Financial checkup wraps up ‘Taking the Lead’

MONEY TALK — Jamie Copenhaver-Cribbs, right, a board member with the YWCA of Steubenville, introduced Kennie Baker as the guest speaker at the June session of the YWCA’s “Taking the Lead” series. Baker, assistant vice president and commercial deposit specialist of Consumers National Bank, offered participants insight on having a “financial check-up.” -- Janice Kiaski

STEUBENVILLE — A “financial checkup” is what participants got at the June installment of the YWCA of Steubenville’s ongoing “Taking the Lead” economic empowerment breakfast series.

The monthly informal programs held at the YWCA of Steubenville, located at 320 N. Fourth St., have covered a variety of topics geared to women entrepreneurs, women in senior management or women who want to start or are starting a business.

The money topic was led by Kennie Baker, assistant vice president and commercial deposit specialist for Consumers National Bank. She was welcomed and introduced by Jamie Copenhaver-Cribbs, YWCA board member.

Baker lives near North Canton and has been in banking since 2005, coming on board with Consumers National Bank in 2016 as branch manager of its Salem location. Last year she became the commercial deposit specialist for the Eastern market “because we are getting bigger,” she said.

“We are a small community bank, one of the last I say of true community banks,” Baker said. It started in 1965 in Minerva, launched by “a group of local businessmen wanting an option for the people of Minerva.” A second branch opened in Salem. “We just opened our 15th branch in Brewster in May so we’re growing,” she said, noting it has a Jefferson County presence in Bergholz.

“We have a passion for the communities we’re in,” she said of its presence demonstrated through volunteering and serving on a variety of boards, for example.

In explaining a little about her personal side, she said her husband is a branch manager at a large bank “so you can imagine the pillow talk is super exciting at my house,” she joked.

Baker said as business owners or customers, annual reviews with insurance agents, benefit coordinators or accountants and tax professionals are a good rule of thumb.

“And your business or personal banker should be someone you’re meeting with regularly, I would say once a year,” Baker advised. “A lot changes in our lives in the course of a year, both personally and professionally, and the same is true in banking. The one thing I’ve always said is the only constant in banking is that it’s changing, and if you can’t roll with changes, you can’t be in banking. It’s always changing,” she said.

Baker recommended an annual review of checking accounts. “Are you getting monthly service charges? Are you getting excessive transaction fees? Are you getting a statement fee — those should be things you’re looking at because things have evolved over time,” she said.

“It would be good for all of you to take a look and maybe shop another bank for options because just because your bank has done it this way forever doesn’t mean it’s the right way or the only way,” Baker said.

She also encouraged a banking conversation, for example, if there’s excess money in a checking account, a way to make more money on money just sitting there. “Go talk to your banker because there’s probably another option even if you want to keep it liquid,” she said.

Baker said her job is “to bring the bank to you, and I offer a lot of different services and some of them are really new to banking and some have been around that people just don’t know about, so that’s kind of what I brought to talk about — some things you might not know are available.”

One of the most popular, she said, is “remote deposit capture — so think about bringing the bank directly to your office. You get checks in the mail or a client drops off checks, and you just scan it from your desk, and it immediately goes in your account,” she said of what eliminates the need to visit the bank and can be done after normal banking hours also.

Although more common, direct deposit for employees is a time-saver and efficient vs. mailing checks, for example, she said.

“The next service is really hot right now because fraud is hot right now, and people are out there to scam, and they get smart and banks have to be smarter,” she said, referring to ACH, an acronym for automated clearinghouse, and Check Positive Pay. It helps “strengthen and extend your fraud control measures by matching issued ACH and check information as they are presented for payment. All exceptions are consolidated into a single online notification so you can make more informed decisions,” a promotional flier noted.

Baker also advised getting a yearly proposal on merchant services credit card processing, “the biggest money saver for businesses but probably one of the biggest expenses,” she said.

“If you accept credit cards or think about it, my advice is get a proposal once a year, not necessarily from the person you’re with but from a different company just to see if you’re competitive. The majority of time you’re able to save money,” Baker said.

A yearly review of lending also is in order, according to Baker. That includes current loans, rates and terms; if it makes sense to refinance; and to consider current and future needs.

A question and answer period followed.

The series will take a break for the summer, returning with a “power breakfast” on Sept. 4, beginning at 8 a.m. and featuring Renita Lavender, human resources manager at the Wal-Mart Distribution Center, as guest presenter.

For information or to register, contact Sophie Spencer, YWCA executive director at (740) 282-1261. The e-mail is Steubenvilleywca@comcast.net.