Lifestyle Trends & Tips, Trends & Tips

6 Tips for Spring Cleaning Your Finances

FCB_ICONS_ClockAs spring cleaning season begins, the American Bankers Association is encouraging consumers to put a priority on organizing their finances. ABA has highlighted six tips for getting your financial house in order.

“With the tax season ending, spring is a great time to take a close look at your budget and bank account,” said Corey Carlisle, executive director of the ABA Foundation. “You’ll have a clear picture of your financial situation, and you can make stress-reducing moves now that will pay dividends throughout the year.”

ABA recommends these six tips to help consumers organize their finances:

  • Evaluate and pay down debt. Take a look at how much you owe and what you are paying in interest. Begin paying off existing debt, whether that’s by chipping away at loans with the highest interest rates or eliminating smaller debt first.
  • Review your budget. A lot can change in a year. If you’ve been promoted, had a child, or become a new homeowner or renter, be sure to update your budget. Determine what expenses demand the most money and identify areas where you can realistically cut back. Develop a strategy for spending and saving – and stick to it.
  • Check your credit report. Every year, you are guaranteed one free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus. Take advantage of these free reports and check them for any possible errors. Mistakes can drag down your score and prevent you from getting a loan, or cause you to pay a higher than necessary interest rate.
  • Download your bank’s mobile app. From the palm of your hand, you can make a deposit or access a record of all your recent transactions. Be sure to download the latest updates when they are available.
  • Sign up for e-statements, paperless billing and text alerts. Converting to paperless billing will help keep your house—physical and financial—more clean and organized, and will help protect you from fraud.
  • Set up automatic bill pay. By signing up for automatic bill pay, you’ll never have to worry about a missed payment impacting your credit score. You can set it so that money is withdrawn from your checking account on the same day each month.
In Our Community

Women in Business Luncheon

On Tuesday, May 16th First County Bank sponsored the event, Women in Business at the Greenwich Country Club. Karen Kelly, Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer, First County Bank and Sara Tucker, Senior Vice President, Director Business Banking, First County Bank presented, “Your Professional Journey: Get Recognized, Called Upon and Rewarded” to a capacity-filled room. Their presentation generated much interest and follow-up at the event.

The Luncheon Keynote speaker was Jill Granoff, former CEO, Vince, Kellwood and Kenneth Cole who presented “Ask What You Want”. Many proclaimed the event as a great success revolving around women, wealth and wisdom. We are proud to continually support and develop the growth of business in our community.

Pictured (Left to Right): Sara Tucker, SVP, Director Business Banking; Anna Maria Pace, Branch Manager; Jennifer Lima, AVP, Branch Manager, Jagjiwan "Singh" Singh, AVP, Business Development Officer; Karen Kelly, SVP, Chief Marketing Officer, First County Bank

Pictured (Left to Right): Sara Tucker, SVP, Director Business Banking, First County Bank; Anna Maria Pace, Branch Manager, First County Bank; Jennifer Lima, AVP, Branch Manager, First County Bank; Jagjiwan “Singh” Singh, AVP, Business Development Officer, First County Bank; Karen Kelly, SVP, Chief Marketing Officer, First County Bank

Trends & Tips

8 Ways to Stop an Identity Thief

FCB_IdentityProtectMore than 15.4 million Americans were victims of identity fraud last year, according to Javelin Strategy & Research. The American Bankers Association is offering eight tips to help consumers protect their information to avoid becoming a victim.

“Identity fraud continues to be a major problem for consumers,” said Doug Johnson, ABA’s senior vice president of payments and cybersecurity policy. “Fortunately, there are ways consumers can protect themselves, like being cautious about what information they share and who they share it with, especially online.”

ABA suggests following these eight tips:

  • Don’t share your secrets. Don’t provide your Social Security number or account information to anyone who contacts you online or over the phone. Protect your PINs and passwords and do not share them with anyone. Use a combination of letters and numbers for your passwords and change them periodically. Do not reveal sensitive or personal information on social networking sites.
  • Shred sensitive papers. Shred receipts, banks statements and unused credit card offers before throwing them away.
  • Keep an eye out for missing mail. Fraudsters look for monthly bank or credit card statements and other mail containing your financial information. Consider enrolling in online banking to reduce the likelihood of paper statements being stolen. Also, don’t mail bills from your own mailbox with the flag up.
  • Use online banking to protect yourself. Monitor your financial accounts regularly for fraudulent transactions. Sign up for text or email alerts from your bank for certain types of transactions, such as online purchases or transactions of more than $500.
  • Monitor your credit report. Order a free copy of your credit report every four months from one of the three credit reporting agencies at annualcreditreport.com.
  • Protect your computer. Make sure the virus protection software on your computer is active and up to date. When conducting business online, make sure your browser’s padlock or key icon is active. Also look for an “s” after the “http” to be sure the website is secure.
  • Protect your mobile device. Use the passcode lock on your smartphone and other devices. This will make it more difficult for thieves to access your information if your device is lost or stolen. Before you donate, sell or trade your mobile device, be sure to wipe it using specialized software or using the manufacturer’s recommended technique. Some software allows you to wipe your device remotely if it is lost or stolen. Use caution when downloading apps, as they may contain malware and avoid opening links and attachments – especially for senders you don’t know.

Report any suspected fraud immediately.

Miscellaneous

Are You Hacking Your Own Mobile Device?

FCB_MobileHackedRecent phishing scams have once again raised the concern of online and mobile security. We understand the concerns and risks surrounding fraud which is why we always take necessary precautions in offering fraud prevention tools. A fad in the tech-world is “Jailbreaking” or “Rooting” mobile devices. Unlike third-party hacking into a device, jailbreaking or rooting a mobile device is when the owner of that device, alters its operating system and security features.

The reason user’s will “hack” their own device is to increase a customized user experience or in an attempt to expand functionality. Altering the operating system and device security actually exposes your sensitive personal data to cyber-fraud.  Fraudsters prey upon weakly secured mobile devices, as they monitor device memory and app usage to gather personal information and distribute malicious apps that introduce your device to malware designed to compromise your personal data.

For more information on the risks of jailbreaking and rooting mobile devices or for more security tips, click here.

In Our Community

Another Successful Tax Relief Campaign

IMG_6235-nino-rick-cropped

Left to right: Nino Antonelli, First County Bank, Cristina Andreana, ACT Financial and Tax services, LLC, Richard Zaremski, First County Bank

Our Business Banking Department recently completed a successful Tax Relief Campaign. With each year’s tax season seeming busier than the year before, Business Officers from across the Bank delivered lunches to local accounting firms to show our support during their busiest season.

At the conclusion of tax season, each accountant we had lunch with received personal visits from our team with a gift of a beautiful book “Destinations of a Lifetime” to ease them back into a balanced life, and as an appreciation for their work on behalf of so many.

In Our Community, Trends & Tips

“Tips from the Experts to Drive Your Business”

Mark Rosenbloom

Mark Rosenbloom

Mark Rosenbloom, Vice President & Manager, Cash Management Services Department will be moderating a business panel discussion, “Stay Relevant in Today’s Changing Marketplace” on Wednesday, May 17th at the Darien Library. This forum is free and open to anyone who wants to hear from local business experts on how they navigate today’s marketplace.

Panel members include:

  • Cindy Palmer Dean, Owner and Creative Director at Palmer’s Market in Darien.
  • Doug Campbell, Executive and Career Consultant/Coach, Business Owner, Author, National Speaker and Innovator.
  • Brian Jarvis, SCORE “Counselors to America’s Small Business” Volunteer.
  • Peter Belbita, Founder, Noble House Creative Group

You may arrive at 5:30 p.m. to sign-in and submit questions you want answered by the panel. The discussion begins at 5:45 p.m. Please register in advance at darienctchamber.com.

First County Bank Profile, Trends & Tips

Business Banking with Sara Tucker

senior vice president, director of business banking

Sara Tucker

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.

 

Promotional Initiatives, Trends & Tips

We Celebrate Business Banking Year-Round

FCB-BizFirstExpressFacebookAdIn 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.”

First County Bank Profile, Small Business Profile

Small Businesses Benefit from Cash Management: Meet Mario Maiorana

Maiorana, Mario

Mario Maiorana

Meet Mario Maiorana, Sales & Service Representative, Cash Management Services Department.

Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Mario Maiorana and I am a Sales and Service Representatives in the Cash Management Services Department at First County Bank, located at 117 Prospect Street, Stamford.

My 11 years of experience with the Bank, enable me to understand our clients’ needs and recommend products and services that are best fitted for each client. The most important motivating factor for me is our customer’s success.

What is Cash Management?
Cash Management stands for solution-oriented products and services that meet our client’s needs of managing daily business processes, while maximizing cash flow and productivity.

Our Cash Management team strongly believes in the effectiveness and value of our products and you can always count on a personal, prompt and high level of service.

How do Cash Management products benefit small businesses?
Our products are designed to effectively accommodate small businesses by providing essential services such as: Merchant Services (Credit Card processing), Payroll Services, Business Credit Cards with various money saving options, Remote Deposit Capture, QuickBooks (Direct Connect),  ACH and Wire origination and Positive Pay, our fraud monitoring system.

In addition, we work closely with other departments across the Bank to deliver lending and investment solutions to aid our clients in successfully developing or expanding their business.

What is the most sought after CM product for small businesses?
Positive Pay seems to be the most sought after product Cash Management service.  Positive Pay is an anti-fraud tool that adds an additional level of security to a business checking account, to defend against check and ACH fraud.  It is quite topical, considering the high risk for fraud in today’s web-connected world.

Specific business types, such as attorneys with IOLTA accounts and non-profit organizations, are strongly recommended to have fraud protection by their auditors.  Others, particularly those who have experienced fraud in the past, are moving forward with setting up this service.

What success story can you share of how a business has benefited from Cash Management services?
A local, small law firm was referred to me. They wanted to be provided with additional information on our wire origination product.

The client was in the process of moving their business accounts to our Bank, and at the recommendation of our Stamford Office Branch Manager, I was able to have an open discussion about their previous banking experience and current service needs. Together we uncovered the tremendous value in two additional services that will help protect his business from fraud (Positive Pay), as well as an expedited payment system for vendors or clients (ACH origination).

Small Business Profile, Trends & Tips

Kicking off Small Business Week

NSBW_Banner_New (1)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.