1. I was recently asked by a teenager the difference between a community bank and a credit union, and was surprised not to know the answer. What differentiates the two?   

The differences between the two have truly been blurred over the past 15 to 20 years as regulations have allowed credit unions to venture into many types of traditional banking activities (i.e. commercial mortgage loans). So the confusion is not unusual. Banks are owned by its shareholders and subject to corporate income tax, whereas credit unions are owned by its members and do not pay income tax.

2. Teens and young adults are taking their finances seriously and investing at an early age. Some are buying gold and silver, while others are diving into the stock market. What advice would you give them from a banking standpoint that could help with long-term investing and future financial stability? 

The younger you can start investing and remain disciplined, the greater your opportunities will be to accumulate wealth over time through the benefits of compounding interest/yield returns. The second thing I would recommend as would many licensed financial advisors, diversification of your portfolio of investments is also important. Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket as the saying goes.

3. Some entrepreneurs in their late 20’s and early 30’s are beginning to look at commercial real estate as an investment. From your perspective, what makes a property a wise commercial real estate investment? 

There are numerous components. First of course is positive cash flow after all expenses. Second is the quality of your tenants if this investment is a non-owner occupied building. Another that has entered into the market due to COVID is the type of space you are acquiring subject to negative impacts from tenants (employers) whose jobs could be performed from home. While this was in play for many years with continued technological advancements, this has accelerated significantly in the past 12 months and in some sectors of the market, may never return. There are other factors as well which makes having a quality Commercial Realtor and Commercial Banker important when starting to venture into these forms of investing.

4. The housing market is hot and buyers and sellers are weighing their options. For homeowners, is this a good time to refinance? Why or why not?  

That depends on what your current interest rate is, the cost savings you achieve on a monthly basis, the closing costs associated with refinancing, and how quickly you can make up those closing costs. The latter factor can also be impacted by how long you expect to live in your home. The best rule of thumb is if you can make up the closing costs within 12 to 24 months, and expect to live in the home longer than those timeframes, it likely makes sense to refinance.

5. As gas prices increase and the cost of goods and services slowly rise, what advice would you give people about managing their finances over the next 12 months? 

While there are many concerns regarding inflation given the amount of economic stimulus put into the market over the past 12 months, it is hard to forecast those impacts as hey will vary depending on the individual household. The advice I would give would be for every household to look at those areas where their greatest spending occurs, and identify how much those areas could be impacted by inflation and adjust for that in their financial planning. For example, if you drive more often to and from work or other travel, rising gas prices will impact you greater than someone who does not drive as often. Additionally, each challenge can sometimes result in other investment opportunities. If you have the resources to invest consult with your financial advisor for industries where positive opportunities may exist. Over the past year many financial investors have adjusted their financial portfolios and benefitted from companies who actually increased their sales and profitability due to COVID.