OSB’s Flexible Financing Creates Opportunity for Small Businesses

Ted Schork, Vice President, Commercial Banking at OSB shares how our community banking philosophy has helped one local business succeed.

“A key benefit of community banking for small businesses is our willingness and ability to be flexible in the financing solutions we offer. I was recently reminded of this when OSB had the opportunity to serve one of our long-term, residential mortgage clients who also operates a small, family-owned business which has been part of our community for more than twenty years.

The business is co-owned by a father and his son and daughter-in-law. It provides excavating, logging and trucking services. Earlier this year, one of the company’s main customers indicated that two of its other subcontractors would no longer be providing trucking services due to their retirement. This customer needed to find another subcontractor to take on the additional work and contracts. They offered this opportunity to our client.

To be able to capitalize on this opportunity, the client needed to purchase another semi-truck, a trailer and logging equipment for their business. They approached our commercial lending team with their financing needs and the desire to keep as much of their current cash position as possible for working capital. Typically, a loan requires using a good portion of cash as equity or a down payment. Instead, OSB worked with this client to utilize the equity in their other vehicles and equipment to structure a loan that met their needs.

Creativity and flexibility in OSB’s approach to commercial lending helped to create a “win-win” situation and the ability to honor our commitment of serving our clients for the long haul.”

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SBA Loans Provide Alternative Funding Options to Fuel Local Business Growth

Matthew J. Chrome, Senior Vice President, Chief Credit Officer, at OSB shares how SBA loans can help local small businesses grow, as we recognize National Small Business Week.

Over the course of my 20-plus years in banking, I have found that when working with small businesses, it is often necessary to look beyond conventional commercial loans in order to help fund their growth. The government’s Small Business Administration loans are often an ideal option that a community bank like OSB can access for its small business customers.

I recall two particularly poignant examples of using SBA loans to fund small business clients—one at the beginning of my career and one not too long ago.

In the first example, I learned about the power of SBA loans as I worked with a more senior lender who was trying to structure a loan for a minority-owned, fledgling business to buy or build a new building for their headquarters.  The business had some warts in its financial statements, including friendly debt and stagnant lines of credit. These are things that are commonly found with small, growing businesses. By looking outside of traditional lending options, this commercial lender found opportunity in the SBA 504 program.

The bank took on 90 percent of the construction loan to build the new headquarters, and the Economic Development Corporation took on 40 percent of the end loan exposure, leaving the bank with a 50 percent advance on the end loan. This alternative funding option gave a small, cash-strapped (but growing) business the money it needed to build a new headquarters—and the company is still performing well, 21 years later.

More recently, I was able to structure a series of SBA loans to support a prominent, growing restaurant business that wanted to expand further. The business has a track record of sufficient cash flow and is a consistent supporter of the community, but it does not have the collateral needed to support a conventional commercial loan with the bank.  Their significant shortage of collateral would normally stop the commercial loan process, but the SBA 7A loan program provided a government guarantee to the bank, in case of loan default, encouraging the bank to make the loan.

For small, growing businesses, having access to capital can make all the difference when it comes to achieving the next level of success. However, many businesses may have sufficient cash flow, but not enough collateral to qualify for traditional commercial loans. Or, they may have had some debt issues or some past financial misfortune that puts a blemish on their financial records. This can leave them limited in their ability to move ahead—unless they work with a lender who can offer some non-traditional financing options, like SBA loans.

Behind Every Successful Business Loan is a Great Customer Relationship

In celebration of National Small Business Week,our commercial lending team is sharing how OSB helps local small business owners find flexible financing so they can take advantage of new growth opportunities. John Spiedel, Senior Vice President of Commercial Lending at OSB shares his thoughts below.

“While many banks focus on solely the dollars and cents of a commercial loan transaction, at OSB we look beyond the numbers to learn about the amazing people who have a real passion for building our community.

True community bankers are intensely focused on their community, but they also recognize that a community is defined by people—not just by lines on a map. A perfect example of this philosophy in action is the relationship that OSB has formed with a mid-1980’s University of Michigan alumna who lives in California and has an extremely successful consulting business there. Even though she lives far away, she has always stayed connected to her hometown, Ann Arbor, including making investments in student rental properties in the city.

Recently, this customer decided to purchase additional student rental properties in Ann Arbor, but none of the other “local” banks wanted to lend to someone living outside of Michigan. She was referred to OSB by another local business owner (who has since become our customer as well). Instead of dismissing her request on a geographic basis, we looked deeper, taking the time to learn about her goals and to understand her keen business sense and conservative, disciplined nature. We also noted that she flew in each month to visit each of her Michigan investments in person. She was hardly an absentee owner, which made her an even better potential customer.

By working to understand not only the financial situation but the person behind the numbers as well, we saw that this scenario held not only manageable risk, but a great potential customer relationship. Her investments in property renovations have been carried out by local workers using materials bought locally. This customer’s satisfaction with OSB’s small business loans and our way of doing business is evident in her willingness to recommend us to her many other Ann Arbor business contacts. This is proof that behind every successful business loan is a great customer relationship.”

Celebrate the Difference Community Banking Can Make for You

April is Community Banking Month…and in keeping with the national theme, “Grow Your Community,” OSB is committed to expanding relationships and opportunities in the local markets we serve.

At OSB, we take the difference of community banking seriously. When you do business with us, your money goes to work right here in our community to improve the economy and access to affordable funding for small business owners, families, consumers, and everyone who lives and works in our communities.

As we reflect on what community banking means to us, we want to thank you for allowing us to partner with you to help you achieve your goals. We look forward to celebrating Community Banking Month with you. Stop by one of our branches and see the difference that banking locally can make.

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Top Tips for Reducing Your Risk of Credit Card Fraud and Identity Theft

chipThe numbers don’t lie: the problem of credit card fraud and identity theft is still prevalent. In fact, the 2016 Identity Fraud Study by Javelin Strategy & Research shows that there are more victims than ever with over 13 million Americans affected last year. Overall, identity thieves have stolen $112 billion in the past six years that’s nearly $35,600 per minute, or enough to fund a four-year college degree in less than five minutes.

How can you protect yourself from credit card fraud and identity theft? Try these tips:

1. Enact a credit freeze. A credit freeze, also known as a security freeze, stops unauthorized individuals from getting access to your credit report. Creditors check your credit report before opening new financial or service accounts in your name, if you block access to it, identity thieves won’t be able to open credit cards in your name. When you are ready to apply for new credit, you can reverse the credit freeze.

2. Keep mobile devices secure. Tablets and smartphones are extremely convenient and efficient for managing your finances. However, unless you secure them properly, you can leave yourself vulnerable to credit card fraud and identity theft. Make implementing all available software updates for your devices a priority and use the security features offered by Android and iOS platforms, including biometric (fingerprint or voice recognition) passwords and data encryption. In addition, look for settings that allow you to remotely wipe clean the contents of your device if it is lost or stolen.

3. Set strong passwords. Your password is the first line of defense against credit card and identity theft. Changing your passwords on a regular basis is also an important step. If you can’t remember your passwords, try using an electronic password manager such as LastPass to keep them straight and secure.

4. Activate account alerts. Most financial institutions, credit card issuers and brokerages, offer free text message and email notifications to provide you with real-time alerts of suspicious activity. Make sure you keep tabs on these notifications and if you do receive something that indicates fraudulent activity, contact the account issuer immediately.

5. Don’t disregard data breach notifications. According to AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) research, 20 percent of data-breach victims suffered fraud in 2015, up from 1 in 7 in 2014. Retail breaches remain a major source of these breaches, but the largest increase in breaches was in government agencies and health care organizations, both potentially risk the exposure of your Social Security number and potentially financial information as well.

Even the most stringent security measures cannot provide absolute protection from credit card and identity theft. That’s why it’s so important for you to take proactive steps to safeguard your own financial accounts and stay vigilant when monitoring for any suspicious activity. If you have any questions about credit card fraud, identity theft or protecting your financial information please contact us.

Achieve Your Goals with Smart CD Savings Strategies

An OSB certificate of deposit (CD) account is a great savings tool, providing the opportunity to earn interest and shelter your money. When used wisely, a certificate of deposit can save you in a financial pinch, or even fund your future. Here are two strategies for putting the financial power of a CD to work for you:
 
Consider using CDs for a “rainy day” fund

In a regular savings account, a “rainy day fund” can be too easily tapped for other things. To help you remain disciplined about saving, a certificate of deposit may be a better choice because your money is secured for a predetermined term and is off-limits.

Use your CD for financial goal setting

If you have a long-term financial goal, a CD is the perfect vehicle to be assigned to helping you realize it.  If you want to buy a house, for instance, you can put money into a CD and when it matures, you can roll it into another CD until your savings goals are met. Seeing that interest accumulate can help you stay motivated reach your goal!

OSB CDs also keep your money working in our local community, consider taking advantage of one today!

Why Community Banks are Different…in a Good Way!

All banks are the same, right? They’ve all got tellers and lenders, they cash checks and write loans, they have ATMs. They all do the same things, because they’re all the same—or are they?

It’s a fact: Community banks are different. Different…in a good way. For example, community banks do more than just cash checks:

They’re helping businesses grow.

U.S. Small Business Administration statistics show that small firms employ just over half of the private-sector workforce and created nearly two-thirds of nation’s net new jobs over the past decade and a half. Community banks are natural partners to small businesses because they understand them so well and are committed to their success. As such, the funding, expertise and opportunities small businesses receive from community banks helps them grow and keeps dollars in our community – making it an even greater place to live

They’re creating jobs.

Community banks employ more than 700,000 Americans across more than 52,000 locations nationwide, according to Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA). In addition to their own employees, community banks help create employment locally by improving the economic infrastructure of the communities they serve and enabling businesses to get the financing they need to grow and add more employment opportunities.

They’re supporting the local economy.

ICBA statistics also show that community banks fund nearly 60% of small business loans under $1 million – reinvesting their deposit dollars back into their community. As a small business themselves, community banks are passionate about ensuring that the communities they share are thriving.

They’re helping local farmers.

Consistently the largest provider of agricultural credit, community banks provide $57 billion in agricultural loans (ICBA data). This comprises more than 70% of commercial agricultural loans in America.

They’re doing more than writing checks.

Communities banks, like OSB Community Bank (OSB) give back to the communities they serve, providing financial and in-kind support to organizations in their communities. Reinvesting back into the community is a central part of the community banking philosophy. OSB employees volunteer many hours to local community organizations – serving on boards for Hospice of Lenawee, Kiwanis, Cascades Humane Society, Jackson Enterprise and many more. Plus, our team is always ready to get involved in community events that foster stronger relationships.

They’re here for the long haul.

A community bank isn’t just another bank. Community banks are different and making a difference to the businesses, individuals and communities they serve. They strive to develop long-term relationships and are committed to supporting the local community through employment, reinvestment and volunteerism. Despite the uncertainty facing other financial institutions community banks are here for the long haul, so you can feel confident that working with (or for) a community bank is a decision you can feel good about over the long-term.