Bankers become movie stars during atypical day

Filed under: Banking & Finance |

All bankers know they are stars in their own right.

But folks visiting downtown’s First Community Bank on April 7 may have done a double take when they saw their favorite bank employees dressed as movie stars.

It was part of First Community Bank’s “Not Your Typical Day,” theme to celebrate the banks motto of “Not Your Typical Bank.”

The Colorado Springs branch had an Academy Awards theme.

Branches in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah celebrated with themes such as The Cat in the Hat, the Wizard of Oz and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

The stars-for-a-day also gave customers the red carpet treatment by serving hors d’ouveres and pulling them in on the fun.

The bank’s CommUNITY food drive coincided with the event. Food collected was donated to the Colorado Springs Care & Share Food Bank.

U.S. Bank Five Star celebrates 10 years

This year, U.S. Bank is celebrating the 10 years of its Five Star Service Guarantee.

It also is using the opportunity to honor nearly 50,000 employees for their respective years of service.

The Five Star Guarantee was the first of its kind, paying customers for events in which specific service levels were not met.

Television commercials announcing the decade milestone will soon start airing.

The bank will recognize employees who will have worked for five, 10, 15, 20, 25 or 30 years. Seven employees will be recognized for 50 years or more of service.

Citigroup unleashed

Last week, the Federal Reserve gave Citigroup the green light to continue making acquisitions.

The announcement came nearly a year after the Fed blocked the bank from making purchases until it improved its internal compliance procedures.

Federal officials said the bank has worked hard to clear up compliance issues.

For instance, Citigroup paid more than $5 billion in civil settlements and regulatory fines during the last few years and instituted a corporate governance plan.

Analysts say that Citigroup’s new status could kick off a wave of mergers and acquisitions.

More asking, ‘Where’s my money?’

The Internal Revenue Service announced that more people than ever are using the “Where’s My Refund” button on the agency’s Web site to track income tax refunds.

More than 21 million people hit the money tracking button this year – a growth of more than 20 percent from this time last year, IRS officials said.

However, because the tracking procedure requires specific information, such as the exact dollar amount of a refund, only 81 percent of hopeful trackers have made successful inquiries.

Taxpayers can check on the status of their federal income tax refunds seven days after they e-filed their return. If they file a paper return, they can check four to six weeks after mailing their return.

FDIC: growth good, danger ahead

Despite regional disparities in job growth and a high degree of reliance on real estate, the banking industry continues to perform well across most areas of the nation. That’s according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. which published the findings in its state and regional profiles last week.

Strong job growth is helping to support loan growth and credit quality, but heavy dependence on mortgage and construction lending is making some banks more vulnerable to regional downturns in real estate activity, officials said.

FDIC-insured institutions posted a fifth consecutive year of record earnings in 2005. However, the report also indicates that the difference between long-term and short-term interest rates is beginning to take a toll on net interest margins, which could slow growth in bank earnings.

To read the full reports, go to www.fdic.gov.

Strange bedfellows

Bankers, realtors, labor unions and consumer groups don’t always find themselves agreeing, but they’re coming together on one issue these days – a Wal-Mart bank.

They oppose the idea and plan to testify before the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. that Wal-Mart should not be able to receive banking charters or FDIC insurance.

Wal-Mart has applied for banking charters in three states, but not yet in Colorado.

Wal-Mart officials have pledged to stay away from opening freestanding branches and only open in-house banks to handle its own credit transactions.

But, according to a Washington Post report, that didn’t console the opposition, who said Wal-Mart is likely to change its mind later and begin opening branches.

The FDIC hinted that it might consider conditional approval for insurance.

Opponents cite that Wal-Mart already is too big with 3,900 stores that account for 10 percent of the U.S. retail market sales and believe the same thing will happen to the retail and small business lending industry.

Bankers fear Wal-Mart would eventually dominate the industry by slashing prices for ATM use, check cashing and other banking services, just as the retailer has come to dominate the grocery industry.

Rob Larimer covers banking and finance for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.