Count on Bank on Wipfli to be your go-to source for need-to-know-now information that affects the financial institution industry. Have fun participating in conversations with our team while receiving ideas and tips to help you in your financial institution.
Road TripApr 18, 2018
Road trips were not something I was acquainted with in my youth. I recall being in grade school and pleading with my father, "Can we take just one trip in the Oldsmobile like other families do?" My wife however, fondly recalls cross-country road trips during her formative years. Now, with children of our own, we have continued my wife's family tradition of piling into the family vehicle and heading to a new place to discover. When laying out this year's road trip, I began to realize how differently the planning portion of trips has become with teenagers versus younger children. The standard protocol previously required infant seats, special food, and other necessary supplies—oh, and don't forget the toys! Today, the default checklist looks very different. It appears to center around data connectivity and the ability to stream music from a cloud. Sure, food and drink are still included on the planning checklist, but the specificities are much less rigid. I guess you could say, what we accept as our baseline standards for family travel have shifted to align with the current needs of a family with two teenagers.
To Improve Is to ChangeApr 11, 2018
By Tim Tedrick
January 15, 1973, was my first day working in a bank. We didn’t have a proof machine, we didn’t have separate teller cash, and RESPA didn’t exist yet. The regulations were still in the single letters. There was no CRA. It was still legal to run “help wanted men” and “help wanted women” ads in the newspaper. I got married, our son and daughter were born, and after 11 years of very broad training in banking, including teller duties, lending, security, compliance, computer operations, and shoveling snow, I was hired as an external-internal auditor at Lindgren, Callihan, Van Osdol and Co. Ltd. (LCV). You see, long before the term “outsourced” was coined, LCV had identified a community bank need for independent internal auditors who did not work full-time at the bank. I helped develop our first internal audit program, and the firm’s entire banking practice was fewer than 20 banks. We subsequently added “EDP audits,” loan review, ACH audits, and BSA consultations on top of the directors’ exams and financial statement audits. The practice grew to over 100 banks. The number of regulations increased dramatically, and the number of people on the team hovered around five.
It's About TimeApr 04, 2018
By Teri Downey
Last week after all the snow came, followed by all the salt on the roads, I badly needed a car wash. All the car washes I passed on my drive home had at least four cars waiting in line. I started doing the math, and with an average of eight minutes per car (praying that no one would buy the super extreme wash), it would be at least 48 minutes before I would be exiting with a clean car. The question became, could I spare 48 minutes just for a car wash?
Jack of All TradesMar 28, 2018
As spring approaches, I have started planning my home remodeling projects. First, I made a list of the improvements I wanted made, including a general timeline and budget for each project. Next, through discussions with friends and family as well as online searches, I compiled a list of potential contractors. The list included general contractors (one-man shops that do it all); experts that specialize in specific areas such as windows, flooring, or gutters; and companies that do it all but are not a one-man shop because they have specialists in each area.
Looking at All the FactorsMar 21, 2018
One of the things you (hopefully) don’t have to go through very often is selling your house. I am the type of person who needs to ensure that all the logistics involved in getting a house ready to put on the market are in place. And since I don’t do this often, I was not consciously aware of the changes that have happened in the technology that goes into selling a house. Recently I have had to jump into this area and was surprised by the differences in technology that exist since the last time I went through this process. I must say that it is nice to be able to see when someone accesses the property and when they leave, all driven by an app on a smartphone. Also, there are apps that allow the realtor to access the key for the front door through an app. This got me thinking about what factors go into verifying that the right person is requesting this access.
Garbage In, Garbage OutMar 14, 2018
I think we can all agree that technology in general is a great thing. I have witnessed firsthand how many processes in financial institutions have evolved and become more efficient since I started working in the industry 20+ years ago. When I was first taught how to “spread” or summarize financial statements for commercial loan customers, I used a very simplistic spreadsheet. I had to make my own determination of how to input various balance sheet and income statement items, how they should flow to the cash flows statement, and which ones were important for my cash flow analysis.
Relying on Phil and WillieMar 07, 2018
By Sara Mikuta
Just as we cannot predict the weather, we can’t predict the next credit crisis, the next regulation that will overtax our resources, or that one event that will put our institution at risk.
Luxury Vehicle or Jalopy?Mar 01, 2018
I am “mom” to four rescue pups who always keep me on my toes. I get a chuckle from their Pavlovian response when they come in from outside and eagerly sit in front of the treat closet (that’s right, closet) and await their treat for being the adorable creatures they are. As a reward for their recent good behavior and terminal cuteness, they were lavished with super healthy soy‑, corn-, and grain-free, non-GMO doggy treats and hearty belly rubs. I perused their treat and meal offerings, and it struck me that my dogs were living the life I strive for. They eat the healthiest, most nutritious food available and get plenty of exercise and lots of love and attention.
Change Is InevitableFeb 21, 2018
Change is always happening all around us, but lately I feel like it is everywhere. As we started 2018, there were significant changes to tax laws that have not seen an overhaul since 1986, which was 32 years ago! A few things have changed since 1986, with one exception—the New England Patriots played in the Super Bowl that year too (they lost to the Chicago Bears), so I guess not everything has changed.
CAUTION: The Road Ahead Has CurvesFeb 14, 2018
I got my driver’s license on the day of my 16th birthday. Only 43 days later, I caused a fender bender at an intersection. Naturally, my parents questioned my underdeveloped skills and ability to focus but thankfully footed the bill to fix my car. Twenty days after I got my motorcycle license, I took a curve too fast and crashed my Harley in a ditch. I questioned my own skills and ability, but this time I had to foot the bill to fix the bike. It was an expensive mistake!
What do Fishing Guides and Penetration Testers Have in Common?Feb 07, 2018
By Jeff Olejnik
Last summer my daughter came home for a week, and I asked her what she wanted to do while she was home. She said she wanted to go walleye fishing for a couple days. Because of her short stay and my busy schedule, I wanted to make sure that whatever we did was low maintenance and, most importantly, that we would catch fish!
Putting Change Management in PerspectiveFeb 01, 2018
By Seth Fine
One of the vaguest buzz phrases in business is “change management.” We all know it helps get organizations “rowing the same direction,” but what does it mean to business leaders to manage change when we’re constantly evolving, improving, and growing our businesses?
Let's be DifferentJan 25, 2018
Everyone always wants to start the New Year with new resolutions! For most of us, these resolutions probably include something related to weight loss, eating healthier, exercising more, etc. This year, I want us to not lose sight of those things because they are important to being successful in all aspects of our life. But I want to advocate setting resolutions of a different nature this year!
We Sell TimeJan 19, 2018
If you were to ask me what my elevator speech would be as an auditor/consultant, I would say, “We sell time.” We offer the opportunity for you to delegate and collaborate, creating the potential to unlock valuable time.
Checking Your Blood PressureJan 12, 2018
By John Moniak
The end of the year is a time when many of us reflect on what happened throughout the year, what we accomplished or did not accomplish. It is also time for social activities that include overeating, eating unhealthy foods, staying out late, etc. So why would I schedule my physical at the end of the year? Mostly it is because one year I put it off until December, and I got into the habit of having my physical in December.
No One Likes Running ErrandsJan 04, 2018
I was talking with a friend who knows that I work in banking. My friend said to me, “I think my bank is going to close.” I asked him why, and he said, “Because there are never any cars in the parking lot.” I responded that many financial institutions are experiencing reduced foot traffic, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the institution is going to close. In fact, it could be the opposite.
PreparationDec 28, 2017
When I left my house before 5:00 this morning to catch an early flight, I noticed that none of the roads in my neighborhood, or even the town, had been plowed from the overnight storm that brought almost six inches of snow. I live in a relatively small town of around 40,000 people, and even though it is Montana, these storms always seem to catch us off guard, and we end up having to dig ourselves out. Luckily, I have a four-wheel-drive vehicle and made it to the airport in plenty of time.
Once in a LifetimeDec 20, 2017
It is deer hunting season! Each season follows a very similar routine… planting food plots, scouting the woods, cutting trails, building hunting stands, sighting rifles, and so forth. We do all of this with the goal of tagging a deer—and not just any deer, but the deer of a lifetime! But what exactly does the deer of a lifetime look like?
Don't Forget to Pack Bear SprayDec 14, 2017
By Susan Kappel
I spent a week hiking in Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park with my sister in September. If you have never done this it is a great way to enjoy the beautiful country we are so fortunate to live in. I will warn you, make sure you wear comfortable hiking boots that have already been broken in, carry bear spray (we didn’t need it this time, though), and pack for all types of weather. When I arrived, it was almost 80 degrees, and three days later we were hiking in snow! But it was so worth it, I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Lighten Your WorkloadDec 07, 2017
Well, it’s that time between Thanksgiving and Christmas—SOOOOO exciting if you’re like me and love the craziness (and specialness) of the holidays. Not so much if you are more on the Scrooge-y side.
It Takes a VillageNov 30, 2017
Preschoolers can be challenging. They consistently test the limits of what they can do independently but in an instant can also revert to wanting things done for them. They require teachers’ and parents’ consistent oversight of activities and behaviors to ensure they are on the right path. On the other hand, my son’s grandparents live out of town and see him only occasionally. When they see him, they don’t get stuck in the day-to-day struggles/rewards of parenting but instead can more easily see the bigger picture of how much he has grown and the things he is doing differently from when they last saw him. It really does take a village to raise a child.
CECL: Are You Procrastinating?Nov 21, 2017
Benjamin Franklin once said, “Never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today.” All too often I find that my philosophy on life is more along the lines of, “Why do today that which can wait for tomorrow?”
Another ViewNov 15, 2017
By Sara Mikuta
In my last blog, I mentioned that I had a wonderful trip to Bozeman, MT to work on a client engagement. During that engagement I was “wowed” with the changes that had occurred in the community and the Bank from the last trip I had there. As I thought about that trip, there were other things that impressed me as well.
Coffee, Dogs, Mountains—And Another ViewNov 09, 2017
By Sara Mikuta
The past week, I have had the pleasure of working with a bank that was out of my region. In fact, I traveled several miles (1,368 to be exact) to Bozeman, Montana, to help on an internal control project. However, what I didn’t expect was what a wonderful little city Bozeman was. Of course, it is fall, so the contrast of the dark green mountain fir trees and golden-leaf poplar trees, offset by the white of snow-capped mountaintops is a remarkable sight. And the shops! It was hard not to spend my lunch hour in many of the amazing art galleries, jewelry shops, gift shops, cowboy boot stores, and baby clothing stores. (Did I tell you I am expecting my first grandchild any day?!) Fortunately for my bank account, I have to fly home, and I do not want to pay for extra baggage! And while I haven’t checked the facts, just walking and driving down Main Street seems to indicate that there are more coffee and tea shops per capita in Bozeman than most places in the world.
Who's on First?Nov 01, 2017
In the 1930s and 40s, Abbott and Costello, a comedian duo, entertained audiences with their famous sketch “Who’s on First?” The sketch used plays on words and names. The first base player was named “Who,” the second base player was “What,” and third base was “I Don’t know.” Costello was trying to learn the names of the team members, and as Abbott tried to provide them, Costello became confused and annoyed resulting from the miscommunication of the meaning of the words.
Bringing People TogetherOct 26, 2017
Recently I was talking with a Wipfli colleague about helping people through change and the challenges of getting folks to accept an adjustment to how they’ve always done things. We exchanged thoughts on what it means to bring two different teams—each with their own traditions (Hawaiian shirts on Friday!), ways of doing things, and communication styles—together. Some combinations are temporary, like a team assembled for a specific project. Others are more permanent, such as combining offices. Different groups have different cultures, and they may not always come together smoothly.
Apples and AcquisitionsOct 17, 2017
As a child I had the good fortune to be raised on an apple orchard. To this day my parents still own and operate a 6,000+-tree orchard in central Minnesota. As a result, fall is always a special time of year for my family. It’s finally harvest time. All the hard work put in from the first day the tree blooms to the day the apple is picked is worth it for the moment when you bite into that crisp, sweet, juicy Honeycrisp or SweeTango apple (both of which were developed at the University of Minnesota).
Autumn is for Caramel Apples, Cycle Rides and Tax Planning!Oct 12, 2017
The calendar has officially changed from summer to autumn. The temperature here in Wisconsin this last week would not make you believe that, but the kids are back in school and the pumpkins are ready for picking. This is my favorite time of year because I want to cherish every great weather day, knowing it will not be long before the snow starts to fall and I will need to put my motorcycle away for the winter. It is a sad day when the cycles are pushed to the back of the garage and covered up.
I Got This!Oct 05, 2017
I took up running several years ago as a way to improve my health, both physical and mental. I figure once you enter your 40s, you can either wallow in the fact you are getting older or do something to prolong this great journey. I chose the latter. Never one to take the easy route, I signed up for a half marathon for my first race, 13.1 miles. I did a 10-week running clinic the prior summer so I thought I knew everything I needed to know. And what they didn’t teach me, I could just Google (mistake #1).
Vendor Management and Hot DogsSep 27, 2017
By Mark Scholl
Hot dogs. I don't eat them often, but when watching the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field or attending an occasional minor league game, it's what I look forward to. It completes the baseball experience. It's American.
HurricanesSep 20, 2017
For my past blogs, I’ve tried to keep the tone light. However, as I write this blog, hurricanes have devastated and continue to devastate the U.S. and nearby islands. Some early damage estimates for just Harvey are exceeding $100 billion.
Closer to Home Than ExpectedSep 14, 2017
By Tim Tedrick
While traveling away from home, I like to seek out books by local authors or nonfiction books about the area I am visiting. Because I have done this for years, my kids often bring back a souvenir book for me from their travels. My daughter and son-in-law recently returned from a trip to Arizona and brought me the book, The Blue Tattoo, The Life of Olive Oatman, by Margot Mifflin.
TeamworkSep 06, 2017
As we get into fall and the school year begins, I am reminded of high school sports, the level of excitement, and the amount of school camaraderie. As a former high school athlete, I remember how a collection of individuals would come together to achieve a goal. Today as I sit here writing this blog, the past couple of weeks have really driven home to me the value of teamwork and ensuring you have the right team in place.
Invasion of Privacy or Keeping Us Safe?Aug 30, 2017
Summer is coming to an end, and my high school freshman has spent much of his summer on his iPad. How things have changed. I remember spending my summers taking long bike rides, swimming in the lake, and playing badminton over the fence in my parent’s backyard. As a parent, I worry about the time spent on the iPad and the dangers the Internet brings. The auditor in me wants to dig into the activity history on the iPad to see what he is viewing and the messages he is sending so I can keep him safe. But are we invading our children’s privacy?
Customer Digital ExperienceAug 24, 2017
I recently came across a mobile app, “Sweatcoin,” which gives you digital money for the steps you walk or run. You can use the digital money, Sweatcoin, to shop for things online using the same app! Lovely, I thought—earn money for sweating it out while walking or running!
Is Your Best "Plan B" in Place?Aug 16, 2017
From bombs involving public transportation to tsunamis, it seems we hear about horrific events with increasing frequency. During the last couple of decades, businesses of all sizes and in all sectors have sadly grown to realize that a disaster recovery and business continuity plan is necessary.
Hot Dog DaysAug 09, 2017
We have come to the end of the dog days, that period of time often associated with the hot, sultry, and lazy days of summer. Cue the desert scenes, the sun umbrellas, and the lemonade stands. Do the dog days really have anything to do with dogs? Maybe the dog days are related to hot dogs?
Why Me?Aug 02, 2017
The lead-off speaker at Wipfli’s leadership meeting last month was John O’Leary. (If you get the opportunity to hear him speak, it is worth it!) His story has been on ESPN because of its ties to Jack Buck, the St. Louis Cardinals radio announcer.
An Irish PerspectiveJul 26, 2017
Recently I returned from a vacation in Ireland with my family. Ireland has been on my bucket list. (My grandparents on my mother’s side came from Ireland and Scotland.) We saw lots of things, learned a lot, and obviously created some memories, and I even had a few pints of Guinness. I would also be remiss if I didn’t say I heard a few “stories.”
Discovering EfficiencyJul 20, 2017
By Susi Massaro
The annual Harris Corporation Reputation Poll recently named Amazon as the number one company for the second year in a row. This online poll analyzes social responsibility, vision and leadership, financial performance, products and services, workplace environment, and emotional appeal. While some may argue the poll is biased, it would be tough to deny that Amazon is doing a lot of things well.
Keeping Up With ChangeJul 12, 2017
I started in banking 42 years ago at my hometown, locally owned, bank working part-time as a teller and going to school at the University of Wisconsin Madison. Seems like a long time ago. I met my wife there and still stay in touch with many of the people I worked with. In my years involved with banking, I have seen significant changes in the way community banks operate.
Old Glory and the American DreamJul 06, 2017
During 4th of July celebrations we see the American Flag at parades, sporting events, in front of homes and businesses, and embroidered on shirts and hats. We refer to our flag by many different names: Old Glory; the Stars and Stripes; the Red, White, and Blue; the Star-Spangled Banner. No matter what term we use, the flag is a symbol for our country, which is made up of individuals who are proud to live, work, and raise their families on its shores.
It Feels Like I’ve Been Here Before…Jun 28, 2017
Unless you’ve been in solitary confinement or otherwise “off the grid” in the world of wealth management and retirement accounts, you have probably heard of the Department of Labor’s Conflict of Interest Rule, more commonly known as “the Fiduciary Rule.” The Fiduciary Rule was published in the Federal Register on April 8, 2016, became effective on June 7, 2016, and had an original applicability date of April 10, 2017, with a phased implementation period ending on January 1, 2018. Original time frames were established under President Obama’s administration, but after President Trump took office in January, things began to get “interesting” – for lack of a better term.
Selling a CarJun 22, 2017
Our oldest child recently turned 16 and got his driver’s license this past spring. What amazed me was how quickly after this we had to figure out how the three drivers in our family were going to get to three different places with two vehicles! With some careful planning, we were able to get everyone where they needed to go, but it quickly became evident the third car we were planning to buy this fall would come in handy sooner rather than later.
Sometimes Words Have Two MeaningsJun 15, 2017
By Tim Tedrick
The CEO complained, “What kind of regulatory moron doesn’t understand that when two people sign an application, they intend to borrow jointly?” The meaning of a word in general conversation is sometimes different from the meaning of a word in a specialized context.
Managing ChangeJun 07, 2017
Recently, I helped my daughter move out of her college dormitory. Once I got over the fact that my firstborn child had just completed her first year of college and that I must be getting old, I reflected on how much the “college move out” process had changed since when I was a freshman. While there were a lot of typical activities like the moving of boxes, disassembling of bunk beds, and fighting for elevator time, there were many changes that I noticed. At the heart of these changes was technology.
Three Things You Can Do Right Now to Kill Mediocrity in Your OrganizationJun 01, 2017
By David Bue
I’m amazed by leaders who are able to take a mediocre team and make them great. Unfortunately, I’m also saddened to see so many leaders consent to mediocrity as an acceptable standard.
Time Builds PerspectiveMay 24, 2017
I’ve worked at Wipfli for a long time—20 years to be specific. In that time I have seen many people come and go. I have seen younger coworkers grow and develop into great leaders. I have seen leaders before me retire and move into their next phase of life. And of course I have seen individuals with great talent and potential pursue opportunities outside Wipfli. These things happen at all organizations, but when you stay at one company for a long time you gain this sense of historical knowledge and understanding of how talent affects the trajectory of an organization’s success (or failure). When I look back over the last 20 years I’m amazed at the success and growth great talent has provided to build upon the services we offer and markets we serve.
Always Being WatchedMay 16, 2017
I had the pleasure of joining my daughter’s 7th and 8th grade classes on a dual bus trip to Washington, DC, this April. Although I had been to DC many times for the AICPA’s annual National Conference on Banks and Savings Institutions, I had never visited any of the historical attractions. When my wife originally asked me if I wanted to go on this trip, I thought only about finally having the wonderful opportunity to explore our country’s history. I definitely didn’t consider the 14-hour bus trip full of 7th graders and moms. You’d be amazed by the amount of snacks they brought!
Decisions, DecisionsMay 09, 2017
Decisions, decisions. We all have to make them. Some are easy and don’t require much thought, while others are much more difficult. Several weeks ago I was given an opportunity I had never thought I would pass up. Tickets were available to attend a dinner for a community event where Donald Driver was the speaker. My friends and family know that this opportunity was something I have dreamed about and that I have waited years hoping for the chance to see this particular pro football player. I was a very happy person for about five minutes…until I realized my husband and I would be on vacation at a Cher concert the same day as the dinner. I had to make a decision about which dream to make a reality.
Back to BasicsMay 03, 2017
As a mother with my first school-aged child, I have realized no one warned me about the amount of patience I was going to need once my child brought home homework, especially since my five-year-old already “knows it all”—just ask him! He completed a nightly assignment and was proud to show me. As I reviewed it, I pointed out to him that cucumbers is not spelled Qcumbrs, there should not be a capital “T” in with, and his period should not be the same size as his lowercase “a.” His response was, “I know.” While it is good to have confidence that something is done right, it is even better to have validation!
Facts and CircumstancesApr 26, 2017
By Kevin Janke
What do current hot topics such as Trump Bump, tax reform, change in the regulatory tone, and improvement in net interest margin mean for M&A? As many of you know, publicly traded bank stocks have enjoyed a robust run-up in pricing post-election.
Are All Coupons Too Good To Be True?Apr 20, 2017
If you are anything like me, you get so excited and can’t believe your eyes when you get a 50% off, 75% off, or even better, $50 off coupon in the mail or through a text. Normally, at the same time I receive one of these “fantastic” coupons, the store it is from is also having an unbelievable sale, which makes me think that if I do not go shopping immediately I will be losing money. After my initial excitement, reality sets in. I start to think it is too good to be true, and I begin to read all of the fine print on the coupon. I end up taking the five minutes required to read and understand the exclusions of items that are not eligible for the coupon as listed in the fine print; and after I think I understand it, I head out to shop.
The "Can Do" DepartmentApr 12, 2017
By John Moniak
Compliance professionals can be a really fun group, right? We have a reputation of picking apart ideas or products and are often viewed as the “anti-sales” department. To all of the compliance professionals out there, I am going to offer a challenge to you: Be the “can do” department, not the “can’t do” department.
Could It Happen To You?Apr 05, 2017
In the fall of 2013, a manager at a company that operates heating and cooling systems received an email from his IT department asking him to verify his Windows ID and password. Without thinking about it, he provided the information and went on with his day. What he did not know was that the email he answered was not from his IT department, but rather from hackers. Weeks later, by exploiting other vulnerabilities, those hackers had compromised one of that company’s clients and gained access to millions of credit card records. You know this as the “Target breach.”
Blockchain – From Prototypes to CommercializationApr 01, 2017
The year 2016 was the year of blockchain prototypes, or proofs of concept. From innovation labs to big banks to consortiums, we witnessed a number of research efforts in understanding blockchain. According to CoinDesk, one of the earliest online blogs to track the development of blockchain, investments in blockchain technology in 2015 totaled $600 million, and they rose more than 50% to over $1 billion in 2016.
The Luck of the IrishMar 25, 2017
By Tammy Thomas
Because my mother’s family has researched our family tree and traced our lineage back to Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day has always held special meaning to me. This year it was even more meaningful for my family. My husband recently took a DNA test to find out more about his ancestry and lineage, and the results of the test indicated that his heritage is mainly Irish as well. Growing up he had always been led to believe that he was of Scandinavian decent. I realize that I sound like a popular commercial when I say this, but knowing more about his heritage has changed my husband’s outlook on the present and the future.
Sunshine and Bunny RabbitsMar 17, 2017
By Tim Tedrick
In 1973 Knox College’s newly hired math professor Dr. Dennis Schneider taught, among other classes, a first-year calculus class. Dr. Schneider stood at the front of the room, a piece of chalk in one hand to write on the blackboard and a filter-less Pall Mall cigarette in the other. I was always surprised that he never confused those two white tubular shapes and never put the chalk in his mouth. As he taught, when he wanted students to provide answers to solve the problem on the board, he would call out, “vite, vite.” I eventually learned that vite was French for “rapid” or “fast,” meaning he wanted the answer quickly. After a student solved a particularly important or challenging problem, Dr. Schneider would jubilantly declaim that everything was “sunshine and bunny rabbits.” In other words, life was good; the theorem was proved, or the problem was solved.
Annual Checkup?Mar 11, 2017
Have you ever gotten the feeling you forgot something? Well, I have had that feeling for a few weeks now, and it finally hit me…I never scheduled my son’s annual checkup. I know the importance of my son’s annual checkup and the value it brings to his health now and in the future, not to mention the role annual checkups play in early detection of any health problems. But it is still hard to fit this important task into our hectic schedule.
Dropping the BallMar 02, 2017
By Susi Massaro
Was it really only two short months ago that the ball dropped at Times Square as we rang in the New Year? As we moved from the holiday season into January, many people went through that annual exercise of making New Year’s resolutions. Whether dealing with weight management and fitness or living a more balanced lifestyle, the common theme here is striving to be as good as we can be.
The Real Cadbury BunnyFeb 22, 2017
When we were kids in Ipswich, England, my brother and I looked forward to the decadent Cadbury chocolates we enjoyed in the days leading up to Easter. We had Mum and Dad to thank for this, since the Easter Bunny is less commercialized in Britain than in the United States. Although not considered gourmet by any means, those Cadbury eggs and bunnies have always been special to me, perhaps a comforting reminder of home.
I Need to Listen to My Own WordsFeb 16, 2017
By Susan Kappel
I recently went to lunch with a coworker, and she paid for her meal using her debit card. When we sat down at our table, she pulled out her cell phone, and when I asked what she was doing, she explained she was recording the purchase using an app on her cell phone. Hmmm…I am still using a checkbook register to record my debit card purchases. I’m the one who tells our clients how much the phrase, “I’ve always done it that way,” bothers me. And here I am still recording my checks and deposits and reconciling my monthly statements to my checkbook register because I’ve always done it that way!
Quality Loan Review PersonnelFeb 09, 2017
Last week I had a small reunion with two former coworkers from my very first banking job after graduating from college. It was great to catch up after 30 years! It was easy to laugh as we looked back at ourselves and how much we all had to learn. While the bank we all worked for had been acquired in the 1990s, one of my former colleagues is once again working in our original building, for a different institution, of course. What a wonderful coincidence! But of the original eight of us who started together in the formal credit training program, he was the only one who remained in commercial lending.
Strategic SleddingFeb 03, 2017
Recently after one of our Minnesota winter snowstorms, we built a snow slide in our backyard for our grandchildren to go sledding on. It took some effort to smooth out the slide and create an unobstructed path that avoided potential collisions with poles for our bird feeders. However, after a few trial runs and corrections to the banked sides, the ride from top to bottom became smooth sledding!
The HMDA TreadmillFeb 03, 2017
The New Year for 2016 has come and gone. We’re far enough into January that those well-intended resolutions about getting more exercise and avoiding junk food might have been pushed to the back burner. We all want to do things right, but given our schedules and juggling of multiple priorities it’s easier said than done. Plus, for many who consider the treadmill as their go-to equipment for working out, let’s face it: A basic treadmill workout might be downright boring.
Frequent Flyer Status . . . and the Long Lost “L” Word!Feb 02, 2017
In addition to flying frequently as part of our extended Wipfli consulting footprint, my husband and I do as much traveling as we can, while we can. As frequent fliers on a major airline with a Minneapolis hub, the benefits we receive as a “preferred customer” with this airline have created loyalty on our behalf that would make it challenging for us to book with any other airline. I am sure the day will come when our travel is more limited and that status is diminished, but for now, the relationship is secure.
Freezing Rain in the ForecastJan 25, 2017
I am sitting here this wintry evening as I write this blog, debating whether I should go home or stay at work for a while. You see, there is a storm coming, with snow or freezing rain forecasted. Would it be better if I stayed here until the salt trucks come out or try my luck now?
Serving . . . Christmas Ham and Trump TaxesJan 18, 2017
I generally fall into the “nonpolitical” category of people. I care about our state’s/country’s leadership, and I pay enough attention to vote, but I don’t want to discuss it—even with my husband! Given that, it is amazing to me how many Trump-related conversations I have had over the last month, both at work and at family holiday gatherings.
Is There a FastPass to HMDA?Jan 12, 2017
About a year ago, my husband and I decided to plan a trip to Disney World in Orlando, taking our four-year-old daughter. If you have ever been to a Disney Theme Park, you know that the cast, crew, and Imagineers offer wonderful opportunities for families to create lifetime memories. We don’t travel a lot, but we knew that to make the most of the Disney Experience, planning would involve much more than simply going online to make flight and hotel reservations.
Those Darn MillennialsJan 05, 2017
Because I am a financial statement auditor, my blogs tend to be accounting related, but for this blog, I have decided to step out of my comfort zone to talk about how people relate to each other.
Financial Services and the CloudDec 28, 2016
When it comes to hosting applications and sensitive customer data on public clouds, a highly regulated industry such as financial services has every reason to think before it blinks. Data security is predictably the main reason financial services organizations seek to understand more.
Simple Pleasures, Goodie Bags, and Hidden TreasuresDec 22, 2016
One of the fondest memories I have of my father around the holidays is of him sitting in his favorite chair near the Christmas tree on Christmas morning. My father was a special person who saw joy in the simplest things. One of those simple pleasures was watching his six kids frantically opening presents. While we did not have much some years, many of the presents were lovingly handmade, which made each one a treasure to cherish.
Comfortable RoutinesDec 15, 2016
My wife has a comfortable routine for balancing her checkbook that involves a cozy chair, a cup of coffee, and checking her ledger against the information provided by her bank’s telephone banking system. Despite the advantages of technology, I realize that some prefer a printed book to digital or the morning paper in their hands instead of on a tablet, so far be it from me to disrupt that.
Too Bad GAAP Doesn’t Have a Two-Day Shipping Policy!Dec 07, 2016
Time is a funny thing. It often feels like you have a lot of time to prepare for the holidays, a vacation, or another special event, and then suddenly it’s here. That’s how I feel right now with less than 30 days to go before Christmas. I have managed to procrastinate the last 11 months and have yet to think of a single gift I’m going to buy.
Four Ways to Play Offense in 2017Dec 02, 2016
By David Bue
There’s an old saying that “defense wins championships.” As I reflect on some of the demographical changes within the banking industry, however, it occurs to me that reactive, slow, or defensive strategies will likely lead to the demise of many financial institutions. The business environment and customer expectations are changing at a pace never seen before. In fact, I believe that tomorrow’s winners in the financial services industry will excel at playing offense.
Optimist, Pessimist, or Somewhere in the Middle?Nov 22, 2016
By Peter Matzek
People are often classified as either an optimist or pessimist. I have found that when it comes to Accounting Standards Update No. 2016-13, Measurement of Credit Losses on Financial Instruments, better known as CECL (the Current Expected Credit Loss model), management of community institutions often falls into these two categories. The optimists believe there will be a carve-out of some sort that will exempt small institutions and allow them to use the “old model.” The pessimists believe their reserves will double and that an additional software package must be purchased just to comply with the standard. However, there is a third option: somewhere in the middle. At this point, all institutions will be required to comply with CECL, but implementation is scalable. Implementation is set for 2020 for SEC institutions and 2021 for non-SEC institutions. So the big question is, “What, if anything, should I be doing now?”
I Think I Am Officially OLD!Nov 16, 2016
During the World Series my husband and I stayed up late watching the games. Several things about the World Series made me feel old. First, it is oh-so-true that I am unable to stay up late and then get up six hours later. Next, almost all the players on the Cubs are younger than me, and the few over 35 are “close to retirement.” When did most professional athletes being younger than me happen?
Looking for a Few Good (Wo)menNov 10, 2016
What an honor to be posting a blog on Veterans Day. Thank you to the men and women who serve and who have served in our military. Without your commitment and sacrifice, our freedom and our way of life in the United States wouldn’t be possible.
Team Up!Nov 02, 2016
I believe some of the greatest successes in life are achieved through passion, perseverance, and teamwork. Passion and perseverance are attributed to individualized characteristics that contribute to success, and the good ‘ole saying that became a common phrase in English, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” is what creates synergy through the power of teamwork.
Trick . . . or Treat?Oct 26, 2016
A recent visit brought two-year-old Nola and her parents for the weekend. Our single-family home is somewhat larger than the condominium she is used to, and we don’t have any noise restrictions. That means freedom to a toddler. Nola quickly discovered that a favorite activity was to convince any willing family member to hide and then to pop out and yell “BOO!” when she approached. Every startling encounter produced squeals and laughter, and she simply couldn’t get enough of this game. If only all surprises were this delightful.
Aaron Rodgers and the FFIEC Cybersecurity AssessmentOct 20, 2016
By Jeff Olejnik
Last year, the Packers started out with a 1-2 record after beginning the season as the odds-on favorite to win the NFC North. Panic spread throughout Packer Nation, with some suggesting that a call be made to Sumrall, Mississippi, to coax #4 out of retirement to once again lead the team.
You’ve Got Mail . . . OH NO, IT’S FROM THE IRS!Oct 12, 2016
If you are anything like me, getting mail is a little like receiving a wrapped present: “What is it? What’s new today?!” As you flip through the stack of envelopes, you see one that looks official, and it’s from the IRS or a state taxing authority. Your initial excitement goes from anticipation to anxiousness. You open the envelope, and there it is . . . a dreaded tax notice. What are you going to do now?
What Works?Oct 04, 2016
By Tim Tedrick
In 1670 when approximately 120 English settlers arrived at Charles Towne landing and established what would become the Carolina colony, the first order of business was to build a palisade to defend the settlers from possible hostility from Spanish forces or Native Americans in the region. This was before any crops were planted; this was before any housing was built. After the palisade was completed, the next step was experimentation to determine which crops would actually grow in the environment. And these were meant to be cash crops, crops that could be shipped back to England and sold for a profit. Rice was ultimately the choice.
Are Your Internal Controls Working?Sep 28, 2016
Recently I was visiting an amusement park with my kids. The newest roller coaster had a line that was nearly two hours long. We were each given a numbered ticket upon entering the line. The amusement park had implemented a control to ensure there were no line jumpers. I loved it—even an amusement park was using internal controls!
Which Hat Are You Wearing?Sep 21, 2016
Whether literal or metaphorical, we all wear many hats. During the fall, these may include baseball or golf caps, gardening/yard work hats, and bike or football helmets. In our financial institutions, we wear many hats as well. Sometimes the hats change by the week, the day, or the situation in which we find ourselves at any given moment.
The Circle of LifeSep 14, 2016
I recently experienced the loss of my father, a loss many of you have felt, so you know the hollowness it leaves in your stomach. He was a great dad, grandfather, and mentor—and a pretty darn good Irishman to boot! As much as that was a tremendous loss to all of us, it was a great day for him because he was truly just a semblance of his former self, a man who had been emaciated from illness. Within a very short time, however, I learned that one of my children and his wife would usher yet another grandchild into our lives, and the feeling of loss was almost immediately overwhelmed by joy. I knew my father would be smiling from his resting place, albeit with a bit of a smirk knowing that we would soon have 10 little ones running around and bringing us madness and joy at the same time.
Teaching New Tricks to Old DogsSep 08, 2016
We have all heard the timeless phrase, “You can’t teach an old dog a new trick!” Popular wisdom has it that the older we get, the harder it is for us to change our habits or acquire new skills. A lot of us are probably guilty of being hesitant or even somewhat resistant toward changing how we do things in our daily work and personal lives, especially when we have been doing it the same way for a long time.
Doing CIP on Jason BourneAug 31, 2016
Movie goers have been entertained this summer with the next chapter in the saga of Jason Bourne. This popular spy thriller takes us to exotic places around the world, keeping us enthralled as good guys and villains alike scale walls and dodge traffic in their relentless pursuits. Escapades, illusions, and deceptions are not the exception, but the norm.
Whose Language Are You Speaking?Aug 25, 2016
If you have ever taken a course in public speaking, you likely heard the instructor emphasize tailoring your speech to the audience you are addressing. This guidance is also fundamental in our day-to-day communications with one another. Let me share my story as an example.
Did I Really Learn All I Need to Know in Kindergarten?Aug 17, 2016
By Susan Kappel
If you have ever taken a course in public speaking, you likely heard the instructor emphasize tailoring your speech to the audience you are addressing. This guidance is also fundamental in our day-to-day communications with one another. Let me share my story as an example.
IndividualityAug 11, 2016
I grew up in a large family in a small town in Iowa. With eight kids coming from the same gene pool and the same parenting, it really is amazing how different we all turned out in many ways—career choices, educational achievements, political views, and family dynamics, to name a few. To say we turned out to be a diverse group would be an understatement!
A Tradition Unlike Any OtherAug 03, 2016
If you are like most Americans, I am sure you and your family have some traditions that have stood the test of time, doing the same thing year after year, with little change. Holiday meals, family vacations at the same resort, Mother’s Day brunch, Father’s Day golf, or watching the Fourth of July fireworks from the same location are examples. Traditions are easy, comfortable.
What’s the Risk?Jul 27, 2016
By Jerry Miller
As a kid at heart, I enjoy trying new experiences, often pushing my comfort zone. Whether zip lining in the trees, jumping a snowmobile over frozen snowdrifts, or exploring on ATVs through mountains, I believed there was minimal risk, except perhaps a minor cut or bruise to me and a ding or two to the equipment. And yes, I’ve survived these events with no injuries or damage. I felt in control of my risks, but in retrospect, this was pure luck, since I didn’t truly even understand all my risks.
There Is No Time Like the PresentJul 20, 2016
About a month ago we experienced a tragedy at Wipfli. One of our associates saw two girls who were struggling in the waters of Lake Superior and jumped in to save them. Luckily, one of the girls survived, but our associate and the other girl did not. This not only impacted many people here at Wipfli, but had a very personal impact on me, as well, because Justin (our associate) was engaged to my niece Suzy. To make the story sadder, he was at the lake taking a break from finalizing wedding plans with Suzy.
Winning the Lottery—Unclaimed PropertyJul 13, 2016
By Kelly Annen
We all dream of winning the lottery. My hopes of winning “big” are often crushed by a friend or family member screeching in delight as they realize they have a winning ticket. A friend recently introduced me to a free website that she claimed can produce the emotional exhilaration of winning the jackpot. This website turned out to be a free search for unclaimed property. It works by combining the databases of many states so people can search for unclaimed property from those states.
Taking Time to UnderstandJul 06, 2016
I’m privileged to work with a number of financial institutions that are regularly voted as top places to work. Usually, these institutions have developed a culture in which employees aren’t simply trying to be friendly with one another, but are actually taking the time to understand their coworkers and their objectives. Not surprisingly, these institutions often are the most efficient, because the entire team is mindful of how their actions impact the jobs of those they work with.
Once a YearJun 29, 2016
I am from a very small town in North Dakota, and it is still my favorite place to be on the 4th of July. The population triples, and there is more going on during that week than during the rest of the year altogether. There are street dances, a demolition derby, and school/family reunions. Everyone walks to the main street to watch the parade that morning, and then they drive 10 miles to watch the exact same parade again in our neighboring town. Family barbeques are an expectation, and no one misses the fireworks in the park that night.
Back to BasicsJun 22, 2016
Like many people today, I wear a Fitbit to remind me to keep moving. As Fitbit technology has advanced, not only does it suggest that you take 10,000 steps in one day, it now suggests that 250 steps per hour should be taken between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. At 10 minutes before the hour, my Fitbit will vibrate and remind me if I have not yet reached 250 steps for the hour. This periodic reminder will often cause me to stand up and take a stroll. But the concept is still the same, right? You can’t remain idle.
When Things Aren’t Second NatureJun 15, 2016
Are there things you do naturally, simply because you have done them so many times before? I am an avid outdoorsman, and for the past 25 years, with friends and family in tow, I have taken a June fishing trip to Lake of the Woods. Since our group has taken this trip so many times, we know exactly how to prepare to ensure our adventure is successful, fun-filled, and most important, without incident. The trip and planning are now second nature to us. When things aren’t second nature, though, the end result can be drastically different!
Why take the risk?Jun 08, 2016
I do (or try to do) a lot of bow hunting for deer. As many of you know, most bow hunters hunt from a tree stand. Over the course of the 40 years or so I have been hunting, I have been fortunate in that I have not had a fall out of the tree. I read a statistic somewhere recently that about 40% of hunters who hunt from tree stands will have a fall at some time, with some of these resulting in serious injury or even death!
Commencement AdviceJun 01, 2016
It is graduation season and time for commencement speeches. If you’re like me, you smile at the choices of celebrities various institutions invite to share advice and wisdom with new graduates. Having three children and many nieces and nephews, I’ve listened to my share of speeches. I’ll also admit that I’ve watched a few on YouTube. Graduates of recent years represent the new generation of workers entering the workforce looking to make their mark in the world and start new careers.
Learning the ABCsMay 25, 2016
I enjoy spending quiet time with my granddaughter, who is three and very energetic. Since she does not take naps, she has an hour of quiet time after lunch, which is spent on activities such as reading, coloring, or playing learning games on her iPad. Recently, we read some books that are helping her learn her ABCs.
Learning the ABCs of banking regulations is also a process, not only for those who are new to the industry, but also for those of us who have been in this business for a long time.
Over 200 Channels, but There Is Nothing I Want to Watch . . .May 18, 2016
Now that tax season is done, I have more time to watch TV, but there seems to be nothing I want to watch. I’m pretty sure I have watched all the “Law & Order” episodes and classy reality shows. With access to over 200 channels, you would think there would be something new I would want to watch. Nope!
Batter Up!May 11, 2016
By Jerry Miller
I am a lifelong, loyal fan of the Chicago Cubs. This is said with all due respect to Chicago’s South Siders and other baseball fans from coast to coast who support many great teams. For most Cubs fans, hearing about the curse of the goat and “wait ‘til next year” are so normal, it’s easy to just shrug off such banter. Discussions about rebuilding have been taking place for years, but we still haven’t made it to the World Series. Completely Useless By September (CUBS). Yeah, we know. And so it goes.
Why Do Chickens Sit on Their Eggs? (And Other Basic Questions)May 04, 2016
By Edward Megli
My six-year-old grandson loves to tell us jokes when we Skype with him. A recent question was, “Why do chickens sit on their eggs?” I’ll let you ponder that for a moment, but this type of question from him reminds me that we can easily overlook the most basic questions because they become so routine that we never stop to really think about them.
Tax Day Is Behind Us … What’s Next?Apr 27, 2016
April 15 (or this year, April 18) is a big day for many people, including a number of public accountants. It seems, though, that some people believe we don’t have much to do for the rest of the year, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, we put in a lot of time and effort to get all of the tax returns filed, but some of our best and most exciting work comes after Tax Day is over.
Who Can We Trust?Apr 20, 2016
By Susan Kappel
The financial services industry requires that we rely on many different people, businesses, agencies, and other various entities. Think of the trust you place in your employees and how strong your organization is as a result. You rely on your vendors to deliver the results they promise. You rely on your customers and members to use your products and services appropriately. What would happen if there were trust issues with any of these groups?
Thank You for Your ServiceApr 13, 2016
Sunday Morning is a CBS staple on the viewing schedule for many households. Recently this American newsmagazine television program featured a story about Myles Eckert, who was eight years old when he made headlines in 2014 by gifting a stranger, fellow patron Lt. Col. Frank Dailey, at a restaurant in Ohio with the $20 bill he had just found in the parking lot. As a Gold Star kid, seeing a man in uniform reminded him of his dad, and he wanted to pay it forward. So he wrapped the $20 inside a note saying his dad had been a soldier and thanking Lt. Col. Dailey for his service. But the story doesn’t end there.
Who Will Govern?Apr 06, 2016
Whether we observe actively or passively at this point, the 2016 presidential election has already surpassed a virtual reality show for a portion of the U.S. population and perhaps for the world. We are pummeled daily with analysis and coverage that becomes increasingly dramatic and at times overly stimulating and that just may be unprecedented. Masses of our population demonstrate a need or desire for change from “status quo.” The younger generation is finding and using their voice to unsettle what some would call tradition and traditional norms. And so we are left with the as yet unanswered question, “Who ultimately will govern?”
Get the Team on Board!Mar 30, 2016
I flew home from Chicago and was lucky enough to sit in a row with a side exit door. With that seat came LOTS of leg room and a great window view, but it also presented more than just a comfortable ride home; I had responsibilities and a decision to make! Was I willing to spend a few extra moments reading the airplane map and instruction card located conveniently in the seat pocket to my front left? Was I capable of being a leader and taking action if my fellow fliers needed me?
Blockchain – Friend or Foe?Mar 16, 2016
I recently attended a summit dedicated to the topic of blockchain technology. Prior to attending, I had heard of blockchain but didn’t really know what it was all about. While some of the summit was a bit Pollyanna-ish, it broadened my perspective to blockchain’s potential applications. Let me share some of my takeaways and try to open your mind to the potential applications of this technology.
Parking Spaces and Risk ManagementMar 16, 2016
Looking back, 2015 was an eventful year for me and my family, with the most important and exciting thing being my daughter’s wedding. I remember the planning started nearly a year in advance. Anyone who has been through this knows how complex the issues, processes, and procedures can become. Check, double check, and plan for every possible scenario to ensure everything is perfect. You would think with that much time to plan and attention to detail, nothing could go wrong, but when the big day comes, of course, it does.
Heads or Tails?Mar 10, 2016
My best friends and I are planning to celebrate one of those milestone birthdays this year with a weekend in Las Vegas. It sure would be fun to win a little cash at the casinos, so it’s a good thing I recently heard about the Gambler’s Fallacy. I’m hoping it will reduce my risk of losing everything in the first five minutes.
What’s in a Word?Mar 03, 2016
I have been writing and speaking a lot recently about organizational “culture.” It seems to be a topic that has reemerged as a business priority, and for very good reason. The forces shaping our internal and external workplaces today are having a profound impact on the definition of financial institution. The changes we are experiencing in our political, social, and economic environments, as well as changes in workforce demographics and technology, are astounding. But sometimes a word can be overused, to the point that it loses its meaning and impact. I’m afraid that culture is becoming one of those words.
Patience and a PlanFeb 25, 2016
Living in a house with a family of six, soon to be seven, things can easily become chaotic, especially if you know the kids (ages 8, 4, and 2-year-old twins). Certain tasks such as laundry and picking stuff up need to be done . . . EVERY . . . SINGLE . . . DAY. The kids are not yet at that age when we can count on them to help with these and other chores, but we try to reign them in to this responsibility. I remember the simpler days (before kids) when it was just my wife and me and it was easy to maintain the household.
Dog With A (Fiduciary Audit) BlogFeb 11, 2016
I am the proud “grandma” of an adorable, high-energy Siberian husky named Shasta. Huskies are clever, and you have to maintain a high level of consistent training. They also think they are the “alpha.” My daughter Dana, Shasta’s dog “mom,” is an awesome trainer and is clearly the alpha in the relationship. Shasta likes to test that, but Dana rules with a firm and loving hand. Grandma . . . not so much. It is really easy to let things slide here and there. So maybe Shasta gets to lick my hands after I eat a hamburger, or maybe I don’t make her sit before she goes out. No big deal, right? But it actually is.
Super Bowl Sunday: The Ultimate in Strategic PlanningFeb 04, 2016
By Susi Massaro
Super Bowl Sunday has become an American ritual of football, innovative advertising, halftime entertainment, and a wide array of chips/dip and other decadent offerings. Each year, we invite friends and family to our home to enjoy this annual last hurrah for the football season while we cheer our favorite team and give a thumbs up or thumbs down to each new commercial that cost its sponsor big bucks.
Time to Pay Your Property TaxesJan 21, 2016
At the end of December, I made my annual trip to the treasurer’s office to pay my property taxes. Over the past few weeks, I have had contacts from a handful of clients about their property taxes increasing over last year. Unfortunately, by the time you receive the tax bill, there generally are limited or no opportunities to contest the assessed values and corresponding tax amount due.
Groceries, Leftovers, and Ziploc Freezer BagsJan 14, 2016
By Sara Mikuta
Each of your team may have a different view on managing resources and taking risks.
Which season are we in?Jan 07, 2016
Anyone who lives in the Midwest knows there really are only two seasons: winter and road construction season. What does that have to do with banking? In short, the banking industry now has been asked to help foot the new transportation bill.
Why Construction and Real Estate Entities Need to Care about Revenue Recognition
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