M News: What's New With Us. What Matters To You.October 7, 2017 7:22 pm
Local banks work within established localities and reinvest depositors’ money into local businesses, farms and individuals. To put it simply, they often use your money more responsibly than larger megabanks and your community benefits. Community banks also offer way better personal service. Some community banks are so personal that you can talk directly to the bank president. This is in stark contrast to certain large institutions that actually charge customers if they use tellers for some activities.
Since 1907, Merchants Bank has been locally owned and operated and we’re proud of the role we’ve played in helping individuals and businesses in our communities grow. Our business bankers know our business customers personally such as Van’s Sporting Goods in Cullman, Alabama. “Like many small business owners, I’m able provide good jobs to the area with 401Ks and benefits,” said Van Allen. “Though growing a successful retail business hasn’t been easy, Van says that a smaller bank makes banking easy.” To read the Van’s Sporting Goods Business Success Story, click here >
At Merchants, we take a different approach to banking. Where other banks see dollar signs, we see value. Where others see profits, we look for potential. While other bankers make deals, we make promises. Avoiding the usual way banking is done, has done a great deal for our reputation, and where we live reputation matters. There are a number of ways The Merchants Way has made us one of the number one local banks in deposits year after year. Hear Charlie NeSmith and Steve Glasscock talk about what makes Merchants different >
There are many reasons why it’s cool to switch from a large national bank to a community bank. According to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, here are Top 5 Reasons To Choose A Community Bank >
Why bank local? Small Banks, Big Benefits. Listen to the Building Local Power podcast here >6:44 pm
Finding the right mortgage lender involves more than just getting the best interest rate. If you want the quickest way home, start at your local community bank where local mortgage lenders give you their time and their direct line. You get the guidance and answers that get you in your home faster with a local mortgage and a lending experience built to last.
When you’re first starting to look for a mortgage loan, it’s important to get ready. Local mortgage lenders can work with you to analyze your credit score and overall financial picture so that you can get pre-approved for your mortgage or new construction loan. This helps you show sellers you are a quality buyer that will be able to close on a loan.
To get preapproved, you’ll have to provide lenders with a fair amount of financial information. Here’s a quick list to get you started:
Account Info: bank, savings, checking, investment account information.
Debts: outstanding debt obligations, including credit card, car loan, student loan and other balances.
Tax Returns: two years of tax returns, W-2s and 1099s.
Personal: salary and employer information and social security numbers for yourself and any co-borrowers.
Down Payment: information about how much of a down payment you can make, and where the money is coming from.
Why should you be attracted to work with a local mortgage originator vs a bigger bank or one of the national mortgage lending companies? According to Brandon McCain, a local lender in Merchants Bank’s Arab office, it’s important to work with a mortgage staff that is familiar with the better mortgage programs that work in our local market places. “The strong point of Merchants comes from our over 100 years of history here,” he said. “Local lenders are able to offer the client more attention, a better one-on-one approach and more personable customer service.”
McCain added that at a community bank, you don’t always have to fit a profile to get that loan that fits. “We can have more flexibility and options to get our customers into the mortgage that feels as right as their dream home,” he said.
Whether you need to check the latest rates for a refinance or purchase, you want to learn more about specific loan products, or you’re ready to start the process, we’re here to help. Call one of our local mortgage originators or stop by and feel as good about your bank as you do about your dream home.
Ready to buy?
Find the local Merchants Bank lender nearest you.
Ready to build?
We specialize in new construction loans and Smith Lake lending. Get approved for your new construction loan and your permanent mortgage loan at the same time.September 24, 2017 2:04 pm
Technology is reshaping how consumers take care of their finances. Online banking is now the top way Americans interact with a bank or credit union, beating out branches, phones, mobile apps and ATMs. While studies show that online banking is favored by bank customers, mobile banking is gaining strides as the preferred method of banking. By connecting to your bank through your mobile phone, you can get a real-time feed of balance information and notifications.
As an extension of your local bank branch, mobile banking apps should be treated like a branch that fits in your pocket. With a mobile banking app, you can access your account information at any time, from anywhere. This adds convenience because you don’t have to rush to a branch before it closes or wait in lines for transactions. You can also use the app for selected transactions, saving you a trip.
View Balances, Make Transfers, Even Deposit Checks
Along with security, the most important feature is that your banking app is easy to navigate, easy to read and has a clean, modern appearance. The latest version of the Merchants Mobile App, now released and available for iPhone, iPad or Android devices, has a new look and feel and is easier to use. The app features a simplified navigation and the menu bar has been replaced with a tab bar and task menu.
Customers can now access the tab bar which is always visible whether scrolling up or down. The task menu can be launched from the tab bar and provides access to all features. The accounts and account activity is more easily accessible in the latest version of our app. Also, the help tab has been updated with the Merchants web address and telephone number for easy contact.
How can mobile banking simplify your life? By giving you access to your money 24/7, the ability to easily transfer cash between accounts, pay bills online and even deposit checks with a snap.
Financial institutions and consumers are acutely aware of cybersecurity following a spate of data breaches affecting large banks. The banking industry invests heavily in the security technology for both online and mobile banking, and your account information is kept behind institutional firewalls and encrypted to strong standards.
Important User Information:August 24, 2017 8:34 pm
Everyone loves your homemade BBQ sauce, and you’ve started to wonder if you could actually create a business out of it. You learn about your potential market, create a business plan, develop your brand, work out the costs, find a location, and then what? More than likely you’re going to need a small business loan.
There’s no better place than to look to your local community bank. Community banks like Merchants tend to focus on the needs of the businesses and families where the bank holds branches and offices. They are also typically locally owned and operated meaning they know you, your family and how your business idea will fit into the local economy. And, perhaps the main benefit is that lending decisions are made by people who understand the local needs of families, businesses and farmers.
Two years ago, when we launched our new website, we set out to develop tools that would help our local small business customers. How are we different? What sets us apart? We knew that our local lenders connected us to our communities in very powerful ways that big banks can’t touch. That’s why we created a section on our site called Lender Connect. Here you can meet our local lenders and easily connect with them via phone or email. You can also get to know these local lenders by reading their bios. You’ll quickly see that the majority of them not only live here, but were born and raised here.
We recently talked to Will Harding who joined Merchants in 2014 and works with local businesses and farmers on their lending needs. We ask him where you should start when you have a business idea you want to take to the next level. “It’s best to start by developing a business plan,” he said. “Research similar businesses, estimate income and expenses and consult an attorney for the cost of creating the business documents you will need and any fees that go along with them.” Will said in addition to your attorney, it’s smart to consult with an accountant to discuss what business type might work best for you such as LLC, partnership, corp or s-corp. He added that speaking to a loan officer about your needs and where you see your business going in the future is also an important first step.
According to Will, the best types of loans for small business start-ups depend on your needs and can range from short term capital and long term real estate loans to equipment loans and revolving lines of credit. With the right local lender as a part of your team, together you can assess your needs and decide what loan product best suits those needs. You will need business legal documents, your business plan as well as your personal financial information including a financial statement and tax returns.
If you can’t qualify for a bank loan, there are other options available to you. SBA loans can be a viable option and the Small Business Administration works with the bank and the customer to provide financing to customers that otherwise couldn’t get approved for a loan.
“We always try to be a ‘value added’ lender,” Will said. “Anyone can make loans, but we want to add value to the relationship between the bank and the customer by understanding their business and offering advice and additional ideas or approaches where we see opportunity.
Local banks work to build small business opportunities in their communities. “It’s the relationship between the loan officer and the customer that sets certain banks apart,” he said. “This always goes back to who is making the decisions, and where those decisions are being made.
“All of our loan decisions are made right here, there is no corporate office halfway across the country. We make loan decisions right here to people that live in our community. When someone calls our bank, whether it is the main number, someone’s direct desk number, or our cell phone, they always get a real person. Our loan officers want to understand our customer’s business and create a partnership between the bank and the customer.”
Merchants has developed real partnerships with local businesses and you can read about some of our local business success stories in the Way To Go section of our web site. Eight very different local small businesses with one thing in common. A bank with an uncommon commitment to our local small business customers. Read the stories and you’ll get the inside scoop on how we helped these remarkable business owners in Cullman, Hanceville, Fairview and Arab go from having a big dream to having a big following. Because community banks are themselves small businesses, they understand the needs of small business owners. Their core concern is lending to small businesses and farms and they make over half of all small business loans.
Get to know the local businesses near you. No matter what their product or service, their focus is delivering the best in customer service, just like their local bank does. From local restaurants and volunteer fire departments to a variety of retail establishments, we set out to build real relationships with our business customers.
Small business loans are available from a large number of traditional and alternative lenders. Small business loans can help your business grow, expand into new territories, enhance sales and marketing efforts, allow you to hire new people, and much more.
So, if you need to secure your first small business loan or to expand a current business, we invite you to start with your local community bank. Reach out to the lender nearest you, preferably via our Lender Connect portal. To give you even more information, we are sharing an article from a recent issue of Forbes, “10 Key Steps To Getting A Small Business Loan”. By anticipating what lenders will review and require, you will greatly increase your chances of obtaining a beneficial small business loan.
July 5, 2016 2:25 pm
Identity theft? Cyberfraud? Email spam? Take defensive measures to protect yourself and your family. Because internet attacks are a growing and costly problem, Merchants Bank is making a free online security course available to our customers right here on our website. This course will help to educate you about safe online banking practices, and also about passwords, giving out personal information, protecting children online, protecting your identity, securing your computer and home network, spam viruses and more such as opening up email and attachments.
Being informed about how to protect yourself against cyber-risks can be a key defense against fraud and identity theft. This course is for all members of your family who are regularly on the internet and is based on real-life stories. It is taught by Kevin Mitnick, an American computer security consultant, best-selling author and known as the world’s “most famous hacker”.
Click here to start the course.