2014 Presidents’ Message
Greetings! 2014 is upon us and we look forward to assisting you with your financial goals.
2013 was a solid year for the bank with strong earnings, growth and new activity. Mortgage rates continue to be at historically low levels for people planning on buying or building homes. The past couple years have provided existing homeowners the opportunity to lock in low long term rates saving them money for years to come. We expect most people have now refinanced which will reduce our mortgage activity going forward.
Our brokerage and trust departments were also busy in 2013 with more people looking for assistance managing their money. If you want help with your finances, paying bills, or have a unique situation, be sure to consult Rich or Roger.
Farm and business lending increased in 2013 showing strength and stability in our local economy. One of the real joys of being a community banker is working with and learning about many diverse industry types within our community. In any given week we may work closely with a dairy farmer, hotel manager, car dealer, college, manufacturer, doctor, church, restaurant, school, retailer, or municipality on a project they are pursuing. This is the fun stuff for us!
Most people don’t give a lot of thought to the payment system. Consumers swipe their card at the grocery store and 30 seconds later walk out the door with their groceries. Their account is debited and the store is guaranteed payment, usually within a day. A small bank like ours facilitates tens of thousands of transactions like this each year. Hopefully the process is seamless, but there are many processes, laws and parties involved in each transaction to make this happen. The recent security breach at a major national retailer which affected millions is making our industry consider whether major improvements are needed in our payment system.
In order to be in the business of banking and perform the fun things we’ve discussed, a bank must comply with an increasing number of regulations. We are spending more and more time learning and complying with new laws and regulations. The Dodd-Frank Act which was enacted to prevent another financial crisis and protect consumers is well intentioned. However it will ultimately increase the cost and complexity of financial services. Fortunately we have a great team of compliance, audit, technology and customer service staff working behind the scenes so we can continue helping people with their financial matters.
Business books tell us to keep in mind what it is we do that is the “main thing.” In banking there are three:
1) We provide a safe place for customers to keep money – its FDIC insured.
2) We provide convenient access to the money via ATMs, debit cards, online banking and checks.
3) We act as a financial intermediary, making loans to consumers, farms, and businesses with depositors’ money.
Thank you for choosing to do business with us! We wish you great success in 2014! We are here to help you achieve your goals. We welcome your thoughts and ideas always!
Our best to you,
Ben & Joe Grimstad, Co-Presidents
Decorah Bank & Trust Co.