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Blog Archive June 2020



Optimizing Opportunities During a Difficult Market

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Although it may be daunting and a bit more tedious to achieve, opportunities for business growth are still available if you have the right perspective and tools at your disposal. As you drastically adjust your business structure to accommodate the COVID-19 safety precautions, there may be several aspects that you question or are uncertain about. One of the most crucial tools you can have when operating a business is a knowledgeable and trustworthy banker that can advise you during such a confusing time in the marketplace. Valuable financial guidance is paramount during such turbulent times. Pan American Bank & Trust Personal Bankers are always available to assist and advise clients with any inquiries or concerns they may have, guiding them through all types of business decisions and transactions. 

As specialized bankers that familiarize themselves with clients on a personal level, PAB&T is strategic in helping you plan and will suggest steps that can optimize solutions for the future, always keeping business growth in mind. With a record for having grown exponentially over the last ten years, PAB&T has an entrepreneurial mindset. Our bankers understand goals and ambition and will work alongside clients and their financial advisors to help them Dream Bigger. Our lending team can assist you in financing options available for infrastructure, working capital or future expansion.

As a small business owner, you  expect your bank to understand the challenges you face and offer products and services to grow your business. Even more importantly, your banker should be easily accessible to you, no matter the size of your business or bank accounts. PAB&T truly believes that the basis of a solid business is relationships, which is why they develop a real understanding with every client. Relationships are a great avenue to networking and expanding your business potential. Almost every type of business can benefit from the numerous connections a well-established banker can provide. Do not be afraid to ask for referrals and introductions.

As an individual operating a business of any size during this challenging time, one must be prepared for the continuous changes imposed on the marketplace. Choosing a bank that can provide personal  and objective advice to facilitate difficult decisions that could have long term effects on your business is not only wise but imperative to ensure your business’ full potential.


Reassessing Your Finances Post Quarantine

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As the quarantine restrictions are lifted, many are forced to evaluate their financial situations, which are vastly different from before quarantine was imposed. While some employees have only had their work location change from an office to their home, others have had their hours drastically reduced, been furloughed or laid off. Business owners are also in varying stages of unrest based upon their state's guidelines deeming if their type of business is essential and able to operate.

Regardless of your particular situation, the effects of the quarantine have affected almost everyone's finances in some way or another. Retirement accounts and the stock market have decreased while unemployment has increased significantly. Now is an excellent time to consider which ways that would benefit you most going forward to ensure your best outcome for the future.

Here are some steps to walk you through your finances and progress towards your goals as you come out of quarantine.

Review your present situation.

When the pandemic began, there was a lot of uncertainty. Not knowing what the future held, many cut extras from the budget and focused only on necessities such as mortgage/rent, food, transportation and utilities. Vacations, cable, and eating out were postponed or put on hold both for safety reasons and to add to savings.

Now that the quarantine is mostly over, it's time to take stock of your situation. If you are unemployed, this manner of handling your finances is the best way to continue until you find a source of income.

If you are employed and feel financially stable, it is safe to tackle your prior financial goals by paying down debt, saving for a new home or adding to a college fund. 

Re-examine your budget.

Being in quarantine most likely flipped the way your finances are allocated. For many, less money was being spent on gas and transportation, restaurants and entertainment. However, grocery bills, cleaning supplies, and home to do projects have increased more than usual due to everyone being home so much more than usual.

As we come to terms with the new normal, many of us are realizing that some of the changes have had a positive effect. Schedules have cleared, allowing for more family dinners and time to prepare healthy meals at home. For some, less commuting and extracurricular activities mean more time to pursue a hobby or get in shape by going for a daily walk or doing an at-home workout. Before jumping back into old schedules and habits, consider the changes you have had to make and evaluate if they may be worth keeping, especially if they are budget-friendly. This is a great opportunity to avoid restarting habits and spending where you can since you've already gotten used to life without them.

Gradual Steps to Reality

If you're wondering how to ease back into a realistic budget that allows you to save for your goals while still meeting all of your current needs and maintain an emergency fund for extreme situations such as the year 2020, here are some guidelines:

First and foremost, have a stable income source that can be utilized as a source for your expenditure goals.

  • Emergency Fund: Evaluate the amount of funds you would need to have on hand if another crisis occurred. An emergency fund should contain 3 to 6 months' worth of your average expenses. 

  • Tackle Debt: Once you have restored your emergency fund, use any additional funds to reduce your debt as quickly as possible.

  • Long Term Investments: Reinvesting in retirement accounts such as 401(k) and IRA is a significant next step. Many temporarily stopped their contributions to these types of accounts when the stock markets crashed and the pandemic began, fearful of losing more money. Now that the markets are recovering, people must think of the future and ensure their retirement savings are in order. 

Check in with your personal banker or financial advisor. 

The conflicting information received during the pandemic has made society in general wary and uncertain. For this reason, it is always best to have a professional who has the correct information and your best interests in mind, review your information before making a huge decision. A personal banker at Pan American Bank & Trust is always available to answer any questions you may have or review your finances to see if there may be better options available for you. Feel free to call any of our locations to schedule an appointment or discuss your concerns by phone.


Employment Strategy in a Competitive Market

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The Pandemic of 2020 has caused an economic downturn of significant magnitude. The national average unemployment rate was 3.6% in January of 2020. That is a stark contrast to where it currently stands at over 14%. That percentage hike equates to about 20 million people having lost their jobs in the past four months. Due to the safety restrictions imposed by the government to combat the spread of the Coronavirus, several types of businesses are either partially shut down or completely closed, therefore forced to furlough or layoff some or all of their employees. 

Since few employers are in the position to hire, competition is fierce for job seekers. All the more reason anyone seeking a new position must differentiate themselves to have any chance of attaining one of the few spots available. One of the many tips offered by experts is to expand your horizons. Focusing only on the industry in which you are accustomed will eliminate opportunities and narrow your options. Skills from one industry can easily transfer to another and be just as valuable. For instance, good organizational skills, planning and attention to detail are applicable in any position. It has become the norm to hold various jobs and has become commonplace to work in 3 to 5 different career tracks over the course of a lifetime. Searching outside of your comfort zone may lead to a rewarding experience that enriches your skillset and resume.

Also, consider the position you are trying to obtain as temporary since the market is so limited. Searching for your next long term dream job will be close to impossible in this limited job market. At this point, the priority is to continue working, gain experience and earn an income. The hope is that you will end up loving the job, but if not, the economy will improve and more options will be available for you to choose from within a year or two.

The industries that presently have more of a long-term possibility and seem most stable are in health care, computer science and online learning. When searching through such positions, keep in mind the information listed on your resume. Consider reformatting the specifics so they are applicable to the position you are applying for or adding other experience you may have that adds value and is pertinent. Having an unbiased third person review your resume is ideal, especially if grammar and writing is not your strongest skill.  Be sure to include any and all accomplishments you achieved for prior employers and your contributions.

The new norm in the professional world is to work from home, so be prepared to do so for several types of jobs, even those positions that previously never had been remote. During an interview you may be asked if you are equipped to work from home and you want to provide confidence in your ability to be effective and efficient in being able to do so.

Another way to ensure an advantage is to maintain professional connections through networking. Even with social distancing measures in place, social media and technology allow easy access and communication to colleagues, past co-workers, clients and associates. Any one of those contacts may have an opportunity for you when a time of need presents itself.

Overall, this period of unease and disruption will be a difficult transition to overcome for people at every level and in every industry. As we look to the future, having the right tools, mindset and strategies will assist us to position ourselves and have the potential to be in an even better position than we left off.


Operating Virtually in the Workplace. Is it here to stay?

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During the new normal of quarantine restrictions and norms, methods of interacting have taken a whole new approach. All occurrences of socializing and doing business now take place through a screen, eliminating person-to-person contact. Just as society had recently reached a point where technology was considered to be a barrier of human connection, it has now become the lifeline that has allowed the world to continue moving forward, both on a personal and professional level.

The timing of videoconferencing app Zoom could not have been better timed or necessary. CEO of Zoom, Eric Yuan left a lucrative position to found the videotelephony company in 2011. It was eight years later, in April of 2019 that Yuan rang the opening bell on the floor of the Nasdaq for the IPO of Zoom. Originally used for corporate conferencing purposes, Zoom was also quickly adopted for personal use once strict quarantine measures were implemented. In fact, Zoom  added 2.22 users in the first couple months of 2020, which is more than the 1.99 million users added in all of the year 2019 combined.

The video conferencing app allows a clear connection with multiple users to interact at once. Zoom calls are a great tool for academic purposes, allowing teachers to still instruct classes remotely. They app also provide visual interactive relief for the endless days spent in quarantine. Zoom calls are now used to celebrate birthdays, graduations, wine tastings and much needed time to see loved ones’ faces.

The capabilities of Zoom have expanded to allow companies and businesses of all sizes the unlimited possibilities of remote working arrangements. Zoom and similar apps and technology have facilitated virtual working arrangements to the point that employers are reconsidering how they structure their offices and staff once quarantine restrictions are lifted. Numerous employers are deliberating if they should continue to allow some of their staff to work from home permanently and reduce the amount of office space needed, significantly reducing costs. This scenario also allows for a larger pool of individuals to hire from since talent does not need to be chose from a select location, expanding the candidates available.

Employees are considering the advantages of eliminating commutes; minimal office apparel and reduced expenses such as child care costs and gasoline. Employees in this work arrangement typically take less vacation and sick days since they can more easily work around the obstacles of childcare and illness. Also, it is reported that most employees experience an improved work-life balance and less overall stress working from home.

The key is to remain productive and profitable but if this quarantine period has proved anything, it has been how to strategize to achieve that result. As the world in general, especially professional culture, has become highly dependent on visual technology to keep the world turning, creativity has achieved great heights to maintain emotional and heartfelt connections. Slideshows and video blogs have become user friendly to older generations that had previously not known they existed. Many people now prefer to FaceTime over a regular voice call because of the visual option. Many of these new habits will remain in place even after quarantine, some for the better.

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