The Ever-Evolving Landscape of Banking

by Wade Barnes 31. December 2012

Online Bill Payments

When you think of managing your finances, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Do you envision walking into a bank branch to conduct transactions? Or do you immediately think of signing into online or mobile banking? For many people and for most transactions, it’s the latter. Over the past few years, the landscape of financial management, and banking in particular, has changed drastically in that you as the customer are put in control.

According to Serge van Dam, VP of Mobile Solutions at Fiserv1, financial transactions can be broken into three categories: snacking, lunching, and fine dining. Snacking consists of transactions such as transferring funds or checking balances. Lunching includes bill payments and viewing online statements. Fine dining involves conversations with financial advisors, opening trust accounts, or other highly interactive transactions.

We appreciate the various levels of need when it comes to banking, and we work hard to ensure our delivery meets the needs of our customers. While we continue to provide the personal service offered by our branches, we also look to provide electronic services to meet your needs. As our customers know, we went through a conversion to upgrade our services and delivery in October of this past year. While change is never easy and growing pains may be difficult, we did this to set the stage for a more robust delivery moving forward, and we thank everyone for their patience as we’ve been working through this process.

Mobile Banking

Throughout 2012, we enhanced our electronic delivery in many notable ways. In February we launched a branded mobile banking application for both Android and iOS powered devices. Through this application you can check balances, transfer funds, view history, find branches and ATMs, and a recent upgrade offers mobile bill payments as well.

As part of our conversion, we upgraded our online banking platform which sets the stage for a more robust, user friendly interaction. Along with this, we upgraded our Bill Payment system, which now delivers up to 85% of payments electronically. With this upgrade, payments are guaranteed to be delivered by the date you specify, and better yet, the money stays in your account until the merchant receives or deposits the money. 

Popmoney® is a new online offering that delivers person-to-person payments. Using Popmoney® you can initiate a payment to anyone through a text message or an email. This addition is great for sending money to kids in school, repaying a friend for lunch, or sending a gift in place of a check.

Mariner360

Finally, we re-launched Mariner360, our Personal Financial Manager. The new Mariner360 provides a great platform for aggregating accounts across financial institutions to track spending, manage budgets, and set financial goals.

While we’ve made significant enhancements in 2012, we look forward to 2013 as we continue to refine our current delivery and introduce new technology. We will continue to keep you abreast of new technology and improvements to our services through our monthly eNewsletter. If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up. We also welcome your feedback and suggestions for future enhancements by emailing our customer service center.

As your community bank, we have the unique opportunity to offer the electronic delivery that has become fundamental in managing finances, but we also haven’t forgotten what it means to welcome you into any of our branches and provide you with friendly, local service. We are grateful for all of our customers and appreciate your loyalty over the years. We look forward to the new year and to continue embracing the ever evolving technology that enhances your banking experience.

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1 Shaw, S., & van Dam, S. (2012). Mobile Financial Services: Snacking, Lunching, Fine Dining. Fiserv Client Conference Spring 2012.

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The Fiscal Cliff

by Marylove Moy 28. December 2012

Fiscal Cliff

I wish I had a dollar for every time I have heard the term "fiscal cliff" in the past six weeks - my Christmas bills would be paid off in full.

Evidently 25% of the voting population understands the term. In short, the FC refers to expiration of the Bush (W) tax cuts on December 31 in addition to "sequestration" which means radical cuts across the board in government spending.

So...what does that mean to you and me? Well, as a few examples, workers will see an immediate 2 ½% cut in their pay due to the lapsing of the payroll tax cuts. Annually, many middle income families will see their annual income taxes rise by roughly $2500. Many individuals on unemployment will lose their benefits. Many governmental programs that aide the middle class will be slashed: student loan grants, physician payments from Medicare could drop by up to 30%, governmental agencies budgets will be cut by approximately 7%. These are just to name a few.

Most people think the market will take a massive hit.

The biggest issue is that our economy—which is starting to strengthen – will most likely slip back in to recession. When businesses see uncertainty of this size they don’t hire, they don’t make capital purchases or expand. Individuals cut back on discretionary spending. Markets falter.

It ain't over 'til it's over; our friends in Washington have three days to prevent this fiasco. My guess? They will pass something in the 11th hour. Stay tuned.

Marylove Moy is Program Director of 1st Mariner Financial Services. Her opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of 1st Mariner Bank.

Local Baltimore Wine Experts Suggest Their Top Picks for Affordable Wines to Celebrate the Holiday Season

by Erica Starr 24. December 2012

Holiday Wines

There is no doubt about it - When it comes to the holidays, there is bound to be food, family, friends, cookies, and a bottle or two of good wine.

Even if you and your family aren’t planning on partaking in the consumption of said bottles of wine, a good bottle wine is always perfect for a last minute gift or even just an easy grab-and-go contribution to your neighbor’s holiday party.

That being said, we went around to some of Baltimore’s well-known wine and spirits experts to get their recommendations on a few affordable wines that will wow people without putting too much of a dent in your wallet.

In general, according to Tim Coburn of Beltway Fine Wine & Spirits in Towson, the $7-$11 red wine is popular around this time of year for office parties, Secret Santa gifts, and hosting. Red wines are generally the go-to as they go well with the colder temperatures. But that doesn’t mean you can’t splurge on what is considered “the norm.”

Chateau la Bastide
Blanc 2011 - Corbieres, France - $13.00

Although red wines are more popular during the winter, Mitchell Pressman, owner of Chesapeake Wine Company located in Canton, says that a wine that goes with variety of foods is key when it comes to holiday wines. “A blend of 50% Roussanne, Bourboulenc and Vermentino, this ripe, juicy-dry (think fresh peach), mouthwatering, refreshing white can stand up to a wide variety of holiday foods.”

Cloud Break Chardonnay
California Barrel Fermented - $7.99

“If you are looking for a white, chardonnay is king,” says Coburn. The Cloud Break Chardonnay is rich with flavors of toasted oak, vanilla, butter, apple, pear and hints of coconut. 100% malolactic fermentation is used to give it nice body and texture. Refined acidity and hints of green apple linger on the elegant finish.

La Bastide
Syrah '10 Vieille Vignes "Les Genets" - Vin de Pays d'Hauterive, France - $12.00

Benotto
Nebbiolo '09 "Nebiul" - Monferrato, Italy - $17.00

When it comes to red wine, Pressman suggests two wines that both fall below the $20 a bottle range. “this is full of fragrant berry (La Bastide), spicy smells and flavors. Fruit from old vines planted in the right place usually brings more character and complexity to the wine. “

In regards to the Benotto, Pressman explains that “Nebbiolo is the most illustrious grape of the region (Piedmont) - it is the grape of Barolo and Barbaresco, two of Italy's most famous and expensive wines.”

How is this version so affordable you ask? Pressman says this version “comes from a small plot of 90 year old vines planted near the town of Asti - a village not so well known for its Nebbiolo - which helps to explain how a wine so full of dark cherry/orange peel/mineral/meaty smells and flavors could be so inexpensive.” Another remarkable value for only $17.

KAMIAK
Bordeaux Blend ’07 – Gordon Brothers - Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah blend – USA - $10.99

As reds, whites and blush wines are the more popular way to go in regards to your favorite vino, Coburn hints that blended reds are fast growing in popularity and are generally more affordable.

This cabernet, merlot, syrah and malbec blend has big, dark, toasty tannins and plenty of ripe fruit. Meaty and rich, it shows plenty of power, along with some earthier notes.

Adami
Prosecco "Garbel" - Treviso, Italy - $17
When it comes to a more wallet-friendly way to ring in the new year, Pressman suggests a Prosecco straight from none other than the grape vines of Italy.

“Prosecco (the name of the grape) is - or should be - full of fruit, frothy and fresh - just like this one from the Adami family, one of the best producers. It makes for a great ice-breaker to start off festivities, but also works great with much of the food on a holiday table.”

In addition to the recommendations from our local experts (Mitchell Pressman of Chesapeake Wine Company, and Tim Coburn of Beltway Fine Wine & Spirits) check out the suggestions from wine sommelier Gary Vaynerchuk’s 12 Wines of Christmas.

 



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