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Commercial Lending Picks up Upstate
Tuesday, November 03, 2015 (176 reads)

Community Banks Hustle for Limited Share of Business Loans

The economy’s slow but steady shift from recovery to expansion has been good for banks across the Empire State as they feast on profitable commercial loans after years of relative famine.
A boom in office and residential construction and businesses looking to expand and buy new equipment has kept loan officers busy at banks from Buffalo on down to New York City.
Still, some banks are starting to take a more cautious approach to real estate lending, worried about what might happen when the market turns and some new condominium or apartment tower management find itself scrambling to sell or fill units.

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Working Toward a Better Environment for Community Banks
Tuesday, November 03, 2015 (48 reads)

2015 was an eventful one for New York community banks on the government relations front, as we faced difficult legislative and regulatory challenges in Albany and Washington, D.C. We were engaged in a wide array of issues, including but not limited to tax reform, proposed expansion of credit union powers and authorities, compliance, regulatory and operational burdens and regulatory reform initiatives. In short, we were at the forefront in protecting and enhancing the interests of community banks, as well as their customers and communities they serve.

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Suite of Benefits Can Help Bank Employees Control Health Care Costs
Tuesday, November 03, 2015 (48 reads)

Over the last few years we have seen many changes in health care, including higher premiums, higher deductibles and co-pays and higher out-of pocket costs.

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Inside the Business Valuation Process: A Primer for Commercial Lenders
Tuesday, November 03, 2015 (61 reads)

In the end, it all comes down to the bottom line. “Value,” like beauty, is subjective – what the business is worth to the owner may not be what it is worth to the market. But if a business is to be sold, its value must be objectively determined – a sticking point for the lenders involved in the transaction.
In all buy-sell transactions, valuation is the proximate issue: just how much is the business worth? From a seller’s perspective, one way to find out is to let the market speak by soliciting offers. From the buyer’s perspective, past experience might be one method to understand value, or perhaps quantifying what one can afford in terms of cash out of pocket and monthly loan payment is another.

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Durbin Had No Impact on Prices for Consumers
Tuesday, November 03, 2015 (28 reads)

It is sometimes said that the definition of a true compromise is one in which neither party is really happy about the end result. If you accept that definition, perhaps the Durbin Amendment represents the ultimate compromise.

The Durbin Amendment – that pesky, last-minute provision crammed into the Dodd-Frank Act at the eleventh hour – put a cap on the fees banks over $10 billion in assets could collect on debit card transactions. But the cap on interchange fees was supposed to make up for it, at least to consumers, by enabling merchants to lower their prices because they would save a bundle on swipe fees.

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Online Accounts: Perception vs. Reality
Tuesday, November 03, 2015 (31 reads)

Digital channels have become an integral part of the banking industry. In today’s environment, it would be hard to imagine a relationship with your primary financial institution without these channels. Based on data shared through the Financial Brand earlier this year, and at the Financial Brand Forum in May, 60 percent of global customers primarily utilize online channels. This is right in line with our research of several million U.S. checking households. Unlike most available benchmarks, this data is driven strictly by community banks and credit unions.

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High Volatility Commercial Real Estate: Its Definition and Impact
Tuesday, November 03, 2015 (32 reads)

Last December, James Nigro, senior vice president and credit risk manager of Provident Bank, attended what he thought was a fairly routine meeting.
“Someone from our finance department came to me and said, ‘By the way, Jim, in the next quarter, we’re going to start reporting something new on the call report called ‘high volatility commercial real estate,’” Nigro recalled. “When I read the call report definition, my first thought was ‘This is going to change the way we make loans.’”

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What Every Banker Should Know about IT
Tuesday, November 03, 2015 (29 reads)

Not that long ago, the risks a bank or other financial institution faced were much simpler than they face today. The biggest threat might have been the stereotypical bank robber, who would either quietly pass a note with demands to an unsuspecting teller, or who might come in wearing a ski mask, carrying a weapon and working with partners. While neither scenario was desirable, and certainly unsafe for bank employees and customers, the worst a bank would typically lose was cash – general cash that was not necessarily assigned to any specific accounts.

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Working Together to Move the Needle
Tuesday, November 03, 2015 (32 reads)

At our recent Annual Convention at West Point, I provided an update on IBANYS’ year to date, and a brief preview of 2016. IBANYS continues on the path of a sound fiscal condition, a strong and growing membership and effective and productive performance.

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A New York State of Mind
Monday, September 14, 2015 (121 reads)

With apologies to the great Billy Joel, the “New York State of Mind” I refer to in the title of this update is not his memorable ballad, but rather the unique legislative and regulatory environment we faced this year. Unique? Indeed. This year, the term “chaotic” also applies.

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Modern Methods Improve Regulatory Change Management
Monday, September 14, 2015 (99 reads)

Regulatory change wreaked havoc long before the Dodd-Frank Act. Every quarter since 1975, there have been 60 to 80 regulatory changes affecting banks. That number holds steady regardless of which party controls Congress or the White House, across cycles of regulation and de-regulation.

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In the Cybersecurity Wars, We are All Targets
Monday, September 14, 2015 (333 reads)

A dating website that helps married people cheat has been hit by hackers. Ashley Madison, which uses the advertising slogan, “Life is short. Have an affair,” said it had been attacked and some user data stolen.
Adult FriendFinder matches people for sexual encounters. The site claims to have “helped millions of people find traditional partners, swinger groups, threesomes and a variety of other alternative partners.” That site now has new friends and partners after being hacked.
A trend sure to make folks ill is the hacking of numerous health websites. And “Say It Ain’t So, Joe!!” – the St. Louis Cardinals have been accused of hacking files of the Houston Astros.
The above hacks might seem somewhat harmless, and perhaps even humorous. And though hacking has gone beyond the breach of Target stores, finance is still on the top of the charts on the hacking hit parade. A report by the New York State Department of Financial Services in May 2014 found that most financial institutions experienced “intrusions or attempted intrusions into their IT systems” in the previous three years.

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New York Community Banks And ‘Cure the Blue’
Monday, September 14, 2015 (119 reads)

In New York and throughout the nation, community banks are deeply involved in their communities through economic development, civic organizations and philanthropic activities. Whether it involves youth programs, senior citizen projects, health-related programs or a myriad of other initiatives, the local community bank is generally in the thick of things: providing financial support and making bank officers, directors and employees available to lend their experience, support, leadership and expertise.

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Are Online Videos the Equivalent of a Corporate Selfie?
Monday, September 14, 2015 (120 reads)

Whether financial institutions can make use of online videos, and whether they should do so, are two very different questions.

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The Tech Companies are Coming How Community FIs Can Fight Back
Monday, September 14, 2015 (117 reads)

The growing customer utilization of mobile technology has driven systems investments in mobile banking for banks across the country over the last decade. Spending on IT at banks has increased by over 49 percent over the last five years. These investments have generally been defensive in nature. While some early adopters realized a small increase in customers, community bank utilization typically protected them from losing deposit share to the massive online systems of the big banks. Whether or not to play in mobile banking is now old news; mobile is now a necessary product offering. Designing the perfect mobile banking application is the next market disruptor threatening community banks.

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New Approach to Social Media Could Be a Game Changer
Monday, September 14, 2015 (80 reads)

More than 15 million businesses and organizations are now part of Facebook. Many corporations also have company Twitter pages. In the financial world, these pages are typically followed or liked by customers and employees. Major financial institutions with large customer bases and thousands of employees might have impressive numbers of likes or follows, but all too often, posts or tweets are stagnant, void of real interaction and results.

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Be Smart with your Phone
Monday, September 14, 2015 (93 reads)

“In terms of payment systems, smart phones are still an emerging technology,” said Ken Citarella of Guidepost Solutions LLC. “Unless security is built into the technology, there is a tremendous opportunity for misuse. Pay attention to the app you are using. If it is an app prepared by your bank, odds are it is probably safe. As for liability, courts have held that if a customer has been breached, it is not the fault of the bank if money is transferred out of that account. However, a recent case had the court saying that a bank should be aware of funds that are transferred to a location overseas in unusual amounts.”

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Day Breach at the Breach
Monday, September 14, 2015 (81 reads)

Just like a day at the beach can turn nasty without warning, so too can a data breach hit.
At a recent cyber event, Lisa Clark, a partner in the Philadelphia-based firm of Duane Morris, explained what to do when a company suspects a breach. “The [questions] I ask [are], ‘What’s the basis for the suspicion? Could it just be a security incident, or does it really meet the definition of a breach under applicable federal (e.g. HIPAA) or state law? Who discovered it and when?’ These are all important questions in order to position the company to fulfill its legal obligations with respect to a breach.”

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Surprising Similarities Between Banking and Winemaking
Monday, September 14, 2015 (96 reads)

I admit it: I love wine. Napa cabernets in particular. On a recent trip to Napa, it dawned on me that the wine and banking industries have some similarities.
The facilities: It is very expensive to build a bank branch, but compared to building a Napa winery it’s a drop in the bucket. Napa wineries have beautiful locations, great hospitality and interesting buildings. Plus, wineries are working facilities.

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Making Customers out of Friends, Amerasia Expands into Florida Market
Monday, September 14, 2015 (312 reads)

A New York-headquartered bank has recently expanded into Florida, where it intends to bring the same financial discipline that has made it one of the top performing community banks in the country.
Amerasia Bank, rated a top 10 bank nationally by SNL Financial since 2010, is headquartered in Flushing. In 2013, the bank, which also has an office in Elmhurst, expanded into the Miami market with two branches, and in September will open its third Florida branch in Orlando.

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Indentifying Behavioral Traits in High-Performance Bank CEOs
Monday, September 14, 2015 (94 reads)

In his new book “Average Is Over,” Tyler Cowen makes the credible argument that the economic structure that created community banking is largely obsolete. Today, the future focus is on technology and entrepreneurship – and on the collaboration between the two.
How then is a CEO in today’s banking environment expected to marry the traditional business of banking with the leading-edge of the future economy? How does a CEO achieve high performance?
Before we look at the traits of a high-performance CEO, however, we should define a high-performance bank.

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Social Marketing 101: Meet the Future Now
Friday, April 04, 2008 (4648 reads)

Today's preteens and teens are tomorrow's customers. How do you reach the kids who grew up with the Internet – the iPhone, YouTube and Facebook generation? Youth culture has been ratcheted up to light speed, but the banking industry is slow to adopt new marketing strategies.
One reason is risk. While early adopters gain a head start against competitors in customer retention and acquisition, the return on investment must be evaluated versus waiting for the technology to mature and become commonplace.
“The financial service industry is up against a ‘commodification’ of products and services,” said Michael Seaton, vice president of Digital Marketing at Thornley Fallis Communications, an agency integrating social media with public relations. “New media – meaning social media tools and platforms – provides a range of choices to directly reach out and humanize the banking experience. Transparency and authenticity are front and center and brands must differentiate themselves around their actions, not slogans.”
“The demographics and psychographics of our customers are dynamic,” said Steve Coen, a consultant in the financial industry and retired CIO of Buffalo-w based M&T Bank. “Product and delivery demands are changing, and we must serve our customers on their terms; how, when and where they demand services.”

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New Approaches To Land Top Talent
Tuesday, September 25, 2007 (2141 reads)

Finding the right executive for an important position in banking, and particularly in the specialized field of wealth management, can make or break an organization’s performance. Unfilled positions and failed new-hires can cost an organization money and momentum and undermine their status in the marketplace.

Meanwhile, the task of identifying top talent gets harder all the time. A declining number of mid-career workers, fewer younger workers entering the workforce and a rapid growth in workers above the age of 55 are all contributing to a talent gap. Furthermore, with the walls separating the various financial services firms tumbling down, banks, brokerage firms, insurance companies, money managers and others are all searching for the same talent.

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Increase Your Customers and Deposits
Tuesday, September 25, 2007 (6141 reads)

Online banking is widely considered to be one of the all-time greatest applications of the Internet, yet many banks are squandering the opportunity to add droves of new online customers because they do not offer customers an alternative to signing paper documents to open an account online.

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Turning the Fair Labor Standards Act On Its Head
Tuesday, September 25, 2007 (2897 reads)

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), in its original form, was designed to protect workers by imposing overtime premiums, establishing minimum wages and abolishing the use of oppressive child labor. But today, nearly 70 years after the act’s inception, some believe it is the employees, counseled by plaintiffs’ lawyers, who are taking advantage of their employers.

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The Subprime Mortgage Crisis: Banks to the Rescue?
Tuesday, September 25, 2007 (3411 reads)

The rumors of the death of the subprime mortgage market are not exaggerated or even untimely. In fact, it seems as if a plague of sorts has infected the industry, and it started with the dubious and sometimes downright predatory habits of many mortgage bankers and brokers. Cries of irresponsible business practices in the industry and marketing schemes that drove lending guidelines are cropping up all over the media nowadays, but it seems like a little of the hindsight is 20/20 type rhetoric.


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New Accounting Standards May Be Opportunity or Trap
Tuesday, September 25, 2007 (2469 reads)

 In February of this year, the Financial Accounting Standards Board released Statement 159, which allows fair-value accounting for most financial assets and liabilities. This is no surprise, as this ...

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Richard H. Neiman
Tuesday, September 04, 2007 (3801 reads)

Since his appointment as the New York State Banking Department’s 43rd Superintendent in March, Richard H. Neiman has had plenty of weighty issues vying for his attention...



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Patriot Federal Bank is Loyal to Local Roots
Tuesday, September 04, 2007 (2598 reads)

For every bank there is always the risk of acquisition.

Community banks can thrive and grow, but the risk of a larger bank acquiring it is always there, said Gordon Coleman, president and CEO of Patriot Federal Bank in Canajoharie in Montgomery County.

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Protecting Against the Hidden Costs of Identity Theft
Tuesday, September 04, 2007 (2156 reads)

Identity theft is widely and correctly viewed as an insidious crime, wherein a person’s good name and financial standing are tarnished, often through the criminal misuse of credit and debit cards. But many of the programs and insurance policies designed to protect a person against the ravages of identity theft are extremely limited in scope...

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Strategic Flexible Working Programs Produce Results
Tuesday, September 04, 2007 (2718 reads)

Strategic flexible working is based on the core concept of traditional flexible working and telecommuting programs. But when elevated to a major corporate initiative driven by producing measurable results...

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