National Estate Planning Awareness Week Oct. 21-27, 2019

Jacqueline Runnberg CFP® CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional
Senior Vice President | Wealth Advisor

Estate Planning is a vital component of every financial plan, regardless of the size of the estate. Unfortunately, it’s also an area that is commonly overlooked.

Providing for your future and that of your family, and even for future generations, can be a daunting task. It requires having access to a resource that can expertly guide you through the complexities of changing tax and estate laws, volatile financial markets, and your own shifting personal circumstances. We are a resource in your community, one that may even have been working with you as you built the legacy you now want to protect.

With over 100 years of experience in providing personal trust and estate planning services to families throughout the Chicagoland area and well beyond, O2 Wealth Management is such a resource, one you can rely on to not only advise you, but serve as:

  • Trustee of your revocable living trust or testamentary trust
  • Guardian of the estate of a disabled individual
  • Executor of your estate
  • Agent for your investment account

Count on O2 Wealth Management for your estate and wealth management solutions!

Not insured by the FDIC nor any govt institution; Not a deposit or other obligation of, or guaranteed by, the depository financial institution; Subject to investment risks, including possible loss of principal amount invested.

National Data Privacy Day: Minimizing Your Risks

Robert M. Duplessis, CRISC, CISM, CBVM
Senior Vice President/Information Security Officer

Every January 28, security experts observe National Data Privacy Day, though the reason is far from celebratory. Instead, the day is devoted to raising awareness about the risks of sharing data in daily life. Over the years that awareness has evolved from warnings that using birthdays as PINs is a bit risky to the new reality that the privacy of data—everyone’s data—is under constant attack.

Hacker attacks on computers now launch at a rate of every 39 seconds*. Breaches that result in records being stolen are occurring at a rate of 158,727 per hour*! Worse, the pools of information available to be hacked are increasing, thanks to the growth of the internet of things (IoT).

The New Normal: Data in Motion
You may actively use settings to restrict public access to your social media accounts and practice good self-policing of your personal data. However, every time you shop for books or boots online, ask your voice-activated device a trivia question, stream videos or even send your DNA to a lab to learn about your ancestry, you are giving up valuable data about yourself. And, if you are like most people, you do so without considering the security risks.

IoT attacks were up 600% in 2017.

7 Ways to Play Defense
While it may seem as if society in general has already lost the war on privacy, that doesn’t mean you can’t defend yourself against personal loss. There are tools you can use and actions you can take to keep your data from being turned against you. Here are a few of these.

  1. Know how those you deal with treat your information. Read our privacy policy, along with the policies of any site or service you access, to make sure they are protective of their customers’ data before you give them yours.
  2. Conduct an annual audit of your data. Determine where it is and what each organization you deal with knows about you. Uninstall any old apps—the older they are and the less frequently they are updated, the more vulnerable they are to hacking.More than 75% of the health care industry was infected with malware last year.
  3. Monitor your credit reports. The FDIC recommends visiting* or calling 877-322-8228 to acquire a free credit report every 12 months from each of the three major credit bureaus. These reports function as early detection systems if someone is trying to borrow your identity.
  4. Be an early filer. Because many security breaches in the retail and health care industries have compromised social security numbers, file your tax return as early as possible, especially if you anticipate a refund. Fraudulent filings delay refunds for months while the IRS straightens things out.Three industries were responsible for 95% of the records stolen in 2016.
  5. Don’t trust, before you verify. Before giving up any information online through an email or text, verify that the person or company asking for it is legit. Hover over the address line to see where the email is really coming from. Verify any phone numbers through an independent online search before calling.71% of cyber attacks begin with phishing emails.
  6. Use tools designed to keep your information safe. Our Trusteer Rapport is security software that protects your online banking communications from being stolen. It works in addition to any antivirus or firewalls and is designed to catch fraud immediately. We also offer Security Manager, an authentication product for businesses or personal customers that generates passcodes via text and works in conjunction with your current security features.Small businesses were the target of 43% of cyber attacks.
  7. Secure you debit card. When you misplace your debit card, use our SecurLOCK™ Equip Mobile App to turn your debit card on and off and monitor spending.

Working Hard to Keep You Safe
It’s unfortunate that every time you touch a screen or pay by phone, credit or debit card you give up some personal information. We are committed to helping you protect your most valued possessions.

Whenever you have any doubts about your bank accounts, visit our FAQ section. Also, feel free to contact us online or call 877-866-0202. We are always happy to talk through your concerns, privately.

  1. Sobers, Rob. “60 Must-Know Cybersecurity Statistics for 2019.” Varonis. Web. January 2, 2019. <*>
  2. “13 Alarming Cyber Security Facts and Stats.” Cybint. Web. December 3, 2018. <*>
  3. “13 Alarming Cyber Security Facts and Stats.”
  4. Sobers, Rob. “60 Must-Know Cybersecurity Statistics for 2019.”
  5. “13 Alarming Cyber Security Facts and Stats.”

*This is an outbound link that will take you away from the WordPress blog. Before you go, we want to let you know that you are accessing a resource that includes data not hosted on our website. This service has been provided for your convenience only. It does not imply that Old Second Bank endorses or sponsors the information you will be viewing. We also cannot guarantee its accuracy or that your privacy will be maintained should you choose to disclose any personal information while on the linked site. Also, please be aware that the products and services offered on third-party sites, including investment and insurance products, are not products of Old Second Bank and may not be insured by the FDIC. Thank you and hope to see you back here soon.

New Year Review: 10 Tips for Prepping Your Finances for 2019

Jacqueline Runnberg CFP®, First Vice President Wealth Advisor 

The new year is here, and it’s time to start looking ahead. Whether your hope for 2019 includes a new home, vacation, retirement or a new addition to the family, it’s a good time to pause and make sure your finances are aligned with your plans.

Financial Actions to Take Now

Each year, we work through a checklist with our wealth management clients to make sure whatever the new year brings, they’re financially prepared for it. Here’s what’s on the list.

#1: Check your emergency savings balance. Since this money is used now and again, it may need replenishing. Also, if your family’s situation and expenses have changed over the past year, revisit your target balance to make sure it’s sufficient.

#2: Compare expected income to expenses. Examine your household’s expected monthly income for 2019 in relation to your anticipated expenditures to see if any adjustments are needed. With the increases in inflation and real estate taxes in many area suburbs, it’s a good time to review the family budget.

#3: Look at your account statements. Volatility in the investment markets during 2018 could have caused your asset allocations to shift. Make sure your portfolio reflects your long-term needs and your tolerance for risk. If it doesn’t, rebalance it to a point where you can sleep comfortably at night.

#4: Preview your 2018 tax bill. The best time to think about the taxes you’ll be paying in 2019 is in 2018 while you still have an opportunity to reduce them. See if you can harvest tax losses in order to offset any capital gains you’ve taken throughout the year. Also, check to make sure you’ve been withholding enough to cover what you will owe in April to avoid penalties.

#5: Calculate your net worth. Knowing where you stand today and comparing that to where you want to be next year, in five years or by the time you reach retirement helps you assess your progress toward your goals. Adding up assets while subtracting liabilities is the quickest way to develop a financial road map.

#6: Reevaluate retirement plan contributions. Speaking of retirement, as you start 2019, look at where your retirement plan stands. Depending on how much longer you’ll be contributing toward this goal, you might want to make adjustments.

#7: Review estate plans, account titles and beneficiaries. Family circumstances can change from year to year. Make sure your estate plans and the titling on your assets—including 401k, brokerage and bank accounts—continues to reflect your ultimate wishes.

#8: Price shop insurance policies. Insurance is an area where needs and rates can change over time. Request new bids on your auto, life and homeowners’ policies to ensure you’re not paying more than you need to for the coverage you require today.

#9: Revisit your charitable giving strategy. Tax changes that took effect in 2018 may impact when you make gifts to charities. Review your strategy with your tax advisor to make sure you’re being generous as well as tax-smart.

#10: Verify that your legal documents are current. Make sure your will, trust, health care directives and power of attorney documents are current, both in terms of who they name and to reflect changes in the legal and tax codes.

Annually reviewing your finances lets you head into the new year with a better idea of what you want to accomplish and how you will do it. If we can be of any help as you do this or if you want to discuss how to develop a plan for achieving your life goals, give us a call at 630-906-2000 or visit us at Here’s wishing you a prosperous and joyous 2019!



Not insured by the FDIC nor any govt institution; Not a deposit or other obligation of, or guaranteed by, the depository financial institution; Subject to investment risks, including possible loss of principal amount invested.

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


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 ( 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 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.

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 ( 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.