Our final Intern Spotlight features 13 dynamic, motivated and determined students that we had the pleasure of working with this summer. Read their stories as they share their passion, interests and lessons they’ve learned this summer at Mercantile Bank.
Jasmine is a junior at Winthrop University majoring in Finance. Her position as a Loan Operations Intern has encouraged her come out of her shell, and step out of her comfort zone. Meeting her new team members helped her gain confidence and she has enjoyed learning from people who have been in her position in the past. A fun fact about Jasmine is that she was born on a military base.
Liam attends Arizona State University. As a Commercial Loan Operations Intern this summer, he gained valuable real-world experience by working cohesively with his support team. He learned the importance of working effectively and efficiently on time sensitive reports. He also gained a new perspective on evaluating situations in a banking environment. A fun fact about Liam is that he can run a mile in 5 Minutes and 3 second—now that’s fast!
Christina is a junior at Western Michigan University working on a degree in Human Resources Management. She joined Mercantile as a Commercial Loan Operations intern. During her internship she was able to gain valuable knowledge on how technology plays a role in banking. She also enjoyed taking part in the Grand Opening of our new Portage office. Christina is also an accomplished musician, she had the opportunity to play flute in concert band for 6 years!
Anna is a recent graduate from Kalamazoo College with a degree the Mathematics and Computer Science. During her time as an Audit department intern she learned how the branches interact with many different departments to run more efficiently. She appreciated how everyone was so willing to help answer questions and solve problems whenever possible. Anna had the opportunity to study abroad at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland for four months.
Nikki is a junior at Grand Valley State University studying Advertising, Public Relations and Marketing. She spent this summer as an intern in the Card Services department. In addition to learning all the ways that Mercantile can help their customers with great products, she was able to use her classroom studies when she participated in a Marketing project. Nikki is looking forward to finishing her degree and the opportunity to indulge her love of animals but adopting a pug in the future!
Sydney is a sophomore at Central Michigan University studying Social Work. She spent her summer as an intern in the Mortgage Loan Processing department, where she was known as “Syd the Kid”. Sydney was able to jump in and really help the team from day one. She enjoyed the opportunity to learn all that goes into getting a mortgage. She hopes that her intern experiences will help her in the future when she looks to purchase a home of her own.
Elizabeth is a junior studying Human Resources and Finance at Grand Valley State University. She was able to apply her classroom studies to her summer internship as she worked with the Human Resources team. Elizabeth played a valuable role in the department by helping to maintain employee files, communicating with new hire candidates and creating orientation packets. She feels this internship has provided her with a great foundation to excel in her future career path. As an avid runner, she has a goal of running a marathon before graduating from college!
Darryl is a recent graduate of Grand Valley State University with his degree in Finance. This summer he had the opportunity to work as an intern with the Mortgage team. Not only did he learn about some of the processes associated with mortgages, he also gained insight on the overall operations of the banking industry. His supervisors encouraged him to work hard each day and that in-turn gave him the motivation to learn more and appreciate his team. Darryl is a self-described astronomy geek, and a great dancer!
Gabriel is a sophomore attending Kennesaw State University studying Political Science. His summer internship with the Property Management department provided Gabriel with insight on many different aspects of the Bank. He had the opportunity to work on a property tax project for his team and spent time gathering data and doing research. One of the most valuable insights has been the importance of time management and balancing work and personal time. Gabriel is also interested in designing furniture in the future.
Victor is a senior attending Alma College studying Business Administration. As an intern in the Marketing department this summer, Victor learned about many functions of the bank. Through his involvement in an intern organized community project, he had the opportunity to realize the importance a community bank plays in the community around it. He enjoyed working on projects such as writing blog posts, and organizing large mailing projects. Victor enjoys learning to play guitar and hopes to improve his skills in the future.
Sanchay is a freshmen studying Finance and Computer Science at Grand Valley State University. Sanchay had the opportunity to work in the Deposit Operations department this summer. During this internship program he learned a lot about all the different operations that go on inside the bank. He really enjoyed the chance to work in a professional setting which is a bit of a change from his previous retail job experience. Sanchay also enjoys playing tennis at GVSU.
George is a senior at the University of Utah studying Finance and Spanish. “Jeep” as he’s known as to his friends, worked as a Mortgage Clerk intern this summer. Helping the disclosure department to run smoothly by working on e-signed disclosures, creating disclosure reports, and working with mortgage applications gave him the opportunity to have a deeper understanding of how the mortgage process works right through to the closing. Through this internship, he feels confident that this is an industry he could definitely pursue after graduation.
Joseph attends Grand Valley State University and worked this summer as a Commercial Loan Operations intern. He assisted the department in becoming more digital by uploading and organizing files to our online database. One important thing he learned from this experience is the importance of taking care of personal finance. With good personal finance, working with the bank becomes much easier. Joseph is also one of few people who can say that he’s hit a hole-in-one on the golf course!
It was a great summer with all of our interns. All of us at Mercantile Bank wish you all great success with your future plans! Have a great year!
Written By Victor Sosa | Marketing Intern
We bring you another installment of the Intern Spotlight! This week we have 8 featured interns who have different backgrounds and life experiences, but are all developing real-world job experience and skills to help them succeed in the future.
Brooke Harper is a sophomore at Grand Valley State University majoring in Marketing and minoring in Studio Art. She is a Branch Support Intern and her most memorable moment at Mercantile was when she took a trip to City Hall where all interns learned about the LEAD program. She believes the LEAD program is an awesome way to prepare young students for college and the workforce. As a teller last summer she had some experience with transactional-banking processes. She now understands how much more goes on within a bank. A fun fact about Brooke is that she high jumped on her high school’s track and field team for about 6 years. Now that’s commitment!
K’Mari Johnson is a junior and majoring in Finance. He is a Commercial Loan Operations Intern. One of his biggest take aways from this internship is the importance of setting a good example for those around him, because you never know when someone is watching. He has learned the importance of having connections in a business setting and the importance of customer service as a whole. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his friends and family.
Abigail is a senior at Grand Valley State University majoring in Management of Information Systems (MIS). She is a Deposits Operations Intern and hopes this work experience will allow her to gain a better understanding of her MIS degree. She also learned that it’s never a bad idea to ask for more information or to ask a supervisor for advice. A fun fact about Abigail is that she is a third degree black belt in Karate.
Jalin is a sophomore at Western Michigan University double majoring in Accounting & Entrepreneurship and minoring in Finance. He is a Commercial Loan Operations Intern and his most memorable moment as an intern is when he wore the Earnie the Otter mascot suit at the Grand Opening of the new Portage location. Jalin owns his own clothing line for Men and Women called Power Moves Only LLC. Check it out!
Justin is a freshman at Loyola University majoring in Finance and minoring in Sociology. He is a Commercial Loans Intern and one of the biggest take aways from this experience is that he’s improved his time management skills. He better understands the importance of being responsible with your time and with all of his tasks he’s been forced to use his time effectively. Justin grew up in Oakland, California and he hopes to go back one day and help out the community.
Samuel is a senior at Grand Valley State University double majoring in Finance and Accounting. He is a Commercial Loans Intern and one of the things he has learned is there are many steps involved in creating the best possible customer experience. He believes this experience will be a great reference when he is looking to secure a job post-graduation. A fun fact about Samuel is that he is a Michigan Football fan and a Michigan State Basketball fan. Go Green? Or Blue?
Devin Moore is a junior at Yale University majoring in Environmental Studies. He is a Branch Support Intern. He has had a major impact in his department by being one of 3 interns who helped work a yard sale that got extra supplies to other branches. He believes Mercantile will be a great resume builder and great experience for his future employment. A fun fact about Devin is that his favorite ice cream flavor is blue moon.
Makenna is a senior at Hillsdale College majoring in Financial Management. She is a Commercial Loans Intern. Her most memorable moment as an intern was attending the lunch and learn on bitcoin. She found the presentation to be fascinating and it sparked some interest and ongoing conversation in her office. Attending meetings with Treasury Sales Officers really provided her with a lot of knowledge about banking in general. A fun fact about Makenna is that she has two dogs and enjoys traveling!
Stay tuned for the next installment of our Intern Spotlight!
Written by Victor Sosa | Marketing Intern
Welcome back to our intern spotlight. Interns are in full swing with their work, projects, and volunteering. Let’s meet a few more!
Maria Acosta is a sophomore at Western Michigan University and is majoring in Accounting. She is a Card Services Intern and her most memorable moment was at the Steve Smith Golf Outing where she connected with a lot of people and created wonderful memories with her colleagues. A fun fact about Maria is she wants to explore more countries in Europe and wants to travel the world.
Allison Fike is a junior at Loyola University majoring in Accounting and Minoring in Finance. She is an Accounting Intern. She has learned how a bank’s day to day operations impact businesses and each branch. This knowledge will help her bring a different perspective to any future employment. She enjoys running in her spare time and is currently training to run the Chicago Marathon in October.
Brandon Fuller is a junior at Hope College double majoring in Economics and Mathematics. As a Mortgage Clerk Intern he’s learned a great deal about the mortgage process and specific products Mercantile offers. His biggest take away is realizing that the banking world is more lively and energetic than he envisioned, he didn’t realize the creativity and strategic thinking involved. For Brandon a guilty pleasure meal consists of a nice cup of green beans with a strawberry mango cooler from Culver’s.
Corey Gilmer is a senior at Grand Valley State University majoring in Finance. He is a Mortgage Clerk Intern and he’s learned just how complex banking can be; especially within the mortgage department. His most memorable moment thus far is when he was learning how to fax and received an email with a quote of Michael Scott from The Office saying “Fax? Why not just send it over on a dinosaur?” He found it even more hilarious when the email was marked as important. Corey is appreciating the time he has left in college and sometimes feels nostalgic about it.
Austin Gregory will be finishing his bachelor degree in Accounting at the end of summer at Northwood University and plans to attend graduate school there as well. As a Mortgage Clerk Intern, he’s learned a great deal about overdraft protection and how to close out loans. His understanding on banking has tremendously increased working as an intern. A fun fact about Austin is that he is the all-time leading scorer of the Ionia basketball program—Impressive!
Stay Tuned for our next installment of the Intern Spotlight!
From June through August 2018, 32 summer interns will be experiencing what it is like to be part of Mercantile Bank of Michigan. Interns are challenged with many projects, meetings, and tasks such as putting together presentations or sharing thoughts with their departments. Attending workshops is also an integral part of this experience. Topics vary from diversity training to developing networking skills. All in all, the program is filled with opportunities for growth and advancement. Misti Stanton, coordinator of the internship program sets the bar high for each intern; “I give you 150% and I expect the same in return at all times.” All of this makes this internship special, challenging and rewarding. Each week we will introduce you to a few of the interns and learn what each has to say about their experience being part of the Mercantile team.
Amari Brown is a sophomore at Hope College double majoring in Sociology and Social Work with a minor in Political Science. She joined the Human Resource team as an intern working directly under Misti Stanton, Diversity and Inclusion officer. Amari hopes this experience gives her the tools necessary to navigate her future career. A fun fact about Amari is that she enjoys participating in pageants. They have helped her tremendously with her communication skills and learning to be comfortable with who she is.
Kristin Cebelak is a sophomore at Ferris State University, who joined Mercantile as a Treasury Sales Intern. Her biggest take away from this internship is that a positive attitude is extremely important. She states that “A person can go far with a positive attitude and willingness to learn in the workplace”. She has done tasks such as data mining and analyzing of information to further assist treasury sales officers. In her spare time, she enjoys boating on Lake Michigan with family and is an avid game and movie enthusiast.
Michael Crenshaw, a sophomore at Michigan State University majoring in Finance, was selected as a Commercial Loans Intern. Crenshaw has learned a great deal about lending during his time at Mercantile. His biggest take away from this internship is the value of versatility in commercial lending. He says being a commercial lender requires one to have extraordinary people skills. Crenshaw not only cares a lot about the ins and outs of finance but, he has also watched every Marvel Cinematic Universe Movie except Thor: Dark World—impressive!
Justin Cutts is a junior at Alma College double majoring in Health Care Administration and Public Health. As a Retail Loan Operations Intern, he feels that having Mercantile Bank on his resume can be an attention grabber towards his future employment. He believes all work is important for the success of the team so he does his part so others can narrow down their focus. Justin plays college football and couldn’t be more thrilled to lace up his cleats and put on his football pads as he gets closer to the start of his football season Go Scots!
Zachary DeVries, a senior at Calvin College majoring in Accounting and minoring in Economics, was selected as a Real Estate Valuation Risk Intern. He feels this internship experience has helped him grow professionally, and so far he feels he has learned a great deal about office etiquette and other professional aspects that go along with working at a bank. DeVries’ biggest take away thus far has been how much he has learned about the banking industry as a whole. A fun fact about Zachary is he is afraid of snakes more than any other animal. He has been swimming with stingrays and sharks in the ocean, but nothing frightens him more than snakes. He says he is basically Indiana Jones.
Glory Emmanuel, a senior at Calvin College double majoring in Accounting and Economics, was selected to be a Commercial Loan Operations Intern. He feels delighted to learn how eager his co-workers and supervisors were to teach him everything he needs to know and more. One of his most memorable moments thus far is when interns took a trip to the city’s office in Grand Rapids. He was pleased to see the efforts the city is making to educate other students about college and post college life as well as their youth development programs. A fun fact about Glory is he has spent most of his life living between Nigeria and the United States. Now that’s a lot of traveling!
Stay tuned for our next installment of the Intern Spotlight!
Helping fill the needs of people in our local communities is one of the most important things we do. Nikki Biermann, Branch Manager at our West Branch M76 office spearheaded a volunteer event for the Mobile Food Pantry – Food Bank of Eastern Michigan at the First United Methodist Church in West Branch. Volunteers from the Bank along with local Boy Scouts and people from the congregation helped to unload the semi, sort the food, and then distribute it to over 260 individuals. Nikki uncovered the need through her involvement with Boy Scouts and put together a group of volunteers to help. Thank you Nikki, Alan, Shantel, Karen, Bennie, Steve, Alta, Kayla and Debbie for your commitment to the community of West Branch!
We have seen a large increase lately in fraud attempts to get businesses to send money via wire and ACH, and want to remind you of controls and diligence you should be using to protect your business from fraud. Often, once a business acts on fraudulent instructions to send money, it is difficult or impossible to get it back resulting in significant losses to the business. Please read the following carefully and make sure your team is aware of this type of activity, and that you have the proper controls in place to protect your business. Some examples of recent activity include:
Scenario # 1:
CEO of ACME R US is out of town on a family vacation. The controller receives an email asking if they are available to help with an urgent matter. Of course the controller responds quickly, asking how they can help. The CEO explains that a vendor of theirs never received payment and they are refusing to ship the parts they ordered unless they wire money today (wire instructions attached). Please send $57,735.32 immediately and provide me confirmation as soon as it is sent so I can inform our vendor, the CEO emailed. Without question, the controller does exactly what was requested.
The next day, the real CEO calls the office to simply check in. During their conversation, the controller asks if the wire got there in time and if the parts shipped. Perplexed, the CEO ask, “What wire and to whom”. Shortly after this call the bank gets a call. The fraudsters simply sent an email from outside the organization to the controller making it look as if it was an internal email.
The controller of ACME R US received an email from one of their suppliers. The email stated that they are changing banks and to please change their accounts payable information to the new account and routing number of the new bank effective immediately. Seems fairly routine, so the controller made the modification. A month later, ACME R US received a phone call about not paying their last invoice totaling $107, 861.35. Through conversation with the supplier, it was discovered that their email account had been compromised and the fraudster was sending fraudulent communications directly from their email account to customers like ACME R US.
What do both of these scenarios have in common? They both where orchestrated via email. Both times, the email communication was all that was necessary to take action. They both indicated a sense of urgency or immediate action required. They both lost thousands of dollars.
Take action and consider implementing these controls:
1. DO NOT automatically trust or act solely on an email communication asking you to make changes to payment instructions from vendors, business partners, or internal management, even if it looks legitimate. To protect your company, procedures should be reviewed to ensure they include a validation step outside of email utilizing already known contact information, such as a verification phone call. For internal management email requests, you may want to require an actual signature as an added security measure. Think about all the things you do simply based on trusting an email. What risk are you taking if the email is not legitimate?
2. Utilize Dual Control options for authorizing ACH and wire payments within online banking, and make sure the staff reviewing those are trained properly to look for potential fraud or unusual activity. Another set of trained eyes can be an effective, if not foolproof, way to safeguard against fraud.
3. Utilize Multi-Factor Authentication if you access your office remotely, use Office 365, Outlook Web Access, or some other cloud based email, ensure you utilize multi-factor authentication. If your credentials are compromised, the fraudsters can access your email account from anywhere. They monitor who you speak with and learn how you do business. Then they plan their attack and start communicating as you. They delete every sent and received communication to help hide their tracks. Please use multi-factor authentication whenever possible. It is as easy as receiving a 6 digit temporary access code that you key in every time you login with your username and password.
4. Train Your Staff about the risks of automatically trusting email as legitimate. Phishing emails can compromise your systems with malware or ransomware. Spear phishing emails hope to get your staff to take action and usually turns into money lost.
5. Contact The Bank Immediately if you believe you are a victim of fraud or have sent funds based on fraudulent instructions. We can best assist you if you call us first. (1-800-453-8700 option 2)
6. Secure Your Environment by ensuring your computer systems and network are routinely patched to help avoid vulnerabilities, and seek outside review or support regularly to make sure your internal controls are up to industry standards to avoid intrusion or takeover attempts.
If you have questions or concerns please contact us at (1-800-453-8700 option 2).
We’re excited to announce the launch of the MercMoney® Chatbot , it’s a new way to engage with your money and receive fast answers to common personal finance questions, through the latest voice-and-messaging platforms.
What’s a chatbot?
A chatbot is simply a piece of technology that you can interact with through voice-and-messaging platforms. It’s able to interpret what you say or type and provide an intelligent and relevant response. If you’ve ever used Amazon Alexa, Google Home, or Apple’s Siri, you’ve used a chatbot. The MercMoney® Chatbot builds on top of the existing functionality of our online and mobile app MercMoney® that is already used by thousands of customers who have taken charge of their finances. Please click here to learn more about MercMoney® . With the launch of the MercMoney® Chatbot, those same powerful financial insights can be accessed through Google Home, SMS (text messaging), and Facebook Messenger.
Why did we do this?
Our goal is to make sure everyone has an understanding of their financial health. The MercMoney® Chatbot will support customer financial health by expanding the possible channels for delivery of relevant and timely financial insights that can shape day-to-day financial decisions. It’s another convenient way for customers to keep track of their account balances, transactional history, spending patterns, budget trends, goals, and much more.
What can the Chatbot do?
You can ask MercMoney® all sorts of questions about your money, including account balances, spending, savings, budgets, recent transactions and more.
We’re constantly adding to the MercMoney® Chatbot, but you can try a few of the sample questions below:
● “What’s my account balance?”
● “What’s my latest transaction?”
● “Recent spending on restaurants”
● “What’s my net worth?”
● “What was my income last month?”
● “How’s my spending?”
● “What did I spend on coffee last month?”
● “How’s my shopping budget?”
● “Where is the nearest ATM?”
● “What’s the Mercantile routing number?”
● “What’s a money order?”
How do I start to use the Chatbot?
To use the MercMoney® chatbot, your first step is to enable MercMoney® on the device of your choice and securely connect all the accounts you want to track. Once MercMoney® is enabled and you have all your accounts loaded, it will begin to track your transactions, categorize them, create budgets, spending, and cash flow analysis, as well as providing tools to measure your net worth and plan to pay off debt. You still have access to all of the great visualization tools inside the MercMoney® app, and with the new MercMoney® chatbot, you’ll be also able to receive these insights conveniently through popular conversational platforms like Google Home, Facebook Messenger, and SMS (text messaging).
Is this secure?
Your security is always central to us and is an integral part of all of our services, no matter what device or platform you use to access your accounts. The MercMoney® Chatbot uses the same login as the online banking site to authenticate your device, and we don’t share access to your financial information with third parties in providing the service. Please click here to learn more about security for the MercMoney® Chatbot.
As of 9/7/2017, Equifax has stated that there is “No Evidence of Unauthorized Access to Core Consumer or Commercial Credit Reporting Databases”. Regardless, it may be in your best interest to understand or review the information Equifax has been issuing in response.
We’re sure you have questions. For answers, go to www.equifaxsecurity2017.com or call 1-866-447-7559. Their call center is open every day (including weekends) from 7:00 a.m. – 1:00 a.m. Eastern time.
In addition to the Equifax Potential Impact website, Equifax will send direct mail notices to consumers whose credit card numbers (estimated at 209,000 people) or dispute documents (estimated at 182,000 people) with personal identifying information were impacted.
To see recommended courses of action the Federal Trade Commission has provided on the breach, please click here. If you would like other information related to online security and related services the bank offers click here.
Like me, I hope you have fond memories of your grandparents. When invited to grandma’s house for lunch, I could always count on having something on the table she knew I liked. Grandparents are very special and we need to care for them as much as they care for us.
Unfortunately our grandparents, parents and older adults are the target of many types of scams received over the phone or via an email. These scams attempt to deceive with promises of goods, services, financial benefits or the need to send money to pay taxes, fees or to help someone they love. Their stories are contrived for one purpose and one purpose only, to get money. Below is just one example of these schemes.
Scammers place a call to an older person and when they answer, the scammer will say something along the lines of: “Hi Grandma, do you know who this is?” When the unsuspecting grandparent guesses the name of the grandchild the scammer most sounds like, the scammer has established a fake identity without having done a lick of background research.
Once “in,” the fake grandchild will usually ask for money to solve some unexpected financial problem (overdue rent, payment for car repairs, etc.), to be paid via Western Union or MoneyGram, which don’t always require identification to collect. At the same time, the scam artist will beg the grandparent “please don’t tell my parents, they would kill me.”
One of the best ways to protect our loved ones from these types of tactics is to talk with them about it. Building awareness is the first step. If they are willing, another step might be helping them with paying bills and balancing their bank accounts.
If you have been or know someone who has been a victim; don’t be afraid to talk about it with someone you trust. You are not alone, and there are people who can help. Doing nothing could only make it worse. Keep handy the phone numbers and resources you can turn to, including the local police, your bank (if money has been taken from your accounts), and Adult Protective Services at 1-855-444-3911. Call anytime day or night to report suspected abuse of vulnerable adults.
While growing up I remember being told “if something seems too good to be true, it probably is” This has always been good advice when it comes to the many money making scams that seem to plague our world. There are many types of fake check scams, but it all seems to start when a scam artist convinces you to take a check from them, deposit into your account and then wire a portion of the check to another account somewhere in the world. Both the check and their story are phony, but that could take days to discover. However, when the check you deposited comes back as a fake, and it will, the bank is going to expect you to get the money back. You are responsible for the checks you deposit into a bank account. There is no legitimate reason why anyone would give you a check or money order and ask you to wire money anywhere in return.
Here are some good steps to take if you receive a check for anything:
Wait 10 business days after deposit – Most of these scams require you to deposit the money and then withdraw the portion they want you to wire immediately. If you wait 10 business days, you will know if the check is a fake. This can also be helpful when selling something online and the purchaser wants to pay via money order or cashier check and have someone else pick it up. Cash is always a good way to go with these types of deals.
Ask for a check drawn on a local bank – If the check is drawn on a local bank or the bank has a branch in your area, you can make a personal visit to make sure the cashier check or money order is valid. Don’t do anything until you are able to validate the check. Best practice is to only except a check from someone you know and trust.
Don’t be pressured – Scam artists always use urgency and high-pressure to get you to do what they want. If you start feeling or realize the other person is using these tactics, it is a good sign to walk away.
As a reminder, there is no legitimate reason why anyone would give you a check or money order and ask you to wire money anywhere in return, EVER!
Check back for more information on the next Mercantile Bank Security Minute.