Jargon and Acronyms….They’re everywhere…LOL!
The use of jargon and acronyms has become pervasive in the English language. Whether used by government (e.g. CIA, NATO, etc.), lawyers (e.g. adjudication, brief, etc.), IT specialists (e.g. SEO, SPAM, etc.) or the younger generation (e.g. TTYL, sick, etc.), today our language has become laden with these professionally, generationally and industry specific dialects. With the advent of computerization and the internet specifically, the use of jargon and acronyms has increasingly become more widespread in our culture. So customary, that this lingo has almost become a language of its own – a foreign language for many of us, oftentimes requiring translation.
The use of acronyms and jargon in the financial services industry is not new. Our industry has always had its own language. Whether you are watching your favorite nightly financial news show or conversing with financial professionals, I’m sure you sometimes feel inundated and somewhat intimidated by our industry’s commonplace use of idioms.
Webster’s Dictionary defines jargon as the language, especially the vocabulary, peculiar to a particular trade, profession or group and acronym as a word formed from the initial letters or groups of letters of the words in the name or phrase. In a nutshell, the use, most aptly today, the overuse of this language can be quite confusing and leaves many of us exclaiming, “WHAT???”
Although the list of our industry’s acronyms and jargon is fairly exhaustive, I thought I’d dedicate the balance of this article to a few of the most commonly used acronyms in our industry which tend to be the least understood by our customers. I hope to shed some light and clear up any possible confusion concerning the following popularly used financial acronyms: APR, ARM, AGI, and PMI.
APR – Annual Percentage Rate – This is the annual rate of return made by investing or charged by borrowing, expressed in a single percentage number. It represents the actual return on money invested or cost of funds when borrowed. For example, if a credit card company charges 2% a month on your outstanding balance, the APR is 24% (2% x 12 months). This number differs from APY (Annual Percentage Yield) which takes compound interest into account.
ARM – Adjustable Rate Mortgage – This differs from a fixed rate mortgage in that the interest you pay on the loan balance varies over the life of the loan based on a financial benchmark or index and an additional spread called a margin. The initial rate is fixed for a period of time. Then periodically, the interest rate is reset. For example, if you had a 2/28 ARM, this is a 30 year mortgage, with a fixed rate for the first two years and a floating rate for the remaining 28 years.
AGI – Adjusted Gross Income – This is the “net income” figure used to determine your taxable income. Your AGI is your gross income minus all allowable deductions (e.g. unreimbursed business expenses, medical expenses, contributions to a deductible retirement plan, etc.). This net number is computed on page 1 of your federal tax return.
PMI – Private Mortgage Insurance – Many people confuse this insurance with homeowner’s insurance. This mortgage specific policy is provided by a private mortgage insurer to protect lenders against loss if the borrower defaults on the loan. Most lenders today require PMI on loans with a loan-to-value (LTV….yet another acronym!) that is more than 80% (a down payment less than 20%). Although this allows the borrower to put less down, it typically requires an additional premium payment over and above the mortgage payment and possibly an additional monthly fee.
Although the use of jargon and acronyms is most likely not going away any time soon, we must be cautious not overuse them, especially when we are communicating with people outside of our trade or industry. In our goal to provide excellent service to our customers, the management and staff of Intracoastal Bank make it a priority to always communicate with our customers clearly and concisely. It doesn’t cost a thing ….just a little time and patience. B4N! (Bye for Now)
As the last bell rings for the school year and the kids head out the doors gleefully chanting, “No more school,” their cares are left behind and replaced with thoughts of staying up late, sleeping till noon, hanging out at the beach, and just “chillin” with friends. Unfortunately, for most of us parents, our worries and homework have just begun. Our once toyed with ideas for this year’s perfect summer family vacation must NOW turn into a planned, scheduled, and booked reality. The struggle for most of us is not the vacation itself, but ultimately providing a memorable experience for the entire family that doesn’t deplete the savings account or burn the numbers off our credit cards.
So, how do we create the perfect blend of quantity and quality, while remaining fiscally responsible? Actually, it’s easier than we think. As busy, intelligent, organized overachievers, we tend to overcomplicate and overplan everything, including the family summer hiatus. So, let’s begin by thinking outside of the proverbial box and get back to some old fashioned basics; the availability of limited technology and the K.I.S.S. principle.
Today’s technology has undermined the true definition of vacation. Think back to a time when you couldn’t be called, emailed, texted or posted while away from the office or the house. To really allow yourself and your family to take a quality break from everyday modern life and the sophistication that accompanies it, make a family pact to leave technology behind. Bring one cell phone, designated only for emergencies, and put an “on vacation” voicemail message on the remaining phones and an auto reply on emails.
With technology in check, let’s begin planning a vacation that both our budget and family will love! This is where the K.I.S.S. principle applies – keep your adventure uncomplicated. The challenge is to find age-appropriate activities that aren’t mind-numbing for adults or boring for kids. The ultimate family vacation choice is one that provides a simple mix of physical activity, education, and sightseeing opportunities. So, after doing a bit of homework, here are my top three frugal, yet memorable family summer vacation ideas to get you going.
- The Road Trip Vacation
Even with higher gas prices, the All-American family road trip is still one of the least expensive options. Choose an ultimate destination (e.g. Washington D.C., Black Hills, South Dakota, Las Vegas or any of our incredible National Parks) and then plan a route which offers interesting, fun stops along the way. When making your lodging reservations, don’t forget discounts provided by membership organizations and be sure to ask for budget-conscious deals and/or accommodations where kids stay free. To reduce food costs, look for restaurants with kid’s menus or where kids eat free. Another option is to book a room with a refrigerator or kitchenette. By preparing some meals yourself, you can reduce your restaurant costs. So, grab your GPS, pack a large cooler, stop at grocery stores along the way, sing silly songs, play I Spy and the License Plate Game, watch the sun rise and set, and make some wonderful memories.
- The Close to Home Vacation
Living in Florida provides a multitude of day trip opportunities. Make your home your hub. Depending on the number of vacation days, take in as many local attractions as possible. Some great suggestions might include spending the day at one of Florida’s beautiful natural springs, venturing out to an unfamiliar beach spot, a trip to the zoo (I’m partial to the Jacksonville Zoo) or even spending the day at one of your family’s favorite theme or water parks. There are two important prerequisites to make the close to home vacation an enjoyable one. First and foremost, remember this is a vacation – have a plan with a predetermined schedule of events. Remind yourself that memorable family quality time doesn’t include cleaning out closets, landscaping the yard or painting the house. Second, as stated earlier, make a family pact to keep this time technology free.
- The Camping Vacation
This can be the traditional camping experience, vacationing at any of the many Florida or National state or private parks or the innovative summer “family camp” programs. Like summer camps for kids, a “family camp” experience comes complete with beautiful settings, simple lodging, meals, campfires and an assortment of imagination stretching activities. Now if you’re feeling really adventurous, this can be combined with the Road Trip vacation.
Although the Road Trip, the Close to Home, and the Camping vacations are my top picks, I’m sure there are many more great ideas out there. If you have a personal favorite, let me know – I’d love to hear from you! In the meantime, remember that family vacations are important. There’s the quality time spent together away from life’s distractions, the laughter and fun and most importantly, memories that will last a lifetime. So, start Googling, begin planning, and have a wonderful vacation!
As we move into the second quarter of 2012, we see the U. S. community banking industry stepping up their technology budgets. This movement is a result of the industry trying to capture their future market; the Generation Y (Gen Y) customers (Yurcan, Brian, “8 Bank Technology Trends That Will Shape the Industry in 2012,” www.banktech.com, January 3, 2012).
The Gen Y market, comprising people born between approximately 1979 and 1999, is enormous. The immensity of this demographic is only outsized by its future earning potential. This group, made up of approximately 80 million adolescents and young adults, earn approximately $214 billion annually and are expected to earn $3.4 trillion, compared to the estimated $2.8 trillion earnings of the baby boomers by 2018 (Constantine, Greg, “Tapping Into Generation Y: Nine Ways Community Financial Institutions Can Use Technology to Capture Young Customers,” www.firstdata.com, April 2010).
In an effort to meet the growing technological demands of a technologically savvy market and to make banking easier and more convenient for our customers, Intracoastal Bank is initiating several exciting new services in 2012. Some of these new services include:
- A newly installed ATM which will eventually be an automated banking center, allowing transactions to be done 24/7. Business and Personal customers will be able to make deposits using image technology; no deposit slips or envelopes are needed. This ATM will allow bulk cash and checks to be deposited. The machine will add up the checks and cash to be deposited and confirm that this number matches what the customer enters. The customer will receive a receipt of their transaction with images of all checks deposited for their records. This machine is so smart that it can even detect counterfeit bills and will reject them.
- A new and improved Mobiliti Banking. We currently offer mobile banking, but we are taking it to a whole new level. There will be 3 ways to access the mobile banking feature: text messages, website or by downloading an app to your phone. Besides checking account balances, making transfers and looking at account history, customers will be able to pay bills with their smart phones.
- The addition of Account Create to our website. This allows new and existing customers the opportunity to open accounts 24/7. This new service alleviates having to come into the bank during designated hours to set up an account.
- The addition of LinkLive to our website. This gives our customers the opportunity to have online chats with our Personal Bankers when they have questions. This program also allows our Personal Bankers to view a customer’s desktop in order to assist them with their online banking issues.
Corporate Volunteerism: A Win Win Win
Today, the true measure of a corporation’s success is more than the bottom line and the value of the company to its stockholders. Corporate citizenship is an integral part of a company’s success. Some essential business practices of corporate citizenship include treating employees well, practicing good ethics, being transparent and accountable, building trust and relationships, and contributing to a sustainable environment (Hitachi Foundation & Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship, 2003). However, one of the most critical components of corporate citizenship today is volunteerism; the involvement and positive social impact that the corporation and their employees have on the community where they work. More and more, today’s successful businesses realize that their profitability, reputation and retention of quality employees have a strong correlation to their commitment to employee volunteer programs.
At Intracoastal Bank, we understand and stress the importance of giving back to our community. By providing our employees with an opportunity to do good deeds that they don’t have time for outside of work, we increase company loyalty and develop strong and lasting ties to our community. At the end of the day, our company, our employees and our community reap the benefits of our continued dedication to volunteerism.
Intracoastal Bank’s support of employee volunteerism has several benefits to us as a company. It has grown our relationship with the community who has helped make us successful. A by-product of this valued relationship is the enhancement of our corporate image and reputation. Additionally, our support and direct involvement in various not for profit projects over the past several years; the United Way of Volusia/Flagler Counties, Habitat for Humanity, Mobile Benefits, Feed Flagler, Flagler County Education Foundation, etc., has built an extremely cohesive and motivated workforce. We’ve become a unified team!
For our employees, the involvement in community volunteer programs has many perks. Volunteerism offers our employees the opportunity to improve the community where they work and live. Also, the ability to participate in the bank’s supported programs adds variety and fulfillment to their work day. In addition and quite possibly most importantly, the active engagement of our employees in these volunteer programs has improved their leadership and interpersonal skills and increased their sense of self worth. We truly have more effective and better-rounded employees because of it!
Intracoastal Bank’s unwavering support and involvement in community-based volunteer efforts positively impacts our hometown as well. Our efforts have increased the understanding of the necessity of a strong and enduring relationship between businesses and the not for profit sector in the vitality of our community. Our employees also are providing their skills and talents to needed community services that might not otherwise be possible. Lastly, our bank’s efforts assist in enhancing the quality of life in our community.
Dollars and Sense Series Article for March A Day in the Life of Flagler County’s “Hometown Community Bank”
From the moment you step through the doors of the Key West architecturally themed home of Intracoastal Bank, Flagler County’s “Hometown Community Bank,” you immediately sense a different atmosphere. From the warm friendly greetings, freshly baked aroma of Otis Spunkmeyer chocolate chip cookies, freshly brewed coffee, signature bottled water, and “Customer Appreciation Days” to the dog biscuits for Fido, you will be quickly immersed into a new banking experience. Dorothy, you are not in Kansas….I mean “big bank land” anymore!
With Americans becoming more and more frustrated with the “big banks” or as commonly referred to as the “big box banks,” many are making the choice to move to smaller, more personable community banks. Many American consumers have become fed up with the mergers, buyouts, bailouts, and huge executive bonuses. They feel that these large institutions have lost touch with old-fashioned customer service and serving their community.
When Intracoastal Bank opened its doors on June 16, 2008, we were determined to be different. Our goal was to be different in so many ways. We are not a corporate giant. We are a small bank with hometown values and practices. Our size allows us to be able to customize our products and services to meet the needs of our customers.
Not only are our customers and a growing number of Flagler County residents aware of a change in the air, but our employees as well have a full sense of our unique institutional culture and work environment. Our bank’s core values prioritize teamwork, recognizing that each team member plays a vital role in our overall success. Our overall philosophy empowers our employees to make decisions without having to jump through the big corporate hoops.
We make decisions locally, typically around our upstairs conference table. This allows a much quicker turnaround on loan decisions and decisions pertaining to our customers’ accounts. If a customer ever has a question or concern, “management” is always available. Our management team has an open door policy. The decision makers are not hidden away in offices located on the 43rd floor of a skyscraper in a major metropolitan city. Our decision makers are always accessible and that’s the difference.
Similar to the Bailey Building and Loan Association depicted in the Christmas movie classic “It’s a Wonderful Life,” we pride ourselves in giving our customers a friendly, small town, face to face banking experience. As our cute, recognizable mascot implies, we like being the small fish in the big pond. We are a close, happy family…..employees and customers!
Dollars and Sense Series – Women in Top-Level Positions in Banking – Flagler’s Intracoastal Bank Leads the Way
Dollars and Sense Series
Women in Top-Level Positions in Banking – Flagler’s Intracoastal Bank Leads the Way
Although women have a predominant presence in the American banking industry today, that same presence is not found at the industry’s senior management level. Over half of the employees in American banking today are women. Yet, even with significant efforts of the banking industry as a whole to level the playing field, recruiting and training women for top-level positions, women currently only make up 17.9% of the top level positions in banking (Graff, E. J., “Discrimination Against Women in Banking”, www.americanbanker.com, October 1, 2011).
In promoting Cheryl Tanenbaum to the position of Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer this past July, Intracoastal Bank, “Flagler’s Home Town Bank”, not only increased the percentage of women in senior level positions, but set precedence in banking in Flagler County. With approximately eleven banks located in Flagler County, Tanenbaum is the only woman occupying this high level position. Bruce Page, Intracoastal Bank’s President and Chief Executive Officer, and the bank’s Board of Directors are very proud of this significant accomplishment.
Cheryl Tanenbaum, a twenty-two year resident of Flagler County, came to Florida from Plainview, New York, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management and Communications from Adelphi University.
Tanenbaum has been in banking for twenty-eight years. She started as a bank teller and diligently worked her way up the ladder. “I’ve held numerous positions over the years, so I have a broad understanding of banking”, says Tanenbaum. Upon moving to Florida, she worked for Barnett Bank, which later became Bank of America. When Tanenbaum left Bank of America in 1999, she was the Assistant Vice President. She was responsible for the operations of two of the largest branch offices in the Volusia/Flagler market.
Tanenbaum then teamed up with banking veteran Bruce Page and they went on to startup the first two “true” community banks in Flagler County; Cypress Bank and today’s Intracoastal Bank. Tanenbaum comments, “Bruce has been a true mentor to me over the past seventeen years. He has always supported me and helped me grow in this business. With two successful banks under our belts, I feel very proud of what we’ve accomplished together.”
When Flagler’s only woman bank Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer is not shaking up the banking industry, Tanenbaum spends her time with her family; Larry, her husband of twenty-four years and three children; Jonathan, twenty-two, who just graduated from University of Florida, Russell, twenty, who is a cosmetology graduate from Daytona State College and Sammi, fifteen, a sophomore at Matanzas High School. Tanenbaum also stays very active in the Flagler community, where her focus and passion is helping children. She is a mentor for the Take Stock in Children Program, the Treasurer/Chairperson for the Senior Scholarship Committee, serves on the Board of the Flagler County Education Foundation, a committee member of the United Way Volusia/Flagler, Women’s Initiative of Flagler County, a facilitator for FDIC Money Smart classes for adults and youths, and the past Treasurer of the American Business Women Association.
Clearly, Cheryl Tanenbaum has not let any grass grow under her feet since hitting Florida soil. Today, when very few women have climbed the banking ladder, Tanenbaum not only moved up the rungs, but broke through the infamous “glass ceiling”. “Cheryl has played a key role in the bank’s success and we are very proud that our bank has set the example in Flagler County”, says Intracoastal Bank’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Bruce Page.
Intracoastal Bank was conceived by a group of Flagler County business people who had the vision to establish a truly local “hometown community bank.” Flagler County is located along the Atlantic coast between Daytona Beach and Jacksonville in Northeast Florida. The Bank’s office, at 1290 Palm Coast Parkway NW in Palm Coast, FL, opened in June 2008. Most recently, the bank announced the launch of a leading office in Ormond Beach, Florida.
Intracoastal Bank offers the products and services that a large bank offers with the personal and friendly touch that only a true hometown bank can offer. Offering the best technology available, the bank can customize products and services to meet the needs of both corporate and retail customers.
Intracoastal Bank believes in giving back to our community. The employees live and work in the community and volunteer many hours to help make the community a better place to live. Deposits are kept in our county to benefit our local economy. This helps our community to be more prosperous.
- Be recognized as the best financial services company in our community.
- Provide the highest quality personalized banking service to our customers.
- Provide customized financial products and service designed to meet the unique needs of our community.
For more information, call 386-447-1662, or visit them on the web at www.intracoastalbank.net. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/intracoastalbank. Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/intracoastalbnk.