The Story Behind Callaway Business Coaching

When you’ve been supporting businesses in a community for as long as we have, you get pretty good at noticing the characteristics of businesses that will succeed and those that are headed down a rocky road. Everything in your business could be perfect, but if you don’t manage your finances correctly, you’re going to struggle. Even a small “leak” in your profitability can cause damage over time. This is exactly why we started our Callaway Business Coaching program.

Ben Franklin $100 bill

Beware of little expenses. Even a small leak will sink a great ship.” – Benjamin Franklin.

We, at the Bank, felt strongly that business finance training was so critical to business owners that we began offering a program two years ago aimed at improving the financial knowledge of our business clients. Our goal was to give clients the opportunity to learn the core concepts of business finance without having to go back to school or spend hours taking an online course. Because honestly, both of those things have their downfalls – expense, not being able to ask questions or get feedback, and the time it takes to complete

We knew we needed to create a program that was extensive enough to provide good information, without being too time-consuming or cost prohibitive. We also knew that we needed an instructor who was really good at making financial concepts easy to understand, and frankly, not put the course attendees to sleep!  I know, you’re probably thinking, “That’s impossible. Finance is so boring.”  We searched the ends of the earth and found a finance guru who actually has a sense of humor and makes the class entertaining.

Let’s introduce our business guru.

Steve LeFever has been teaching business finance for over 30 years. He teaches companies of all sizes and in countries all around the world, to people who have finance degrees, and to people who have never had a business class before in their life.

Steve Lefever teaching in 2016

Steve LeFever illustrates concepts to the group at Callaway Business Coaching in 2016.

He has an incredible talent for making complex financial theories easy to digest. Plus, he puts everything into practical, every day (non-banker) terms that are easy to apply to your specific situation. He sounds too good to be true, doesn’t he?

So, where did we find this finance wizard? We discovered him teaching at the Graduate School of Banking in Madison, Wisconsin.

When I attended the Graduate School of Banking in 2011, Steve’s class was the most popular and had been for years.  He wasn’t teaching banking per se, but teaching bankers how to be better at advising their business clients.  He taught how to translate banker finance language into what non-bankers could understand.  The course I attended was only a piece of his full Profit Mastery program for businesses, but it was eye opening.  It was incredible, like being given the Enigma machine for finance.  Instead of deciphering Nazi code, business finance was translated into basic everyday English.  In all of my years in banking, I had never heard these secrets revealed in such simple terms.  He was illustrating things like how an owner could make a small adjustment here and there, which should translate to an additional 7% increase in profit here and a 3% increase in profit there*.  I remember thinking if our business clients had this information at hand, they could take on the world!

A few years later, when we were discussing the need to find an instructor for our own financial skills training program, Steve’s name came up.  We reached out to him, only to discover that he teaches a two-day business finance program all over the world, nearly every week, called Profit Mastery.

We practice what we preach.

Before we offered his course to our clients though, we put our entire business banking team through the workshop.  Our CEO, market presidents, commercial lenders, and other key members of our team all sat through the Profit Mastery course.

We wanted to ensure that everyone at the Bank not only understood the concepts but that they had experienced the program and knew fully what we were recommending to our clients.  It also made us better bankers, because we realized that we had always been speaking “banker” to people who did not speak our language. We learned how to relate better to our business owners and were then able to provide better guidance to our clients.

So, what’s in it for us?

This program has never been about making money for the bank.  Its purpose has, and always will be, to help businesses in our communities become stronger, more stable companies.  Even companies that are not our customers are invited because when they succeed, our communities succeed.  Selfishly, we want our communities to succeed because this is where we live and work, too.

We also wanted this course to be accessible and affordable, so we cover half of the total cost of the course resulting in a reduced cost for our attendees.
Over 60 people have attended the program since we started in 2015, and they all found it extremely helpful.  We heard one person after another talk about how it was well worth their time and investment. That’s when we knew we had found something that was really helping these business owners.
Below are just two comments we received:

“Thank you! This was a great program. I now feel better prepared to know, organize, and manage my financials. I recommend this program.” Dr. Brittany Overman, Owner, Columbia Chiropractic Group

“The seminar was great today. Thanks again for encouraging us to participate. Definitely beneficial!”
Nathan Real, Co-Owner Truescape Landscaping, Fulton.

Our program, Callaway Business Coaching, is built around Steve’s Profit Mastery workshop, but with an added benefit.  We provide additional support throughout the year to help owners apply the tools and increase their profitability.  We want to make sure the attendees are using the skills they’ve learned and will serve as a resource for participants who would like additional coaching.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Callaway Business Coaching program, visit our website callawaybank.com/resources/business-coaching/.  The next program beings October 25, 2017.  Hope to see you there.
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Jeff Jones is a Sr. Vice President and the Chief Communications Officer for The Callaway Bank.  He’s been at Callaway for more than 12 years.  *The increase in profitability numbers he used above were merely for illustrative purposes and are not intended to convey a guaranteed return of that amount.

The Equifax Breach

What You Need To Know About The Equifax Breach

In an effort to keep our customers informed, and in case you haven’t already heard, Equifax, a very large credit monitoring bureau suffered a very large, very severe breach of customer information that affects 143 million people.  You probably recognize the name from whenever you hear people talk about pulling your credit report from the “big three” credit bureaus.  However, there are actually 4 credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, Innovis, and Trans Union.

So what happened?

At the end of July 2017, Equifax realized they had a massive breach of consumer information. A criminal was able to use a point of weakness in one of their web-based applications to steal personal and confidential information for 143 million people (nearly half of the population of the United States). The criminals were able to access social security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and some driver’s licenses for the affected individuals.

Equifax has set up a website (https://equifaxsecurity2017.com) dedicated to the breach. There’s more detailed information on the breach itself, and there’s also a tool where you can go to check and see if your information was included in the compromise. You simply enter your last name and the last 6 digits of your social security number. Equifax will then tell you whether your information was potentially involved in the breach.

They are offering a free one-year enrollment into their credit monitoring service, Trusted ID, but enrollment into this program means you must waive your right to class-action and personal lawsuits against Equifax to use the service.

Update: Sept. 9, 2017, 12:22pm
Since we published this post, Equifax has updated their breach alert page to include the following response regarding their unclear legalese for using their free monitoring service.

“In response to consumer inquiries, we have made it clear that the arbitration clause and class action waiver included in the Equifax and TrustedID Premier terms of use does not apply to this cybersecurity incident.”

The Original Story

You might want to consider other options as credit monitoring is slightly different than identity theft protection.  There are other identity theft monitoring companies that you can pay for, in order to monitor your identity without forfeiting your right to a lawsuit.  One of the more well-known companies and one that we recommend is LifeLock.

Credit Freeze:

You also have the option to do a Credit Freeze. A Credit Freeze will prevent anyone from accessing your credit report. So, if a scammer tries to open a new line of credit using your personal information when the lender tries to pull your credit report, it’ll say that it’s blocked and to contact the credit bureau. This prevents the institution from being able to lend money to the person who’s using your stolen information.

To place a credit freeze, you’ll need to contact each of the 4 credit bureaus, you will also likely have to pay a small fee to freeze and unfreeze your credit reports.  Each of these bureaus will give you a 6-digit number (PIN) you can use to call and unfreeze or “thaw” your reports.  You should “hide” this PIN somewhere that you won’t lose it – because if you do, you’ll be stuck frozen.

If you need to open an account while your credit reports are frozen, you’ll have to contact the credit bureau ahead of time (either on the phone or online) and “thaw” your account for a little while. You can set the “thaw” either for a period of time or for a particular creditor. You can also choose to remove the freeze if you determine you don’t want the protection any longer. You will need that PIN you set for the bureaus to thaw or unfreeze your reports.

You also have the option to temporarily thaw your accounts. For example, if you know you’re going to be looking for a car over the next week, call the three bureaus and thaw your report for the next week. Or, if you are applying for a credit card, call and unfreeze your report for that company, and then turn the freeze back on.

Using credit freezes is a little more trouble and a bit of an inconvenience in your life, but it’s better than the alternative – cleaning up your credit after your identity has been stolen.

Who do I talk to about a Credit Freeze?

You’ll need to contact each of the 4 credit bureaus. Here are the links to each of their sites: Equifax, Experian, Innovis, and Trans Union.
Please be aware that a lot of phishing sites and scams will likely come out of a situation like this. Make sure that any site you visit for these bureaus is legitimate before entering any of your information. If you receive an unsolicited email from one of these companies, please delete it immediately and do not click on any links. Now is the time to be on high alert for phishing emails and sites, and not just from scammers posing as credit bureaus but in general as well. Scammers use these types of situations to take advantage of people who are vulnerable.

Fraud Alert:

A less-impactful alternative to a credit freeze is a fraud alert.  A fraud alert requires potential creditors to contact you and obtain your permission before opening new lines of credit in your name. You are allowed by law to file a fraud alert (also called a “security alert”) with one of the credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian or Trans Union) every 90 days.  Whichever one you file with, they are required by law to alert the other two big bureaus as well. The fourth bureau, Innovis, follows the same rules as the big three, but you will have to file a fraud alert with them as well.

Fraud alerts last 90 days, and you can renew them as often as you like (a recurring calendar entry can help with this task); consumers who can demonstrate that they are victims or are likely to be victims of identity theft can also apply for a long-term fraud alert that lasts up to 7 years (a police report and other documentation may be required).

Free Credit Reports:

You are entitled by law to a free credit report from each of the “big three” once a year.  This means you can check your credit 3 times a year (once every 4 months with each of those bureaus).  The site where you may obtain this free copy is annualcreditreport.com, or by phone at 877-322-8228. Everywhere else will try to sell you a report, or offer a “free” report if you agree to sign up for some kind of subscription service — usually credit monitoring.  There are lots of look-alike sites out there (like freecreditreport.com) that are not the real, government-mandated service, so watch out.

Your free credit report will show all your lines of credit and other debt obligations, along with lots of data.  However, it won’t show your FICO score.  If that’s what you’re looking for, go to your bank or credit card company.  It usually costs money to get your FICO score.

What about my bank accounts?

We don’t anticipate that your bank accounts will be affected by this particular breach since no account or debit card numbers were compromised. However, we do recommend that you check your checking/savings and credit card accounts at least weekly to ensure there is no fraudulent activity.  This is just best practice, even when there isn’t a breach of this magnitude.  Another easy practice is to set up free text or email alerts on your account.  Those are free at The Callaway Bank and help you keep an instant pulse on your account activity.  (Your wireless carrier may charge for the text messages so check with them.)

If you suspect fraudulent activity on any of your Callaway Bank accounts, please contact our Customer Care Team at 800.446.2265 immediately.

There is a lot being reported about this breach, and we encourage you to seek additional information to protect yourself.  A great resource regarding this breach, an all things cybersecurity-related, is https://krebsonsecurity.com/.