Digital Financial Tools for Business with Leah Diehl

​In today's episode, we meet with Leah Diehl, Treasury Management Relationship Officer at First United to discuss several of the valuable and beneficial digital financial tools which businesses can use to better manage their finances and stay safe!

Transcript

Eric: Welcome to the “What Matters Most Podcast” presented by First United Bank & Trust. That’s My Bank. Visit us today at mybank.com

Hello, and welcome to “What Matters Most,” a podcast all about finances, community, savings, and security for you, your family, and your business. This podcast is brought to you by the helpful folks at My Bank, First United Bank & Trust. I’m your host, Eric Nutter. And in today’s episode of “What Matters Most,” our digital financial tools to help your business. And for this helpful discussion, I am thankful to be joined remotely today by Leah Diehl, treasury management relationship officer at First United. Good morning, Leah. How are you?

Leah: Hey, Eric. I’m wonderful. How are you today?

Eric: I’m doing very well. It’s a beautiful day. And I am excited to talk to you this morning about some things to help our listeners that may be running a business, maybe they’re starting a business, and they want to learn some things that can really help their business move more effectively and efficiently. And so I appreciate you joining me.

Leah: Absolutely. We have a lot of really neat tools that are out there for our business customers to make their life easier, let them get back to what they love doing is running their business.

Eric: Exactly, yeah. And I think that’s something that we talk a lot about is making sure when you run a business, there’s a thing that you’re good at and you do that thing well, and that’s what you should focus on. And everything else, all the minutiae of running your business should be stuff that helps you do that process faster, easier, better, or be automated in some way. And a lot of the tools that you in the treasury management area of First United, you help businesses with those kinds of things. So let’s start with what are…just give us some of the ideas of…some of the things that you notice that a lot of businesses are lacking, or maybe that they find really helpful from a financial tools standpoint.

Leah: I think talking about our business owners that are on the go all the time, right, they’re doing that thing that they love. They started a business for a reason, they want to do it. And they may need to do some banking or financial transactions on the go in between jobs, in between meetings. We have some tools to do that. They have the availability to do a lot of that from their phone now. We all have this thing that’s attached to our ears and it can do a lot of our financial transactions for us from, you know, making a deposit on the go, taking a picture of a check, or making a bill pay, or seeing your up-to-date transaction history. You can do all of that from an app on your phone that’s easily accessible. We didn’t have that a few years ago, but now we do and that just make…one more thing to make life easier for everybody.

Eric: Absolutely. Yeah, you can essentially, in a lot of cases, run your business just from that small device in your hand. So it’s pretty impressive how technology has advanced so quickly so far.

Leah: Exactly. You know, whether you’re the one who’s actually going to be doing those transactions, making the deposit yourself, or you have someone in your office that’s doing it, but you need to be a good business owner and know what’s going on in your business and your banking account. You can jump on your phone, see your up-to-date transaction history, maybe you need to approve some transactions that are going through. All that can be done right on your phone, and you can get right back to work.

Eric: Right. Right. Okay. So that’s the mobile banking, the tools to manage your finances, see your balances, make transfers, things like that. What about accepting payments?

Leah: Well, we all want to get paid faster, right? We want the money in our account a lot faster. And how do we do that? Well, I know that it’s been kind of a struggle these days with the mail and everybody that we’re just trying to figure out how do we get paid faster? And one way to do that is through ACH origination. It’s kind of a neat piece that businesses can do. And it’s a way that they can either debit their clients’ accounts, you know, if I have apartments and I need to collect rent, I can do it that way. Or, you know, I need to pay faster. I don’t want my bills to be late as a business owner. And I still have to mail them. But this way, I can just send them an ACH and it can get there typically in two days, but now we have the technology to do it the same day transactions that way. So whether you’re trying to collect money and get it into your account faster, or you’re trying to pay your bills, we have ways to help with that.

Eric: That’s awesome. So when you set up something like that, what does that process look like? Is it just collecting that information like the account number and routing information from your customers and then putting it into the internet banking…business internet banking system? Or what does that look like?

Leah: You’re exactly right. That’s kind of all it is, is you’re going to be collecting that from the person you’re either debiting, or collecting that from the person you’re sending it to. Routing an account number, it all functions through our internet banking. We can get you set up and rolling in less than two weeks to be able to do that kind of transaction. And then you’re on the way and you’re set and going.

Eric: Wow. So now I collect that information. I plug it in, maybe I messed up the number. How do I protect myself from making bad decisions on payments, or, you know, accidental mistakes on payments? Are there tools to kind of keep track of where my money is going and where the payments are going and all that?

Leah: Well, some good just kind of rules to follow when you’re doing payments is don’t accept a change of routing and account number via email. If you have a client or a vendor that wants to change information that they’ve given you, don’t accept that through an email. Call them back with a number that you have on file for that person and make sure that that information is correct. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of fraudsters out there now and that’s one of the biggest ways that we see fraud happening is through email. So take that second step, take that little bit of time that it’s going to take, and call them back, and verify it, and make sure that it is legitimate. You don’t want to send your money out and then it’s gone.

Eric: Right. Right. Okay. What other tools might help people keep better track of things and keep better tabs on their money?

Leah: We recently…you know, you’re gonna have the phone that’s attached to your email that’s attached to your…we have ways that we can set up alerts. So you’re going to get alerted for a transaction. You’re going to get alerted if a deposit went in. You might get an alert if you go below a certain balance, so you know what’s going on. You can get those texted to you or you can get those emailed to you. Just a way to keep tabs on it without having to log in to your laptop or your phone on the way. We’re going to go ahead and let you know what’s going on. And so those are great features, easy features just to turn on so you can make sure it’s right there in front of you.

Eric: Right. Yeah, those pop up, basically, you know, notifications, you get a notice that says, hey, this money has kind of left your account or has come into your account, it’s really handy to see things like that because, like you said, even though we have it in our pockets all the time, I don’t log in every day, every minute. So getting those notifications in the channels that I typically look at like email or text messages, those are really handy to have.

Leah: Right. I mean, you might have a friend request and then a text message from someone to bring milk home and then an alert from First United on your balance transaction on [crosstalk 00:08:18].

Eric: Exactly. Yeah. And it’s just…it’s handy. It’s a good reminder. And I think the most important part is, and you kind of mentioned this from a fraud standpoint, but it’s important to protect yourself, to take the time to go do it. Take the time to go set up those alerts and make sure they are set in a way that is helpful to you. A lot of times with those transaction alerts, you know, you may want to monitor things above a certain amount, but I know for myself, I often turn them on for anything over zero. So I get an alert every single time a transaction happens. That way I am aware of everything that comes in or goes out particularly from my accounts.

Leah: Exactly. Yeah. You worked too hard for that money to let the fraudsters have them. And in addition to the alerts that we have out there, the on the go access that you’re going to have with your app, we have a whole other tool that’s specifically for fraud protection on your account. It’s called Positive Pay. Have you ever heard of that before, Eric?

Eric: Well, I mean, I work at the bank, so I have heard of that. But for our listeners, tell us a little bit more about Positive Pay. It sounds like it should be a tool that I know, I am positive I got paid.

Leah: Yeah. Well, yeah, that’s one way to look at it. So Positive Pay is a way to prevent fraud before it even happens. So we want to protect you before even you would get an alert or a transaction or an update that something did fraudulent happen. This goes in your account before that and it functions through your internet banking. It kind of has two arms to it. So one arm protects the check side of your account and one arm protects the ACH side of your account. So you’re going to upload your checks to us that you wrote. When you do your check run, you’re going to tell us who you wrote your checks to, how much they were for, what date you wrote them, what the check number was. And when those are presented back to the bank for payment, we’re going to match that item up. And if everything matches, then no problem, the check gets paid.

If something doesn’t match, so if somebody changed a check or they’re trying to put a fraudulent one through but it’s not matching exactly what you told us it was, we’re gonna give it back to you, Eric, and we’re gonna say, “Hey, did you write this check?” And that way, before it even comes out of your account, you can say, “Yes, I did. I forgot to upload this one. Sorry.” Or, most of the time, you can say, “No, I did not write this. This is fraud.” And it’s going to get returned immediately. So you do not see a loss for that money at all. It’s a great way to add an extra layer of protection to your account. And in the world that we live in today with the fraudsters that are out there, it’s just a great tool to use.

Eric: So that’s really interesting. And you mentioned, you know, maybe an alert…so it comes as an alert like an email or a text message or something to the customer?

Leah: So every morning, if you have any of those items that didn’t match that we want you to take an extra look at, we call them exceptions, you can get an alert that says, “Hey, you have one you need to look at.” And then those are ones you’re going to log in and take a peek at. And we’re actually going to show you a picture of the check. We’re going to tell you what doesn’t match about it. And then you’re going to make a decision and tell us if you want us to pay it or if you want us to return it.

Eric: So it basically just gets put…that check gets put on hold until you make a decision.

Leah: Exactly. Yeah, we’re not going to take the money from your account until you tell us yes or no.

Eric: Well, that’s handy. So the upload process, you know, if you write a lot of checks, what’s that look like? I mean, is there an easy way to do that or do you have to manually type in every check?

Leah: Well, you can manually type in every check if you have an odd one out. But we know a lot of our business customers are doing a lot in their check runs. And we don’t want you to have to double-entry those. So right in your check writing software, you can export those checks to an Excel file and upload them into the internet banking portal. You don’t have to touch it again. Now it makes it really slick.

Eric: I mean, is this intended for larger businesses or can smaller businesses take care of it…or take advantage of Positive Pay to like…maybe you only write one check a month, do you just turn it on and get the alerts and then approve them? Or do you still need to put in the information so that it can be automatically approved and paid?

Leah: Well, first, I’d say it’s for every size business. If you’re writing checks out of your account, then Positive Pay is a great way to protect yourself. For those large businesses that do have a lot of checks coming through, the upload is a great, easy tool to be able to do it. But, you’re right, if you’re only writing one or two texts a month, it may be a little redundant for you to go enter them. We can just turn it on so you have to look at every check that comes through. So anytime there’s a check that comes through your account, you’re going to jump in and look at it as an exception. We call that specifically Reverse Positive Pay. So you don’t have to do an upload, you can just look at every item that comes through and make a decision on it.

So we have a few different ways to kind of rationalize this for your business and exactly how you guys function. And that’s part of what I talk to our customers about is, “Tell me how you write your checks. Tell me how many you write. Let’s talk about who does it in your business. Let’s talk about how often you do it.” And that way we can customize the solution specifically for them and how they operate.

Eric: Oh, I get it. Awesome. And what other tools…like we’ve talked a lot about managing your money, making payments and making sure that you’re not getting frauded using technology. What about the ability to accept payments like through credit cards and things like that? Do we offer tools that might be helpful to businesses in that regard?

Leah: Absolutely. We partner with a company called Mercantile Processing, MPI. They are a locally owned and operated company and they have a variety of solutions for accepting payments from, you know, a simple terminal that you sit on your desk, to the ability to take those mobile-y when you’re out off of kind of a cellphone signal, kind of the same premise, off of a machine to a point of sale that you might put in a restaurant or your retail store, and it can help you manage inventory, to accepting all kinds of payments, to even invoicing tools. So, you know, Eric, if I come out and decide I want to be a landscaper and come out and mow your grass, I have a tool through MPI that I can go ahead and shoot you a quote for doing your grass. You can say, “Yep, that’s fine. I approve that.”

And then when I’m done, I’m going to go ahead and email or text you an invoice with a click-to-pay option and you’re going to go ahead and pay me right then and there and it’s done. So just another way to make that business owner get back to mowing their grass a little bit cleaner and a little bit faster, versus having to manage payments and invoices and all of that that goes into it. So MPI has been a fantastic partner with a…really very knowledgeable and another great way to get paid a lot faster.

Eric: That’s great. That’s great. Awesome. And I like the idea of being able to do it… Again, we kind of go back to everything’s on the phone. So I can even swipe your credit card on my phone, basically, and take your information and make my business run faster and more smoothly, right?

Leah: Absolutely. We’re all trying to find ways to make life easier and get back to those things that are important to us whether, you know, it’s our job, or essentially then getting back to our families and our friends and back to that piece, which is what matters most, right?

Eric: Exactly. Exactly. That’s the whole point of this podcast. So that’s great. Well, Leah, thank you so much for joining me today. Do you have any final thoughts before we wrap up?

Leah: I think the biggest piece of advice that I can give a business owner is just to be involved in your finances. Even if you have someone that’s helping you, it’s so important and so easy for you just to keep tabs on the transactions coming through your account. You know, you worked so hard for the business that you built, you really just keep an eye on it.

Eric: Yeah. Yeah, that’s great advice. And having a partner like any of our folks at First United is really helpful in finding those solutions to help make that process easier, faster, smoother, and more efficient for you so that, to your point, you can focus on what matters most to you.

Leah: Exactly.

Eric: Yeah. Great. Well, Leah, once again, thank you for joining me. I really appreciate your time and your thoughts. And I know these are really helpful thoughts for many of our listeners. If anyone were to have a question or want to learn more about some of the tools that you’ve talked about today, what’s the best way they can get the support they need?

Leah: Well, start first with www.mybank.com. That’s the easiest way to do it. And then certainly I love learning about our business customers and talking to them and helping them navigate cash flow and great ways to do that, so I’d be happy to talk to anyone. And all my contact information is on the website as well, too.

Eric: Excellent. All right, Leah, thank you again. I appreciate your time.

Leah: Thanks for having me, Eric.

Eric: Yeah, anytime. Well, that brings us to the end of our show. You can always find more episodes by visiting mybank.com/podcast or find us on your favorite podcast app. And we’re basically on all of them, so find the one that you appreciate the most, and subscribe and give us a five-star review. That helps other people find the helpful information that folks like Leah joining us today are providing to our listeners. You can also always ask questions or leave feedback or request a topic for us to discuss by sending an email to podcast@mybank.com. Thanks again for listening. We’ll be back next week with more helpful content. But until then, we wish you the best in focusing on what matters most to you.

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