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Creating Loyalty With the Green Consumer
Wednesday, December 19, 2007 (3536 reads)

As environmental issues go mainstream, consumers now have the option to reduce greenhouse gases with every purchase. Americans are expected to increase their holiday spending to an average of $923 per person this year, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF), and this statistic may overwhelm the “green” consumer in more places than just the wallet. Fuel-consuming trips to the mall, and the use of wrapping paper, packaging and holiday decorations provoke uneasiness for eco-conscious consumers who are concerned about their impact on climate change.

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Banks Can Maximize Profitability While Better Managing Loan Risk
Wednesday, December 19, 2007 (1643 reads)

Risk management has undergone a remarkable evolution over the past decade. The range of strategies has expanded as the technology of risk modeling has developed. This enhanced capability is permitting greater effectiveness, as well as the wider use of innovative strategies to manage the balance sheet.

As a result, bankers have a better handle on the risks they’ve put on their balance sheets. This is a critical first step to understanding how their institution will perform over time. The assessment, however, is not static. Risk characteristics for the balance sheet components change over time due to market movements and shifts in customer behavior.

Mortgage assets continue to dominate community bank balance sheets. According to the FDIC, real estate comprised about 50 percent of total assets as of June 30. Residential mortgages made up about one-third of all loans.

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Custody Control Is Key To Security and Privacy Compliance
Wednesday, December 19, 2007 (1274 reads)

For United States companies, information privacy compliance is fast becoming a significant business priority, and not just because data is more decentralized, distributed and mobile than ever before. The meteoric rise of identity theft, coupled with highly publicized security breach incidents, has spawned public outrage and customer demand for swift and corrective actions. Lawmakers at both the state and federal level are responding with a growing number of laws that govern the collection, use and disposal of confidential records. As a result, companies find themselves trying to reassure legislators and customers alike that this information, whether in paper or electronic record form, is protected for safety – and destroyed, if necessary, before it can be compromised.

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The Road Ahead
Wednesday, December 19, 2007 (1396 reads)

As 2007 draws to a close, it’s tempting to look back at the year in banking with a sigh of relief; relief for the end of a year with more than its fair share of market turbulence, lending woes, pending governmental regulation and CEO resignations. New York bankers and their customers are more than ready to turn the page toward a more promising 2008.

But what exactly lies ahead? The economy and all its related turmoil that caused this year’s agita won’t undergo a dramatic about-face as the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31. In fact, 2008 might experience some aftershock resulting from the 2007 industry tremors.

In this look ahead to 2008, Banking New York explores some of the key issues that will impact the upcoming year. Which of them might result in a strong, profitable banking environment in the year ahead? And which might cause a new rash of tribulations?

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Web Communications Prove to Be Invaluable
Wednesday, December 19, 2007 (2780 reads)

Today’s banking environment is more competitive than ever: Expanding geographic boundaries and the increasing number of branches leave community banks fighting with peers, credit unions, mega-banks and non-bank financials alike for market share. As a result, all banking organizations are improving Web-based service offerings to supplement branches and call centers.

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How to Protect Against Smurfing
Wednesday, December 19, 2007 (14025 reads)

On the front page of the Sept. 21 Wall Street Journal, Mark Schoofs’ article, “ATMs Become a Handy Tool for Laundering Dirty Cash” discussed a recent case of two individuals, Luis Saavedra and Carlos Roca, alleged to have been the masterminds of an army of micro-structurers whose objective was to make cash deposits into more than 100 New York-based bank accounts. According to the article, the deposits, which amounted to more than $100,000 per day, were made in such small increments (usually just a few hundred to a maximum of $2,000) that they were very difficult for banks and/or law enforcement to detect. Once deposited in the Queens and Manhattan bank accounts, their Colombian-based co-conspirators were able to withdraw the roughly $2 million per month in pesos almost immediately through the ATM network to further the ends of the drug trafficking organization. This micro-structuring scheme was actually a variation on one of the most basic money laundering forms: smurfing.

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Working Together To Create a Castile Family
Wednesday, December 19, 2007 (2112 reads)

Formed in 1869 by the Van Arsdale family, the Bank of Castile has grown significantly while retaining its small-town flavor.

Originally located in Castile, 60 miles southwest of Rochester, the bank was primarily owned by the Van Arsdale family until President Charles Van Arsdale and Chairman James Van Arsdale put the bank out for public offering in 1988.

Now headquartered in Batavia in western New York, the bank is located in the Tompkins Financial Center. Completed in 2005, the 3-story building boosted business activity in the small community bringing, in over 50 employees who frequent area restaurants and shops.

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The Promise of the Dual-Banking System
Wednesday, December 19, 2007 (1716 reads)

As I’m writing this, New York City has just had its first snowfall of the season, reminding me that my first year as superintendent is almost at an end. As someone who joined state government for the first time after 25 years in the private sector, I was forewarned by previous superintendents that there is a tradition of financial emergencies striking at the beginning of a term. My term was no different. As soon as I showed up at the office, I was faced head on with two major challenges that were significantly intertwined: the subprime mortgage crisis and preemption. While the problems in the mortgage market take first place, the two issues came together for me in analyzing the role of the states in developing solutions.

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Gambling on Mortgages
Sunday, December 02, 2007 (1409 reads)

Casinos, foreclosures, slot machines and mortgage reform all have one thing in common: extra risk and top billing on Beacon Hill. Everyone has a strong opinion on the pros and cons of expanding gambling and how to address the ongoing fallout over the mortgage lending mess. Gov. Deval Patrick’s plan to allow up to three resort-style casinos across Massachusetts and devote the anticipated $500 million in annual revenues to infrastructure and local government has stimulated intensive discussion as to whether expanded gambling is the best way to stimulate economic development and raise revenues.
In a bit of irony, the same day that the governor announced his casino plan, the special commission on transportation finance announced its long-awaited recommendations for a 50 percent increase (11.5 cents) in the gasoline tax, a user fee and several reforms in MBTA pensions, police details and a hike in tolls to meet the $20 billion needed for infrastructure improvements. Making these serious, tough and expensive decisions will generate angina for many political leaders, and provide columnists and advocacy groups with plenty of fodder for their pet programs.

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Musings on Mortgages
Sunday, December 02, 2007 (1288 reads)

It seems that whenever I pickup a newspaper, there is a story about the mortgage crisis. Unfortunately, words such as subprime lending, foreclosure, default, mortgage meltdown and credit crunch have become part of a media diatribe.
One thing is for certain: We have a number of questions which have to be answered. First, how can financial markets and our society figure out this problem? Second, will the decline in home values affect the mortgage portfolios at banks? Finally, what can we do to prevent this from happening again in the future?

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