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Debunking credit score myths

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In an earlier blog post, we explained why credit scores are important and how to improve yours. For many people, it can seem as if their score was pulled blindly from a hat. So let’s take a look and debunk a few myths.

Credit Score Myths

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Ms. Stokes is a senior vice president and director of Private Banking at UMB. She is responsible for driving sales and relationship management activities. She works closely with the Wealth Management leadership team and regional presidents to grow business and helps to develop roles in wealth management, relationship management and presentation skills. She joined UMB in 2009 and has more than 30 years of experience in the financial services industry. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Missouri- Kansas City and a Bachelor of Arts from the graduate school of retail banking.



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9 Financial Habits for Millennials

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Attention Millennials and those who hate labels but happen to be somewhere between 18 and 31. Here are nine habits to start today to give you more money at the end of the month. Come to think of it…these tips are universal, so watch no matter how young or old you are.

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Based on Nine Financial Resolutions for Millennials by Alexandra Talty. Forbes. December 10, 2013.

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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Financial Word of the Week: Secured Loan and Collateral

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FWOTW
What is a secured loan?

The word secured brings to mind images of armored trucks and locked vaults. Both can guard cash and valuables, but not a loan.

A secured loan is a loan in which the borrower pledges property (e.g. a car, house or other property) to the lender to act as a source of repayment if the borrower cannot pay back the loan.  The property that is pledged is called collateral.  If you do not make the payments as required on the loan, the lender may sell the collateral to cover the amount owed.  Usually a lender will require security for high dollar loans or when your credit is not good enough.

The opposite of a secured loan is an unsecured loan, which does not require collateral.  A lender may give you an unsecured loan when the borrower’s credit history is strong and the amount loaned is for lesser amounts.  Most credit cards are unsecured loans.

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So what does this mean for me?

Secured loans can help you make large purchases and pay them off over time. If everyone had to save for the full purchase price of a house, most people could not afford to be a homeowner until middle age, if ever. Because of the security provided by collateral, banks can provide lower cost credit options through secured loans. Your first step before borrowing should be to do a financial checkup (stay tuned for next week’s blog post to learn more about that) and figure out if you’re financially ready for that large purchase.

 

Statistics Source: New York Fed Household Credit Quarterly Report

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.

 

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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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Credit Score: understanding the number

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Cholesterol, blood pressure, glucose, credit score…all numbers that mean nothing unless someone explains what is good and what is scary. Just like a doctor breaks down why your cholesterol level should be below 200, we’re here to explain what an ideal credit score could be. And you don’t even have to cut cheese out of your diet.

Your credit score (the most popular being the FICO® Score named after the organization that created it — the Fair Isaac Corporation) can range from 300 to 850 because it’s an adjusted scale. (You get 300 points just for having a credit history…so most adults have a higher score than 300 just by being “on the grid.”) In case you’re afraid to get the pronunciation wrong, FICO is pronounced “f-eye-ko,” like “psycho.”

Why does it matter? If you’re ever going to purchase a house or car or apply for a job, lenders and potential employers will be checking your score to assess your reliability and financial history.

While there are some schools of thought that advise consumers not to obsess over credit scores, the most popular being financial author and radio host Dave Ramsey, the FICO Score is a factor in 90 percent of lending decisions in the United States. And many in those anti-credit score camps still encourage you to be aware of your credit reports to check for errors and work on problem areas.

Most important step: check your score and your reports! Even if you’re worried because of past mistakes with late payments or credit card debt, it’s better to know where you stand and start taking action. No ostrich-like behavior!

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Good news—unless you’re within the 7 percent of the nation with a score between 350 and 549 (and if you are, stop reading this post and call a credit counselor), there is no need to stress. At a score of 550 or more, you can sometimes qualify for a loan. Your motivation for raising it as high as possible will be to get the best interest rates.

Most creditors consider a score above 700 to be acceptable to give a consumer the best rates. If your score is below 700, here are some tips that can help you bring it up. You may be surprised how quickly you can make a change (1-3 years instead of the 7-10 years it takes to start fresh after declaring bankruptcy).

How to raise your score:

1)    Understand how the score is decided

Credit Score Formula

In order of greatest to least weight:

  • Payment history – Did you pay all your bills on time? This includes student loans, car payments, credit card bill, etc.
  • Amount owed – for example, you still owe $10,000 before you can pay off your car, $15,000 in student loans and $500 on one of your credit cards.
  • Credit history length – something positive about getting older! The longer you have a credit history, the higher your score rises.
  • New credit – did you recently open a slew of store credit cards in order to get a discount on a shopping spree? You may be paying for it in the form of a lower credit score.
  • Type of credit used – Credit bureaus look at mortgages vs. auto loans vs. student loans vs. credit cards. Some are better for your score than others.

2)    Stay on top of your bills
The best way to improve on your credit score is to pay your bills on time. Have a steady income and live within your means so your bills don’t pile up until you’re completely buried in credit card and loan debt.

3)    Ask about your custom credit score
Lenders might also look at your custom credit score in addition to your traditional credit score. A lender will use your custom credit score to get a closer look at the risk factors that are related to what you are trying to fund with the line of credit.

4)    Discuss internal credit scoring
Not every creditor is required to report your credit. Some major lenders use their own internal credit scoring systems to help them make a decision. Lenders use these internal scores to predict future behavior of their customers. When you answer questions on the loan application form, the responses will go in to creating a custom score for you.

5)    One size doesn’t fit all
What makes you appealing to one lender will not make you appealing to all. If your credit has been damaged, be sure that any new information is reported to credit agencies.

6)    Pay the minimum
If you can’t pay the entire balance of a credit payment, at least pay the minimum due. Paying the minimum will keep your credit score from dropping even lower than it would if you don’t pay the bill at all.

7)    Keep checking
You have rights as a consumer under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Check your report (not score) once a year for free at AnnualCreditReport.com‡.

This video from the Federal Trade Commission’s website does a great job at explaining why you need to check your report and how to do it.

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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. Stokes is a senior vice president and director of Private Banking at UMB. She is responsible for driving sales and relationship management activities. She works closely with the Wealth Management leadership team and regional presidents to grow business and helps to develop roles in wealth management, relationship management and presentation skills. She joined UMB in 2009 and has more than 30 years of experience in the financial services industry. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Missouri- Kansas City and a Bachelor of Arts from the graduate school of retail banking.



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Financial Word of the Week: Revolving Credit vs. Installment Loans

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FWOTW

Ever been in a meeting with your banker or a cocktail party conversation where a financial term stumps you? Are you considering buying a house or want to plan for the future, but have no idea where to start? Well, look no further. We’d like to be a resource for you and to make all that financial jargon easier to understand. And by the time you’ve read a few of these, the added bonus will be impressing your friends with your new financial wit!

So now, we bring you the perfect (and easy) way to increase your financial knowledge.

What is the difference between revolving credit and installment loans?

Many forms of debt fall into one of two categories: revolving credit and installment loans. When you borrow money from a bank, you can choose to borrow a certain amount and pay it back in a set number of months (in installments) with an installment loan. Or you can choose revolving credit where you do not have a set end date. Instead, these accounts have a credit limit, which is the most you can borrow. At any time, you can use your credit line up to that maximum amount. As you make your monthly payments, your line becomes available again, if you need to use it. By contrast, an installment loan pays out only once at the beginning of the loan, such as a one-time purchase, and cannot be used again as you pay it down.

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So what does this mean for me?

You have choices when you need to borrow money. Some customers enjoy the flexibility of revolving credit options, like a home equity line of credit (HELOC) or credit card. Others prefer the fixed terms and certainty associated with an installment loan. As we will discuss over the next few weeks, different lending options have different criteria, different benefits and different costs.  The most important thing to remember is that a loan or line of credit should fit your budget. Different accounts have different payment options, allowing you to choose a payment plan that works for you.

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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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1st step to buying a home: pre-approval

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Imagine walking in to your new house. You moved in a few weeks ago, you’ve unpacked most of your things, and it’s starting to feel like home. But then you wake up from this fantasy and realize you don’t know how to make this dream become a reality. We’re here to help.

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The process of purchasing your first home should be exciting and rewarding knowing you are taking control of your finances by investing into your own home. We want to give you a head start with understanding the process.

First things first. You’ll need to shop for a lender. Start with your own bank (a source you trust and believe in) and shop with other lenders as well. You’ll want to compare rates, cost associated with the loan and feel comfortable with the lender’s service levels before you apply.  A good lender will work closely with your specific situation. They will explain the loan and buying process and answer all your questions as a first-time home buyer.

The mortgage loan process has changed drastically over the years, so be prepared that the lender will want at least 30 days to get your loan approved and closed. Processing times will vary based on how complex your personal history is to document and verify. We suggest getting a pre-approval letter from your lender before shopping for your new home.

Why do you need a pre-approval letter?

  • A pre-approval letter will give your real estate agent a price range to know what homes to include in your search. It outlines the loan amount and terms you are approved for.
  • Pre-approval gives you a negotiating advantage. A seller might be more inclined to accept your offer if you have a pre-approval letter, even if you make an offer that’s lower than a buyer without a pre-approval. Sellers want the assurance of knowing their buyer can get financing since they are also planning on a home move.
  • A pre-approval letter is a stronger option than a pre-qualification letter because the approval is based on verified credit, income and asset data that an underwriter has reviewed and approved. The pre-qualification is based only on the data provided on the loan application that has not been verified or reviewed by an underwriter.

In order to expedite your loan process, here is a list of the documentation to bring to your lender when you have your first meeting for a loan application:

  • Last two years of W-2’s and tax returns with all schedules – This allows the lender to evaluate any other income or loss for qualifying purposes. All self-employed borrowers will need to provide a two year history of tax returns to determine income for qualifying purpose.
  • Most recent paystubs to cover 30 consecutive days – The lender will review and calculate income for wage earners.
  • Most recent asset statements to cover 30 days – This statement, also known as your bank statement, will need to show you have sufficient funds in your account to close on the loan. Any large deposits will need to be documented as to where the funds came from to meet loan requirements.
  • Additional information may apply based on the type of loan you are applying for – another important reason to select a lender who will walk you through the process and give you clear explanations.

The home-buying process can be long and complicated. Preparation involved in getting a pre-approval letter is fairly simple and it helps both you and the seller in the long-run.

Stay tuned for part two of this series: The second step to buying a home—choosing the right loan for you.

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Diane Hughes is Sr. Vice President/Director Mortgage Sales for UMB at 1010 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, MO.  She is responsible for the bank-wide mortgage services and has 29 years of experience as a Mortgage Banker. 



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Target Credit/Debit Card Security Breach

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You may have seen the recent news that Target experienced a breach in electronic security‡ with their customers’ debit and credit cards. While UMB has security protocols in place, we ask that you remain vigilant as well. You can use our online or mobile banking options to check balances and transaction history 24/7. If you see any suspicious activity on your account, please contact our customer service associates as soon as possible. That number is 800.821.5184.

Credit card

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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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Balancing Act: The changing landscape of commercial banking

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Technology has changed the way people do business. It’s also changed the way they do business banking. You can transfer money between two business accounts in minutes with online banking or complete and submit your entire expense report on the computer. Technology gives you the convenience of having greater control over your company’s finances. But that shouldn’t change the business partnership you have with your company’s bank.

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Like any relationship, creating and maintaining an effective partnership requires regular communication between you and your bank partner.  A strong relationship with your company’s financial institution not only enhances your customer experience, but also helps the bank balance quality service with a high level of information security.

Customer Experience

Your banker should know your company beyond what can be learned from a monthly commercial credit card statement. Your bank should act as an extension of your business and not just a place for you to keep your corporate accounts. Understanding the business cycles and unique financial needs of your engineering firm or your agriculture business gives your bank the insight to be a partner working with you on developing ideas to help your business succeed. This experience begins with a simple but powerful idea: know your customer.

For example, a bank that uses “know your customer” requirements for you to access your account can take this information and use it as a chance to get to know you and your employees better. At UMB, we require you to provide information that will uniquely identify you as the customer you say you are when you call us. These precautions are also good security measures to reduce potential fraud on your accounts.

Information Security

Having a strong relationship with your bank is important to your information security. Most banks will monitor spending habits to check for fraudulent activity on your commercial cards. For example, if a commercial card for a construction company starts posting a series of expensive charges at a department store within several hours, UMB might flag that account for suspicious activity or even put a hold on the card to stop any further transactions. Some might see this as too constrictive and even intrusive, but if you have a good working relationship with your financial institution you’re more likely to view this type of monitoring as a partner looking out for your company’s financial well-being.

So what can you do as a customer to keep the two-way communication open? Keeping your profile with your bank up-to-date makes it easier to verify who you are when you need to contact them. This also helps your bank ensure an accurate and safe customer experience.

Balancing self-service, customer service and information security is a challenge. A good bank should maintain the fine line between giving you the freedom to run your business and manage your finances, while remaining a loyal business partner who will always looks out for your best interests and the financial safety of your company.


Mr. Wegner is vice president and commercial card product manager at UMB. In this role, he is responsible for product development and program design for new and existing programs. He joined UMB in 2011. He earned an MBA in Management from Rockhurst University in Kansas City MO. He is a member of the NAPCP Public Sector Advisory Board.



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My Home is Worth What? (Hometown Perspective: Denver)

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UMB serves communities across an eight-state footprint. Each region is different, with its own personality and local economy. With that in mind, we’re launching a new Hometown Perspective series where you can gain insight into UMB and the communities we serve.

HomeAs a recent home buyer in Denver, I was pleasantly surprised to see that my home had increased in value by almost 40 percent over the last several months. No, I’m not a real estate genius with an uncanny ability to spot a home at low price and flip it for a profit.  Actually, I bought my home with the idea that I would live there for the rest of my life.

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So why do I care about a rise in home value if I’m not planning to sell any time soon, if ever? The answer is that my home is a series of projects and this boost in value gives me the equity to spend on home improvements. I will be able to add a floor over the subfloor in the living room and remodel the kitchen with new cabinets and a double oven with a warming drawer. This has been the plan all along but now I can complete these projects much sooner than I expected.

 

So if you’re like many in the Denver area and your home has increased in value recently, what should you do? Put a “For Sale” sign in your front yard? Head to your local bank and apply for a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)? It all depends on your own situation and your long-term plan.

  • Selling

    If you’re thinking about selling your home because the value has increased, you might consider sprucing it up a bit and then contacting your realtor. Add a coat of paint to some of the walls or have the carpet professionally cleaned. Then call up a real estate professional to work with you on selling your home.

  • Renovating

    If you plan to stick with your home for the long haul, it might be a good time to consider using your equity to start a remodeling project. If you have any questions or concerns, reach out to a trusted source of advice like your financial advisor or local banker.  They are usually well-equipped with experience, knowledge and tools that can help you decide.

Whatever you choose to do, be cautious and don’t jump into any big decisions without doing research. Look up the value of your home on sites like Zillow* and Trulia*. If you’re planning to apply for a HELOC, talk to a financial professional at your local bank about how much of your home’s value to borrow. You might even consider getting multiple opinions. If you plan to sell, you can consult your realtor on the best steps to take to prepare your home and when is the best time to put it on the market.

While you can work with a good real estate market to your advantage, your home is an asset that you should use wisely.

 

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 Bank, n.a. has provided these links for informational purposes only, and in no way endorses or insures the accuracy of the information contained therein.


Ms. Hales is vice president, financial center manager for the UMB financial center located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood in Denver, Colo. She is responsible for planning and executing sales routines with branch staff, coaching all team members. She joined UMB in 1990 and has 23 years of experience in the financial services industry.



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Simplifying your credit

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When was the last time you downloaded your credit score? If you can’t remember or you have never checked it, you should consider taking a look at it soon. But you’re not alone. Two thirds of the population have not downloaded their credit report in the past year, despite the fact that the average American owes $118,000 in debt. This includes mortgage, student loans, credit card debt, etc.

Pie Chart Downloaded Credit Report in Last 12 Months

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Why do you need to know your credit score? High debt combined with little to no information about your credit score could put you in a risky financial situation. If you have so much debt that you can’t keep up with it and your regular monthly bills, you might end up paying a bill late or forget to pay it at all. This will lead to a lower credit score. Then when you go to apply for a home or car loan, you could be either denied or receive a higher than normal interest rate based on your lowered score.

Unfortunately, this has become a very common scenario. Many people are living month-to-month and often carry over their credit card debt each month just like their regular bills. One third of working adults don’t pay bills on time in part due to the number of accounts they have. Many have trouble keeping up with monthly expenses, requiring them to dip into savings to cover regular expenses.

Pie Chart Pay Bills on Time

Did you know that there are ways to reduce your loan interest rates and monthly payments? You can also reduce the number of payments you owe and even earn money with rewards points from certain credit cards.

To simplify your credit, consider the following options:

  • Use the bill pay option with your bank

    This saves time and you can go to one place to manage all of your bills and schedule them to pay once per month.

  • Consolidate your debt

    Consolidating your debt allows you to have one payment for all your debt and you can usually obtain a lower interest rate. This can allow you to pay your debt in less time for less money.

  • Reduce the number of credit cards you use

    This is another way to help you keep track of your spending and bills. Consider using a credit card that allows you to earn rewards. When you use the card you can earn points toward purchases, helping you save money.

  • Take advantage of low interest rates

    If you refinance your current mortgage to the low rates available now, you can save on your monthly payment. This is also true of auto loan rates.

If you feel overwhelmed by debt and monthly bills, take advantage of these ways to simplify your credit to help you work on becoming debt-free. Even if you don’t have much personal debt, it’s still a good idea to consider these tips to organize your finances, save money, and monitor your credit.

 

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.


Mr. Burditt serves as senior vice president of customer experience in UMB’s Consumer Division. He is responsible for developmental and strategic direction of the UMB consumer customer experience. He joined UMB in 2011. Mr. Burditt earned a Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He also is a graduate of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s Centurions program.



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