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Janet Yellen: The Next Chairperson of the Federal Reserve

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Janet who? Janet Yellen, the seemingly-unknown current vice-chairperson of the Federal Reserve(the Fed), was nominated by the President to succeed Ben Bernanke after several White House favorites were first considered. Bernanke, the current chairman of the Fed, is vacating the position he has held since 2006 at the end of January 2014.

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Yellen now awaits the Senate confirmation process, which she should easily glide through as the Republicans appeared to support her as a candidate while the President sought alternative contenders earlier in the process. She appears to have a very good track record on judging appropriate policy. Whether a dove (low rates and inflation) or a hawk (inflation a threat), what’s important is supporting the appropriate policy at the appropriate time…which she has done. She is battled-tested, having worked in key policy roles through both the Asian financial crisis in 1997and the recent global financial crisis.  She has spent most of the past two decades as a leading voice within the Fed, initially as a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, then as president and chief executive officer of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Board, and over the past four years as vice chairman of the Federal Reserve.

We think Yellen, like Bernanke, may view the risk of the economy becoming stuck in a low-to-moderate growth path great enough to provide ongoing risk insurance, such as delaying the tapering of quantitative easing or even, if necessary, providing additional stimulus.

Yellen is characterized by those who know her as a brilliant thinker who focuses on the human side of economics.  As vice chair of the Fed, she was credited with forming the Fed’s communication policy including the chairman’s quarterly press conference. This press conference – and communication in general – may become more critical as we transition from a period of large-scale asset purchases to one of strong “forward guidance” from the Fed. Yellen has also been a proponent of maintaining the Fed’s zero interest rate policy and continuing the Fed’s asset purchase program.

If confirmed, she will be the first women to lead the Fed.  We think she is extremely qualified and will do an exceptional job.  We don’t expect much change with respect to the current Fed policy, and neither does the market. Upon her nomination in early October, the market let out a big yawn; markets didn’t move much then and haven’t since.

 

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.


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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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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The art of fine art management

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Have you ever watched Antiques Roadshow? This popular public television show shares interesting stories of people happily discovering their personal treasures are actually quite valuable (or sometimes not!). Imagine learning that a famous designer of the late 1800’s made your great-grandmother’s favorite lamp or a rare piece of pottery you purchased on vacation is actually a sought-after piece. Fortunately, you don’t have to appear on Antiques Roadshow to learn the value of your own pieces or how to protect and possibly increase their value. There are other ways that are more easily accessible.

The Red Couch Marie Mason“The Red Couch”
Acrylic on canvas
Marie Mason

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Many people spend their lives collecting items that not only bring them personal enjoyment, but may significantly increase in value over time. Whether it’s fine artwork, collectibles (baseball cards), memorabilia (original Beatles or Elvis merchandise) or rare objects (antiques), you should consider these items important personal assets. Much like stocks and bonds, they are an important part of a full estate plan. But people don’t always think of them in this way.

By working with trusted professionals, you can ensure that your valuable items will get the attention they need during your lifetime and beyond.

So, what steps should you take to preserve and protect your fine art or collectibles?

  • Identify and protect

    Find a fine art management expert who can help you identify items that should receive additional attention to help preserve, and in some cases, maximize their worth. This person can also provide counsel on valuation (or appraisal), insurance, storage and other very specialized services that may be important in maintaining the object’s value.

  • Organize and document

    Proper documentation and cataloguing is critical. An experienced professional can help record the history and provide a comprehensive inventory of all pieces, an important aspect in maintaining their value. In the same way a museum inventories their collection, an expert can provide the same level of service and system support for your fine objects. Your record can then be updated as pieces are added or removed so the inventory is always complete. A detailed account of each item, including where and how each piece was acquired, can make a significant difference in value, plus, it’s a fun history lesson for you and your heirs.

  • Plan for the unexpected

    It’s important that your estate plans include details of how you want these assets distributed. Will they be gifted to a museum, a family member or a non-profit? Will these objects be liquidated so the funds can be passed on to relatives, loved ones or charitable organizations? Who will you trust to handle the actual distribution? These processes can be complicated and confusing. Your fine art management expert can help address and carry out these plans.

It’s never too early to get started on protecting your valued unique assets. Owners have much to gain by educating themselves about the care and protection of their personal treasures. Establishing a thoughtful, well-planned legacy ensures beloved items will be expertly managed both now and in the future.

 Flaming Tulip Janet Kummerlein“Flaming Tulip”
Acrylic on canvas
Janet Kummerlein

 

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.


Jan Leonard is senior vice president and managing director for charitable trusts, private foundations and fine art services. She joined UMB in 2003 and has more than 25 years of experience in the management of private and public organizations. Leonard earned a bachelor’s degree from Arkansas Tech University and a master’s degree in business administration from Ottawa University in Ottawa, Kan. She is also a graduate of the Cannon School of Foundation Management.



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A note from our CFO

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This year, UMB has celebrated many achievements in reaching our 100-year milestone. One thing we are particularly proud of is our ongoing effort to be transparent in our communication.

You may have read the news articles about two specific things: depositor exiting UMB and our capital raise project. First and foremost, I want to clearly state that these two topics are completely unrelated. Anyone who has ever been through a common stock offering knows it’s not something you can pull off in a couple of days. The timing of the two events was unfortunate, because it created incorrect assumptions. We did not execute a capital raise because of the depositor.

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To comply with securities rules related to our stock offering, we were limited in what we could say about the depositor. However, now that we are on the other side, I would like to take the opportunity to provide more context.

  • Depositor
    A few notes on the depositor. The organization is still a UMB customer. We previously disclosed that the deposits would move over the next 120 days, and as of today, the deposits remain on our balance sheet. Additionally, the customer will continue to work with UMB on their asset servicing business even after the deposits have exited.The decision to move the deposits off of our balance sheet was a result of ongoing dialogue we have had with the customer for the past couple of years. UMB has had a longstanding risk management strategy, and during a review of potential deposit concentrations, we approached the customer to reduce their deposits. They did so, but because of continued growth in the customer’s business, the deposits began increasing again. UMB will continue to monitor our deposit concentrations and will continue to make decisions that are best for our company and our shareholders. We have multiple unique sources of deposits: Institutional Banking and Investment Services (IBIS), Fund Services and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) just to name a few, so it is important that we are continuously monitoring and adjusting as appropriate.
  • Capital Raise
    Our company has been growing steadily over the past few years and that is evident in our financial results. We have experienced robust balance sheet growth, especially in loans. After we completed our recent forecasts, it was clear that the expectations for growth would continue. We needed to grow our capital to support our balance sheet growth. We plan to use the money raised to support our continued growth and for general corporate purposes.When I tell my kids what I’ve been up to the last couple of months, I essentially tell them that I went to New York and asked strangers and current shareholders to invest in our company. And based on our consistent and stable growth for more than 100 years, they gave us more than $200 million.A simple analogy—but it essentially describes our capital raise campaign. Also important to note, the majority of the investors are new to UMB which validates our current investors, and is a testament to the work our associates have been doing over the last century.

I hope this gives you some color to our recent news. It’s a fantastic time for UMB and I look forward to what the next 100 years will bring!

 

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. Hagedorn is president and chief executive officer of UMB Bank and vice chairman of UMB Financial Corporation. Prior to this role, Hagedorn served as chief financial officer and chief administrative officer of UMB Financial Corporation. He joined UMB in March 2005.



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Join the movement: National Cyber Security Awareness Month

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In a world where our thirst for computers, smartphones, gadgets and Wi-Fi seems to have no limits, cyber security has become more important than ever. At home, at work and at school, our growing dependence on technology, coupled with increasing threats to our online safety and privacy, demands greater security in our online world.

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At UMB, we’re proud to take strides towards a safer, more secure cyberspace. In doing so, UMB has joined the National Cyber Security Alliance, Anti-Phishing Working Group and Department of Homeland Security in support of National Cyber Security Awareness Month in October. The Stop.Think.Connect. campaign was launched in 2010 as a national public awareness campaign aimed at increasing the understanding of cyber threats and empowering the American public to be safer and more secure online. Consider it a neighborhood watch for your computer. However, just like security in your neighborhood, this campaign can only be successful when people get involved.

Through this national campaign, UMB has teamed with public and private sector resources as well as the U.S. federal government to help improve cyber security. According to the Stop.Think.Connect. campaign, they strive to:

  • Increase and reinforce awareness of cyber security, including associated risks and threats, and provide solutions for increasing cyber security.
  • Communicate approaches and strategies for the public to keep themselves, their families and their communities safer online.
  • Engage the public, the private sector, and state and local governments in our nation’s effort to improve cyber security.

Cyber security is a shared responsibility. I invite you to join UMB in the cyber security movement during National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Do your part by visiting umb.com and the Stop.Think.Connect. resource page to learn more about how to protect yourself online and help make cyberspace a safer place for all cyber citizens.

 

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. Matheys serves as senior vice president and Director of Corporate Information Security & Privacy, providing oversight of UMB’s information security and privacy programs. She joined UMB in 2010 and has 15 years of experience in information technology and information security. She attended Kansas State University with a focus on management information systems and is a Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) and member of the International Association of Privacy Professionals.



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The business of doing good: How to manage your non-profit’s finances (Part 2)

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The non-profit sector is a growing field and an important part of the economy. With so many organizations for people to choose from, how does a non-profit gain continuous support from donors? How do they attract associates and maintain staff enthusiasm for the organization? One answer is something you might not expect: cards.

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UMB hosted a group of almost 40 representatives from Colorado Springs non-profits to talk about a variety of financial management tips for non-profit organizations.

In my previous post I highlighted the first idea covered in this forum: stream-lined, full-service fundraising options for your supporters. Two additional ways to develop and maintain support from both groups are affinity cardprograms for the donors and a commercial card (also known as a corporate card) program for the staff.

Affinity Card

Affinity card programs give your supporters an easy way to donate to your organization. Every time they use the affinity card to make a purchase, a certain amount of money is donated to your organization. The amount will vary based on the card provider you use.

You can even personalize the card to display your logo or another image that represents your organization.

Sometimes organizations avoid programs like this because they think it’s too much hassle to maintain the program. Actually it’s easier than you think. The most important thing to remember is to research the program, the bank that sponsors it, and the terms and conditions of the card.

Commercial Card

Like affinity cards, some non-profit organizations avoid using commercial cards. They’re concerned it will cost them money and be more of an obstacle than a useful tool. Actually, you can use commercial cards to bring money back to your organization, not just to pay expenses. For example, if you sign up for a card with a rewards or rebate program, you could make money using your card. Or you could earn points toward other purchases for the organization.

Many cards offer a comprehensive set of payment solutions you can use to pay for everything from basic expenses to financing full-scale fundraiser events. These payment solutions often offer automated purchasing/payables for your bookkeeping, allowing you and your staff to be more efficient and focus on the work you’re doing in the community.

Other features and benefits of commercial cards include:

  • Spending Controls
  • Convenience
  • Reporting Capabilities

Creating enthusiasm from your donors and associates is easy because they’re passionate about supporting your organization and its mission. Maintaining that enthusiasm is sometimes more difficult and it often involves thinking about processes from their point of view. One way to do this is to establish programs that remove obstacles and allow them to focus on supporting the organization.

 

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. Doyle is community bank president for UMB’s Colorado Springs region. He is responsible for guiding strategic direction in the Colorado Springs region as a member of the Colorado management team. He joined UMB in 2011 and has eight years of experience in the financial services industry. He earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from Florida State University in Tallahassee, Fla. and a master’s degree in business administration from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla.



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What is diversity and inclusion?

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The words “diversity” and “inclusion” are used a lot in the business world. But how many of us understand the scope of what those two words mean? There is still a widely-accepted assumption that the diversity discussion is limited to minorities and women. But it’s so much more than that. Diversity covers race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, geographical location and even generational differences.

The word inclusion is equally important because it takes the idea of diversity from awareness to action. Once you are aware of the vast diversity in the workforce, the next step is to include as many of those diverse perspectives as possible into your organization.

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So where do you start? Diversity and inclusion has to be more than paying lip service to the idea. Your company needs a plan.

Four areas to focus on:

  1. Executive Leadership Support

    Of course your executive leadership should approve of and enable your diversity and inclusion ideas and efforts. And while it’s great to have that endorsement, it’s only the first step. Implementing a successful diversity and inclusion program in your organization starts from the top down. Diversity should be on the agenda of every leadership meeting, just like the status update on the company financials.

  2. Measurement

    Use measurement tools – like a scorecard – to benchmark and then measure how your company is doing in specific areas. The only way to understand if and how you’re improving is to keep track of simple metrics. That way you can understand where the company began and what to do to improve. UMB is currently implementing these scorecards across our company.

  3. Required Training

    Required diversity and inclusion training for every associate in the company is also important. Do not assume that associates at a certain level of leadership don’t need this training.

  4. Collaborative Partners

    Consider working with local collaborative partners in your area. At UMB we work with organizations across our footprint to help us advance our diversity efforts in the areas of talent acquisition, associate engagement and business opportunities. For example, in Kansas City, we work with many organizations, including Urban League of Greater Kansas City, Hispanic Chamber of Greater Kansas City and a new organization called Concord Cultural Center.

Fully integrating diversity and inclusion in your company involves applying these ideas to every part of the organization and including everyone in the conversation. The diverse perspectives will likely make your company stronger. When you have multiple points of view, you can provide your customers with a well-rounded approach to the business.

 

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.


Dr. Hendricks serves as senior vice president of Diversity and Inclusion at UMB. She is responsible for the corporate-wide diversity and inclusion strategy. She joined UMB in 2006. Dr. Hendricks earned a Bachelor of Science in Human Development Psychology and Mass Communications and a Master of Science in Counseling Psychology from Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan. She also earned a Doctorate in Educational Psychology and Policy Analysis from the University of Missouri-Columbia.



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Internal Fraud: How to protect your company

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You don’t want to believe it. But the numbers just aren’t adding up. You want to trust the people who work for you, but eventually you have to come to terms with the fact that someone in your company is stealing money. Not only does it hurt your business, but it’s often a heartbreaking realization for you as a manager or owner.

It’s not always easy to figure out who is the culprit, but there are steps you can take to detect and hopefully prevent fraud within your company.

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Dual control and separation of duties

Understand who is in charge of what financial responsibilities and make sure there are no gaps. Create a system of checks and balances so that the same person who is running payables (bills, invoices, expense reports) isn’t the same person who is reconciling the accounts (balancing the company checkbook, so to speak).

It’s also a good idea for business owners to review financial statements on a weekly or monthly basis.

Automated fraud detection

Consider implementing Positive Pay. This automated fraud detection tool is offered by most banks. It’s a relatively simple process. Your company issues checks every month and you send the bank a list of all those checks, including check numbers, amounts and payees. The bank makes sure the checks match up as each one clears. This eliminates any fraudulent or altered checks. Automated fraud detection is a great solution for companies as long as they already have dual controls in place.

Anonymous tip line

Businesses should also consider setting up an anonymous fraud tip line. Internal fraud is most often detected by a tip from another associate. As a business owner or manager, you can’t know everything that’s going on in your company. Giving your associates an anonymous way to notify you is a simple, effective way to detect internal fraud.

Other processes and procedures to consider:

  • Reputable third-party audits
  • Periodic reviews of policies, procedures and controls
  • Diversity of associates’ job functions, including rotation of job duties at times
  • Periodic spot checks of your account payables/receivables, payroll, etc.

Don’t think it will happen to you? Keep this in mind. 61 percent of financial professionals reported that their organization experienced attempted or actual payments fraud in 2012. And 26 percent of fraud is committed by an organization’s own associates (Source: Association for Financial Professionals). Even though you want to assume the best from your associates, you should have systems in place to ensure that you don’t become another internal fraud statistic.

 

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. Bibens is a treasury management officer for UMB’s Commercial Deposits department. He is responsible for providing consultative technology and cash flow management solutions to companies and public entities throughout the Greater Missouri area. He joined UMB in 2010 and has 10 years of experience in the financial services industry.



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Is your affinity program still benefiting your organization or non-profit?

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Park University Affinity Card (CardPartner from UMB)RFPs, grant proposals, annual fundraiser dinners, donation drives. If you work for a non-profit or professional association, you’re always searching for new, creative ways to raise funds. Affinity credit card programs are one way to do this by helping to raise awareness and donations with each new account.

 

For organizations big or small, here are five tips to help begin, migrate or simply reevaluate affinity programs and financial partners.

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Evaluate the rewards program

Some affinity programs pay partnering organizations for new accounts, give them a percentage of monthly charge volume and/or cut them a percentage off balance transfers. Some even reward supporters and members with points, miles or cash back.

But some rewards programs may not actually benefit the organization or the cardholder. Some issuers offer rich rewards to the group, but fund the program through the cardholders (higher rates and pricing). And some rewards have a short shelf life, with points that expire in a year.

Compare affinity programs to learn what the rewards are, who gets them, and most importantly, who pays for them.

Know the terms

Affinity card issuers see value in reaching a particular customer base, but they also have to make money on affinity card programs. Understand where that revenue is coming from—especially if it’s coming from your supporters.

Ask these questions:

  • What are the rates and fees?
  • Does the lender charge cardholders extra for personalization?
  • Are there hidden charges that lessen the value for your organization and/or its supporters?

Consider the marketing support

Traditionally, affinity card issuers have controlled the marketing, using direct mail as their primary, if not only, tool to communicate about the affinity program. With social media, the toolkit has expanded and organizations are gaining control and customization of how they market to supporters and members.

Ask these questions:

  • Does the issuer provide tools to support marketing efforts beyond direct mail?
  • Do you have to wait for bank approval of marketing messages or can you insert pre-approved copy in a newsletter or share it on social media?
  • Does the program give your non-profit the flexibility to send messages on your own timeline?

Control of your supporter list

Many lenders will ask you for direct access to your organization’s supporters and for the control over the marketing messages and timing. They do this so they can cross-market other financial products and services when they issue your affinity card. You’ll have to decide whether you want to give up that control.

Check references and reputation

When entering an affinity program, issuers not only get access to your organization’s database—they also get an implied endorsement.

Choose a banking partner carefully. Talk with current affinity partners. Weigh the bank’s reputation among other non-profits. Check their asset quality, capital adequacy, profitability and loan growth; all factors that indicate the bank’s strength, stability and economic responsibility. Based on your research, select a bank that shares your values and will become a long-term partner.

 

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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