018. The program was designed by Merchants’ staff Kristine Valk, Training Director and Alberta Rosburg, Chief Human Resource Officer and is based on the philosophy of servant leadership.

“After recognizing that Merchants needed a leadership program, Kristine and I tried to find one that we could send our employees to,” said Alberta. “However, we quickly realized that if we wanted a program to reflect the Merchants’ culture, we needed to develop it ourselves. I’m so proud of Kristine, all of her hard work and the end result. The 15 students currently attending are growing in new ways to help them be servant leaders for our co-workers and customers.”

Students in the I Believe Leadership Series are from several areas of the Bank, including customer-facing departments such as Credit Cards, Mortgage and Commercial Banking as well as support departments like Compliance & Risk, Human Resources, Marketing and Mortgage/Loan Operations. The program curriculum covers a wide range of topics, relevant for those working with customers face-to-face or behind the scenes:

  • Temperament assessment and working with different personalities
  • Effective coaching skills
  • Understanding and applying strengths
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Communication and conflict resolution
  • Leading through change
  • Employee motivation and accountability
  • Team building

At this time, students are approximately halfway through the series. Many are already seeing a positive impact in their day-to-day interactions with customers and co-workers.

“The I Believe Leadership Series has been such a valuable and positive experience thus far. Fifteen of us have learned about servant leadership and how to focus on traits that lead to good, productive interactions on both a professional and personal level. The section on Finding your Strengths has been one of my favorites to date. A test identified five of our strengths as well as ideas on how to use them to strengthen communication. It’s exciting to think about how each of us will benefit from these new skills and knowledge. “– Wendy Cagle, Loan Review Officer in Winona.

“The information from the program has helped me be more focused on my conversations with customers and associates during my daily interaction,” – Ken Graner, Market President for Lanesboro and Rushford.

In addition, Training Director Kristine Valk has witnessed the impact of the series firsthand: “Before the program began, some of our participants didn’t really know one another. As we continued through the program, attendees have learned more about one another and are embracing each other’s talents. It’s really become an environment of trust and openness that’s resulted in more collaborative work.”

The program will run on an annual basis with current students graduating in April 2019 and a maximum of 20 new students beginning the series shortly after that. As part of one of five strategic priorities for the bank, talent management and leadership development will continue to be a key focus for Merchants in the years to come. Our I Believe in Leadership Series graduates will help all of us strive to serve each other and you better.

To learn more about working at Merchants Bank:

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.

Questions About Your Loan?

 

Loan Servicing Team

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

NewPromotedStaff-Blog

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
Chris Haldorson 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

From the President’s Desk: Fall 2018

From the President

By Greg Evans, President & CEO

As I’m writing this the day after Labor Day, the youngest of our four grandchildren is starting her first day of pre-school. It was a big day for Avery… about as big as it can get for a 3-year-old girl and hopefully the start of a discipline of life-long learning. A bit surprisingly, she wasn’t nervous or afraid; she was dressed, ready and wanting to go to school almost two hours before it was time for her to start. I doubt it will always be that way.

Aside from making me feel old, this gave me pause and made me think of the tremendous opportunities and challenges that all children heading back to school will encounter as they navigate through life in this day and age. Many of the challenges today are vastly different from when I was in school. Some… like the basic fundamentals associated with fiscal fitness and financial literacy… are quite the same.

As new freshmen reported to Winona State University for orientation two weeks ago, one of our Personal Banking Managers in Winona, Chad Woyczik, was asked to conduct one of the orientation sessions and provide an important tutorial on the important components of sound money management. Helping people of all ages in that regard is what makes the profession of community banking so rewarding.

Being fully committed to assisting all of our clients in realizing their financial hopes and dreams in a disciplined manner is a critical component of our brand promise to be The Bank that Service Built. Like all banking organizations, Merchants offers a wide variety of financial products and services designed to meet the needs of both local businesses and different generations of personal customers.

What we hope is different about our delivery of those products and services is our commitment to trust-based servicing of our client relationships — matching service recommendations with clearly identified needs of our customers. This method of listening to our clients, thinking about the solutions we have that can solve financial objectives and recommending the appropriate solutions when it makes absolute sense is the approach we expect all members of our banking team to follow.

So, what are some of the key ingredients to strong fiscal fitness?

Have Advisors You Can Trust

Whether it be with professional members of the Merchants team or elsewhere, develop a strong sense of confidence that the people advising you on financial matters have your best interests in mind.

Pay Yourself First

A critical foundation of any strong approach to financial management is making a savings strategy a priority. At Merchants, we can assist in numerous ways based on your personal needs with banking and wealth management products and services.

Borrow Wisely

When it comes to financing options that may be appropriate for achieving some hopes and dreams (a new house, starting a business, a dream vacation, as examples), borrowing money in a disciplined manner is critically important.

Working again with a trusted advisor who is willing to challenge you and be transparent about the challenges that come with taking on too much debt is the type of approach that will allow you to make well-informed decisions as it relates to credit.

Protect Your Information

In today’s age of e-commerce and the continued digitization of banking solutions, we have unbelievable convenience in accessing financial services and solutions. With this convenience comes increased risk associated with the protection of your private personal information.

Be diligent in following important security protocols advised by your providers. If something seems strange about a request for private personal information, assume that it probably is. Be cautious and diligent in verification anytime you are asked for information related to your private identity or your financial affairs.

In alignment with our community service commitment, we encourage our bankers to be a resource for building strong fiscal literacy throughout our entire service footprint. If you have a group or school that would benefit from having a Merchants team member provide some instruction on topics associated with personal financial management, simply reach out to your local branch. We welcome any opportunity to serve as a resource for something as important as this.

3 Essential Small Business Security Practices

SecurityPracticesWithKerriBronk-Blog

Keeping your business protected from fraud and security threats can feel like an overwhelming job. One place to start is by focusing on internal controls that help keep your business’s financial information more secure. Our Security Officer, Kerri Bronk, recommends putting the following three internal controls into practice and reviewing them regularly.

“The idea is to have a combination of different types of security checks and balances in place – and to make sure you keep them up-to-date,” said Kerri. “These simple internal controls can really have an impact on how secure your business information can be.”

Authorized Account Signers

A small business may want to have a few people listed on a financial account as an authorized signer. This can vary by business but may include the owners, an office manager or bookkeeper.

Kerri advises, “[a]uthorized account signers have access to some of the essential functions of your financial account, so you want to make sure this type of access is only granted when necessary.”

 FAQs about Authorized Signers

  • What can an authorized account signer do? An authorized signer is different from an account owner (who has complete control over a financial account). In regards to a checking or saving account, for example, a signer can make withdrawals, sign checks and access some account information.
  • How many authorized account signers can I have? There is no limit. However, the more individuals who have access, the more risk you’re taking.
  • How often should I review this access? On an annual basis or when you’ve had an employment change in your executive management team or accounting/payroll staff.
  • How do I make changes to authorized account signers? Changes to authorized signer need to be done in person at a Merchants Bank location. Contact your Customer Service Representative to make an appointment.

Authorized Cardholders

You might like to have the option for several people to make business purchases with a debit or credit card. This is where authorized cardholders come in.

FAQs about Authorized Cardholders

  • What can an authorized cardholder do? An authorized cardholder can use a debit or credit card tied to your business account to make purchases and get cash from an ATM. You can set spending limits per card user to help keep spending in check.
  • Does the authorized cardholder need to be a signer on the account? No, you can give a person access to a card without having other signing abilities.
  • How many authorized cardholders can I have? There is not a set limit to the number, but again the more access, the harder it will be to track spending.
  • How often should I review this access? Who has access to business debit and credit cards should be reviewed more frequently. We’d recommend making updates to your authorized cardholders each quarter or when you have staffing changes.
  • How do I make changes to authorized card holders? For both your Merchants Bank debit or credit cards, stop into your local Merchants Bank location for assistance.

Access to Account Information

Knowing who has access to your business account information and keeping the number of people to a minimum is one of the best ways to avoid a security or fraud threat.

Considering that small or mid-sized businesses lost a median amount of $289,864 to employee funds theft in 2017, it’s critical to thoughtfully review who should have access to this information.*

FAQs about Account Access

  • What kind of information can I give employees access to? You can select the level of information you want an employee to receive in Small Business Online Banking or Commercial Online Banking or credit card transactions through mycardstatement.com. You can also use our mobile card controls – Card Valet for debit cards and our Merchants Bank Credit Card App – to have alerts on card spending.
  • How many people can have this access? This varies by solution, please ask at your local Merchants Bank location.
  • How often should I review this access? It’s extremely important to stay current with account access. This should be updated immediately when staff join or leave your business.
  • How do I make changes to who has access to my account information?
    • Statements: Contact your local Merchants Bank location for assistance.
    • Small Business Online Banking and Commercial Online Banking: Once you have set up your account with you as the owner, you can add or remove secondary users and define account access per user at your convenience.If you have any questions or need help with user setup, contact our Electronic Banking Department (ibsupport@merchantsbank.com or (866) 496-0522) for Small Business Online Banking or Treasury Management Support for Commercial Online Banking (commercialonline@merchantsbank.com or (833) 694-2374).
    • mycardstatement.com: Contact your local Merchants Bank location for assistance.

“My last tip regarding internal controls is to ensure that no single employee has access to all the financial aspects of your business,” said Kerri. “For example, you want to make sure that employees who can pay business expenses with a business credit card are not the same employees who pay the credit card bill.”

Just remember that Merchants Bank is always here to help. If you think your business bank account information has been compromised or have a security concern, contact your local Merchants Bank location and ask to speak to your Treasury Management Specialist or a Customer Service Representative.

*https://www.hiscox.com/documents/2017-Hiscox-Embezzlement-Study.pdf

What, Why and How: Merchants Bank Mortgage Underwriting

Mortgage Underwriting Team

Merchants Bank Underwriters (l-r): Chris Thrune, Angie Booher, Abbey Krumrie, Shelley Vondrasek, Teresa Ebersold, Lynn Corey, Shay Yackel, Kady Cada, Haley Schultz and Jenna Hartman.

Underwriting. A term you might not be familiar with, or if you are, one that brings to mind piles of documents and lots of questions. In this edition of our eNewsletter, we’re demystifying the underwriting process to help you understand why it’s important, essential and ultimately a beneficial part of the mortgage process.

“Underwriting is about assessing risk – the risk the Bank takes in loaning money, but also the risk the customer is taking by promising to pay back borrowed money. Our underwriters work hard every day to make sure applicants truly qualify for a mortgage and help guide them to smarter financial decisions,” says Underwriting Manager, Jenna Hartman.

But, first things first, where does underwriting fit in the mortgage process? Here’s a simple breakdown of the steps:

  1. Discussing Your Needs. You meet with a local lender to discuss your goals, budget and loan options. With your lender’s help, you select a home loan program.
  2. Pre-Approval Application. You apply for a mortgage pre-approval and provide the necessary paperwork to your mortgage lender. Pre-approval is a great first step to help you determine how much you can afford before you look for a house and show buyers you’re serious about purchasing a property or land.
  3. Pre-Approval Application Reviewed by Lender. The lender reviews your application and documentation.
  4. Pre-Approval Decision/Approval. After review, your lender determines if you qualify for mortgage pre-approval and how much you can afford. You’ll discuss your budget in more detail and prepare for your house search (or contractor search, if you’re building).
  5. House Hunting. Now comes the fun part! Once you have qualified, stay in touch with your lender during the building or house hunting process. Or, maybe you’ve already found the perfect home…then you’ll move on to step six.
  6. Application Reviewed by Underwriting. With the property selected, you provide additional documentation to your lender. From there, the Underwriting department at Merchants Bank, made up of nine employees based in Winona, MN, reviews your application, including all of the documentation you provided.
  7. Loan Decision/Approval. After careful review of all your documentation, the Underwriting department determines if you qualify for the home loan. The decision is communicated to you by your mortgage lender. If you are refinancing a current mortgage, you’re ready to sign papers.
  8. Buying/Building a Home. You finalize the details of the mortgage terms with your lender, who will also communicate with the realtor and/or sellers. Once terms have been agreed upon, you meet with all involved parties to sign the final paperwork.
  9. Moving In. Congratulations! Now that you’re moving in you’ll be busy making your house into a home and begin your mortgage payments. Our local Loan Servicing department will be with you throughout the repayment process to answer all your questions and help put you at ease. About a month after your loan closing, you’ll either receive your loan payment book or notice of your first automatic payment, whichever payment option you selected. If you are escrowing (putting money aside each month as part of your mortgage payment), for your property taxes and homeowner’s insurance the Loan Servicing department will pay those bills the next time they are due. Stay tuned for an article in our next eNewsletter with an inside look at Merchants Bank Loan Servicing and tips from our experts.

We’re with you from start to finish. This mortgage application process can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the housing market.

The important thing to note is that while there are guidelines our Underwriting department must work within when reviewing loan applications, lenders, customers and underwriters can all work together to make the process go smoothly. Communication is key and another reason having local lenders and local underwriters is so beneficial to our customers. Jenna shares two common issues that can slow the loan process and how you can avoid them.

Acquiring New Debt

“One common issue we see is applying for or acquiring new debt – like a credit card – while our team is reviewing a loan application,” says Jenna.

She recommends consulting your lender prior to taking out new debt to avoid this hiccup in the loan process. “Even if you could save 25% at a department store or on furniture for your new home – it might not be worth it. Any new debt you take on during the loan process has to be documented and could affect if you qualify for the loan.”

Moving Money Between Accounts

Jenna adds, “[w]hen you move money from account to account or bank to bank, it can make our job to verify your financial assets more difficult.”

When your money is moved between accounts or financial institutions, it makes the paper trail to track the funds harder for the Underwriting team to verify. Many people don’t realize that verifying adequate liquid assets is part of the mortgage loan approval process. It’s all a part of the education we provide our customers. This problem can also be avoided by consulting your lender before you move any money.

If you have questions about the underwriting, or any part of the mortgage process, just ask your local Merchants Bank mortgage lender.

“Everyone in the Merchants Mortgage team is working hard for you – from the lenders to those of us behind the scenes. As underwriters, we know that when we approve a loan, there are people moving into homes and making memories. It’s such a rewarding process to be a part of.”

Additional Resources:

 

 

From the President’s Desk: Spring 2018

PresidentsFeature-Blog

By Greg Evans, President & CEO

Spring has finally arrived… thank goodness! I hope you’ve already had time to enjoy the warmer weather and feel the more vibrant sun on your face.

With the warmer weather comes a natural uptick in everybody’s ability to be out, about and on the go. It’s a good time to be reminded that Merchants Bank delivers value-added personalized service and support for a number of consumer loan product offerings that it might be timely for you to be thinking about.

Home Loans with Personalized Service

This is a time of year when our business in providing financing for new home purchases and construction really picks up. If you or someone you know is in the market for a new home, be reminded that Merchants is a regional leader in residential mortgage financing.

There are dozens of options when it comes to home financing. Rates and terms with virtually all providers are similar. The critical difference in turning what can be an anxious process into a comfortable one is working with a home loan professional who is as committed to making the process as comfortable as you are wanting it to be. The team of mortgage bankers at Merchants is the primary reason we are a regional leader in making mortgage loans. Difference-makers are available in virtually all of our communities, and any of them would welcome the opportunity to work with you.

Another critical difference in securing a mortgage loan from Merchants is that you can count on the ongoing servicing of your loan to be retained by Merchants. We currently service 20,000 loans ($2.5 billion in balances). Those are big numbers, but that’s not what really matters to our customers. What matters is having a local, reliable resource to talk to in person when you have a question on your loan. Many of our competitors choose to sell the servicing rights when the loan is delivered to the secondary market. This makes a huge difference and our mortgage loan customers value the local, dependable service they can count on for the life of the loan.

Local Credit Cards

Having a dependable local contact also makes a huge difference when it comes to needing service on a credit card account. If you’re like me, you probably have at least a couple of credit cards in your wallet. If one of them isn’t a Merchants Bank credit card, you are surrendering that same local service benefit that brings value to our mortgage loan customers.

The credit card options available at Merchants Bank are extremely competitive as it relates to rates, terms and rewards…. In fact, I just returned from a trip to Napa Valley, California that was paid for using my reward points on my Merchants Bank credit card. The major difference, though, in using a Merchants Bank credit card is the local service. Local service includes the ability to make payments at any Merchants Bank location, the availability of dedicated credit card professionals to answer your questions, and the peace of mind knowing that people right here in this region are mindful in monitoring the trends related to credit card fraud security.

Mortgage loans and credit cards are just a couple of consumer loan options available at Merchants Bank. Our commitment to local service which delivers a real difference in support of those products also includes the consultative approach all of our bankers excel at in making sure that our customers borrow wisely when it comes to any form of consumer credit. If you would benefit from the value-added service from any of our bankers during the upcoming warm weather season, we would absolutely welcome the opportunity to discuss your needs. Make it an awesome Spring!

Mortgage loans and credit cards subject to credit approval.

Q&A with Two Business Banking Experts: Meet Annette Bleninger & Jeff Carter

Q&A-Annette&Jeff

Did you know we have over 40 Commercial Bankers and Treasury Management experts available to help your business? At every local branch, you’ll find a Commercial Banking team ready to get to know your business and provide meaningful financial solutions.

This month we’re meeting two of the team who serve our clients in the South Metro area:

  • Jeff Carter, Commercial Banker in Cottage Grove and Hastings
  • Annette Bleninger, Treasury Management Sales Officer and Certified Treasury Professional (CTP) in Rosemount

Read on to learn more about Jeff, Annette and how they approach working with business customers every day.

Share a little about your background and banking career

Annette: I have worked in financial services for over 20 years, with more than 14 of those years in Treasury Management. I started with Merchants Bank in September of 2017 and am very happy to be with a community bank that really strives to find meaningful, valuable solutions for our business customers.

Jeff: Likewise, I have been in the financial services industry for over 20 years, with 15 years in commercial lending. I joined Merchants in 2013 and have spent most of my career in community banking culture, where my passion lies.

What do you like most about your job?

Annette: I really enjoy the variety of customers that I meet when we go out to visit businesses. It is so interesting to hear about your passion and see your facility. Having that background knowledge and relationship really helps us work together to create the most efficient Treasury management plan for your situation.

Jeff: Getting to know you, our business customer, is one of the most rewarding parts of my job as well. I really enjoy creating relationships with business owners. At the end of the day, I strive to bring you value – whether that’s products, services or counsel – to help you succeed. I hope these relationships are lifelong and meaningful.

What kinds of business do you typically work with and how do you help them?

Jeff: The beautiful thing about community banking is that we can help every business in our community.

Annette: Yes, that’s definitely true. I work with businesses of all sizes and variety every day. Treasury management solutions can be used by any business – big or small. I help businesses like yours come up with plans to make their day-to-day processes more efficient, reduce the potential for check or electronic fraud, while allowing them access to their cash as needed.

Jeff: In addition to Treasury Management services, we also have deposit accounts to help your business with daily financial needs and grow your money. We even offer business checking account analysis, free of charge, whether your account is with us or elsewhere. We know the needs of a business change over time and we want to be sure you’re in the account that best serves your needs.

Then on the loan side, we can provide smart solutions to leverage capital and grow your business. No matter where you are on your business journey, from start-up to expansion, we have the products and expertise to assist you at any stage.

What do smart business owners do?

Annette: Security is a big concern for our customers, so I think smart business owners make information security a priority. You can start small. One of the most important things a business can do is monitor their daily activity in their accounts to catch fraudulent activity early. Whether you are using our fraud management products (like Positive Pay), or managing it on your own through daily monitoring in online banking, it is a critical function.

Jeff: For me, smart business owners understand the value of a relationship with their key financial partners (ie: banker, CPA, attorney, insurance agent, etc) and will learn how we can all work together to assist in their success. Consistent communication and collaboration amongst your key sphere of influence can keep you on track and uncover unforeseen obstacles and opportunities.

What is something not many businesses know about working with Merchants Bank?

Jeff: Merchants is large enough to provide the level of products and services every business needs but is culturally small, meaning, the focus is on local bankers creating local relationships to support the communities that we serve.

Annette: Along the same lines, I think it’s important to note that we are most interested in finding solutions that work for your business and help you succeed. We are not here to pressure you into using and/or paying for products that may not be the best fit for your needs.

How would you describe your team approach to working with businesses?

Annette: I typically work very closely with our Commercial Bankers. As one of our business customers, we try to help you understand each team member’s main area of expertise, but we are always willing to take your call and direct it to the correct person. You will never hear “that’s not my job” at Merchants Bank.

Jeff: The Merchants Commercial Banking team brings you many areas of expertise, which include our lenders, Treasury management experts, lending assistants, credit analysts, and more. We are very supportive of one another and team up to provide assistance and bring more value to you.

What does community banking mean to you?

Annette: Community banking means being a trusted partner for our business customers. We truly get to know you, your business, and your needs and expectations so we can be proactive instead of reactive with our approach.

Jeff: To echo what Annette said, community banking is all about relationships and value. As Bankers, we need to know our customers by building relationships in order to provide the most valuable solutions for their situation so they are successful. We live in the communities we serve and successful businesses build strong communities. We do it together.

Learn more about business and commercial banking at Merchants Bank:

 

Loans are subject to credit approval.