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Top 10 Market and Economic Variables to Watch…and 3 to Ignore – Part I

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At its core, investment management involves researching thousands of variables and data points. Careful analysis is required of all of these variables and data points to create a “mosaic of information” in order to draw a conclusion on market and economic directions. With the 24/7 news cycle, investors have more data, surveys and reports in front of them than ever before.

In the spirit of a classic David Letterman Top Ten, we’ve put together our own list, but with a twist at the end. KC visited The Street and The Hays Advantage on Bloomberg Radio to share his insights.

Watch…

ListenKC Mathews on the Hays Advantage

Below are the first two market and economic variables to watch in order to make sound decisions. In the next parts of this series, we’ll bring you more variables and three that perhaps, should be ignored. Let us worry about the rest of the noise.

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10. Earnings Momentum

We are fundamental investors and believe that the primary driver of equity prices is earnings. Regardless of short-term noise that may move markets, sooner or later earnings and earnings momentum will determine market direction.

There is a 77 percent positive correlation between earnings and equity prices. Occasionally you will see equity prices deviate from earnings growth due to various reasons. Since 1955, however, earnings have grown 6.5 percent annually, and the S&P 500 has increased about the same, growing 7 percent on average. In 2014, earnings were up 5 percent and valuations increased by 25 percent, resulting in the S&P 500 posting a 32 percent return.

We expect earnings growth to be in the 4 to 6 percent range this year and continue to expect positive returns in equities. We would not be surprised, though, if we experience a meaningful correction to get earnings and market performance back in line.


9. High Yield Spreads

High yield spreads will usually precede or confirm a material correction in the equity market.  We define a material correction as a decrease of 10 percent or more and haven’t seen this type of a correction since June 2012. Market corrections are a normal and healthy part of a secular bull market. As the domestic equity markets continue to increase, the probability of a meaningful correction also increases. Historically, changes in high yield spreads have either signaled or confirmed a correction in the equity market. For example, in early 1998, high yield spreads widened 65 basis points suggesting an oncoming correction. As expected, a 15 percent mid-year correction followed.  Again, spreads widened by 90 basis points in the summer of 2007, right before the peak of the S&P 500.

In the past two years we have seen smaller corrections ranging from 4 to 7 percent with virtually no widening of high yield spreads. This tells us the meaningful correction has not yet occurred, nor is a correction on the near-term horizon.

Remember to check back for the rest of the variables to watch (and ignore) next month!

 

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.

DISCLOSURE AND IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS:

UMB Private Wealth Management is a division within UMB Bank, n.a. that manages active portfolios for employee benefit plans, endowments and foundations, fiduciary accounts and individuals.  UMB Financial Services Inc * is a wholly owned subsidiary of UMB Bank, n.a. UMB Bank, n.a., is an affiliate within the UMB Financial Corporation. Banking and trust services offered through UMB Private Wealth Management, a division within UMB Bank, n.a.

This report is provided for informational purposes only and contains no investment advice or recommendations to buy or sell any specific securities. Statements in this report are based on the opinions of UMB Private Wealth Management and the information available at the time this report was published.

All opinions represent our judgments as of the date of this report and are subject to change at any time without notice. You should not use this report as a substitute for your own judgment, and you should consult professional advisors before making any tax, legal, financial planning or investment decisions. This report contains no investment recommendations and you should not interpret the statements in this report as investment, tax, legal, or financial planning advice. UMB Private Wealth Management obtained information used in this report from third-party sources it believes to be reliable, but this information is not necessarily comprehensive and UMB Private Wealth Management does not guarantee that it is accurate.

All investments involve risk, including the possible loss of principal. This information is not intended to be a forecast of future events and this is no guarantee of any future results. Neither UMB Private Wealth Management nor its affiliates, directors, officers, employees or agents accepts any liability for any loss or damage arising out of your use of all or any part of this report.

“UMB” – Reg. U.S. Pat. & Tm. Off. Copyright © 2012. UMB Financial Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

*Securities offered through UMB Financial Services, Inc. member FINRA, SIPC, or the Investment Banking Division of UMB Bank, n.a.

Insurance products offered through UMB Insurance, Inc. You may not have an account with all of these entities. Contact your UMB representative if you have any questions.

Securities and Insurance products are:

NOT FDIC INSURED * NO BANK GUARANTEE * NOT A DEPOSIT * NOT INSURED BY ANY GOVERNMENT AGENCY * MAY LOSE VALUE


K.C. Mathews joined UMB in 2002. As executive vice president and chief investment officer, Mr. Mathews is responsible for the development, execution and oversight of UMB’s investment strategy. He is chairman of the Trust Investment, Asset Allocation and Trust Policy Committees. Mr. Mathews has more than 20 years of diverse experience in the investment industry. Prior to joining UMB, he served as vice president and manager of the portfolio management group at Bank of Oklahoma for nine years. Mr. Mathews earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Notre Dame. Mr. Mathews attended the ABA National Trust School at Northwestern University and is a Chartered Financial Analyst and member of the CFA Institute. He is past president of the Kansas City CFA Society and a past president of the Oklahoma Society of Financial Analysts.

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4 important steps after cashing out: Things you need to know about Liquidity Events

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Several things may spark a personal liquidity event, or a large inflow of money, during your career. Selling a business, earning a large commission or accepting an executive buyout, are a few examples. And with that influx of cash comes many investment questions and options—particularly if your current employment is affected.

Understanding and evaluating the different personal and professional areas that may be impacted is important, as you will have many financial decisions to make once the event occurs. Career desires, market conditions, day-to-day finances and employer-provided benefits are a few of the items you will need to consider. Watch more on this topic in the below video. Also check out Part 1 of the Colorado Business Magazine video series where Marti discusses spring cleaning for your finances.

Below are the four important steps:

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1) Determine Your Next Career Step

First, determine your personal short- and long-term employment goals. Are you going to take some time off? Do you want to start a new business? Do you want to venture into an entirely new profession?  Understanding where you are now and where you want to land 12 months (or more) from now will help provide a framework for strategic planning and decisions.

2) Evaluate the Market Environment

The market has changed dramatically over the past few years, and these shifts could carry on for the foreseeable future. The current interest rate environment continues to provide challenges that didn’t exist for investors five years ago. It’s critical for you to have an understanding of current market conditions and how they will likely affect your investments.

3) Establish Your Cash Flow Plan

Now it’s time to look at your cash flow needs. Are you spending more than you’re earning? If the answer is yes, your asset allocation inside your current portfolios becomes extremely important, as there will be a need to fill the deficit without eroding your portfolio’s principal. For example, if you are making an annual salary of $100,000, one of your goals may be to replace that money with the interest earned from your portfolio as opposed to taking direct withdrawals. Advisors can provide you with recommendations and options on how to achieve these goals, while continuing to position your portfolio for your long-term needs.

4) Evaluate Your Ancillary Benefits

Health care, life insurance, savings vehicles, disability and similar benefits are often tied to employment and may end or need to transition when your current job service ends. Advisors can help you identify areas to review and provide recommendations on the best ways for you to move forward based on your strategic plan.

Liquidity events can provide you with many exciting opportunities, but they come with challenges as well. Taking the time to evaluate and plan how to proceed, both personally and professionally, is extremely important. A trusted advisor can work with you to navigate these different areas and make sure you are well positioned for the future.

 

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Marti Brust joined UMB Private Wealth Management in 2006. As senior vice president and wealth advisor for the Colorado Investment and Wealth Management department, she works with high net worth individuals and not-for-profit organizations in the areas of investment, retirement, education and estate planning. Ms. Brust earned a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism with an emphasis in Public Relations from the University of Central Oklahoma. She has obtained the Certified Wealth Strategist designation and holds a state insurance and FINRA Series 7 and 66 licenses.

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Financial Word of the Week: Debt-to-Income

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FWOTW

Last week we explained what Loan-to-Value meant, specifically with mortgages. Now it’s time to tackle another important ratio: Debt-to-Income (DTI).

Your DTI ratio tells lenders how much of your income goes towards your debt and is another number you want to be low. Lenders will look carefully at your DTI ratio, along with your credit score, LTV, and other factors when considering you for a loan. You should aim for a DTI ratio of approximately one third (or lower).

How to calculate

Add up all of the debt payments you make each month (mortgage, student loans, vehicle loan, outstanding credit card balance, etc.). Then divide it by your gross monthly income (pre-tax). So if you make $50,000/year or $4167/month and have $1,500 in debt to pay each month, your DTI would be $1,500 ÷ $4,167 = 36%.

If you’re thinking of buying your first home, calculate how much house you can afford with this calculator, but also factor in how much debt you already have.

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UMB Financial Corporation (Nasdaq: UMBF) is a financial services holding company headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., offering complete banking, payment solutions, asset servicing and institutional investment management to customers. UMB operates banking and wealth management centers throughout Missouri, Illinois, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Arizona. It also has a loan production office in Texas. Subsidiaries of the holding company include mutual fund and alternative investment services groups, single-purpose companies that deal with brokerage services and insurance, and a registered investment advisor that manages the company's proprietary mutual funds and investment advisory accounts for institutional customers.

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3rd Step to Buying a Home: Finding the Right Realtor

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Who better to continue our journey of Steps to Buying a Home than our associates, Natalie Crumpton and Josh Cummings, UMB Unit Finance Managers, whose expert realtor guided them while on HGTV’s House Hunters‡? 

Natalie shares their story along with advice for finding the right real estate agent.

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Last summer we spent a lot of time looking at potential new homes online. At the time, we were living in a one bedroom condo in downtown Kansas City and were both ready to transition into something a little bigger we could call home. We began by searching different real estate databases, slowly narrowing homes down by the must-haves on our list: an open kitchen, a band room for Josh’s drums, a deck for entertaining and a spacious backyard for our new puppy.

Once we established our budget and wish list, we reached out to our realtor, Monte, who had been Josh’s real estate agent a few years ago and helped him to pick out the one bedroom condo we were living in at the time. What we loved about Monte (and still do) was how committed he was to making sure we found the right home (in the right location, for the right price) that suited both of our needs. He was patient, flexible with our schedules and always willing to go the extra mile as our realtor. So it came as no surprise when he was more than willing to accommodate another one of our requests: to let a camera crew follow us around and document our journey for national TV.

House Hunters
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Here’s how it happened: It became somewhat of a tradition to turn on HGTV on Saturday mornings and watch House Hunters while we were searching for homes online. We would take turns discussing what we liked and didn’t like about each house and try to guess which one the couple would actually choose. So once we decided we were ready to buy, Josh applied for the TV show online on a whim, assuming it was a long shot. It came as a shock to both of us when one of the producers contacted us a few weeks later to tell us they were interested in filming an episode in Kansas City. After a few more phone calls and interviews, a camera crew was sent our way to document us on our home-buying adventure.

Along for the ride (and steering the wheel), was our wonderful realtor Monte; who not only went above and beyond what we expected from a realtor, but he also made the home buying experience as smooth and enjoyable as possible. With Monte, we felt like we were with a family member that genuinely cared about us as people, rather than just a real estate agent that was seeking a quick commission. He always had our best interest in mind and was passionate about making sure we found the perfect home.  We’re very grateful for the experience; both for the opportunity to be on House Hunters with footage to look back on of the first home we bought together and for having a realtor like Monte to share it with and make our transition as smooth as possible.
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What to look for in a realtor

When choosing the right realtor, make sure to consider the following qualities:

  • Integrity and candor
  • Understanding of what you are looking for in a home
  • Knowledge of the local housing market
  • Quality references and connections
  • Detailed knowledge of the purchasing process
  • Strong work ethic and passion for job
  • Flexible to your schedule and time frame
  • Committed to exceeding your expectations
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When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Ms. Crumpton is an AVP/Unit Finance Manager for UMB. She is responsible for financial support in the Operations & Technology Group. She joined UMB in 2007 and has 7 years of experience in the financial services industry.

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UMB Goes Solar

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As we guide our community members in their financial decisions, we also want to be part of making those communities great places to live.

Our business partners know that any organization with available capital has choices to make about where to invest. We’re excited to announce that we recently made the decision to invest in solar-energy systems to help power five of our locations.

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We’re committed to fostering conservation in our communities. As a clean and abundant type of renewable energy, these solar installations help preserve natural resources, curb carbon emissions and present opportunities for cost savings.

We believe this to be a sound investment in our business, our buildings and our communities and recommend it to all of you.

How does going solar work?

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UMB partnered with Brightergy, an energy company whose headquarters are also in Kansas City, just blocks away from ours. Brightergy works with their clients (primarily businesses, schools, cities and not-for-profits) to help them gain control of their energy through on-site energy generation, energy efficiency and smarter energy management.

Our five new solar-energy installations are a form of on-site energy generation—located on rooftops of three locations in Kansas City and two in St. Louis, creating energy for us right where we use it.

And now to dive in to the nerdy details…A multitude of solar panels absorb daily solar radiation, exciting electrons in the panels which creates direct current (DC) electricity. That current flows to inverters which convert the DC electricity into alternating current (AC) electricity, the kind we use to power our buildings every day.

Our solar electricity is available to us to use as soon as it is created. If we are ever creating more electricity than we are using at the moment, the excess electricity flows into the electrical grid and we earn credits on our utility bills for the electricity we provided.

For example, let’s look at the most recent holiday, Independence Day. It was warm and sunny. Even though our locations were closed, our solar-energy systems were working even as we were not. Since we created more electricity than our buildings had a demand for that day, that electricity flowed into the grid and was then distributed and used.

What are the benefits of going solar?

The sun is predictable—rising and setting every day. And in Missouri, we see the same amount of sun (an average of 4.7 hours a day) as they do in Tampa, Florida or the South of France.

Our five solar-energy systems are estimated to produce 170,000 kWh a year (solar panels have warrantees by the manufacturer for 25 years, and their expected lifetime is even longer). If you think about how much electricity you use at home, this amount is enough to provide 16 average-sized homes with electricity each year.*

After the cost of the equipment and installation, solar energy is essentially free fuel. So by creating a portion of our own electricity needs, the cost savings benefit for all five systems comes out to be approximately $22,000 in our first year of producing solar energy. Our total savings estimate increases to $610,335 for all five systems throughout the next 25 years.

We also expect to offset up to 250,000 pounds of carbon dioxide each year.* What does that mean? Traditional, carbon-intensive fossil fuel sources put out pollutants, or emissions, like carbon dioxide as they are burned to create usable energy.

We know that trees consume carbon dioxide (CO2) as they create food for themselves through photosynthesis, cleaning our air in the process. Approximately 250,000 pounds of CO2 is equivalent to the amount absorbed by nearly 100 acres of U.S. forest each year.

A community of solar businesses

As we get ready to ‘flip the switch’ on our systems and begin producing solar electricity, we join the growing number of businesses, including Costco, Apple, Macy’s, Johnson & Johnson, and Ikea, who recognize that solar lowers operating costs and benefits both the bottom line and our communities.

Next month, we’ll explore even more ways to go green.

 

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*Source: http://www.epa.gov/cleanenergy/energy-resources/calculator.html#results

 

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Ms. Shahane is a Vice President Healthcare Marketing/Sustainability Manager for UMB. She is responsible for managing marketing initiatives for UMB’s healthcare payments, HSAs, and benefit card products. In addition she leads the UMB Green Team and promotes UMB’s internal sustainability initiatives. She joined UMB in 2001 and has 13 years of experience in the financial services industry. She earned a MA in Marketing from Webster University. She is an active environmentalist and serves on the boards of Keep Kansas City Beautiful and Northeast Neighbor to Neighbor.

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Financial Word of the Week: Loan-to-Value

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FWOTW

You’ve probably heard the scary terms “upside down” or “underwater” when it comes to mortgages, especially six years ago. That’s one way of saying a home’s Loan-to-Value (LTV) ratio is too high or the value of the home is less than the loan amount. This is another financial number where lower is better.

Calculating your LTV ratio

Take the amount left on your mortgage and divide by the appraised value of your home OR the selling price (whichever is less). For example, if you bought a $225,000 home, but it was appraised for $200,000 and you still owe $175,000, your LTV ratio is 175,000 ÷ 200,000 = 87.5%. Now take that same scenario, but with a positive twist. If you made improvements on your home or the housing market in your area improves, let’s say your home is appraised for MORE than what you paid for it, $250,000. So your LTV ratio would now be based on your purchase price (the lesser of appraisal or purchase price) and your LTV would be 175,000 ÷ 225,000 = 77.8%.  The ratio has been reduced, and it’ll keep going down as you pay more of your loan amount (assuming the value of your home doesn’t fall below your purchase price). A good ratio to aim for is 75% or less. The lower your ratio, the less risk for your lender.

Should you refinance?

It’s worth consideration, but only after an informative chat with your lender. If you have a high LTV ratio and your home’s value has increased, refinancing could be a wise step for you. Plug in a few scenarios in this calculator, and chat with your lender about whether or not refinancing would be positive for you.

Special assistance

If you need even more help and purchased your home before June 1, 2009, you may be eligible for Federal Housing Finance Agency’s Home Affordable Refinance (HARP) Program. If you think you may be eligible, talk to your lender about refinances with further assistance from that government program.

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When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


UMB Financial Corporation (Nasdaq: UMBF) is a financial services holding company headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., offering complete banking, payment solutions, asset servicing and institutional investment management to customers. UMB operates banking and wealth management centers throughout Missouri, Illinois, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Arizona. It also has a loan production office in Texas. Subsidiaries of the holding company include mutual fund and alternative investment services groups, single-purpose companies that deal with brokerage services and insurance, and a registered investment advisor that manages the company's proprietary mutual funds and investment advisory accounts for institutional customers.

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Enduring Quality

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Doing what is right, not what is popular. That is one of the values our organization has stuck with from the beginning, more than 100 years ago. Our business and community partners share these values, and we hope that by watching this short video, you will be inspired by these same sustaining values.

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Mr. Kemper is the chairman and chief executive officer of UMB Financial Corporation and UMB Bank, n.a. He joined UMB in 1997. Mr. Kemper is active in both civic and philanthropic endeavors. One of the causes he is most passionate about is the arts. He currently serves as a trustee and executive committee member for the Denver Art Museum and is a past board member for The Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City.

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How to Overspend on a Country Club Membership

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A lot of us have golf and swimming pools on the mind now that it’s the middle of summer. If you’re thinking of joining or renewing membership at a country club, take a look at this list to see how NOT to go about it.

07-14_Country Club Membership

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Mr. Fee serves as president of UMB’s Texas region and is responsible for designing and executing a strategy to establish UMB Bank in the Texas market, initially by way of Dallas. He joined UMB in 2002 and has also served as the community bank president of the UMB South Kansas City region. Fee earned Bachelor of Science with a major in Business Administration and Accounting from the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kan.

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Financial Words of the Week: Delinquency and Derogatory

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FWOTW

Have you ever missed a credit card bill or a loan payment? You may know that missing a bill can hurt your credit, but do you know how much? What should you do about it?

What does a late payment mean for my credit?

Missing a loan or credit card payment is known as a delinquency. Delinquencies may  negatively affect your credit history and credit score. If you miss a payment, the best thing you can do is to make that payment as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more interest will build up.

In terms of your credit score, you need to make the original payment before the next payment is due as well as that next payment. Generally, delinquencies are measured in months, rounding up to the nearest month. The day after the missed due date, an account could be counted as one month late, depending on the lender. One month and one day after the missed due date, that account may be considered two months late and is now a major derogatory.

What is a derogatory, and what makes it major or minor?

Any negative information on your credit history is a derogatory. When a lender reviews your credit, they look at what derogatories show up and how recent they are. Derogatories (or your lack of derogatory information) also make up an important chunk of your credit score. A debt two months late or more counts as a major derogatory. Major derogatories hurt your credit score more because of their serious nature. Other examples include bankruptcies, foreclosures and many debts that go to collections. If you have already missed one month, the best thing you can do is not let it become two.

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UMB Financial Corporation (Nasdaq: UMBF) is a financial services holding company headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., offering complete banking, payment solutions, asset servicing and institutional investment management to customers. UMB operates banking and wealth management centers throughout Missouri, Illinois, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Arizona. It also has a loan production office in Texas. Subsidiaries of the holding company include mutual fund and alternative investment services groups, single-purpose companies that deal with brokerage services and insurance, and a registered investment advisor that manages the company's proprietary mutual funds and investment advisory accounts for institutional customers.

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HGTV’s House Hunters features Kansas City UMB associates

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Do you love the show House Hunters? A couple of our associates were featured recently and plan to share some insider house-hunting tips on the blog later this month to continue our “Steps to Buying a Home” series. In the meantime, catch their episode tonight on HGTV at 10 p.m. CST.
061017UMB Unit Finance Managers Josh Cummings and Natalie Crumpton with their realtor, Monte Boultinghouse

 

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When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


UMB Financial Corporation (Nasdaq: UMBF) is a financial services holding company headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., offering complete banking, payment solutions, asset servicing and institutional investment management to customers. UMB operates banking and wealth management centers throughout Missouri, Illinois, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Arizona. It also has a loan production office in Texas. Subsidiaries of the holding company include mutual fund and alternative investment services groups, single-purpose companies that deal with brokerage services and insurance, and a registered investment advisor that manages the company's proprietary mutual funds and investment advisory accounts for institutional customers.

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