5 Myths That Keep Millennials From Becoming Homeowners

Frederick Nosal — First Vice President, Residential Lending

Though most Millennials are already well down the path of “adulting,” with careers, car and student loan repayments, and even starting to save for retirement, many haven’t taken a critical next step in their financial lives: homeownership.

Behind this hesitation are a handful of persistent myths.

Myth# 1: Renting saves me money.

Rent is an expense you pay to live in someone else’s real estate investment. If you were spending that same amount on a mortgage payment, you would actually be investing in an asset you own. It would be yours to sell and borrow against. It could even appreciate over time, which would help you build long-term wealth. Here’s a calculator that can help you put this in dollars—potentially your own.

Myth#2: I don’t make enough to buy a home.

You may not be able to buy your dream home right away, but the odds are good you can find one you’d be comfortable owning and can already afford. After all, you won’t be paying for your home all at once. While you can try different scenarios online to see what’s affordable, we recommend first-timers talk to an Old Second Mortgage banker. Not all mortgages are alike. Some lenders, like Old Second, participate in a variety of programs for first-time buyers that make affordability easier. 

Myth# 3: I still have student loans, so I can’t get a mortgage.

While your student loan balance may seem high, just focusing on how much you owe can be misleading. The amount you are required to pay back each month is what influences your mortgage approval. Also, federal student loan programs offer numerous options to ensure your payments are affordable, even with a car loan and mortgage payment. Many borrowers are able to make adjustments that allow them to comfortably repay their debt and make a housing move.

Myth# 4: It’ll be years before I can afford a down payment.

While experienced homebuyers typically make a larger down payment, first-time mortgage programs can require far less. Some are available with as little as a $1,000 investment. Depending on where you live, you may be able to access grants that cover a portion or all your down payment. This is where working with an Old Second Mortgage banker comes in handy. We can help you access the right programs for your situation. 

Myth# 5: Owning a home is a big responsibility.

While having a big property can mean a lot of yardwork and maintenance, you have options that reduce the “sweat equity” associated with homeownership. From new construction to high-rise condos or townhomes with shared maintenance costs, you can own without giving up your weekends to home maintenance chores.

Myth #6: Getting a mortgage is complicated.

You don’t have to do this alone. Talk to us. We listen and are always ready to answer questions. The only dumb question is the one you don’t ask, so ask us anything. We’ll help you understand what’s affordable, calculate how much different types of properties will cost and prequalify you so it’s easier to work with a real estate agent.

We’re here—online, by phone and in person. As your community bank, we aren’t going anywhere. So, ready when you are. After all, you may not do this every day, but we do.

An Interview with Director Patti Temple Rocks

by Robert DiCosola

Introduction

Patti Temple Rocks has been a Director of Old Second Bancorp since 2015. She is a member of the Board’s Compensation Committee and IT Steering Commit- tee. She has had a distinguished career in the Advertising, Marketing and Communications space, and has held various leadership positions for some industry-leading corporations.

Her most recent role was Managing Director/Client Innovation Officer for Golin, a global communications agency. Previous career highlights include Vice President of Public Affairs, Brand and Reputation for The Dow Chemical Company, and Chief Reputation Officer for Leo Burnett Worldwide. Currently, Patti is Founder and Head of Temple Rocks Consulting, where she is utilizing her marketing and communications experience and expertise for clients looking for growth, both for their business and of their people.

“Patti, with your many years of experience in advertising, marketing and communications, talk to us about how that experience has translated into helpful perspectives and insights as a director for a financial institution.”

PTR: “My background is certainly different than some of the other directors, many of whom are from the financial services industry. My approach at first was to listen closely to the issues and challenges facing the Bank at the Board level, and then make contributions within my areas of expertise. I think that (Board members from) different industries are very relevant to the overall decision

making because of the different perspectives they bring. For example, I noticed that the consumer challenges facing the banking industry are similar to those facing other industries—how to market their products and services to the Millennial demographic and to Gen Z–the next generation after Millennials–and how predictive analytics can play a role in that decision-making process.”

“When you were initially approached as a possible candidate for Old Second’s Board of Directors, what were some of your thoughts out of the gate? What ultimately led you to accept the directorship?”

PTR: “I was intrigued, to say the least, as one of my long-term personal goals has been to serve on a publicly traded board of directors. I did have some concern about my lack of direct experience in financial services but I also knew that in today’s complex environment, boards are expected to ask questions and challenge the status quo to some extent, and not simply be a rubber stamp. I could tell from my conversations with the Bank’s management and other directors that there were highly capable people guiding the Bank with deep financial experience. I felt confident that I could add something differ- ent and hopefully complementary to what they already had. With that perspective, I was honored to say yes to the OSBC opportunity.”

“What would you say are three of the most critical competencies, characteristics or credentials of an effective Board member?”

PTR: “Curiosity is one of the most important…As Board members, we need to have the capacity to ask thought-provoking and challenging questions. (For example): ‘If we didn’t do that, what might happen?’

“Another important characteristic is empa- thy. As directors, we can add value by considering the perspective of customers and employees. At the end of the day, an unengaged employee base will almost always result in disappointed customers. If we can assist Bank management with insights regarding the overall customer experience, that’s a value-add.”

“The last one would be preparation. It’s never a good idea to attend a board or committee meeting blind, without advance preparation. When I first started with the Bank’s Board, there were a zillion acronyms I had to familiarize myself with, such as the OCC and OREO loans and many others that were simply not a part of my normal vocabulary. I couldn’t pretend that I knew what these were…I needed clarification so that I could be conversant and relevant to the discussion. I am very grateful that my fellow directors were very patient with me as I asked questions!”

“Diversity and Inclusion is an important reality for successful companies these days, including here at Old Second. Can you give us some examples of how D/I played an important role in a company’s success?”

PTR: “Without question, Diversity is essential to a company’s success, but not in a numbers-oriented, quota-based way. And there is no Inclusion without Diversity, and vice versa. In an effort to become more diverse, companies need to be careful to not make inappropriate hires that ultimately become bad hires—and often at no fault of the person hired. A diverse hire who is not on-boarded with care is never going to feel included in the organization. Companies need to take even greater care to make sure they have an inclusive environment to welcome the diverse hires into.

“I also believe very strongly in a broad view of Diversity. It is not simply skin color, gender or sexual preference. The best practice today is a workplace that not only looks different from the outside but is also one that values a variety of experiences and perspectives. For me, personally, I believe it is much more important to value my career experiences and insights as a working mom and a 50+ professional than simply the fact that I’m a female. One example that comes to mind is from the auto industry in the 1980’s…- Ford engineers developed ‘pregnancy bellies’ and asked their design engineers to wear them to understand how to design cars for families—including families with pregnant women. While their intentions were good and they got a lot of good PR for the effort, why not just hire some competent women engineers instead of outfitting the men?

“A workforce segment that seems to be getting overlooked these days, and a particular passion of mine, is the older worker. I’m writing a book that addresses this issue: #I’m Not- Done: It’s Time to Talk about Ageism in the Workplace. We must work to remove the stereotype that some workers lose value and relevance after a certain age.”

“What positive signs do you see going forward for the banking industry? What about challenges?”

PTR: “With the greatly improving economy, the future is looking much brighter for financial institutions. The days of banks being constantly slammed and criticized appear to be over, and trust has been established again. That’s the good news, but one of the challenges I see is providing relevant banking experiences to the generations coming up. Traditional brick-and-mortar banks simply are not an important part of their lives…Everything they do banking-wise is mobile, digital. This is very different from previous generations who still prefer one-on-one, in- person transactions. This will require entirely different approaches to what we offer and how we do it to ensure that the services the Bank provide are valued by all these age groups.”

“What makes Old Second Bank’s Mission meaningful to you?”

PTR: I would describe Old Second’s Mission in one word: authentic. You can determine a lot about a company’s culture if you would just ‘turn off the volume and watch the movie.’ I guess another way of saying that is pay attention to what I do, not just what I say. From my experience, if you did that here at the Bank, you will see an organization that truly cares about its employees, that I’m a female. One example that comes to mind is from the auto industry in the 1980’s…- Ford engineers developed ‘pregnancy bellies’ and asked their design engineers to wear them to understand how to design cars for families—including families with pregnant women. While their intentions were good and they got a lot of good PR for the effort, why not just hire some competent women engineers instead of outfitting the men?

“A workforce segment that seems to be getting overlooked these days, and a particular passion while at the same time being a growth and performance-based culture. Mission statements can’t be just flowery words on a piece of paper. There also needs to be accountability at every level of the organization.”

“Patti maintains a website (pattitemplerocks.com) which includes a number of thought-provoking blogs on a variety of topics. One that caught my eye particularly was ‘Don’t Let the Crush of Work Crush You.’ Would you elaborate on what prompted you to write that blog, and give us an executive summary on what you mean by “Don’t Let the Crush of Work Crush You.”

PTR: “In most businesses the goal is to enhance profitability and to make your numbers. This is especially apparent in the 4th quarter of the year, when the push is on to deliver and capture revenue for year-end, and clients have cash that they need to spend or lose it as the fiscal year comes to close. This makes for a particularly crazy end to the year in the agency business. I’ve walked the halls (at previous employers) and have seen the stress and exhaustion on the faces of employees who don’t have much more to give. I’ve found that in these stressful moments it’s so important to not lose the human factor. Continue to maintain empathy for those around you. When we get super busy, it’s easy to lose sight of simple, every-day courtesies—like being kind to one another and treating each other with respect.

“It’s also important to not get caught up in the stress of the moment and try to maintain a close link to what’s truly important to you. We can and should turn our focus to our customers and colleagues, but at the same time we need to take care of ourselves. I’ve also found that maintain- ing a sense of humor is essential! Being able to laugh is a gift not just to ourselves, but to others. And I believe that makes our work better.”

7 Retirement Savings Tips for Women

Mary Randel—Retirement Benefits Officer, Wealth Management 

As a women, saving for retirement is a challenge. On average, a woman’s life expectancy is longer than a man’s, which requires her to accumulate a higher lifetime savings balance. But, what makes saving enough even more difficult, is that many women experience career interruptions to care for children and, later, elderly parents, which reduces their lifetime earnings. Complicating matters even further is a lingering perception that retirement savings supplement Social Security benefits, rather than the other way around.

Whatever the reasons, today, more than ever, saving for retirement is truly hard work.

What Women Can Do to Meet the Challenge

Many employers, regardless of their size, offer 401k plans to help their employees save for retirement. Even if you are just starting out—or have started your own company—participating in one of these tax-deferred plans is your first line of defense for achieving the type of retirement you deserve.

Other actions women can take to feel more confident they are doing enough for their “future self” include:

  • Make no excuses! When your employer offers to match the amount you’re saving, save at least the amount needed to earn the maximum amount being matched. An offer of matched savings is better than a free lunch, unlimited personal time or a snack drawer—it’s literally free money for you to spend in retirement.
  • Regardless of your current position, save. Don’t wait until you’re earning more or have fewer financial obligations. In the long run, how much you save isn’t as important as how early you start and how consistent you are.
  • Have something in reserve. The emergency cash reserve everyone is supposed to build in their 20s becomes even more important in retirement. Be sure to save not just for day-to-day expenses but also for the unexpected things, like replacing cars and furnaces or paying for homecare providers and rehabilitative services.
  • Redefine “old.” Approach retirement planning with the mindset that you will work at least until your age of full employment under Social Security. That’s not 62. For today’s workers, it’s actually between ages 66 and 67. Taking benefits at age 62 when they first become available will severely reduce your monthly benefit for the rest of your life.
  • Invest in yourself. The healthier you are, the more options you’re likely to have regarding your retirement. Preventable health issues can lead to retiring earlier than planned, reduce your quality of life in retirement and significantly erode savings. There is also another reason to invest in yourself: Many retirees find leisure isn’t as compelling as it once seemed. Maintaining your marketable skills, along with your health, makes doing work you find meaningful, as long as you choose to, an option.
  • Plan for both of you…and each of you. Many widowed spouses are surprised when they no longer have a second Social Security check coming in each month after the death of their spouse. Retirement planning should include savings arrangements that cover the needs of the couple but also incorporate the ongoing needs of the remaining spouse.
  • Invest to achieve your goals, not to appease your fears. Being overly cautious when investing can be detrimental to successfully saving for retirement. This is why many people opt to hire a professional. Whether this means having a wealth manager step in or investing in a diversified handful of mutual funds, outsourcing the decision-making can help get you closer to your goals.

Whether you want to supplement your employer’s retirement plan by saving on your own or are an employer who wants to make it easier for your staff to plan for their retirements as well, we can help. Contact me at 630-906-5500 or at mrandel@oldsecond.com. You can also learn more about our options here. However you choose to contact us, we look forward to talking to you about how we can help you plan for the future you deserve.

Treasury Management Options Customized to Each Company’s Needs

Sherry Pass, Vice President—Treasury Management Advisor 

In recent years, businesses have implemented several new high-tech methods of receiving customer payments. Even businesses who still utilize paper checks are clearing funds faster and putting them to work. Old Second Bank has already helped many of these businesses adapt to the needs in their local markets and industries.

Technology and Familiarity

For any type of business, Old Second retains our “second-to-none” approach. We strive to provide the latest receivables technology without sacrificing the unique familiarity we have with our customers. Our approach includes the delivery of transaction solutions in addition to firsthand knowledge of our customers’ markets. We do business in many of the same regions as our customers, which puts Old Second at an advantage over out-of-state providers.

Spanning three centuries, Old Second has worked with numerous industries in the very markets where your business does business. We know what tools have been effective for different industries or different-sized businesses. We know because we’ve worked with businesses facing many similar challenges as yours. We know because our own business faces many of the same market forces your business does.

Fitted Solutions

Included in Old Second’s familiarity with your markets of operation is knowledge that each business has unique needs as well. That’s why we equip our bankers with an array of solutions that can be fitted to your business.

Our bankers are experienced in examining each business with a focus on your bottom line and your customers’ satisfaction. Would it be best for your business to centralize receivables volume? Our Remote Deposit Capture product can help. Is your sales team on the go and in need of a portable merchant processing solution? Our point-of-sale technology may be the ideal solution. Do your customers prefer to make payments online? Our Customer Payment Portal can make this happen. How is your business protecting against fraud? Our Positive Pay fraud prevention solution could be what you’re looking for. Our bankers ask these kinds of questions with your bottom line in mind.

One of the ways we become “second to none” is when your business becomes “second to none.” That’s why our bankers are also empowered to take direction from your decision-makers. Together, we can reach very special results.

Get Started

Contact me at 815-361-6442 to discuss which solutions might be most effective for your business. You can even visit our website to gather information, watch Treasury Management demos and more.

Why Borrowing From Yourself Can Be a Smart Move

Terri Hanson, Vice President—Residential Lending  

With the recent appreciation in home values in our area, it’s likely your home equity has risen to a point where you’re living inside a literal nest egg. Accessing that equity to finance some of the other expenses in your life could be a smart financial move, given the current level of interest rates.

Be at Home With Your Loan: Borrowing Options

One option homeowners have for accessing the savings they’ve accumulated in their home is to refinance with a cash-out mortgage. This involves replacing your current mortgage with one that has a higher outstanding balance. It’s typically more beneficial when interest rates are below the rate of your existing mortgage.

When interest rates are rising, as they are expected to do, using a home equity loan is often more cost-effective than refinancing. Home equity loans are secured by residential real estate, which is typically your largest asset and tends to appreciate over time. So, they often have more attractive terms than unsecured personal loans or those secured by another asset, such as a car.

Home equity loans come in two “flavors”: fixed-rate home equity loans and home equity lines of credit (HELOCs). Here’s what you need to know about each type.

Fixed-rate home equity loans are like having second mortgages. When you borrow, you receive a lump sum and begin repaying the loan immediately, with fixed monthly payments of principal and interest. The loans have a set maturity and are closed after you repay them.

As mentioned above, when rates are rising, home equity loans are helpful in minimizing borrowing costs. For instance, customers who don’t qualify for the best terms at auto dealerships or who buy used cars on a person-to-person basis may find using a home equity loan to buy a car could lower their cost of borrowing.

HELOCs are also secured by your home equity, but they offer greater flexibility. This is why many homeowners prefer them to fixed-rate home equity loans. They work like credit cards in that you only receive a bill when you have an outstanding balance. You can also borrow, repay and borrow again. When you borrow against a HELOC, only the interest on your current balance is due each month for a number of years before principal payments are expected. This enables you to decide how much you want to repay on the principal amount and when to do it.

Prior to retiring, many older homeowners will open a HELOC so they have access to emergency funds for unexpected repairs and medical expenses. There are no restrictions for how the money may be used. However, the interest rate charged on outstanding balances will fluctuate. At Old Second, HELOCs adjust with the U.S. Prime Rate (plus a margin). As interest rates go up or down, so will the interest due each month.

Is It the Right Thing to Do?

Building home equity creates options as you move through your financial life. In addition to the wealth you have in individual savings and investment and retirement accounts, it makes sense to manage the money you accumulate in your home as well. Whether it helps you afford college expenses, pay for a wedding, prepare your current home for sale or is a source of funds for your new home’s down payment, borrowing against your home equity can be a smart financial move. However, before taking out any loan, make sure you know your options and the terms and costs associated with each one. You can check our current rates and incentives here.

The Next Move Is Yours

To access a collection of home equity calculators that will help you understand how borrowing against your home would affect your budget, click here or contact us about your home equity loan options at 630-466-4843 (thanson@oldsecond.com). We can’t wait to talk to you about what we can do for you today.

If you are ready to start an online application, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: TransUnion HELOC Study

Why Volunteering Matters to Us

Old Second’s Carrie Niesman receiving the Oswego Chamber of Commerce 2017 Volunteer of the Year award from Cory Holstead- Chairman of Board – Oswego Chamber

Carrie Niesman, Vice President—Regional Manager

Recently, I had the honor of being recognized by both the Oswego Chamber of Commerce and the Illinois State Senate as a 2017 Volunteer of the Year. It’s the third time I’ve received this distinction, which just further motivates me to keep contributing toward the enhancement our communities.

How We Pay It Forward

Being an agent for positive change is important to me. I grew up here, I live and work here, and I’m raising my family here. Volunteering is my way of ensuring that everything my family and I have received from and enjoy about our area remains available to help future generations flourish. I believe in paying it all forward.

As important as community involvement is to me, I appreciate that it is also a priority to my employer. Being involved in the communities we serve is part of what makes us Old Second bankers—and an aspect of the job I thoroughly embrace.

Old Second has deep roots in this area. It has been instrumental in the development of the neighborhoods and businesses that make up our communities. The bank sponsors a number of events, supports fundraising for organizations and accommodates employees like me so we can donate our time and energy to causes and activities that benefit customers and community members. This commitment lies at the heart of our company’s core values.

It’s the bank’s support that enables me to hold a variety of board positions in the areas served by the branch offices I manage. As a member of the Chamber of Commerce in Oswego, for instance, I’m able to meet regularly with many area business owners. These relationships help me understand the current challenges and opportunities local businesses face, which enables me to customize solutions to meet their needs and be a better banker.

Passion Gets Things Done

I am as passionate about being a representative of a community bank as I am about fulfilling the missions of the organizations on whose boards I serve to make positive impacts on our communities.

To learn more about what Old Second can do for you, and how we are involved in your community, contact me at 630-385-6697. I can’t wait to discuss what we can do together.

Carrie Niesman is currently:

  • 2017–2016 Past President/Club Advisor of the Oswego Junior Women’s Club  
  • Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Oswego Chamber of Commerce
  • Co-chair for the Ambassador Committee for the Oswego Chamber of Commerce
  • Ambassador for the Yorkville Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Committee Member for the W2W (Women in Business) group of the Yorkville Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Secretary on the Board of Directors for Oswego Panther Youth Basketball Association
  • Member of the Oswego Police Commission

 

The Game-Changing Benefits of Predictable Cash Flow

David Mottet , First Vice President—Commercial Lending 

To understand the dynamics of small business management, you need to look beyond your revenues and focus on how quickly cash flows through your organization. Because, if your company comes up with insufficient cash to operate at the end of the month, it really won’t matter that your business’ earnings hit a new high the month before. That’s why you need to keep your eye on your operating cash cycle to get a better gauge on the health of your cash flow.

The Lifeblood of Your Organization

The operating cash cycle represents the length of time your cash is tied up in working capital, including the inventory cycle and the accounts receivable cycle. For most businesses, it takes somewhere between 40 and 60 cents in working capital investment to generate one dollar in new revenue. This is the basic premise behind achieving sustainable growth.

Your growth capacity is determined by your working capital surplus. But the “timing of cashis also a factor. Operating cash cycles are the circulatory system of your business. If cash is not flowing smoothly through the system, the patient weakens. If cash flow stops all together, the patient’s viability is at risk.

Assessing Predictability

To gauge the strength of your current operating cash cycle, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How would your day-to-day operations be impacted if your clients made their payments within 24 hours of receiving your invoice?
  • How would truly predictable cash flow affect the ability of your company to add staff or other resources?
  • How would paying all accounts within five business days impact your ability to negotiate better prices and discounts with your vendors?

If you are like most managers, answering these questions led you to a better place than you are right now. Once you know when you will receive payment, you no longer need to juggle payables and other business obligations. You begin to control your cash flow rather than being controlled by it. That’s where the value of having a predictable cash flow leads.

The Benefits of a Predictable Cash Flow

Business owners typically realize five major benefits from achieving a predictable operating cash cycle.

  1. Reduce managerial stress. Just as with personal finances, a lack of money can lead to stress in a business. You start to worry about your employees just as you would your family.
  2. Build stronger business relationships. Once you take control of your operational cash cycle, you can begin to nurture valuable relationships with both vendors and clients. This can often lead to earning better pricing through prompt payment.
  3. Experience debt reduction. Predictable cash cycles in a business enable you to pay down term debt more quickly, as well as other short-term obligations. In time, your business can become totally debt free, and, as an owner, you become an investment and cash management client rather than strictly a borrower.
  4. Improve staffing flexibility. During times of uncertainty, the last thing a business owner wants to do is commit to paying annual salaries for new employees. Predictable operational cash flow enables you to hire with confidence as growth opportunities arise.
  5. Realize growth in sales. Businesses must have working capital to support expansion. By making operational cash cycles more predictable, one key barrier to growth is removed. Consistent cash cycles provide you with the opportunity to expand your sales more easily, given market demand.

To gain firm control of your operational cash flow and the resulting benefits of predictable payments, Old Second offers business clients access to the BusinessManager® program. This online program allows you to get cash for your accounts receivable deposited directly into your bank account by selling them to the bank at a discount. Essentially, it allows you to quickly turn your invoices into cash, makes your cash flow more predictable and enables you to negotiate better terms from your suppliers. The result is a much stronger operating cash cycle and healthier finances.

To learn more about this game-changing program and the other cash management strategies available at Old Second Bank, contact your lender to set up an appointment. We can’t wait to show you the difference it can make.

4 Things You Need to Know About Cryptocurrencies and Block Chain

Brad Johnson, CFA, CFP®, Vice President/Senior Investment Officer

Thanks to the surge in the stock prices of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin—and the technology companies that allow for its use—conversations around this topic often get emotional. Some are gripped by the fear of missing out on an opportunity to “get in on the ground floor,” while others quickly dismiss the volatile stock prices as evidence of a growing bubble, much like the dotcom era of the early 2000s.

The reality, however, can be found somewhere in between, and the conversation is far from over. To help inform the discussion, here’s what you need to know about cryptocurrencies and the technology—block chain—that makes them possible.

#1: The Technology Is Legit.

Block chain, is both legitimate and of real significance. It has the potential to change how business is transacted and information exchanged, resulting in an instantaneous and verified transfer.

It also creates a decentralized payment system that cuts out the middleman, the Federal Reserve system, in particular. This is the inverse of the current financial system in which the central bank makes decisions regarding monetary policy. This efficiency will have many applications, including reducing opportunities for fraud and lowering cash management costs. However, the technology and its use are years away from being able to support widespread adoption of block chain transmissions. That said, it’s well worth keeping an eye on the companies that are at the forefront of making block chain an eventual reality in day-to-day payment systems.

#2: Bitcoin Is Not the Only Cryptocurrency in Town.

There are thousands of cryptocurrencies, but Bitcoin is the most well known in its rapidly expanding universe. Cryptocurrencies are not on equal footing with currencies like the dollar, however. They are issued in fixed amounts—like trading cards. Their value rises and falls with demand for their limited supply. That undermines their use as a store of value. Currently, there are no regulatory bodies in charge of cryptocurrencies and no exchanges on which they trade. This creates a “wild west” of sorts—similar to the U.S. banking system prior to the 1900s, when individual banks, as well as the U.S. Treasury, issued currency. It will be a while before standards are in place enabling cryptocurrencies to function on equal footing with country currencies and “winners” emerge among the thousands of options.

Also important to note is that because of the outsized attention that speculation in the coins has caused, the public has a misperception about the influence this payment option has on the economy and world markets as a whole. It is still in its infancy and much too small to move global markets at this point.

#3: Cryptocurrencies and Block Chain Are Not Able to Replace the Current Financial System.

While the technology is exciting and has a role to play in the future, we think it’s more likely that cryptocurrencies and block chain will be a payment tool that resides within the current monetary system. Consider that because the coins are finite, the payment and its receipt are immediate—and it occurs on a one-to-one basis—there is no opportunity for lending.

The current global financial system operates with an infinite amount of currency. Central banks, like the U.S. Federal Reserve, have mechanisms for expanding and contracting the money supply to support the economy through borrowing and lending activities. Loans—whether between banks, countries, or banks and their individual and corporate borrowers—are a key part of the system. Without lending, there are no mortgages or car loans—credit that creates the liquidity necessary to increasing economic wealth. That, in turn, would not be good for economic growth.

#4: Participation in Cryptocurrencies Is Limited.

Regulated wealth management firms like ours are prohibited from acquiring and holding cryptocurrency positions for clients. There just is no mechanism for us to do to so as a fiduciary. Also, the cryptocurrency world is currently plagued by fraud and confusion since anyone can issue coins. Pyramid schemes have also been increasing. What we can do for our clients is monitor and suggest investment—where prudent—in the companies involved in developing block chain technology and the applications that will eventually emerge.

It’s Too Soon

There is little doubt that, at some future point, cryptocurrencies and block chain will become part of the mainstream financial world. However, adoption of block chain and cryptocurrencies is not imminent. The technology and its use are years away from being able to support widespread use. How the system will work, who will use it, which currency or currencies will be adopted, and the opportunities they will give rise to, however, are something we continue to monitor closely.

To stay current on the latest developments impacting the investment world, consider subscribing to our weekly newsletter. Our Wealth Management representatives are also eager to answer your questions about opportunities to grow your invested assets. To reach us, call 630-906-2000 or visit us online.

Attracting and Retaining Skilled Employees

Sean O’Connor, First Vice President/Retirement Benefits 

With the current robust economy comes a tight job market. While that may be great for revenues, it also brings the added pressure of attracting and retaining skilled staff members. Whether you are trying to entice good workers to leave the jobs they have to join your firm or want current employees to stay, it takes a more than salary and a pleasant workplace. Having a good employee benefit plan helps make your case.

The Thing About Millennials

Millennials, the generation that is currently flooding workplaces as the pace of Baby Boomer retirements starts to percolate, may have a reputation for being swayed by the promise of an office foosball table and Taco Tuesdays, but that is not all they want. A key characteristic for this demographic is that they are savers, and many have already begun saving for retirement. As self-guided learners, they are already looking for more sophisticated strategies and advice on retiring. They want to be prepared to “win” retirement—and a potentially early retirement at that.

As an employer, this makes your plan, and its attractiveness in meeting your staff members’ long-term goals, even more critical to your company’s continued growth and expansion.

Closing the Gaps

As a wealth management firm, we have been creating and administering employee retirement plans for decades. That includes establishing, monitoring and administering defined contribution plans, or 401ks and 403Bs, for our business and municipal clients.

With a highly “seasoned” staff—some of us started our careers with larger global consulting firms and research groups—we have an unexpectedly deep bench when it comes to our in-house capability for structuring customized new employer plans for clients. We can also provide consultative services that lead to recommendations for strengthening the retirement plan you already have in place to make it more appealing to participants of all ages.

Easy Access to Answers

Recently, we’ve been making the biggest difference for our plan sponsor clients by bringing their plans up to the technological standards workers expect, especially those that are younger and tech savvy. Millennials, in particular, are information miners. They expect to find the answers they need to questions as they occur to them, online and through a mobile device. Then, they want to be able to contact a person for a one-on-one conversation. We accommodate that.

Through a variety of vendor relationships, we strive to create a seamless and intuitive experience for your plan participants. This enables them to trade online and access research on their own. It also provides the tools and apps that help them focus on achieving their financial wellness goals. Given our own community banking heritage, we are also available to take calls and meet on-site to address their questions and provide the educational assistance that enables participants to get the most out of their employer plan.

Investment Guidance

As a division within a commercial bank’s trust department, we also offer two more advantages. Fiduciary duty is part of our DNA. We are required by law to operate with fiduciary responsibility at every level of our business. This isn’t something new for us; it has always been part of our service.

Secondly, being a wealth management provider, we are also able to leverage the market research and investment knowledge of in-house experts to the advantage of your plan. That expertise can help in structuring the plan and choosing the most cost-effective investment options for you to offer. Beyond fund selection, the fact that we monitor markets and investments daily can lead to a quicker reaction to shifts in market and economic fundamentals. Many of our plan sponsor clients find that added responsiveness and proactive involvement relieves them of the extra responsibility and pressure to conduct their own monitoring and investment reviews.

We Simplify Plan Sponsors’ Lives

We also help keep compliance testing in line with ERISA compliance and monitor costs related to the investments and to the plan’s operation. After all, controlling costs creates more of a growth opportunity for participants. Although, we also recognize it isn’t always about the price. It’s about being able to deliver participants to their goals and providing plan sponsors with the services and support they need—from access to the best investment platforms to on-site education and consultations.

Whether you want to ensure your current plan remains competitive in today’s battle for workers or you think it’s time to add a plan, visit us here or, better yet, give us a call at 630-844-8655. We can help you stay competitive and keep your employees on track to achieve the retirement goals.

A Wealth of Experience

Jacqueline A. Runnberg, CFP®, First Vice President/Wealth Advisor 

When it takes a lifetime to build a legacy, it’s only natural to want it to last for generations, along with the advisor you entrust with it. What many people don’t realize about Old Second Bank is that we are that advisor. Not only are we the largest provider of personal fiduciary, investment management, wealth management, and trust and custody services in the western suburbs, we were also the first. We are literally second to none, having been in the trust business since 1919. In fact, we currently have $1.16 billion in assets under management for our clients (as of 12/31/2017).

Expertise You Can Trust Close to Home

For nearly a century, Old Second has consistently delivered wealth management solutions to the families that formed the communities we all now call home. While we’ve consistently provided a full range of highly personalized solutions, many of our competitors in this area have exited the business over the decades. Many others consolidated into larger banks and, in the process, shifted their services to central locations outside our area. Meanwhile, at Old Second we have continued to pursue our strategy of providing personalized, well-informed and comprehensive wealth management services close to home.

Our wealth managers and investment professionals average more than 20 years of trust and investment experience. We have the depth and breadth of knowledge to provide all the wealth management solutions and services you need while maintaining the balance of personalized services you expect from a bank in your community.

A Common Sense Approach

When it comes to wealth management, it’s a matter of trust, and you can trust us to take a common sense approach that rests on a comprehensive process for delivering services. These services include:

  • Using a financial planning-based approach, we Identify your specific life goals and financial objectives and assessing your current circumstances.
  • Communicating with you every step of the way and listening to what you have to say rather than talking at you.
  • Involving you, your family members, your beneficiaries and your other financial professionals when appropriate and according to your wishes.
  • Investing the time to build a lasting relationship with you and each generation of your family.

Sound Advice

With a seasoned staff of professional wealth managers, we provide advice regardless of where you are in your financial life—from young families just starting to build wealth to those who are planning for their wealth’s transition. Our distinct and comprehensive approach brings a team of credentialed specialists together to provide advanced financial planning, investment and money management, tax planning, estate planning and administration, charitable giving and wealth transfer. Over the decades, individuals and families like yours have placed their trust in our consistently sound advice as they’ve built and shaped their legacies.

Whether you’re in the early stages of building wealth or looking to preserve the wealth you have, visit us here  or, better yet, give us a call at 630-966-2462 so we can start proving to you that we truly are second to none.