Welcome to the GRBblog! Get to know GRB, Rochester's only locally owned and managed commercial bank. A commercial bank, but also a community bank, with an entrepreneurial spirit about everything we do. We're committed to Growing Rochester Business and making our community a better place to live and work.
The GRBblog is where we post bank news and information, stories about the great organizations we support, and share relevant local and national business news.
GRB is pleased to announce it has once again been named to the “Best Companies to Work for in New York” state awards. This is the sixth consecutive year that GRB has made the list. The awards are decided based in large part on responses from employee surveys and is sponsored by the New York State Society for Human Resource Management (NYS-SHRM).
With Small Business Saturday just around the corner, the U.S. Small Business Administration has provided a list of 10 tips to help business owners take full advantage of the opportunity to connect with local shoppers.
More than two-thirds of every dollar spent at local small businesses stays in the local economy, so Small Business Saturday makes a real impact. Last year’s Small Business Saturday sales reached an all-time high of $17.8 billion.
Use these last few days before Nov. 30 to make sure your business is prepared to capture the attention of shoppers and turn them into repeat customers with these SBA tips:
Give yourself a digital makeover. Check your website, social media accounts, and review sites to make sure all online information about your small business is accurate and up to date. Focus on what you offer, where you’re located, and how customers can contact you.
Show what sets you apart. As a small business, it’s tough to compete with big box stores. In your marketing efforts, make sure customers know what makes your small business special. This can be a unique product or service or simply creating an inviting space for shoppers. Whatever that may be, communicate it to customers.
Get social on social media. Promote Small Business Saturday deals and share how you’re preparing your store. Use #ShopSmall on your social media posts to join the overall conversation. Encourage shoppers to snap a selfie and tag your business. This can increase engagement of your posts, potentially reaching new customers.
Plan an event. Organize a Small Business Saturday kickoff with food, drinks, and promotional items to draw shoppers in. Consider special discounts or free offerings for loyal customers. Set up an in-store activity that demonstrates your products or services.
Partner up. Contact other small businesses in your area and see how you can team up to provide special offers. Consider highlighting a local charity at your business. It’s a great way to embrace the spirit of the season and give back.
Leverage local events. Identify other holiday events and determine how your business can participate. This could lead to repeat customers and help you become a bigger part of the community.
Promote gift cards. Many holiday shoppers buy gift cards or gift certificates for family and friends, representing a huge opportunity for your small business.
Stay open longer. Small Business Saturday will most likely be your busiest day of the year. Extending your hours by opening earlier and closing later could have a big impact on sales.
Chat with staff. Before Small Business Saturday, have a meeting with your staff. Reminding them to greet each shopper when they enter and exit your business. Thank them and show appreciation for their work. Making Small Business Saturday a win for your business is a total team effort!
Track success. Take a few moments after Small Business Saturday to analyze what worked and what didn’t. This could help shape your strategy for next year.
Make a big splash this year as more people look to #ShopSmall! Good luck!
Stacey MichaelsWednesday, September 11, 2019Community
We all know where we were when we saw the events that would change our world forever. Our shared experience brought terrible, terrible grief. But it also brought us a collective strength that we use to remember this day with something positive.
The Wall Street Journal recently noted that a window has
opened for homeowners who may wish to refinance higher-rate home mortgage
loans. This follows an unexpected dip to below 4 percent in 30-year
mortgage rates that started in May and has continued through the summer.
The end result is mortgage rates that are at their lowest level in three
“Refinancing a mortgage can offer a number of benefits including reducing monthly payments, shortening the loan term (and the total interest paid over the life of the loan), and even taking cash out for other purposes like college tuition or home improvements,” said Mike Pulver, GRB’s SVP, Residential Mortgage Manager.
difference of one percentage point between your current interest rate and
today’s lower rates can make it worthwhile to refinance. It pays to run
the numbers and see if – or when – it may make sense to look refinancing your
home loan. The analysis only takes a few minutes and can help ensure you
are getting the most from your home investment.
GRB’s President and CEO Philip Pecora was featured in the Rochester Business Journal’s recent article on financial technology, and how community banks are able to keep pace with larger financial institutions.
Pecora noted that partnerships are important to community banks and GRB is always vetting new platforms and services to provide customers with technology solutions, while still maintaining a personal relationship with its client base.
“Twenty years ago, people used to think advanced technology would mean the end for community banks, but instead it’s been an enabler for community banks to keep pace with larger institutions,”said Pecora.
The full article can be seen in the RBJ’s July 19 edition.
Employee Education and Awareness Keys to Prevention
Fraud is on the rise and growing at an alarming rate among the small business community. As scammers change their techniques, businesses need to raise their level of vigilance.
According to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the number of suspicious activity reports (SARs) describing Business Email Compromise (BEC) incidents reported monthly has grown rapidly. They now average more than 1,100 per month in 2018 — that’s twice the amount reported in 2016. The total value of attempted BEC thefts, as reported in SARs, climbed to an average of $301 million per month last year.
Scammers are branching out, targeting construction and manufacturing companies, which typically deal in larger transaction amounts. The average loss for these companies is more than $50,000 per incident.
But This Doesn’t Happen in Rochester…Actually, it Does
“It’s tempting to look at the numbers above as a ‘national’ problem, and not one we’re having here in Rochester, but I can tell you first-hand that is absolutely not the case,” explains GRB’s Vice President, Risk Management Officer Brandon Beardsley. “Rochester companies are being targeted and scammers are being successful.”
Beardsley, who is part of a number of local security and risk management professional organizations, notes the following scams reported by local companies and financial institutions in just the last few months:
CEO Fraud – A fraudster impersonates an executive of a business and requests an urgent wire transfer or ACH transaction
Vendor Fraud – A fraudster intercepts communications between a business and one of its vendors and requests that in invoice be sent to a fraudulent account
Business Email Compromise – Targets employee direct deposit accounts, wires and ACH transactions, and IOLA accounts
Stolen checks/check fraud
“What we see is fewer scams targeting financial institutions. Instead, they are targeting the businesses directly,” says Beardsley.
Employees are Key
Beardsley also notes that technology, like enhanced firewalls and stronger passwords alone aren’t the answer to preventing fraud. He emphasizes that technical defenses need to align with employee awareness.
“Employees need to be trained to be suspicious of unusual requests and follow all verification procedures for any transaction. Even everyday requests can be compromised, like Human Resources receiving a request to change an employee’s direct deposit account number. There needs to be a process for verifying requests that could allow for fraud to occur – preferably using a communication channel different from the one used to make the request,” says Beardsley. “While technology is certainly helpful in fraud prevention, employees are still the most important factor in making sure a scammer cannot complete a fraudulent transaction.”
He also strongly encourages businesses to develop a comprehensive plan for raising fraud awareness. This should include employee training programs, and implementing additional tools for transaction verification. GRB provides the Positive Pay solution as an additional protection against ACH and check fraud.
In addition, the Federal Trade Commission, the Small Business Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation provide resources that businesses can use to help create their own strategies for preventing financial losses from fraud.
“Financial fraud is a serious risk for businesses,” said Beardsley. “Everyone in the organization needs to be included in the prevention process.”
Rochester real estate market grabbing national headlines as incredibly
competitive, buyers need to be more vigilant than ever about making sure they
have their financing in place when an opportunity to buy arises.
Keep Your Documentation Current
With record low
inventory levels, it is taking potential homebuyers much longer than usual to
find a home. The documentation (pay stubs, credit reports, etc.) used to
create your mortgage preapproval is usually only valid for 90-120 days.
If your home search extends longer than that, you’ll need to work closely with
your mortgage provider to keep your documentation up to date. This
includes notifying your mortgage originator immediately of any major changes
that can impact your financial position, including:
New job with a new employer
Promotion/salary change with existing employer (a promotion is usually good news — but if you are qualifying using a grant program, that promotion could make you ineligible)
Additional cash flow that suddenly appears in your accounts (inheritance, income from a side business, etc. may require additional documentation)
for Hidden Risks
extended search, sometimes you can be caught off-guard by seemingly unrelated
decisions that may impact your ability to maintain your mortgage
preapproval. It is important to talk to your mortgage originator prior to
doing any of the following:
a significant purchase like a car or furniture (particularly if it results in a
loan or deferred payment)
a loan for someone else
your cash reserves
a dramatic job change (salary to commission, entering a new industry)
Keeping your financing preapproval up to date and in good standing is crucial if you want to purchase a home in a competitive environment. Put your mortgage originator on speed dial and talk to them before making any significant changes. They can help you determine the impact of any potential changes to your financial position and ensure you are still able to purchase the home of your dreams when the time comes.
This is where GRB’s Mortgage Team with its focus on the local market and highly personal service can really make a difference for homebuyers.
You may wonder what sunscreen and shades have to do with your HSA. Well, those are just two of the many items that are HSA-eligible expenses. With summer around the corner, you may want to prepare for fun in the sun by tapping into your HSA to cover sun-protection costs. Your HSA is the only tax-advantaged account that allows you to save using pre-tax dollars and allows you to spend tax-free for qualified medical expenses. So, avoid sunburn and use your HSA for sunscreen, prescription sunglasses and SPF 15+ lip balm.
In order to use your HSA, you must contribute to the HSA. We are almost halfway through the year and the IRS allows you to save up to $3500 if you are covered as an individual on your health plan or $7,000 if you have family coverage. You can contribute another $1,000 if you are lucky enough to be over 55 years old.
Remember, any money deposited into your HSA by you or your employer is yours to keep…forever. The funds roll over every year and as long as you use the funds to pay for qualified medical expenses, you won’t pay tax on that money.
You can change your contribution to your HSA at any time. Situations that often trigger the need to modify a contribution level include marital/family status change, beginning/ending a treatment or medication, need for catch-up contributions, etc. Talk with your payroll department to make a change.
We are proud to be celebrating alongside one of the Rochester Business Journal’s 2019 Women of Excellence, GRB’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Allana Lazeroff. Allana received her award, along with other deserving #ROC women at the Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center on May 9.
Allana is a 25-year veteran of the banking industry and joined GRB in 2007. She is responsible for the bank’s operations, marketing, project management, and cash management teams. Allana graduated from the John Wiley School of Business at SUNY Geneseo, and earned the Certified Treasury Professional designation in 1999.
The Women of Excellence awards identify high-achieving women for their tremendous career accomplishments. The women are selected based on their professional experience, community involvement, leadership and sustained commitment to mentoring.
This year’s class, selected by a panel of past Circle of Excellence honorees, features 40 women from a variety of industries. They have achieved impressive career accomplishments and have made the Rochester community better through their civic engagement and mentoring.