Category: Financial Blog

Proud to Be QC: Isabel Bloom

Isabel Bloom

Northwest Bank & Trust Company is #ProudToBeQC, and we’re highlighting a few reasons why! Join us as we take a close-up look at local businesses built by creative, talented, and driven Quad Cities entrepreneurs.

This episode features the QC-based studio and shop founded by Isabel Bloom over 60 years ago. We sit down with Donna Young, co-owner and sculptor of Isabel Bloom, to chat about how this established brand has evolved to meet today’s trends in beautiful home and garden décor while remaining true to their signature sculpture style. Visit www.ibloom.com to shop online or in store at 736 Federal Street in Davenport.

We want to thank our customers and partners for putting their trust in us for their banking needs. Northwest Bank and other community banks like ours are only successful if our customers and communities are, too. We are focused on building a more sustainable, vibrant economy here in our hometown and recognizing all the community members, employees, and businesses who make us Proud to Be QC.

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Financial Literacy is Key to Effective Money Management for Teens

April is Financial Literacy Month, and we want to encourage our customers and community members to take control of their financial future by learning fiscally responsible habits and putting these lessons into practice. Regardless of life stage, age, or income level, having strong financial principles and sound money management practices can help you avoid financial missteps and position you for greater success. We also think it is crucial for young adults to develop these skills early on in life, so they can set out on the right path with their banking and credit habits.

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan once stated, “Financial education is a process that should begin at an early age and continue throughout life. This cumulative process builds the skills necessary for making critical financial decisions.”

At Northwest Bank & Trust Company, we understand the importance of helping our community’s youth build a strong financial foundation so that they better understand basic concepts like budgeting, simple interest, and establishing and maintaining good credit.

According to the Council for Economic Education’s 2020 Survey of the States only 21 states in the U.S. require high school students to take a course in personal finance. While this denotes a marked improvement since CEE’s first survey in 1998, there remains a sizeable financial education knowledge gap.

Northwest Bank believes that financial capability education, improves the financial health outlook for our youth and better prepares them to tackle unexpected financial situations or prepare for significant life milestones like paying for college, purchasing a home, opening a business, or building a nest egg.

We offer the following tips for Gen Z and their parents to shore up money management skills and prepare for the post-graduate workforce:

Set SMART (Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic Trackable) goals.

  • Choose your priorities—whether it’s saving for a computer or building an emergency fund—and make sure they are achievable. Create a plan of action and measure your progress over time.

Start a savings account (if you don’t have one already).

  • Northwest Bank offers automatic transfer services to move a set amount from your checking account to savings monthly.

For working-age students, consider part-time or seasonal employment.

You will learn more about personal responsibility and have an opportunity to manage expenses.

Track your spending and avoid making impulse purchases.

  • Create a budget and review it periodically to make necessary adjustments.

Gain perspective about risk and reward.

  • Knowing how stocks, bonds and mutual funds can affect an investment portfolio shows you how financial decisions can grow—or shrink—your savings. 

Learn about credit scores

  • Credit scores are a representation of your financial past, present, and future. We can offer tips to help you establish and maintain good credit.

Having the knowledge about how to best manage your money is just the start. When young adults practice proper money management techniques early, they’re more inclined to make effective financial decisions throughout life. The sooner your children start to grasp these concepts, the more apt they’ll be for a better financial future. 

Source: Independent Community Bankers of America

Proud to Be QC: Me & Billy

Me & Billy

Northwest Bank & Trust Company is #ProudToBeQC, and we’re highlighting a few reasons why! Join us as we take a close-up look at local businesses built by creative, talented, and driven Quad Cities entrepreneurs.

This episode features Me & Billy, a Quad Cities restaurant and bar located in downtown Davenport. We sit down with Bill Collins, owner and “mascot,” to talk about the restaurant’s success and how this family business has become a QC staple that keeps locals and visitors coming back! Visit Me & Billy online at www.meandbilly.com or in person at 200 W. Third Street in Davenport.

We want to thank our customers and partners for putting their trust in us for their banking needs. Northwest Bank and other community banks like ours are only successful if our customers and communities are, too. We are focused on building a more sustainable, vibrant economy here in our hometown and recognizing all the community members, employees, and businesses who make us Proud to Be QC.

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Northwest Bank is Proud To Be QC

Reinvesting in the Community We Love

Proud to Be QCThe idea of “sustainability” is linked to a lot of local activities these days—whether it’s reusing or recycling products, sampling culinary delights from a local bakery, or choosing to buy American-made products to support our national economy. There are plenty of reasons why eating, dining, and banking locally makes good economic sense.

If you’ve ever wondered if it matters where you deposit your hard-earned money, let us assure you it does. Not only does banking locally support small businesses (community banks fund more than 60% of small business loans and more than 80% of ag loans), but as locally owned and operated businesses themselves, they are part of the economic engines that create 62 percent of new jobs annually.

Community banks like Northwest Bank & Trust Company take in deposits and distribute loans that feed into a self-sustaining micro-economy and keep funds right here in the Quad Cities. It is all part of a symbiotic relationship that community banks have with their communities. And the proceeds from those businesses employ residents, fund municipalities, and continue the cycle of locally based economic growth.

And if you need more proof just consider the community bank response to the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Community banks, as economic first responders, made 60 percent of total Paycheck Protection Program loans to small businesses and provided 72 percent of PPP loans to minority business owners that reported such data.
  • Community banks outpace large banks in their average number of banks operating in both rural and urban markets by a 3:1 ratio.
  • Community banks are preferred small business lenders, with an 81 percent net satisfaction score compared to 68 percent for large banks and just 43 percent for online lenders.
  • Community banks have consistently demonstrated their safety and soundness with higher capital ratios and better loan quality than the largest institutions.
  • Community banks operate in areas abandoned by others—serving as the only physical banking presence in nearly one in three U.S. counties.

But it is not just about stats. When customers contact Northwest Bank, they are greeted by a talented team member who is attuned to their needs and empowered to act on their behalf. And when our employees participate in annual donation drives for United Way or when Northwest Bank contributes thousands of dollars every month to local organizations, we are working toward our goal to ensure economic prosperity for the Quad Cities community we call home. 

Even more, we are extremely proud to be a part of such a thriving, creative, and hard-working community. Our people are arguably some of the best you’ll find and our small business owners are talented and driven. In the next several months we look forward to highlighting a few of them! Stay tuned for our new #ProudToBeQC series, where we’ll take an up-close look at some local businesses right here in the Quad Cities.

We want to thank our customers and partners for putting their trust in us for their banking needs. For our neighbors who may be considering a switch, we implore you to take a closer look at Northwest Bank & Trust Company to discover how we can help you realize your financial dreams. Our pledge is to never lose sight of the all-important “relationship” and the personalized service our customers expect.

Remember, we are all in this together. Northwest Bank and other community banks like ours are only successful if our customers and communities are, too. That is why community banks and our relationship business model have thrived for more than 150 years. We know what it takes to create successful local economies. Join us in helping to build a more sustainable, vibrant economy here in our hometown and recognizing all the community members, employees, and businesses who make us Proud to Be QC.

Developing and Maintaining Good Credit Habits

Northwest Bank & Trust Company is encouraging customers to plan for their financial future by establishing and maintaining good credit habits to create a blueprint for financial wellness and prosperity in the New Year.

Good credit is essential to a strong financial foundation, so it’s important to build and maintain responsible credit practices that demonstrates sound money management principles to help you achieve your short and long-term financial goals. By working with your trusted community banker at Northwest Bank to create a budget that reflects your finances and lifestyle, you can better manage your spending and savings behavior to reach your goals and avoid financial setbacks.

We offer the following tips to help consumers build and maintain good credit.

Open a checking account.

Once you open your account, keep careful track of your balance to help establish a credit history.

Use debit and credit cards for convenience and safety.

Be careful not to overspend and avoid missed or late payments, which can damage your credit and hurt your credit score.

Develop a good mix of credit.

A good credit mix could be a revolving credit line and an installment loan, for example. This will boost your credit score and demonstrate that you can manage different types of credit.

Show stability.

In the three to six months before a major purchase, show credit stability. Avoid opening or closing accounts or moving large amounts of money around.

Build an emergency fund.

Your emergency fund should be equal to at least six months of living expenses. Establishing a financial cushion to help absorb unexpected expenses and avoid penalties and fees for missed or late payments.

Alter your credit focus as you approach different life stages.

While Gen Z might be saving for a down payment, a Gen Xers or baby boomers may be paying down debt to plan for retirement, respectively.

Monitor your credit regularly.

Keeping an eye on your credit score can help you correct any errors and detect potential signs of identity theft. Order a copy of your credit report annually from annualcreditreport.com.

By establishing good spending and saving habits early you can retain your financial footing and more quickly recover from temporary financial roadblocks. Reach out to your local banker at Northwest Bank & Trust Company who can offer sound financial advice to help you navigate life’s financial milestones and plan for your future.

Source: Independent Community Bankers of America

4 Tips for Getting Financially Fit in 2022

The new year is an ideal time to set new goals, as many vow to become more physically fit or get organized. The new year is also a great time to assess your finances, gain control and stick to a new budget or saving plan. Taking control of your personal finances will allow you to save and prepare for unexpected expenses. 

Get financially fit this January. Follow the tips below to get started.

Get Organized

Consider treating yourself to a post-holiday gift of a financial organization system. Alphabetized file folders, or filing systems specifically for financial organization are available in January as people begin to prepare for tax season. Take advantage and start the new year with an organizational system. While you’re getting organized, consider buying a shredder to keep your personal information safe from identity theft. 

Create a Budget

Track your income and expenses to see how much money you have coming in and how much you spend. If you have debt, establishing a budget will help you to pay down your debt while saving. Use computer software programs or basic budgeting worksheets to help create your budget. Include as much information as you can and review your budget regularly. Print several copies of this budgeting worksheet to help you get started. 

  • Identify how you spend your money.
  • Set realistic goals, especially if you plan to cut some of your expenses. 
  • Track your spending and review your budget often.

Lower Your Debt

Debt from student loans, mortgages and credit cards is nearly unavoidable. Most families carry about $10,000 in credit card debt. Spending more money than you bring in can lead to financial stress.  Establish a budget to pay down debts while you save. 

Points to consider when cutting debt:

  • Pay more than the minimum due and pay on time.
  • Pay off debt with higher interest rates first.
  • Transfer high rate debt to credit cards with a lower interest rate.
  • Use credit cards and loans for purchases that will appreciate in value like a home.

Save for the Unexpected and Beyond

Pay yourself first. Saving is important; it ensures a comfortable future that can endure financial surprises. No matter how old you are, it’s never too late to begin saving.

  • Save at least 10 percent of your income for retirement. Enroll in a retirement plan or consider optimizing an established retirement plan. Contribute at least the maximum amount that your employer will match. Contributions made to these types of plans are tax deductible. If your employer does not offer a retirement savings plan, many banks offer Individual Retirement Accounts. IRAs offer tax-deferred growth, meaning you pay taxes on your investment gains when you make withdrawals.
  • Financial advisors often recommend keeping about three months salary in a savings account in case of financial emergencies like hospital bills or loss of job.
  • Increase your contribution as your income increases.
  • If you receive direct deposit at work, ask your employer to send a specific amount to your savings account.  Because the money is put into an account before you have a chance to spend it, automatic savings plans are an easy and convenient way to save. If your employer doesn’t offer direct deposit, many banks allow for automatic transfers from checking to savings accounts.

Source: American Bankers Association

Local Business Spotlight: PCT Ebeam and Integration

Discovering an Innovative Local Manufacturer

By Corey Martin, Vice President, Commercial Banker

PCT LogoWhen I first heard about PCT Ebeam and Integration, all that I knew was that they occupied a commercial building in Northwest Davenport. Prior to meeting them, I had no clue this building was even there. Upon meeting Karl Swanson and the rest of the owners of PCT, I now know just how interesting this business really is. I had no clue we had someone right here in the Quad Cities that was producing the type of product that they produce. 

PCT produces machinery that integrates into manufacturing lines. These machines use the power of electrons to actually alter or strengthen the molecular structure of items that we use every single day. For example their machines can take thin, weak plastic and turn it into the shrink wrap film that protects a block of cheese or can be made into the bag used for blood transfusions. Their machines are also used to dry the ink on your favorite cereal box. They can be used for special printing and coating applications, curing paint on the lids of steel buckets, surface sterilization, protecting the paper layer of laminated furniture, and in the production of painters’ tape. What is most interesting about PCT is that they take on challenging projects and work with their customers to customize a machine designed to do whatever they need it to do. They frequently evaluate new applications and find new uses for their technology.

As a commercial banker, one of the fun parts of my job is learning about new companies, businesses, and products that I would have otherwise never known about. PCT is the perfect example of that. I am proud to have had the chance to learn about their business and what they produce and ship to companies around the globe. What they do is truly fascinating and it’s happening right here in our community.

To learn more about PCT, visit their website at https://www.pctebi.com/

Corey Martin

Corey Martin

Vice President,
Commercial Banker and Economic Development Division Lender

Proud to Be QC

Stories like this make us #ProudToBeQC. Find more here.

Lock in low rates with the Assumable Rate Conversion (ARC) loan program

What if you could lock in today’s rates for as long as 20 years? 

ARC LendingIf you own, want to purchase, or want to refinance a commercial building, you don’t have to deal with market rate fluctuations! With interest rates slowly beginning to come off their lows following the onset of COVID-19, now is a great time to lock in a long-term fixed interest rate to hedge against future rate increases. While traditional commercial real estate loans only allow for a 5-year fixed rate, through our long-term fixed rate program, we can potentially lock in your interest rate for up to 20 years!

This program is available for owner and non-owner occupied properties and a wide range of property types, including office, industrial, retail, medical, hospitality, and multi-family, among others. There are many additional perks to the program, as well.

Locking in your rate and avoiding rate changes allows you to maximize your return on investment. If you decide to sell, this product is assumable, meaning it can transfer to the new owner (pending credit approval), so they can keep the rate you locked in. This could be a huge upside to a buyer looking at increased rates in the future and could even make your property worth more because of this option. Additionally, this product is transferable; if you decide to sell, you have the option of simply transferring the loan balance to a new property you already own or plan to acquire.

Another benefit is the prepayment premium. If interest rates rise and you decide to pay the loan off, you would actually receive a prepayment premium. On the flip side, if interest rates were to decrease, you could be subject to a prepayment penalty. While this is a risk, we feel given today’s market conditions and historically low rates, this risk is minimal.

For further information on conditions, terms, and loan types, please contact your Northwest Bank commercial loan officer. Corey or Joe would be happy to talk to you about locking in your low fixed rate today! 

Joe Donahue

Joe Donahue

Vice President ,
Commercial Loan Officer

Corey Martin

Corey Martin

Vice President ,
Commercial Banker & Economic Development Lender

Jeff Bloemker

Jeff Bloemker

Vice President ,
Commercial Banker & Economic Development Lender

How small business owners can benefit from the SBA 504 loan program

Are you a small business owner looking to purchase or construct your own building? 

SBA 504 LoansMaybe you have considered the possibility of purchasing or constructing but are hesitant due to the traditional down payment requirements, interest rate risk, or general uncertainty in the economy. If so, the SBA 504 loan program could be the perfect solution.

Through the SBA 504 loan program, you can acquire your new facility with as little as 10% down, and lock in a low, fixed interest rate for up to 25 years on up to 40% of your project costs. While these features alone make this program a very attractive option, due to provisions included in the Economic Aid Act, this program is now more beneficial than ever. For new SBA 504 loans approved between 2/1/2021 and 9/30/2021, the borrower will be eligible to receive six months of payment subsidies up to $9,000 per month, and the elimination of some fees that can generally account for up to 2% of the total loan amount. With these two temporary measures, this can result in thousands of dollars in savings for the borrower!

General Program Overview

This SBA loan program is meant to assist small business owners with the purchase, construction or refinance of owner-occupied real estate, and in some cases, the purchase of equipment. The general loan structure includes the bank providing financing equivalent to 50% of the project costs, with the SBA providing financing of up to 40% (through a certified development company “CDC”), and the borrower contributing the remaining 10% of equity. In some situations, such as a special use property or new business, the borrower equity requirement is 15%, or 20% in the case of a special use property and new business. In these situations the SBA/CDC’s funding percentage would change (i.e. 50/35/15 or 50/30/20), as the bank is always at 50% of the project costs. However, the 50/40/10 split is most common.

Key Benefits of the SBA 504 Loan Plan

One benefit of the SBA 504 program is that the business’ down payment is as little as 10%, compared to a typical down payment requirement of 20-25% on conventional CRE loans.

Additionally, the SBA/CDC portion of the loan includes a fixed interest rate for the life of the loan, which can be up to 25 years. The average 20 and 25 year fixed rates on the SBA/CDC portion are much more favorable than typical CRE loan rates. For current loan rates, contact our commercial lending team.

With recent economic relief bills, the program is even more attractive than ever right now with the recently approved payment subsidies and fee eliminations on new loans approved between 2/1/21 – 9/30/21. Below are some additional details on these savings options.

6 Months of Payment Subsidies

New borrowers approved 2/1/21 – 9/30/21 will receive six months of payment subsidies (principal, interest and fees), capped at $9,000 per month, beginning with the first payment due after the loan has been funded by a debenture guaranteed by SBA and is in regular servicing status.

Fee Elimination

New borrowers approved 2/1/21 – 9/30/21 will also be eligible for the temporary elimination of the following fees:

  • 0.5% Third Party Lender Participation fee, and
  • 1.5% CDC Processing Fee

Combined, these two measures will result in significant savings for borrowers looking to buy, build, or refinance.

If you have questions about the SBA 504 loan program, one of our loan officers would love to have a conversation with you to discuss your options. Please contact Joe Donahue or Corey Martin to learn more about this great opportunity.

Joe Donahue

Joe Donahue

Vice President ,
Commercial Loan Officer

Corey Martin

Corey Martin

Vice President ,
Commercial Loan Officer

Protect Yourself Online: Tips for Identity Protection

Though the internet has many advantages, it can also make users vulnerable to fraud, identity theft and other scams. According to a Norton Cybercrime Report, 143 million U.S. consumers were victims of cybercrime in 2017. The American Bankers Association recommends the following tips to keep you safe online:

Keep your computers and mobile devices up to date.

Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats. Turn on automatic updates so you receive the newest fixes as they become available.

Establish passwords.

A strong password is at least eight characters in length and includes a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.

Watch out for phishing scams.

Phishing scams use fraudulent emails and websites to trick users into disclosing private account or login information. Do not click on links or open any attachments or pop-up screens from sources you are not familiar with.

Recognize and avoid bogus website links.

Cybercriminals embed malicious links to download malware onto devices and/or/ route users to bogus websites. Hover over suspicious links to view the actual URL that you are being routed to. Fraudulent links are often disguised by simple changes in the URL. For example: www.ABC-Bank.com vs ABC_Bank.com

Keep personal information personal.

Hackers can use social media profiles to figure out your passwords and answer those security questions in the password reset tools. Lock down your privacy settings and avoid posting things like birthdays, addresses, mother’s maiden name, etc. Be wary of requests to connect from people you do not know.

Secure your internet connection.

Always protect your home wireless network with a password. When connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, be cautious about what information you are sending over it. Consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) app to secure and encrypt your communications when connecting to a public Wi-Fi network. (See the Federal Trade Commission’s tips for selecting a VPN app.)

Shop safely.

Before shopping online, make sure the website uses secure technology. When you are at the checkout screen, verify that the web address begins with https. Also, check to see if a tiny locked padlock symbol appears on the page.

Read the site’s privacy policies.

Though long and complex, privacy policies tell you how the site protects the personal information it collects. If you don’t see or understand a site’s privacy policy, consider doing business elsewhere.

Source: American Bankers Association – Protecting yourself online