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.
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.