Meet Sara Tucker, Senior Vice President, Director Business Banking.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I came to First County Bank two years ago with over twenty-five years of experience in the commercial banking world. Much of my prior experience consisted of a mix of community banks and larger institutions. I was eager to start at First County Bank as I enjoy working in a community setting, helping small and medium-sized businesses find customized solutions to achieve their goals.
What financial solutions do we offer for small businesses?
Our Business Banking Department offers a variety of financial solutions for small businesses, from cash management services to cost-effective business checking accounts. We work diligently to create customized solutions for our clients to help them achieve their goals, typically centered on growth and expansion of their business.
Our latest financial solution is our BusinessFirst Express Loan. This fintech financial solution, offers streamlined financing options for businesses that are in need of quick access to funds. The BusinessFirst Express loan is available for loans or lines of credit up to $100,000, with funds available as soon as 7 business days after the application is completed.
How do these solutions benefit small businesses?
We are leveraging technology to create a better banking experience for our customers. The BusinessFirst Express Loan helps provide a quick access to capital, while Cash Management services such as Positive Pay defends transactions against check or ACH fraud.
We are dedicated to providing our customers with the resources to meet their goals – whether that is through customized solutions or listening to our customers and developing products to meet their specific needs, like the BusinessFirst Express Loan.
What success story can you share of how a business has benefited from these services?
A local nonprofit had expansion plans; however, they were struggling to find a flexible line of credit option. After meeting with members of our team, we worked with them to provide a flexible solution with customized pricing to fit their specific needs.
Not only were we able to provide them with a financial solution, we were able to provide them with a competitive suite of cash management services that would help sustain and improve their daily cash flow operations.
In 2015, we recognized a need for businesses to have quick access to funds. We understood that small businesses, in particular, had the greatest need for a streamlined financing option which would get them cash when it was needed – not several months later.
Throughout 2016, various departments across the Bank came together to solve this issue. Responding to the need for business customers to have expedited access to funds, we teamed-up with Fundation™, a fintech platform, and designed and launched the BusinessFirst Express Loan™ for loan requests up to $100,000. This streamlined, financing solution offers:
- Approval as soon as 48 hours
- Funds as soon as 7 business days
- An online application for convenience
- Both Term Loan and Line of Credit options
- Potential funding options from First County Bank or Fundation™
“First County Bank understands the unique needs of small business and we developed the BusinessFirst Express Loan™ to provide businesses with accelerated access to funds,” said Reyno A. Giallongo, Jr. chairman and CEO of First County Bank. “It makes sense for the Bank to partner with Fundation™. Through this streamlined fintech solution, we can provide more business lending options with impressive turnaround times.”
This week, National Small Business Week will be celebrated across the country. We constantly hear the challenges and successes of starting and maintaining a small business; however, we don’t hear enough about the impact small businesses make in our community.
Here are some eye-opening trends from the Small Business Administration – “Small Business, Big Impact!”
- The 28 million small businesses in America account for 54% of all U.S. sales.
- Small businesses provide 55% of all jobs and 66% of all net new jobs since the 1970s.
- The 600,000 plus franchised small businesses in the U.S. account for 40% of all retail sales and provide jobs for some 8 million people.
- The small business sector in America occupies 30-50% of all commercial space, an estimated 20-34 billion square feet.
- Since 1990, as big business eliminated 4 million jobs, small businesses added 8 million new jobs.
We look forward to celebrating Small Business Week by highlighting business events in our community and financial solutions for small businesses. You can participate by shopping local and continuing to support local, small businesses.
In 2016 we saw the housing market become very competitive. There was an influx of buyers, but the number of sellers seemed to plateau. Many factors made 2016 interesting, such as continued record-low rates, a perceived lack of new home production from builders, and the millennial market began to show interest in buying homes. A “Housing Outlook for 2017” article from Forbes, discusses eight predictions for 2017 covering similarities and differences from 2016.
Here are some of the expectations for 2017:
- Prices will continue to rise—but more slowly. Real estate brokerage Redfin, “expects the median home sale prices to gain 5.3% in 2017 compared to 2016.” David Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices added to the conversation stating, “With the current high consumer confidence numbers and low unemployment rate, affordability trends do not suggest an immediate reversal in home price trends.”
- Credit availability will improve—maybe. While the Trump Administration has not set out to directly impact the housing market, expected changes and deregulation of the Dodd-Frank Act could have an effect on banks and their ability to provide loans to a larger variety of buyers.
- More millennials will become homeowners—and renters. “According to Zillow half of all buyers are under age 36 … Of course much of this is due to the fact that Millennials—adults born after 1980—are now the largest adult generation and make up the greatest percentage of the workforce.”
- Competition will grow. Redfin began measuring the average time that homes were on the market in 2009. In 2016, Redfin recorded the average time was just 52 days. It is expected that this time will be even shorter in 2017.
If you’re considering entering the housing market in 2017, it will be vital for you to know and understand what is happening in the market. To read more of the Forbes article, click here. If you’re looking for more personal information on your situation and surrounding market, talk to one of our Mortgage Experts.
Brooke Ann Bean of Stamford is presented with a $1,000 check as our First-Ever FirstPrize $avings Winner.
We understand the importance, but also the challenge of putting extra cash aside. Building your savings is a challenging task for most Americans. America Saves Week was established in 2007 to promote savings and the positive benefits of this difficult task.
At First County Bank, we promote savings every week of the year, and developed the FirstPrize $avings Account to make savings more enjoyable. This account allows you to build your savings while earning chances to win $1,000. Every month, the first ten deposits of at least $25 into the account automatically earn entries for a chance to win!1 It’s only appropriate that America Saves Week is the same week as our second drawing period. We’re excited to announce that, we will soon have our second FirstPrize $avings $1,000 Winner!
Saving is a challenge. However there’s no reason it can’t be exciting at the same time. If you’re ready to shake things up and turn saving into a positive experience, talk to your local banker or visit one of our branches to open a FirstPrize $avings account. To learn more about the FirstPrize $avings Account, click here or visit the link below.
1 Refer to http://www.firstcountybank.com/savings-account-disclosure for account official rules and disclosure.
Let’s face it – other than the turbulent election season, tax season, year-after-year takes the crown as the least favorite time period for the average American. As if tax season isn’t difficult enough, there are some notable changes from 2016 that you should be aware of as you begin your tax preparations for the 2017 tax season, provided by LegalZoom®.
- Due to a new law, delays on tax refunds are expected. Typically the best part of tax season, the refund, will be delayed for thousands of middle- and low-income taxpayers who file early. This is due to a new law, in which the IRS is working to reduce tax fraud and identity theft. You will get your refund, just be aware it may take a little longer than usual.
- Business partnerships have a new filing deadline. “As a result of legislation enacted in 2015, some businesses will have new filing due dates this spring. Beginning with the 2017 tax season, business partnership tax returns—Form 1065—will have a new filing deadline of March 15.” said Greg Lindberg of LegalZoom®.
- If you’ve prepared a budget, set aside extra money now. While we would normally discourage bonuses and refunds from factoring into your yearly budget, we strongly recommend preparing for a delay in your tax refund. Reallocating your expenses now will help ensure you do not experience a financial short fall when the tax refund is delayed.
To continue reading, “What to Know and How to Prepare for the 2017 Tax Season” click here. To learn how these changes may affect you or for more personal help, talk to your local banker by calling or visiting any of our branches
We’re just over a month into the new year and some of you may be well on your way to accomplishing those New Year’s resolutions, while others may be off to a slow start. For many, the start of a new year is a time to set financial goals and actually set-up a budget to be followed. If you’re struggling to stay on track with your budget or quite frankly don’t know where to start, you’re not alone. According to The Motley Fool, “in a recent U.S. Bank study, roughly 60% of Americans admitted that they don’t follow a budget.” Here are five budgeting tips that The Motley Fool offers as a starting point, which we think are worth looking into.
- Accuracy is key – The Motley Fool uses the term “accuracy” but this can be used interchangeably with “reality.” You need to be accurate and realistic with your budgeting. “Case in point: your electric bill. You’ll probably pay more during the summer, when your air conditioner is perpetually blasting on high, than during the spring, when you’re using much less energy. But basing your monthly electricity costs on the $80 bill you typically get in April or May might cause you to fall short when you get a $250 bill in July. That’s why you’ll need to review your spending throughout the year rather than rely on a single snapshot.”
- Account for one-time expenses – Yearly or one-time expenses may send you spiraling into debt in a certain month. To allow for more breathing-room and to properly allocate those big expenses, don’t be afraid to split up that yearly membership fee or maintenance fee throughout all twelve months.
- Don’t include your bonus – This tip relates back to #1 – be accurate and realistic. If you’re trying to make your budget as realistic/accurate as possible, remember that your bonus is not guaranteed. Try to not include it in your budget, because it could cause you to come-up short.
- Update as you go – Don’t be afraid to update your budget as you go. Just because prices fluctuate does not mean you did not stay to your budget or factor in expenses accurately.
- Always include a line item for savings – Every budget has its expenses, but a spot for savings is often overlooked. No matter what you’re saving for, The Motley Fool suggests allocating at least 10% of every paycheck for a savings account – and we agree.
Creating a budget and mapping out expenses is a difficult task. But when it comes to staying disciplined and following that budget, creating often seems like the easy part. Budgeting takes time and perseverance but we encourage everyone to try it as it can be rewarding and lead to financial empowerment. If you’re ready to start budgeting or are struggling to stay committed, talk with your local banker by calling or visiting one of our branches.
As any business owner knows, when your business grows and the need for more advanced transactions build, “nominal” fees begin to add up. No matter the size of your business, business banking fees can diminish growth. Before you know it, you start spending more time trying to avoid excess fees than you do trying to build your business, and the thought of switching banks is too much of a time-consuming option.
At First County Bank we understand your business banking needs, which is why we avoid the stress of business banking fees altogether. Our business checking account, BusinessFirst Checking1, could save you up to $250 each month in business banking fees!2 With our account you avoid monthly maintenance fees, have no minimum balance, enjoy unlimited check writing, unlimited deposits, unlimited bill payments and much more. Whether you’re an established business or a start-up, our BusinessFirst Checking account is where we put your business first.
If you’re looking to make the switch to our BusinessFirst Checking account, know someone who should, or want to do a cost comparison to see how much you could save, visit any of our branches or call our Business Banking team at 203.462.4379.
1 See Business Deposit Account Schedule of Charges and Cash Management/Business Online Banking Agreements for details regarding fees, funds availability, security requirements, and other terms and conditions.
2 Savings estimate based on fees for Positive Pay and Remote Deposit Capture being waived for six months and an estimate of charges you are paying on your existing bank account. Ask us for details.
Cash Management Services is a phrase used quite often when it comes to business banking – but what are they really? Cash Management Services assist businesses in terms of “cash” related operations, such as Merchant Deposits,1 which assists in credit card processing; Payroll Services,2 which helps you pay your employees and complete taxes; as well as many other services in between.
Additions to Cash Management Services address the growing and challenging trends of not only how a business is managed financially, by protecting those finances through anti-fraud services. An up-and-coming cash management tool to defend against fraud is Positive Pay. Positive Pay helps oversee each and every check-related transaction throughout the day to assist you in preventing fraud. Cash Management Services are increasingly becoming the “go-to” tools for businesses in order to better manage day-to-day cash-flow.
If you want to learn more about First County Bank-specific Cash Management Services or how Cash Management Services can better assist your business’s day-to-day cash-flow, contact our Cash Management Department by calling 203.462.4379 or by visiting any of our branches.
1Merchant services are provided through Direct Connect, which is not owned or operated by First County Bank.
2Payroll services are provided through Pay USA, Inc., which is not owned or operated by First County Bank.
In a recent Forbes Article, writer Andrew Josuweit discusses top financial resolutions in 2017. Josuweit begins the article by stating, “If you’re among the third who aren’t planning to set a financial goal for the New Year, you might want to reconsider. About half of resolution-setters achieved 80 percent or more of their financial goal in 2016, according to a survey from Fidelity Investments.” Define financial resolutions as you set your goals for the New Year.
- Build an Emergency Fund – “An emergency fund is your first line of defense against financial hardship.”
- Save for Retirement – Whatever your retirement goals are, use 2017 as the year you began your retirement savings.
- Buy a House – According to Josuweit, purchasing a home is high on the list for many people as they welcome 2017. If you’re a potential homebuyer in the New Year, understanding the process is just as important as finding the home of your dreams. Here are three questions to consider:
- How does this affect your overall wealth management plan?
- Have you determined how much house you can afford?
- How well do you understand the market, as well as your personal mortgage and home equity needs?
Let 2017 be the year of hope and empowerment for you, as you build financial freedom and personal wealth. Accomplishing these resolutions is no easy task – what makes them easy, is having an advisor you can trust. Talk to your banker about helping you plan your journey to achieve your financial goals.