Career Tips for the Class of 2017

Chris Lasse, First Vice President/Human Resource DirectorLasseC_IN097qc

With graduation comes a deluge of well-intended career advice from family, friends…and total strangers. Some of it will transcend the ages, while some may reflect a different time and employment environment. Other advice may simply not be right for you and what you want to accomplish.

As you sort through it all, here are six tips to help you make the most of your first career move and the opportunities that follow. They’re based on what we see as we pour through resumes, interview candidates and make hiring decisions.

  1. Choose passion over money. When you are excited about what you do, you tend to do it well. That passion will eventually lead to a higher paycheck over the long haul. Taking a job that holds little interest but offers a higher salary may seem like the responsible thing to do. However, it can lead to being stuck in a career path you can’t afford to exit. It can also leave you without the skills and experience needed to transition into the profession you aspired to in the first place.
  2. Know the tradeoffs of working for a large or small company. Large companies can be well-oiled recruiting and training machines. Often, however, in exchange for a company that looks good on your resume, you give up some control over the skills you acquire, what you get to do with them, the breadth of experience you gain and the positions open to you. Working for a smaller company can expose you to a wider variety of job duties. Many times, this means gaining exposure to senior-level executives and the work that they perform—things that can be off limits at bigger companies.
  3. Be realistic about the market value of your degree. As an English major, for example, your starting salary might be less than half of that of an engineering graduate. Realize your value as an entry-level candidate—don’t shortchange yourself, but be pragmatic. Factor in the long-term value of building skills and gaining experience. And, if you need a tie-breaker, always take the job with the better boss.
  4. Look beyond the title. Good entry-level jobs help train you for long-term success. For instance, we often have openings for Credit Analysts. These positions are vital to the lending process. More importantly, they can lead to any number of lucrative career paths since they offer employees the chance to build very marketable experience and skills that are currently in short supply. Consider these types of jobs, they are stepping stones to greater responsibility.
  5. Find a way to stand out. The numerous job sites—from Indeed to LinkedIn—make it easy to find and apply for positions. With one click, you and several hundred other new graduates with your same degree and level of experience can go after the same job. Find ways to be different.

When you are one in 400, make sure your resume stands out.

  • Find a way to become an employee referral. This will improve your odds of getting hired more than anything else you do.
  • Check LinkedIn for any possible connection you can make to the recruiter or someone at the hiring company.
  • Edit your resume for each job to include phrases from the posting. If an automatic parsing tool is used, you will be a perfect match. If not, you’ll catch the recruiter’s eye.
  • Craft a unique cover letter for each position to personalize your application.
  • Have a zero-tolerance policy for grammatical and spelling errors.
  1. Be strategic and have a long-term plan. This means thinking about where you want to be in 3–5 years or more. Mapping out your path will help you identify the type of experience you need and the skills you want to acquire. It not only makes you a more committed candidate, but it also keeps you focused and motivated.

Remember, the path you are on is long and likely to take unexpected turns. Our best advice is to use each stop to learn, expand your skills and gain the experience that leads to the next opportunity. We know you’ll do great.

If you are interested in making Old Second Bank your first stop after graduating, click here.

Taking the Stress Out of Closings

Alaine Bussler, Residential Closing Manager00001

David Kozuh, First Vice President—Residential Lending

Making the decision to buy a new home is thrilling, and the last thing we want is for the mortgage process to interfere with that. That’s why we make sure you know what to expect each step of the way. If you have a question or don’t understand something in a document you’ve been sent, we are here to talk you through it.

New Transparency

In the past, much of the stress in the closing process came from the way lenders were required to provide disclosure and loan documents to you. It made it harder to know how much your home—and your loan—would really cost after fees. That was typically something that came at the very last minute, without adequate time to review.

That has changed. The disclosure requirements are now much easier to read and understand. We are able to give you the first document, The Loan Estimate, three days after you apply for a mortgage, and the second document, The Closing Disclosure, three days before you close. This gives you time to review the terms and amounts you are agreeing to and enables you to ask questions if there is anything you are unsure of.

The Loan Estimate

Like its name implies, this three-page document summarizes the terms and price of your loan. It provides the information needed to develop a better understanding of your mortgage quote, including the amount you can expect to pay monthly based on the estimated closing costs.

The Closing Disclosure

The Closing Disclosure is an itemized account of the final settlement expenses and is provided three days before you close. Specifically, it confirms the final terms, how much cash you will need to bring to your closing, the loan details and the total cost of the loan. The Closing Disclosure also provides an accounting of any changes in the amounts that appeared in the Loan Estimate, along with reasons for them.

In combination, the two documents enable you to understand what, if anything, changed before agreeing to the final terms.

Big Numbers Shouldn’t Lead to Tense Times

The changes to the disclosure law essentially make the way we work with our borrowers—taking the time to answer questions and being transparent about what’s being agreed to—standard to the industry.

Give us a call, at 877-966-0202 and let’s talk about what we can do to keep your mortgage experience as stress free as possible.

 

The One Thing You Need to Know About Investing

Steve Meves, Senior Vice President/Chief Investment Officer, Wealth Managementmevess_bus009xqc

Investing is about using the money you’ve saved to purchase an asset that will hopefully appreciate over time. The key word in that last sentence is “time.” Giving your investments sufficient time to grow, regardless of what you are investing in, is the hard part. It’s also a key ingredient to building wealth.

Market Movements Are Noise

The financial markets go up and down, sometimes within the same day. But throughout history, they’ve kept climbing. The indexes we use to measure investment results—the Dow Jones Industrial Index and the S&P 500 Index—reflect this jagged climb. It’s this historical proof of resilience through wars, political mayhem and underperformance that allows professional wealth managers to remain calm in the face of sell-offs. They’ve seen the charts and looked at the data on market closes. And, they know that sell-offs end with recoveries. These recoveries may take time, but eventually they occur and have led to a resumption in the historical upward trend.

Go Long

The mistake many investors make is in assuming they need to do something when markets sell off. That’s only natural. It hurts to see your account balances decline, even if it’s a short-term occurrence. Our brains are hard wired to feel the pain of a loss—in this case money—more intensely than we feel the joy of a gain. It’s why we are intuitively risk averse. No one likes the way they feel when they lose.

When markets do sell off—whether during a day, over several weeks or even months—we all impulsively want to avoid further pain by selling. Some even want to anticipate the loss by selling before markets ever start selling off.

Taking evasive action may feel good in the short run, but it can destroy investment results in the long run, because you need to be right about the market continuing to go down when you are out of the market. More importantly, you also need to be in the market during its recoveries in order to benefit. It’s hard to know on any given day the kind of day it will be.

When Is the Right Time to Invest?

When you are an investor and take a long-term view, any time can be the right time depending on what you are investing in. Therefore, it’s advisable to have access to wealth managers who actively monitor markets daily to determine when it makes sense to pull back on investing in securities, or types of securities, and when to add more. It’s also our job to keep emotions like loss avoidance from endangering your overall goals so that your portfolio is diversified over different types of assets. That way, it’s better positioned to withstand volatility in any one type of asset.

In the end, the secret to successful investing is to remain focused on why you invest: to build wealth over time.

For more information on how our goal-driven wealth management services keep you on task over the long term, visit us here or call 630-801-2217. We can’t wait to talk to you about what we can do for you today.

 

Non-deposit investment products are not insured by the FDIC; not a deposit of, or guaranteed by, the bank; may lose value.

A Different Way of Investing

Rich Gartelmann CFP® Senior Vice President/Head of Wealth ManagementRich Gartlemann Bio Picture

More often than not, when people talk about their investments, they talk about how well they did versus “the market” or about how much they gained in a single stock. The problem with measuring performance this way is that investing really isn’t like a sporting event where you keep score against an opponent. The only way you “win” is if you have enough money to achieve your financial goals. If you don’t, it won’t matter that your portfolio beat the S&P 500 Index for 10 years straight.

Focus on Results, Not Numbers  

When asked about their goals, often people will say, “I just want to have a million dollars by the time I retire.” That is a big round number, but is it enough? Too much? It depends on the type of retirement you want and the sources of income you’ll have available to support you.

Similarly, there are many investors who start selling stocks and buying bonds when they turn 65, because they believe that when they hit this age they need to invest conservatively. It may be the right action and, depending upon the current market condition, it may not even be a conservative move. Interest rate risks and rising inflation rates can devastate bond investments at certain points in an economic cycle.

If a person turning 65 today is in good health and still enjoys working, they are probably not ready to retire. Even if they are looking forward to retiring, they need to think about how to manage their assets in a way that will support them for another 30 years.

Match the Investments to the Timeframe

The trick to financial planning really isn’t the math as much as determining the journey. Think about where you are in your life and what you want to achieve next. Then, decide what you hope to achieve after that and, from a financial standpoint, what you wish to achieve in the long term.

The list will change over time, and it’ll be different for everyone. However, it may include things like:

  • Buy a home
  • Earn a graduate degree
  • Start a business
  • Pay for my children’s education
  • Pay off my home
  • Buy a family vacation home
  • Eat out whenever I want
  • Travel more
  • See every professional sports team play a game at home
  • Afford health care expenses
  • Avoid estate taxes for my family
  • Support charitable causes
  • Retire early
  • Just keep doing what I love and not retire

To know what you need to afford what you want requires adding some details to your goals and a timeframe. From there, your advisor can work with you to set a dollar goal and calculate how much you need to save to achieve it, if it is an expense. Your advisor can also help you decide how much you need to invest and how to invest your savings to create enough income to achieve ongoing goals, like retirement.

When it comes to investing, we focus less on the big numbers and more on helping you achieve big results.

For more information on how we approach and deliver goal-driven wealth management services, visit us here or call 630-844-5730. We can’t wait to talk to you about what we can do for you today.

 

Non-deposit investment products are not insured by the FDIC; not a deposit of, or guaranteed by, the bank; may lose value.

The Fixer-Upper Mortgage

Roger Legner, Vice President—Residential Lending legnerr_in0006qc

It seems like there is at least one in every neighborhood: a home in need of some TLC. Whether it’s a property that might have been neglected due to the foreclosure process, a property that was owned by someone who allowed the home to succumb to deferred maintenance or perhaps it’s your own property and in need of a facelift, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) 203(k) Rehabilitation Mortgage was intended to provide financing in any of these situations.

203(k) Mortgage Programs: Standard and Limited (or Streamlined)

The two programs are open to both homeowners who want to refinance and buyers interested in fixing up a home.

Both programs:

  • Require the property to be owner occupied—they are not for investors who want to flip the home
  • Have low-down-payment requirements (3.5%) and, even then, the money may be gifted to the applicant
  • Are underwritten to standard FHA credit and income guidelines
  • Can be combined with any other FHA program available that the borrower may qualify for

The standard version of the 203(k) loan is used for more substantial repairs. These include things like moving walls, adding a room or repairing structural damage, in addition to cosmetic repairs. Essentially, this loan covers restoration that will exceed $35,000.

The limited, or streamlined, program is used for more basic repairs, such as replacing or fixing a roof or furnace, replacing windows, remediating mold or lead-based paint, purchase and installation of appliances, finishing a basement or improving accessibility for disabled inhabitants, etc. It’s limited to a maximum of $35,000.00 of repairs (including contingency reserve).

Since the purpose of both loan programs is to rehabilitate homes, the mortgage proceeds cannot be used to add luxuries like a pool or new outdoor kitchen, for example.

Go in With Open Eyes and Good Estimates

When using a 203(k) loan to purchase a home in need of repair, you are well-advised to walk through the property with a licensed contractor before submitting an offer. This helps ensure all the necessary repairs are accounted for and priced into your offer. It also helps to pay close attention during the appraisal and inspection phases of the purchase as well.

The program also requires borrowers to have licensed contractors bid on the work to be done. This is not a loan program for do-it-yourselfers.

Get Fixed Up Here

“Fixer-upper loans,” as 203(k) loans are sometimes called, are not a standard product. Many banks do not offer them, because they are quite a bit more complicated to close than conventional or standard FHA mortgages.

As a community bank, we have participated in the 203(k) program for years. We see it as another way to help our communities continue thriving while supporting homeowners and properties in need of a little extra TLC. We’d be happy to discuss the specifics of this program with you

When it comes to home-related financing, you can count on us to find a solution that fits your needs and helps you move on and into the home of your dreams. Contact me, Roger Legner, at 815-361-6469 or visit us online where you can begin your mortgage application right away, if you prefer. We can’t wait to talk to you about what we can do for you today.

5 Life Events That Benefit From Financial Planning

Kathy Diedrick, First Vice President—Retail diedrick

As you write your life story, there are likely to be chapters that completely change the direction of your narrative. Coincidently, these plot twists often come with financial implications. Getting advice at these points isn’t just helpful, it may be rewarding.

A 2010 study found that people who get advice regularly before making major decisions related to money end up with more financial assets than those who go it alone. So, when would seeking financial advice help?

Here are some of the bigger turning points in life, when some guidance can make all the difference.

Your first full-time job. For many, the thrill of a regular paycheck comes from knowing you don’t have to ask permission—it’s your money to spend as you please. But, before you do, it’s a good idea to take a breath, step back and add up what you need to spend each month. Then, think about what you want to spend on the things you do or buy for enjoyment.

It’s also a good idea to get in the habit of shaving off a little bit from each paycheck to start saving for the things you are going to want, like an annual vacation, getting an advanced degree, upgrading your car, owning your own home and, ultimately, retiring.

Talking to an advisor about the best options for living today while saving for tomorrow can help you get off to a good start. Making use of spending tools also helps.

You found the ONE! Making a commitment to share your life is huge, whether you find that person early in your adulthood or later on. It also means that when you start to live life as part of a couple, you should start spending, saving and planning as one. An advisor can help facilitate that transition by advising you on how to jointly own and hold title to your accounts and assets. They can also work with you to set up new savings goals. Calculators like this one can also help you keep track of things as your finances become more diverse.

Buying your first home. While you save for a down payment, you may want to work with an advisor—as well as a mortgage expert—to determine how much house you can afford and if there is a need to address your current debt and credit scores before applying for a mortgage.

Children change everything. From what you spend your money on to what you care about, when you start adding family members, it’s time to reevaluate. For many new parents, saving for college becomes an important goal. While our college savings calculator can help you set a target, an advisor can help you choose the right goal and savings method for your budget, along with a mix of appropriate investments.

Preretirement. The time to consider your plan for retirement is when you’re still working. This way you can make necessary adjustments before locking into any decisions. This tends to be the point in most people’s lives where they really want to meet more regularly with an advisor to make sure their savings are sufficient and their investment allocation makes sense.

No matter where you are in your life, we have the accounts, tools and individuals to support you on your financial journey. Contact us at 1-877-866-0202 to see how we can help. And, feel free to make use of our many financial tools along the way. We’re always happy to talk to you about what you want to do next.