Meet Becky Zoellner, Cash Management Specialist

 

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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.

Meet Annette Bleninger, Cash Management Officer, CTP

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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.

Meet Tammy Johnson, Cash Management Officer

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Get to know Tammy Johnson, our Cash Management Sales Manager and member of our Commercial Banking team. At Merchants, we offer variety of Cash Management services to help businesses improve efficiency, security and more. Our options include tools for collection, distribution, security and management.

When did you start your banking career?
Tammy: I started at Merchants in February of 1999 as a Teller. Ten months later, I started working as a Customer Service Representative. Then, in 2011 I began working full time with our Cash Management Services.

What do you like most about your job?
Tammy: I like the flexibility and the variety. Every business is different and has different needs, therefore every day is different and full of new opportunities. We have a great team of cash management specialists, who continue to learn new things every day in order to best serve our customers.

What is your top cash management tip?
Tammy: Taking advantage of fraud management services, such as Positive Pay and ACH Filters. I cannot stress how important it is to protect what you have. In addition, staying educated on current scams and fraud detection options is key. I also highly recommend businesses monitor their account activity daily. That sounds like a lot of tips, but they all go back to staying on top of your accounts in one way or another so your business doesn’t become a victim of fraud.

What are your tips for wrapping up your fiscal year?
Tammy: As you approach year end, I’d recommend preparing for next year: Have any new situations come up that you need additional support? If you’d like to ad a service or product, will it integrate with your computer system? If you’re looking to update your technology, will your current systems integrate with the new computers? Things like that. As a business owner you know that all aspects of business are connected to each other. It save a lot of headaches later to take the time to analyze the big picture earlier.

What do you hope your customers say about working with you?
Tammy: I hope they would say that they enjoyed working with me and that I’m easy to work with. I hope they feel they have learned a lot from me and benefited from my knowledge and advice, that I’m a part of their team.

Can you help businesses assess which Cash Management services make sense for them? How does this process work?
Tammy: Absolutely! If a business is considering moving to Merchants Bank, we offer to analyze their statements and ask them walk us through their typical daily banking practices. Then, we can offer suggestions and solutions to match their current practices or enhance them.

For our current customers, we keep an open line of communication. Business needs are always evolving and what worked 10 years ago, might not work as well today. We make sure we’re there to help them take the next step, so they have the tools necessary to be successful.

What does community banking mean to you?
Tammy: To me, it’s simple…… it’s about building relationships. It’s customers knowing their banker and bankers knowing their customers and having a banking partner that understands your business.

What are some of the biggest benefits to a business using Cash Management services?
Tammy: Simply put, Cash Management services can create efficiencies for a business. They can help streamline some day-to-day processes. At the end of the day, time is money and most times, money can be saved and security can be enhanced.

Do you have a favorite local business in your area you like to go to? Or what’s your favorite thing about supporting local business?
Tammy: I have a few local businesses I like to go to. Once I’ve worked with a customer and gotten to know them and their business, I want to support them in any way I can to help them be successful. Their success is important for our local economies.

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.

David Pierret Joins Merchants Bank as Vice President and Commercial Banker

Dave Pierret, Commercial Banker

David Pierret has joined Merchants Bank as a Vice President/Commercial Banker, according to Randy Domeyer, Senior Vice President and Commercial Banking Manager for Merchants in Winona.

“Dave’s extensive experience in commercial lending and building customer relationships will be extremely valuable to our business clients,” said Domeyer.

Pierret has more than 20 years of experience in the banking industry and has specialized in commercial banking for the past 14 years. Prior to joining Merchants, he was Business Banking Manager and Vice President at Winona National Bank.

“As part of the Merchants team, I’m looking forward to continuing to work with businesses in Winona and surrounding communities,” said Pierret.

Dave is a member of the Winona Rotary Club and Economic Development Committee for the Winona Area Chamber of Commerce. He and his wife, Becky, reside in Winona.

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

Merchants Bank has 21 locations, including Minnesota locations in Winona, Goodview, St. Charles, Goodview, Rochester, Caledonia, La Crescent, Spring Grove, Rushford, Lanesboro, Red Wing, Cannon Falls, Hampton as well as Twin Cities locations in Lakeville, Apple Valley, Cottage Grove, Hastings and Rosemount. Merchants has Wisconsin locations in Eau Claire and Onalaska. Merchants Bank was founded in 1875. Loans are subject to approval. Merchants Bank Equipment Finance, the company’s leasing arm, is based in the Twin Cities.

Meet Patti Robertson, Commercial Banker

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Get to know Patti’s commercial banking philosophy and how she helps businesses in Red Wing, MN.

Share a little about your background and banking career.

Patti: I have been in lending for over 30 years. For the majority of my career, I’ve focused on agricultural and commercial lending in western Wisconsin and now Red Wing, Minnesota and the surrounding area.

What do you like most about your job?

Patti: Every day is different. I get to work with interesting and hard working people. It’s like working a puzzle at times – trying to get all the pieces to fit – working within the banking requirements and meeting my customers’ needs to help them grow their business. I enjoy it.

What kinds of businesses do you typically work with?

Patti: I work mostly with small businesses and farmers. I have seen a dramatic change in agriculture with operations getting larger and involving multiple generations compared to early in my career, when I mainly worked with family sized dairy farms. I now have a variety of farms and farm sizes that I work with. My business customers range from small retail to larger manufacturing businesses and real estate holding companies.

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

Patti: Not many know about all of the services we can provide as a large regional bank. Our image as a small local community bank can sometimes overshadow the true capacity we have to provide financial services to businesses of any size. In addition, we’re unique because we can offer lease financing and trust services*, as well as cash management solutions and fraud tools often found at larger banks.

How would you describe your partnership with your business customers?

Patti: It’s a two-way street, where financial and industry data is shared. I celebrate their successes and am available to help them with any financial issue. We are a team in their success.

What do you hope your customers say about working with you?

Patti: That I appreciate their time, knowledge and expertise. I hope they feel I am professional and can get the job done for them with a smile.

How important is continuing education to you as a banker?

Patti: Change is all around us and I think it’s important to stay educated about banking and industry changes…anything that might affect my customers. When I’m informed and educated about their industry, I may be able to offer suggestions, help provide a solution to a problem or find a way to improve their bottom line. Understanding the issues they may be facing only improves our conversations and the trust between us.

What does community banking mean to you?

Patti: Investing the Bank’s deposits back into the community through loans to businesses and consumers. It means being a supporter of community institutions and initiatives that try to make the community a better place to live and work.

Merchants Bank doesn’t just talk about supporting the community – they actually do it. I appreciate the support Merchants Bank gives to me so I can participate in community organizations and the financial support it provides to many organizations in our communities.

Loans are subject to approval.

*May or may not be covered by FDIC insurance, depending on service selected.

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

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Did you know we have over 40 Commercial Bankers and Cash 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, Cash Management 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 Cash 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 cash 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. Cash 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 Cash 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, cash 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:

ICS: 5 Frequently Asked Questions

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An Insured Cash Sweep (ICS) account is an easy way to protect your business deposits over $250,000. But how does it work? Learn this and more with these five frequently asked questions.

How does an Insured Cash Sweep account work?
If you want to protect deposits of more than $250,000 (the standard FDIC insurance coverage amount), you can use an ICS account to deposit your money automatically through a network of pre-selected, highly rated banks. Just open your ICS account with Merchants Bank and we do the rest.

An ICS account can be structured as a checking account with our ICS Demand Checking or as a savings account with our ICS Money Market Savings. Both accounts earn interest, allow for unlimited deposits and have no minimum balance requirements.

Why would an ICS account be better than using multiple banks?
Skip the running around and paperwork. With an ICS, you only have to open one account at Merchants to take advantage of the automatic, additional FDIC insurance coverage through the ICS network of banks. Plus, you’ll only have one statement to review.

Who has custody of my funds?
Funds placed through an Insured Cash Sweep are deposited only in FDIC-insured banks. Merchants Bank acts as custodian for your ICS deposits.

How safe is my information and the ICS service?
As always, Merchants Bank takes protecting your information seriously. Your confidential information is not shared with the ICS bank network.

The ICS program has been designed to comply with all FDIC requirements. You can be confident that your deposits are safe and sound.

Are there other account options similar to ICS?
Merchants Bank also offers a CDARS account through the Certificate of Deposit Account Registry Service. This account provides additional FDIC insurance protection through a Certificate of Deposit account – instead of checking or savings. You can choose from a variety of terms to fit your needs.

Protect your large deposits and enjoy the convenience of having them insured with one bank through ICS. Want to learn more about how your business can benefit from an Insured Cash Sweep account?

References:
*http://www.insuredcashsweep.com/home/faqs/

Placement of your funds through the ICS service is subject to terms, conditions, and disclosures set forth in the agreements you enter into with us, including the ICS Deposit Placement Agreement. Limits and customer eligibility criteria apply. Program withdrawals are limited to six per month when using the ICS savings option. If you are subject to restrictions with respect to the placement of funds in depository institutions, it is your responsibility to determine whether the placement of your funds through ICS, or a particular ICS transaction, satisfies those restrictions. ICS and Insured Cash Sweep are registered service marks of Promontory Interfinancial Network, LLC. Public Fund 0414