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Ulster Savings Banks Plans $5 Million Rennovation
Ulster Savings Bank is planning a $5 million renovation of the Bank's Kingston headquarters.
With an anticipated start date of June 1st, Ulster Savings will begin to create a work environment designed to facilitate growth and expedite greater operational efficiency. Features will include:
* An expansion of the Bank's Customer Call Center and Bank Operations
* A state-of-the-art conference and training center for employee use as well as for hosting customer and community events
* An ATM in the Schwenk Drive branch lobby
"We've always maintained that our success is a direct result of our commitment to our employees and customers," noted Lisa M. Cathie, President and CEO of Ulster Savings Bank. "We're excited to begin this much-needed investment. The improvements will enable us to provide an employee-centric headquarters and an excellent customer experience."
The project's positive effect on the local economy was noted by City of Kingston Mayor Shayne Gallo. "Ulster Savings Bank's renovation plans demonstrate their strong commitment to keeping their roots firmly planted in our local community. This will provide a beneficial economic stimulus to the city and will help showcase Ulster Savings Bank and Kingston as premier places to invest and work."
Credit Managers's Index Hits Lows Not Seen in Over a YearThe Credit Managers' Index (CMI) from the National Association of Credit Management (NACM) for April fell to levels not seen in over a year, reflecting the sluggishness of the overall economy. The 53.3 mark is the lowest in over 16 months, the same weak levels seen in the "spring swoon" of 2012. The reading is still in expansion territory, but it is certainly heading in the wrong direction. There are some positive notes, but for the most part the data shows an economy struggling with dual issues: the favorable factors, which signal growth, are not offering encouragement, and the unfavorable factors, which indicate whether companies are in a credit crisis, are exhibiting weakness.
¨For the favorable factor index, the sales number was a potential bright spot, gaining slightly over last month (from 57.4 to 58.3). In general, the data over the last 12 months was relatively consistent, ranging from a high of 62 in August 2012 to a low of 56.7 in December. The bad news is that those readings of 60 and above were from the beginning of last year until the end of summer. Since then, they have slipped into the high to mid-50s. New credit applications changed very little from last month (from 56.9 to 56.5). This suggests that companies are still seeking to expand and are asking for credit, and the data is consistent with other data emerging on capital expenditure decisions since the first of the year. Most of the organizations that track capital expenditure report a steady increase, but no spectacular expansion thus far. Dollar collections also remained relatively stable (from 57.7 to 57.2). The most significant drop in favorable factors was in amount of credit extended (from 61.6 to 60.8). Although nearly a one-point decline, the more important point is that the category remains above 60, and thus far is the only factor consistently in this range. It has not dipped below 60 in over a year, indicating that plenty of companies are extending credit to creditworthy applicants. The overall favorable factor index retreated only slightly (from 58.4 to 58.2), but is one of the lower readings from the past year. The only month with a weaker performance was October, which saw a rebound back above 60 in November. Few expect to see that development this time.
"The real damage to the CMI came from the unfavorable factors," said NACM Economist Chris Kuehl, PhD. "Many companies are now feeling the stress of the slow economy this year."
The index of unfavorable factors fell more than a point (from 51.4 to 50), and is dangerously close to slipping into contraction territory. The index has not been this low since July 2012. Accounts placed for collection actually improved (from 49.7 to 50.1), as did disputes (from 48.3 to 48.5), which counts as stable even though the reading is below 50. On the reverse side, rejections of credit applications slipped (from 51.9 to 51.6), but not dramatically. Filings for bankruptcy also slipped (from 57.3 to 56), but remains firmly in the mid-50s. The most dramatic declines were in dollar amount beyond terms (from 51.2 to 47) and amount of customer deductions (from 49.9 to 46.8).
"The collapse in dollar amount beyond terms signals that many companies have entered the danger zone," said Kuehl. "The sense is that many companies are now on the brink of real trouble, and if the economy continues to stall, there will be some overt business collapse in the next quarter or two."
About the National Association of Credit Management: headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, supports more than 15,000 business credit and financial professionals worldwide with premier industry services, tools and information. NACM and its network of affiliated associations are the leading resource for credit and financial management information, education, products and services designed to improve the management of business credit and accounts receivable. NACM's collective voice has influenced federal legislative policy results concerning commercial business and trade credit to our nation's policy makers for more than 100 years, and continues to play an active part in legislative issues pertaining to business credit and corporate bankruptcy. Its annual Credit Congress is the largest gathering of credit professionals in the world.¨Source: National Association of Credit Management
ICBA and Farmers Market
Coalition Join Forces to Encourage Consumers to Bank, Shop and Dine Locally
The Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) and the Farmers Market Coalition have announced that they are joining forces for ICBA Community Banking Month and for the opening of farmers markets across the country. Their goal is to help educate consumers on the benefits of building a more sustainable local community and life by banking, shopping and dining locally.
"Community banks have helped local farmers and small businesses grow for years, so working with the Farmers Market Coalition to spread the positive Go Local message makes just as much sense now as it would have 50 or 100 years ago," said Bill Loving, ICBA chairman and president and CEO of Pendleton Community Bank in Franklin, W.Va. "By banking, shopping and dining locally, consumers can make a big impact in their lives and in the lives of their neighbors, all while helping to build a more sustainable and robust local economy, which means more local jobs and more local prosperity."
In addition to supporting resilient local economies and agricultural livelihoods, farmers markets provide fresh, nutritious food directly to their communities. Amid the colorful, talkative bustle in these markets, relationships are built, healthy habits are forged, farms thrive, knowledge is shared and new food enterprises are sparked. Since 2000, the number of recorded farmers markets has grown from 2,863 markets in 2000 to more than 7,800 in 2012. As demand grows for fresh local food and shoppers seek relationships with the farms that make such food possible, farmers markets represent an important retail option that bolsters local economies in communities large and small.
Community banks, which are locally based financial institutions that take in and lend deposits locally, have consistently been the largest provider of agricultural credit within the commercial banking sector. In fact, community banks with assets under $10 billion provide more than 75 percent of all commercial bank agricultural loans, and banks with assets less than $1 billion provide nearly 60 percent of all commercial bank agricultural financing. Also, because community banks are small businesses themselves, they have the added advantage of being able to help their agricultural and small business customers understand the unique dynamics of their local marketplace, helping them through good and bad times to build a plan for success.
This spring and summer, ICBA and FMC will spotlight successful partnerships between community banks and farmers markets across the country. As part of ICBA's Go Local initiative, the success stories will highlight these mutually beneficial relationships, while educating the broader consumer base on the benefits of banking, shopping, and dining locally.
To find a community bank near you, visit ICBA's community bank locator at www.banklocally.org. Simply type in your ZIP code and the app will show you all the community banks in your area. You can even download free ICBA locator apps for your iPhone, Android or BlackBerry. For more information about farmers markets and their impact on communities nationwide, visit www.farmersmarketcoalition.org.
Study Shows Customers are Favoring Community Banks Over "Big Banks"
Consumers aren't getting any happier with their big banks. According to the latest report from the American Customer Satisfaction Index, three out of America's big four banks saw a decrease in customer satisfaction overall in 2012. More Americans are considering switching to a local bank or credit union, and with the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) announcing April as Community Banking Month, now is the perfect time to do it.
Consumers on the lookout for the best bank benefit from looking locally.
"Community banks are relationship lenders that thrive when their customers and communities do the same," says Bill Loving, chairman of ICBA, in an April 2013 press release. "Taking care of customers and looking out for the best interest of local communities is the community banking business model."
To help consumers preparing to take the leap from a national financial institution to a local one, GoBankingRates has created a guide to finding the best credit union or local bank.
Consumers can use the helpful tips included there to compare different institutions in their community to find the best bank or credit union to fit their needs. The guide includes a list of characteristics consumers should look for in a new bank, as well as a list of questions that will help them clarify what they are looking for in the best credit union or bank.
ICBA: Senate Report Shows Continued Threat of Too-Big-To-Fail
Bill Loving, chairman of the Independent
Community Bankers of America (ICBA) and president and CEO of Pendleton
Community Bank in Franklin, W.Va., and Camden R. Fine, president and CEO of
ICBA, today issued this statement following the Senate Permanent Subcommittee
on Investigations report that JPMorgan Chase used federally insured deposits
for high-risk trades that resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in losses
it hid from regulators and taxpayers.
"The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations report on JPMorgan Chase demonstrates the dangers of subsidizing too-big-to-fail financial institutions. Not only did JPMorgan use federally insured deposits to fund a portfolio of complex financial instruments used for high-risk, short-term trades, it misinformed investors, regulators, lawmakers and taxpayers about the nature of the London Whale losses.
This failure of oversight and risk management is yet another example of the moral hazard and reckless risk-taking that results when financial institutions are so large and complex that they enjoy an explicit government guarantee against failure. JPMorgan took significant risks with its $157 billion portfolio of synthetic credit derivatives funded in part with federally insured deposits, hid its losses, and dodged the limited regulatory inquiry that followed.
The nation''s financial institutions should be required to operate on a level playing field. Too-big-to-fail and too-big-to-jail financial giants should be downsized and split up to reduce systemic risks, restore accountability in our financial system, and provide for a safer and more economically sound financial system."
Combined with recent testimony from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder that the size of too-big-to-fail financial firms inhibits Justice Department prosecutions on Wall Street, the nation is again witness to the fact that the largest and most complex financial institutions play by a different set of rules than the rest of us. Too-big-to-fail and too-big-to-jail megabanks should not be allowed to operate above the law and engage in highly risky and complex financial gambles with the support of the federal safety net, while too-small-to-save community banks are left to pick up the pieces on Main Street.
For more information, visit www.icba.org.
ICBAC's top priorities for 2013 include:
Exempting financial institutions with consolidated assets of $50 billion or less from Basel III and the standardized approach. ICBA supports strong capital requirements for all banks, but any regulatory response to the financial crisis of 2008, including any changes to the capital standards, should begin with the recognition that community banks were not the cause of that crisis. Applying these new proposed rules to community banks would drive broad industry consolidation and harm communities served by community banks.
Expanding community bank accommodations in new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) mortgage-lending rules to allow them to continue serving their customers and communities. As relationship lenders that underwrite loans based on firsthand knowledge of their customers and communities and who thrive based on the strength of their reputations, community banks have every incentive to make fair, common-sense and affordable loans. They do not need burdensome, prescriptive regulations to compel them to do so.
Exempting community banks from CFPB rules designed to address abuses in large-bank mortgage servicing. Community banks have not perpetrated abuses in servicing and should be exempt from any prescriptive rules that make servicing too costly for them. The CFPB should carefully coordinate the implementation of all the proposed mortgage rule makings to minimize the cost and impact on community banks and consumers.
COMMUNITY BANK REGULATORY RELIEF:
Relieving community banks from excessive regulations to allow them to support the credit needs of their customers, serve their communities and contribute to their local economies. ICBA's Plan for Prosperity legislative platform for the 113th Congress contains a number of targeted provisions that would provide regulatory relief for community banks. ICBA urges Congress and the regulatory agencies to continue to expand and refine a tiered regulatory and supervisory system that recognizes the differences between community banks and larger, more complex institutions.
TAX-EXEMPT CREDIT UNIONS:
Urging Congress to review the unwarranted federal tax subsidy of the credit union industry. ICBA continues to oppose expanded powers for credit unions, particularly the proposal to raise the cap on member business lending, as long as credit unions remain exempt from taxation and the Community Reinvestment Act. The association also opposes legislation that would allow credit unions to raise supplemental capital and, in effect, cease being exclusively member-owned cooperative entities, a condition of their original tax exemption.
CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU:
Supporting legislation that ensures greater deliberation and accountability for consumer-protection regulations. ICBA supports measures to replace single-director governance of the CFPB with a five-member commission. Additionally, the Financial Stability Oversight Council should have the power to veto CFPB rules under a more practical and realistic standard than currently exists.
Advocating the use of consistent standards when evaluating a community bank's fair-lending practices. ICBA opposes changes to methodologies, standards or analysis used to assess fair-lending compliance without providing proper notice to community banks. ICBA supports transparency regarding the legal theories and methodologies used when enforcing fair-lending laws, and it opposes any cause of action under the Fair Housing Act for disparate impact without a finding of intentional discrimination.
THE FARM CREDIT SYSTEM (FCS):
Urging Congress to abolish the FCS or at least restrict it to its historical mission of serving the agricultural marketplace. ICBA adamantly opposes the FCS's expansionist agenda, which would allow FCS lenders to become the equivalent of commercial banks while retaining their status as government-sponsored enterprises with its inherent tax and funding advantages. The Farm Credit Act should further define and narrowly target FCS lending activities to refocus on serving bona fide farmers and ranchers and young, beginning and small farmers and their farmer-owned cooperatives.
Warning regulators about the impact of excessively tough safety-and-soundness and compliance exams. The overly strict exam environment can result in the unnecessary loss of earnings and capital that can have a dramatic and adverse impact on the ability of community banks to lend and support economic growth. To prevent unnecessary bank failures, examiners must exercise restraint.
SECONDARY MARKET REFORM:
Ensuring that reforms of the housing-finance system do not disrupt the housing recovery. Community banks need the continued existence of a financially strong, reliable and impartial secondary market for residential mortgages. The housing government-sponsored enterprises, or any successor entities, must continue to be an aggregator of whole loans that do not directly compete with community banks at the retail level and must continue to permit community banks to retain mortgage servicing rights on the loans they sell.
Advocating tax laws that promote robust economic activity and a vibrant community banking sector and foster saving and investment. ICBA will closely monitor and engage in any tax-reform debate or deficit-reduction proposals to protect community banks and secure needed tax relief. In particular, any tax reform must preserve the pass-through option, including the Subchapter S corporation.
SYSTEMIC RISK SUPERVISION AND RESOLUTION:
Supporting the restructuring of systemically dangerous financial firms to reduce the threat they pose to the financial system and the economy. ICBA backs proposals for restructuring the banking system that would restrict banks to the core activities of making loans and taking deposits and prohibit them from engaging in market making, brokerage and proprietary trading. Banking institutions with $50 billion or more in assets and systemically important nonbank financial companies (SIFIs) should be subject to enhanced prudential standards, including higher capital, leverage, liquidity standards and concentration limits and to contingent resolution plans.
ACCOUNTING AND AUDITING:
Advocating accounting and auditing standards for smaller financial institutions and businesses that do not impose costs that outweigh benefits to financial statement users. ICBA opposes any prohibitions on the ability of community banks to classify mortgage loans and investment securities at amortized cost when the intent for the bank is to collect contractual cash flows. The association supports the work of the Financial Accounting Foundation's Private Company Council to seek recognition, measurement and disclosure alternatives for smaller private companies, including non-public community banks.
For more information, visit www.icba.org.
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