GRBblog

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.


Never Forget

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.

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WSJ Notes Lowest Mortgage Rates in Three Years: Is it Time to Refinance?

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 years. 

Photo of Mike Pulver
Mike Pulver
SVP, Residential Mortgage Manager

“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.

The 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.

Find out more by using our free online mortgage calculator or reach out to someone on our team.


GRB President and CEO Featured in RBJ Article on Community Banks and Technology

Phil Pecora, president and CEO grb rbj rochester business journal
President and CEO Philip Pecora

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.


FRAUD: Losses Rising as Scammers Leverage New Techniques

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.”

(more Fraud Prevention information is available on the GRB website)


Advice for a Competitive Homebuying Market

With the 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.

competitive housing market rochester new york

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)

Watch Out for Hidden Risks

With an 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:

  • Making a significant purchase like a car or furniture (particularly if it results in a loan or deferred payment)
  • Co-signing a loan for someone else
  • Spending your cash reserves
  • Making 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.


Sunscreen, Shades and Your Health Savings Account (HSA)

HSA Sunscreen grb

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.

The list of qualified medical expenses is quite extensive and can be found here.  Remember, if you have any questions; please speak with your tax advisor as this information is not tax advice.  Enjoy your summer and remember that GRB is Here. For You.


Celebrating Women of Excellence – Including GRB’s Allana Lazeroff

Allana Lazeroff receives Women of Excellence Award RBJ rochester business journal

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.

Women excellence 2019 award logo RBJ rochester business journal

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.


Happy National Small Business Week

GRB National Small Business

At GRB, we celebrate small business every day.  We’re a small business and we are deeply engaged with the small business community here in Rochester.

We know this community and understand its unique needs and opportunities.  We are proud of the hundreds of commercial clients whose innovative ideas and hard work have fueled our local economy and supported its many charitable efforts.

Small business is the foundation of this community and we are proud to share the story of some of the many successful entrepreneurs with whom we have had the pleasure to work on our Community page.

Congratulations to our business owner clients and to all those who have had made the bold move to turn their vision into reality.  To recognize your efforts, we are offering a number of activities this week:

  • Drop in to our branch locations (schedule below) and treat yourself to some “me time” with a cup of coffee, delicious treats, and a FREE GIFT from GRB.
Wednesday, May 8
Greece Branch
4180 W. Ridge Rd.
10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Thursday, May 9
Winton Branch
1850 S. Winton Rd.
10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Friday, May 10
Pittsford Branch
3380 Monroe Ave.
10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Check out our social media channels for infographics and information on the contributions small businesses make economically and in the community — feel free to share!
  • Talk to your relationship manager about the latest GRB tools, products and services to help you reduce costs, guard against fraud, and enhance your operations.

Happy National Small Business Week!


Vote GRB for 2019 Reader Rankings

Vote Now Reader Rankings graphic

It’s time to vote!

We are pleased to announce that GRB has also made it to the final round of voting in the RBJ’s 2019 Reader Rankings program, this year in three different categories:

  • Best Overall Company to Work For (76-250 employees)
  • Best Business Banking
  • Best Mortgage Lender

We are proud to be considered for this program and hope you’ll take a few minutes to cast your vote for GRB.  The voting deadline is May 24.  Don’t forget to vote in all three categories!

VOTE NOW


GRB Moves Up in 2019 “Best Companies” List

GRB NY best companies

We are pleased to announce that GRB has ranked no. 13 out of 23 in the “Best Companies to Work For in New York” program in the mid-size employer category (100-250 employees) for 2019. This is GRB’s fifth consecutive year on the list and we are up four spots from last year’s finish at no. 17. See the full 2019 rankings here.

Our ranking was determined based on feedback from GRB employees who participated in an engagement survey focused on:

  • Leadership & planning
  • Corporate culture & communications
  • Role satisfaction
  • Work environment
  • Relationship with supervisor
  • Training, development & resources
  • Pay & benefits

Thank you to all our employees, customers and colleagues for making GRB a great place to bank — and a great place to work!