Author Archives: Admin

2017 Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits Annual Conference

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Last month, we immersed ourselves in the 2017 Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits Annual Conference at the Desert Willow Conference Center. The Alliance is a membership organization founded in 2004 and comprised of 1000 nonprofit organizations and entities that support them, all across Arizona.

The organization aims to strengthen Arizona’s nonprofit community, “while also providing services and programs that directly help individual organizations succeed. By working with government to advocate for nonprofits, providing resources to help nonprofits save money, and creating opportunities for nonprofits to connect and grow, the Alliance strives to promote healthy, vibrant communities.”

At the conference, our staff was on the exhibit floor to answer questions about the services we have tailored to the nonprofit sector. Arizona has the largest nonprofits per capita of any state and we have found many ways to assist them, such as offering a high yield money market account to help nonprofits make more money on their deposits. Our banking relationships with nonprofits, as well as our service on many nonprofit boards, provides us with a sophisticated understanding of the growth, cyclical activity and cash flow issues common to these organizations. That enables us to help them assess their financing needs and to customize solutions.

The Alliance’s annual conference is a fantastic example of a program that helps nonprofit organizations succeed. We were in good company on the exhibit floor, with many other groups providing valuable information. The day also featured enlightening speakers and top-notch educational seminars.

“We were energized by mingling with so many dedicated professionals who are providing valuable resources and services to our communities and to our citizens,” said Desirae Outcalt, vice president and relationship manager at The Biltmore Bank of Arizona. “Our commitment to nonprofit organizations goes way past business; it’s about humanity and doing what’s right.”

This year’s keynote speakers were Jeff Moore, chief strategy officer of Independent Sector, who specializes in building partnerships and alliances; and Eva Nico, senior director of nonprofit programs for GuideStar, who advocates for better use of data and transparency by nonprofits.

Breakout educational sessions focused on such topics as board recruitment and management, engaging the community, advocacy, financial management, branding and more.

To learn more about Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits, visit arizonanonprofits.site-ym.com.

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CNBC/Survey Monkey Poll Reveals Small Business Vulnerability to Cyberattack

Protection concept. Protect mechanism, system privacy.

“Hackers have breached half of the 28 million  small businesses in the United States, according to the 2016 State of SMB Cybersecurity Report,” says a recently-released CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey article about cyber security.

Through a survey of 2,000 small business owners across the nation conducted in April, the CNBC/Survey Monkey team found that only two percent of small business owners surveyed saw cyber security as “the most critical issue they face.”

Many business owners are more concerned about personnel, competition or benefits issues, but the resulting lack of focus on cyber security, combined with an attitude of ‘we’re too small to be targeted,’ may make these businesses more vulnerable to cyberattack, the article stated.

The article also cited Hemu Nigam, founder of SSP Blue, an internet security consulting business, and the former vice president of internet enforcement at the Motion Picture Association of America, who said, “Hackers love small businesses [because] they don’t have the resources to put in high-end cybersecurity protection and they may not be consciously aware they are a target.”

The cost of not having a high-end cybersecurity protection system can be high as well. For a retailer, a credit card data breach can range from “$200 per transaction to $395 per transaction” to respond adequately to the breach, according to the report.

Cyberattacks against businesses can come in many forms (we suggest reading through our blog archives to learn more about these types of attacks and defensive steps to take). The CNBC/SurveyMonkey article’s authors recommend the following precautionary measures:

  • Use large service providers like WordPress and Gmail for your company’s website and email since they already have complex protection systems built in.
  • Refrain from checking personal accounts from a company computer.
  • Use a cloud-based service rather than keeping your information local.

For more cybersecurity tips, please check out our blog post “Nine Tips for Better Cybersecurity” and “Cybersecurity Best Practices” on our website.

More information about the CNBC/Survey Monkey Small Business Survey can be found at the CNBC web page on the tech/cybersecurity page.

(Promoting cybersecurity best practices, Regents Bank recommends against clicking links provided by second-hand parties and chooses instead to provide written directions about how to find material we reference on our blog.)

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Jewish Tuition Organization: Funding Need-Based Scholarships for Private Jewish Day School Students

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Supporting our community is a top priority for The Biltmore Bank of Arizona. One way we do so is by contributing to The Jewish Tuition Organization (JTO). Our own Senior Vice President Todd Leveen was recently interviewed by Jewish News about the JTO and Biltmore Bank’s support of the organization. In our efforts to help both local businesses and the wonderful nonprofit organizations in our community, we wanted to provide you with more information about how JTO works and how student tuition organizations benefit kids all over our state.

As a registered student tuition organization, JTO provides need-based financial assistance to students wishing to attend a private Jewish day school.

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Todd Leveen

The program covers all our area’s Jewish schools, including:

  • Desert Jewish Academy
  • Pardes Jewish Day School
  • Phoenix Hebrew Academy
  • Shearim Torah High School for Girls
  • Torah Day School of Phoenix
  • Yeshiva High School of Arizona

Students do not have to be Jewish to attend the day schools, and all children in-need are eligible to receive financial assistance from JTO.

Arizona’s student tuition organizations, including JTO, were established to provide financial assistance to families that wish to send their child or children to private school and to provide tax credits through Arizona’s Private School Tuition Tax Credit Program for individuals and corporations contributing to scholarship funds.

The Arizona Department of Revenue has millions of dollars remaining before it reaches its cap for the 2017 corporate private school tax credit. JTO needs local corporations to help out.

“If you own or work for a company that files taxes as a C-Corp or S-Corp, you can make the difference,” said JTO Executive Director Linda Zell. “We really don’t know how long the money will be available, so there is a sense of urgency,” explained Zell.

The Arizona tax credit is dollar-for-dollar, with no maximum cap, however, S Corps must contribute a minimum of $5,000 to qualify for the credit. JTO makes the donation process as easy as possible, handling most of the administration with the Arizona Department of Revenue for its corporate donors.

“This is a benefit for the company, but it’s also a moral responsibility for any institution, whether it be commercial banking or otherwise, to give back to their community,” Todd said.

More than 90 percent of funds raised by JTO are contributed toward scholarships. “The JTO’s goal is to provide any child who wants to attend a Jewish day school the ability to attend one,” says Linda. “We don’t want to turn away any child, regardless of the family’s ability to pay for a Jewish education.”

To take advantage of the corporate tax credit and help children in the community attend Jewish day schools, contact the JTO office at 480.634.4926.

More information about student tuition organizations and a list of all Arizona private schools registered with the program, visit the State of Arizona’s Department of Revenue website.

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Building a Digital Defense Against Tech Support Fraud

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On July 18, 2017, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Portland released the following news, warning people against tech support fraud. In our continuing efforts to educate our clients about cyber security best practices, we wanted to share the FBI’s warning and advice, in its entirety, here on our blog site. Information about fraud and security best practices can be found on the Biltmore Bank of Arizona website.

In 2016, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received almost 11,000 reports of tech support fraud incidents. In those cases, victims reported losses of more than $7.8 million.

So what is tech support fraud? Imagine you receive a call from someone who says he is with a computer software or security company. Maybe he says he is with a cable or Internet provider. The caller tells you that your software is out of date, and you are vulnerable to a cyber attack. Or, he says your equipment is malfunctioning, and he can fix it remotely — saving you a service call. All you have to do is to provide the caller with remote access to your computer or device. No idea what he’s talking about? No worries — he will be happy to walk you through all the technical details.

In another variation of the fraud, the bad guy convinces you that you overpaid for a recent service. He would be happy to refund the overage if you would just give him a few details — such as your bank account number — so he can arrange the refund.

In reality, he is either just trying to get into your account to clean it out — or, he is working for long-term access to launch other frauds. In this second example, he transfers money back and forth between your own checking, savings and retirement accounts to make it appear as though there is a refund when in fact there is none. Eventually, he tells you that he refunded too much and asks you to wire money back to the fraudulent company. Victims often don’t figure this out for quite a while as the losses pile up.

So how do you protect yourself?

  • Never give a stranger remote access to your computer or other electronics.
  • If something seems a bit odd, it probably is. Hang up and look up a phone number for that company or provider using a publicly-available resource.
  • Don’t give an unsolicited caller your bank account number or other personal information that he could use to access your accounts.
  • Don’t let someone pressure you into buying a computer security product or subscription. Oftentimes, there are reputable, free products that will do that work for you. Seek out help from someone you trust to ensure that if you do pay for something — it is worth the cost.

If you have been victimized by this scam or any other online scam, report your suspicious contacts to the FBI. You can file an online report at the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center or call your FBI local office.

This article can be found on the FBI’s Portland field office website.

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We’re Storing Up for Vegas – Self Storage Association’s Fall Conference & Trade Show

Self-storage Tiffany, Devin, Nathaniel, Ryan

We’re looking forward to our second year at the Self Storage Association’s Fall Conference & Trade Show. For any of our clients and friends attending, please come see us at Booth 732 at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas on September sixth and seventh.

Biltmore Bank of Arizona is committed to deepening our ties in this industry, because Arizonans need a bank that understands self storage. The Arizona Self Storage Association estimates 950 self-storage facilities in our state, with more than half of those located in the Valley.

Through our work over the years with business owners, trade organizations and investors who are seeking information on financing options in the self-storage industry, we’ve developed specialized knowledge. Maintaining memberships with the Arizona Self Storage Association and the nationwide Self Storage Association helps us expand our knowledge and resources.

At the upcoming Fall Conference, we’re looking forward to hearing from keynote speaker Dave Rogers of Life Storage, who engineered Sovran Self Storage’s acquisition of more than 80 properties for more than $1.3 billion.

The tradeshow component of the conference will feature “the best and most innovative products and services that you need to develop, build, and operate your self storage business.” The programming portion includes a self storage economic summit and sessions on auditing, revenue management, real estate, technology and more.

This conference promises to be jam-packed with valuable information. Please make time to stop by and say hello to some friendly faces at booth 732 and look for our representatives at the educational presentations.

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Our 2017 Most Influential Woman in Arizona Business

Outcalt Desirae 2017 High Res croppedKnow who has a “hard-earned track record of professional excellence, leadership, innovation and community impact?” Our very own vice president and relationship manager, Desirae Outcalt, that’s who!

Desirae was recently selected to be part of a tremendously distinguished group of 41 women who make up AZBusiness Magazine’s Most Influential Women in Arizona Business Honorary Class of 2017.

Considered a lifetime honor, AZBusiness Magazine sorts through approximately 1000 candidates to select the most deserving influential women. While the public is invited to nominate women, the decisions and some of the nominations (including Desirae’s) are made by the magazine’s staff.

Other honorees this year include the Mayor of Gilbert, a CEO of an aerospace company, tribal leaders, an Olympic champion, a chief of police, a leader whose company took off after she appeared on “Shark Tank” and many other stand-outs. AZ Business Magazine is gradually posting profiles about each honoree on the AZ Big Media website.

When asked by AZBusiness Magazine about her best decision, Des said, “I realized early in my career that the best way to learn is never to say ‘no.’ It requires stepping outside your comfort zone, both in what you think you know and what you think you can do.”

The Most Influential Women in Arizona Business will be honored at a reception during the evening August 23 at Chateau Luxe.

Please join us in congratulating Desirae, and be sure to check out the full list of honorees in the July/August issue of AZBusiness Magazine to see whether other influential women you know have been spotlighted yet.

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Happy Independence Day

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In observance of our nation’s birthday, we wish everyone a happy 4th of July.

In honor of the holiday, we’d like to share some history about the American flag with you from usa-flag-site.org↗:

On January 1, 1776, the Continental Army was reorganized in accordance with a Congressional resolution which placed American forces under George Washington’s control. On that New Year’s Day the Continental Army was laying siege to Boston which had been taken over by the British Army. Washington ordered the Grand Union flag hoisted above his base at Prospect Hill. It had 13 alternate red and white stripes and the British Union Jack in the upper left-hand corner (the canton).

In May of 1776, Betsy Ross reported that she sewed the first American flag.

On June 14, 1777, in order to establish an official flag for the new nation, the Continental Congress passed the first Flag Act: “Resolved, That the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.”

Between 1777 and 1960, Congress passed several acts that changed the shape, design and arrangement of the flag and allowed for additional stars and stripes to be added to reflect the admission of each new state.

  • Act of January 13, 1794 – provided for 15 stripes and 15 stars after May 1795.
  • Act of April 4, 1818 – provided for 13 stripes and one star for each state, to be added to the flag on the 4th of July following the admission of each new state, signed by President Monroe.
  • Executive Order of President Taft dated June 24, 1912 – established proportions of the flag and provided for arrangement of the stars in six horizontal rows of eight each, a single point of each star to be upward.
  • Executive Order of President Eisenhower dated January 3, 1959 – provided for the arrangement of the stars in seven rows of seven stars each, staggered horizontally and vertically.
  • Executive Order of President Eisenhower dated August 21, 1959 – provided for the arrangement of the stars in nine rows of stars staggered horizontally and eleven rows of stars staggered vertically.

Today the flag consists of thirteen horizontal stripes, seven red alternating with 6 white. The stripes represent the original 13 colonies, the stars represent the 50 states of the Union. The colors of the flag are symbolic as well: Red symbolizes Hardiness and Valor, White symbolizes Purity and Innocence and Blue represents Vigilance, Perseverance and Justice.

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Supporting our Community with Some Green…Golf Greens, That Is!

Golf-Des1Over the last couple of months, we were honored to participate in two golf tournaments that raised money to support good causes in our Phoenix community and throughout our state.

The Arizona Bar Foundation’s Drive Fore Justice Golf Tournament happened on May 20th at the Moon Valley Country Club. Our bank’s Rich Endicott and Doug Metzger as well as two of our clients, Court Rich and Bill Harter, golfed alongside nearly 100 judges and lawyers in the Bar Foundation’s third annual golf tournament to support the Foundation’s mission of “promoting access to justice for all Arizonans.” We also contributed by sponsoring one of the tournament holes.

The Bar Foundation’s many programs include:

  • Modest Means Project – in partnership with the State Bar of Arizona, providing a low-cost, one-hour meeting with an attorney for people who don’t qualify for free legal service but cannot afford full-price rates.
  • Military/Veteran’s Legal Assistance Project – in partnership with the State Bar of Arizona and with support from the Arizona Supreme Court, providing legal assistance to active military and veterans.
  • Online Pro Bono Project –legal services provided by answering questions over legal help websites org, lawforseniors.org and azlawhelp.org.
  • Wills For Heroes Arizona – in partnership with the State Bar of Arizona and in affiliation with the Wills For Heroes Foundation, providing free estate planning legal services to Arizona’s first responder personnel.
  • Law-Related Education Programs – various opportunities to teach children in grades K- 12 about the law.

This foundation does important work to bring legal rights to all Arizona citizens and offer plenty of volunteer opportunities.  Check out the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services & Education website to learn more.

In late April, we also took part in the Arizona Petroleum Marketers Association Foundation’s (APMA) 2017 Scholarship Golf Tournament at McCormick Ranch Golf Club. Since 2007, the Foundation, for one of the largest trade associations of its kind, has awarded over 60 scholarships, valued at over $300,000. Scholarships are awarded to APMA member companies’ employees and their children. According to their website, “In 2016, nine students received scholarships with a total value of $44,000….”

The Foundation has a long track record of commitment to education and support for members’ families. According to the APMA website, its members “supply billions of gallons of fuel and tons of related products annually to Arizonans. These businesses provide fuel and lubricants to the vast majority of commercial end users, including farmers, construction firms, and local and state governments.”

The Biltmore Bank of Arizona works with many local energy companies, providing a full array of banking services, and is proud to support this important part of the Arizona economy.

We had a great time lending our support by golfing, as well! Our bank’s Rich Endicott, Todd Leveen and Doug Metzger, as well as our client Bill Harter, made up our fabulous foursome at the scholarship tournament, and Biltmore sponsored one of the tournament holes as well. Biltmore banker Desirae Outcalt was also on hand to lend her support.

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Our Day at Junior Achievement’s “JA You’re Hired!” Event

Jr Achievement

Imagine that you’re about to graduate from high school, but you’ve learned very little about how to land a job, including how to network, compose a resume, dress for an interview and much more. Most of us probably once found ourselves facing this exact scenario.

Lucky for them, some students get the preparation they need by participating in Junior Achievement’s JA You’re Hired! program. And fortunately for us, some of our team members from The Biltmore Bank of Arizona got to help those students develop the work-readiness skills required to transition from school into the work world.

The You’re Hired! program includes a rigorous, 10-session classroom curriculum led over several weeks by Junior Achievement volunteers, and it culminates in a half-day JA You’re Hired Challenge. This year’s Challenge, where our staff members Jeremy King, Desirae Outcalt, Darlene Esquerra, Todd Leveen, Bryan Ellisor and Nathaniel Spatz helped out, included more than 500 students from Phoenix-area high schools, all of whom had completed at least five of the ten preparatory classes.

The day began with a few schools participating in an interview workshop sponsored by The Biltmore Bank of Arizona. We asked the students questions similar to what someone interviewing for a teller or personal banker position with our bank would be asked. Career coaches guided the students through interview skills, like showing up early, making eye contact, shaking hands, researching the company in advance and more. Students who participated in this workshop had a definite advantage during the interview challenge later in the day.

Once all 500-plus students had arrived and convened in the large ballroom, they were tasked with a networking challenge. “A lot of the kids were quiet and shy coming off the buses, but they were running all over the room to meet people by the end of this challenge,” said Jeremy.

The students had one hour to meet as many of the 200 businesspeople volunteers as possible. Each had a bingo card with squares to fill in once they had met someone who met the criteria on the square – anything from someone who owns their own business to someone who speaks another language. The students were required to conduct themselves in a business-like fashion, so they had to introduce themselves and initiate conversation to find out the answers for their bingo cards.

Jeremy, who was volunteering for his second year at JA You’re Hired!, this time as an organizer as well as volunteer, was impressed by the number of kids who were already planning the trajectory of their future careers. “We even told a few of the kids that they were welcome to call us to interview for a job in the future,” he said.

After the networking challenge, where Desirae, Todd, Bryan, Nathaniel, Darlene and Jeremy all volunteered, the students participated in a creative marketing challenge, where they had to construct a product from loose materials in a box and develop an ad campaign; a STEM challenge, where they were tasked with figuring out math problems and puzzles; an interview challenge to test and hone their skills; and a thinking-on-your-feet challenge with real-life dilemmas to solve. The final challenge, called dress for success, caught the students off guard when they learned that select spies had been assessing their business attire at the networking event with the goal of presenting awards to the best-dressed school as well as best dressed boy and girl.

It was a tremendous day for these students, who learned very practical career skills, and for the volunteers who had a chance to give so many Phoenix-area kids a leg up in the business world.

We’d like to extend a special thank you to Todd, who serves on the Junior Achievement of Arizona board of directors and to Jeremy for working more than half a year on the JA You’re Hired! planning committee.

While we may not always think of ourselves as role models, it’s clear that you instantly become one when you volunteer at a Junior Achievement event. The business skills we come to take for granted can make all the difference in the world when you teach them to a young person. To find out more about how you can volunteer with Junior Achievement, visit their website here.screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-07-51-am

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