1st Mariner's Online Products & Services Survey Results

by Erica Barry 21. September 2011

Last month we asked you - our customers - to take part in a survey that was designed to gauge your opinions on how we can provide you with improved online services, support and products.

We received a TON of great feedback and are extremely pleased with the amount of participation that we received.

So we thought we'd go ahead and share some of the highlights with you. Rest assured that we will be using your feedback to guide us through the redesign of 1stMarinerBank.com.

Here's what you had to say... 

Customer Service

What, if anything, sets 1st Mariner Bank apart from other financial institutions? 

 1st Mariner Bank Customer Service74% of customers said the friendliness and professionalism of our staff 

Comments:

"It's locally owned."
"Still provides free checking which is rare these days."
"They are like an extended family."
"Extremely friendly and helpful staff."
"Personal service."
"I've had excellent service at all of the 1st Mariner branches , mostly at  the Carroll Island and Middle River branch. They are the nicest people, and very helpful to any questions. Thank you 1st Mariner, I have had five banks in 51 years and 1s Mariner Bank is by far the best!"
How likely would you be to recommend 1st Mariner Bank to a family member of friend?

  • 93% of customers said they were extremely likely or likely to recommend 1st Mariner bank to a family member or friend. 

Loyalty

  • Nearly 87% of people have had accounts with us for 2-plus years.
1st Mariner Bank Customer LoyaltyOnline Services
  • 96% of customers using Online Banking said they were either very satisfied or satisfied with our Online Banking service.
  • 92% of customers that have used our Click to Chat services have been either extremely satisfied or satisfied with their experience.

Comments

"Very efficient online banking and bill pay. I keep 1st Mariner for this reason and love being able to print out copies of cashed checks."
"I can always talk to a human if I want to."
"Very convenient for checking the balances in my accounts regularly to avoid overdrafts."
"Online banking, bill pay and mobile money are extremely user-friendly and perform all of the tasks that I would expect them to."


Are there additional Online Services that you'd like to see provided?

  • Mobile Deposit (check capture)
  • An android app.
  • A place for customer testimonials section.
  • Account balance email alerts.

This is GREAT feedback for us! We can assure you that all of these items will be taken into consideration and we'll do our best to incorporate them into future improvements for you.

Thank You!
These results are fantastic and we are proud to have such wonderful and loyal customers. We're thrilled that you've been happy with your experience with 1st Mariner Bank and look forward to delivering on some of the improvements that you've suggested.A big THANK YOU to all of our customers who took the time to complete our survey and to provide us with the much needed feedback that we'll need to improve your banking relationship with us.

If for some reason you were not able to participate in our survey and would like to provide us with additional feedback,please email us or call our Customer Contact Center at 410-558-4200.

How to Decide: Home Equity Loan or Line of Credit?

by Wade Barnes 14. September 2011

Home Equity Loan or Line of Credit?

So, you’ve decided to add an addition, pay tuition expense, or have a cushion for life’s unexpected expenses. As your home is one of your greatest assets, many people decide to borrow against the equity in their home by obtaining a Home Equity Loan or a Home Equity Line of Credit. The tough decision is deciding which product will best suit your situation.

When working through the decision of whether to obtain a Home Equity Loan or a Home Equity Line of Credit, there are 4 categories to consider: Access to Funds, Interest Rates, Monthly Payments, and Potential Tax Savings*. By understanding each feature you’ll be well positioned to decide between a Home Equity Loan or a Home Equity Line of Credit.

Access to Funds

Home Equity Lines of Credit are great when you need to access the funds in various increments or need a revolving credit line to pay expense as they occur. With a credit line, you are free to make advances just like you are with a credit card, up to your credit limit within the terms of the agreement.

With a Home Equity Loan, the full loan amount is disbursed in one lump sum, much like a car loan. This is great when you need a set amount and don’t need reoccurring access to the loan.

Interest Rates

For the most part, interest rates tied to Home Equity Lines of Credit tend to be variable, tied to the Wall Street Journal Prime Rate. With a variable rate loan, you get to take advantage of current market rates as they shift throughout time.

Home Equity Loans tend to be fixed rate loans, where the interest rate established at settlement will be the rate you assume for the duration of the loan.

Monthly Payments

Home Equity Lines of Credit are typically interest only for a portion of the term. This means you have the option to pay interest only each month or make additional principle payments as you see fit.

Home Equity Loans generally bill for principle and interest each month. You’ll never have to guess what your payment will be as it will be fixed for the duration of your term.

Tax Deductibility

I would advise you to discuss this with your tax advisor but given your individual circumstance, the interest paid towards either a Home Equity Loan or Home Equity Line of Credit may be tax deductible at the end of the year. As this applies to both Home Equity Loans and Home Equity Lines of Credit evenly, this shouldn’t be a deciding point in your choice between either product.

In short, if you’re looking for flexibility, a Home Equity Line of Credit might be the best product to suit your needs. If you prefer stability, you may want to narrow your search to a Home Equity Loan.

Click here for more information on our Home Equity Loans and Home Equity Lines of Credit.

*Please consult your tax advisor.

Is the Cost of Living and Inflation Higher in Washington-Baltimore Area?

by Anirban Basu 18. July 2011

The Difference between Inflation and Cost of Living

Inflation is defined as an increase or change in the general price level. Generally, inflation is viewed negatively since (all things being equal) an increase in prices reduces purchasing power. The cost of living can be understood as the general price level itself. In other words, a place that is terribly inexpensive to live in can be associated with high inflation, though if that high inflation persists, that place will not remain inexpensive. Conversely, an area that is expensive can be associated with low inflation.

  • Maryland is an Expensive Proposition

Data indicates that Maryland and the Washington-Baltimore area are associated with both a high cost of living and higher rates of inflation than national averages. For instance, 43 states were associated with a lower cost of living than Maryland during the final quarter of 2010 according to the Council for Community and Economic Research (Exhibit 1). Maryland’s overall cost of living is roughly 25 percent higher than the national average, housing is 69 percent more expensive and utility costs are 17 percent higher. Transportation and grocery costs are also higher in Maryland by 8 and 10 percent, respectively.

Exhibit 1. State Cost of Living Rankings, Fourth Quarter 2010
State Cost of Living 2010The recent housing downturn, which has been disproportionately felt on the coasts, has both reduced inflation and diminished the difference in cost of living with the balance of the nation more recently. Consumer prices excluding food and energy expanded 1.9 percent in 2009 in the Washington-Baltimore region and just 1.4 percent in 2010. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, the average value of homes in Maryland has declined 21.4 percent since 2007. This has reduced the overall pace of inflation.

However, inflation ran at more than a 2 percent pace during the first three months of 2011 locally, in part a reflection of growing pricing power among area businesses. Between May 2010 and May 2011, core prices in the Washington-Baltimore area climbed 2.3 percent compared with 1.5 percent nationally.

Exhibit 2. Core CPI Growth by Select Metropolitan Area, 2000 v. 2010
]Bureau of Labor Statistic
Implications

Despite the recent and ongoing housing downturn, Maryland remains an expensive proposition. Like other Americans, Marylanders have had to deal with a host of rising costs, including food and energy prices.

Indeed, Moody’s Analytics cites high business costs as being one of Maryland’s biggest obstacles to recovery. Operating costs are higher in Maryland because businesses consume pricey energy and transportation. Moreover, the overall higher cost of living necessitates higher wages, which creates further operating cost disadvantages.

This may help explain Maryland’s lackluster job creation in recent months, which has significantly underperformed the nation. One of the questions for state and local policymakers is whether or not there are possible shifts in policy that would help reduce business operating costs without generating substantial harm to quality of life.



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