Bank Notes - Winter 2019

Be Social. Be Safe. Social media channels have become a source of entertainment. They are places where people go to connect with family and friends, to learn about current events and to find and share recipes. Fun quizzes in social media newsfeeds have become increasingly popular. It may seem like a harmless activity and a fun way to bond with friends but authorities are warning that you may be putting yourself at risk of identity theft and fraud.

A lot of the questions on these social media quizzes are similar to security questions asked by financial institutions, insurance agencies and health care providers when setting up online accounts. Fraudsters can easily hack established accounts or create new ones, if they have access to answers to questions like the following:

Who was your childhood best friend?
What was the name of your first grade teacher?
What was the name of your first pet?

No one is exempt from being a victim of fraud, so it’s important to safeguard personal and financial information and to think twice about revealing personal information online.

Best Practices When Answering Online Security Questions
When providing answers to security questions for online accounts it is important not to use answers that can be easily guessed or found online. Here are a few best practices to consider following when setting up online accounts.

  1. Avoid choosing questions that can be answered by accessing public records. For example the city you were born in or your date of birth. This information can be easily researched.
  2. Try not to give answers that can be found on social media sites, such as the name of your pets or the company where you work.
  3. Don’t answer questions truthfully. Come up with a phrase that can be easily remembered.
  4. Use a combination of numbers, letters and special characters when answering questions.
  5. Give answers that don’t correspond with the question. If you don’t think you’ll remember the answers, make an offline record and file in a safe place away from your electronic devices.

When establishing online accounts the security questions are a second layer of protection in addition to the account holder’s password. Here are some tips to help create strong passwords:

  1. Think of a phrase as the base of your password.
  2. Use the phrase to create a memorable password.
  3. Put together a complex but easy to remember sequence of words and letters.
  4. Use a combination of numbers, special characters and upper and lower case letters.
  5. Update passwords regularly and make sure passwords vary for each account.

Scammers go to great lengths to try and steal identifying information. Creating secure passwords and carefully choosing answers to security questions are only a couple of ways to help protect against fraud. CNB strongly encourages our customers to take extra precaution when responding to unfamiliar emails, text messages, telephone calls and mail, and while reviewing financial statements. The bank has a variety of electronic banking and account monitoring services to help reduce fraudulent activity on accounts.

CNB’s Available Services
At CNB we are always upgrading our security measures to protect our customers’ information. Our secure electronic banking services allow customers to review account activity at any time. We also offer two additional account monitoring services to reduce fraudulent activity on debit cards.

Fraud Center Monitoring Service
Our Fraud Center monitoring service uses technology to recognize purchasing patterns and can detect transactions that occur outside of normal activity on debit cards. This service is automatically available to our customers that have been issued CNB debit cards. For this service to work we must have your current phone number and email address on file.

smsGuardian Text Alert Service for Debit Cards
The smsGuardian™ notification service sends text message alerts to mobile phones or to sms-enabled devices each time specific card activity is detected. If the activity is fraudulent, you will need to respond to the text within 12 hours to have your card immediately closed to prevent any other fraudulent transactions from occurring. If you authorized the transaction in question, do nothing and continue to use your card. You must enroll to receive this service.

To learn more about account monitoring services visit the Products & Services section of our website or call your local CNB office to speak with one of our representatives. If you suspect that you may have become a victim of fraud, please contact your financial institution right away. We are dedicated to the security of your personal and financial information.

Kathryn M. Austin, President and Chief Executive Officer, Community Bancorp. and Community National Bank
By Kathryn M. Austin, President and Chief Executive Officer, Community Bancorp. and Community National Bank

As the details in Louise’s Financial Feature report, we have just closed the books on a very good year. We often declare that our success is due to “keeping to our knitting”, focusing on the fundamentals of community banking by taking in deposits and making loans. We try to price both to create a margin that allows us to operate the bank and reward our shareholders for their investment. It sounds pretty simple.

Except, we are in the people business. Most days, it’s not about our products or pricing or delivery channels. It’s all about people; only about people. It’s about how we treat them and how we serve their needs. Anticipating those needs makes our work more unpredictable and challenging, but it’s also the thing that makes it more rewarding and enlightening.

We simply cannot be good in the people business unless we have good people. We have good people. It is their competence, commitment, compassion and passion that creates our success. I’m grateful to our employees for their work on behalf of our bank and for our customers and communities that fueled our growth and profitability in 2018. I appreciate the support and guidance provided by our Board of Directors. And, I give homage to the bankers who came before us. They taught us the fundamentals of community banking and mentored us. Their vision and leadership created opportunities for our success well into the future. I’m thankful for the opportunity to serve this bank, our communities and you. I enjoy hearing from our customers and community members, so please feel free to give me a call or stop by for a visit. It would be my pleasure to meet you.

Louise Bonvechio, Treasurer, Community Bancorp. and Sr. Vice President and Chief Financial Officer and Cashier, Community National Bank
By Louise Bonvechio, Treasurer, Community Bancorp. and Sr. Vice President and Chief Financial Officer and Cashier, Community National Bank

I am pleased to report that Community Bancorp., the parent company of Community National Bank, reported earnings for the year ended December 31, 2018, of $8,397,532 or $1.61 per share compared to $6,231,298 or $1.21 per share for the year ended December 31, 2017.

Consolidated assets at December 31, 2018, were $720,347,498, an increase of 8.0% from December 31, 2017. The increase in assets was due to an increase in loans of $28.5 million and an increase in overnight deposits of $21.1 million, with the increase in loans continuing to be attributable to growth in commercial loans. On December 31, 2018, the loan portfolio totaled $531,383,494 compared to $502,864,651 on December 31, 2017, an increase of 5.7%. Funding for the increase in earning assets was from an increase in deposits of $48.2 million. An increase in municipal deposits at year end contributed to the increase in overnight deposits.

The increase in the loan portfolio, along with increases in interest rates, resulted in an increase in interest income of $2,673,654, or 10.1%, for the year. The increase in rates also had a significant impact on the larger deposit base with an increase in interest expense of $1,416,698, or 46.2%, year to date. This resulted in an increase in net interest income of $1,256,956, or 5.4%, year to date. Further contributing to the Company’s results was an increase in non-interest income of $596,916, or 10.7%, year to date. The year-to-date increase in non-interest income is partly attributable to a one-time gain on sale of property of $263,118 which was directly related to the sale of a condominium unit to the Company’s affiliate, CFSG. Prior to the sale, CFSG rented this unit since its formation in 2002.

Total non-interest expense increased $728,703, or 3.8%, year to date. These increases were mostly due to increases in salaries and wages of $430,628, or 6.4%, year over year. These increases were mostly due to a one-time bonus paid and a $0.25 increase per hour to all employees, except the Executive Officers. The bonus was paid, and the increase was effective, in September 2018.

Also contributing to the increase in non-interest expense was an increase to employee benefits, due to increases in the cost of the employee health insurance plan, of $231,988, or 8.8%, for the year when compared to the prior year comparison periods.

Further contributing to the Company’s financial performance was the reduction in the federal corporate tax rate to 21% under the 2017 Tax Act resulting in a decrease in income tax expense of $1,171,065, or 40.3%, for the year compared to the same period in 2017.

The Board of Directors declared dividends of $0.74 per common share in 2018 compared to $0.68 per common share in 2017. As of December 31, 2018, the Company reported retained earnings of $17.9 million, compared to $13.4 million as of December 31, 2017, and total shareholders’ equity of $62.6 million and $57.9 million, respectively. The Company is committed to remaining a well-capitalized community bank, working to meet the needs of our customers while providing a fair return to our shareholders.

Kimico Perry, PHR, Vice President, Human Resources
By Kimico Perry, PHR, Vice President, Human Resources

This quarter we are pleased to recognize employees that are celebrating service milestones and important life events. Our Wellness Committee continues to offer activities that help to promote healthy living.

Service Awards

  • A 5-year service award was reached by Troy Teller Heather Brault.
  • 30-year milestones were celebrated by three Derby office employees: Financial Officer and Controller Candy Patenaude, Loan Processor Terri Ryan and Senior Vice President of Retail Banking Cindy LaGue.

Baby News

  • Derby Teller Michelle Royer and husband James celebrated the birth of their second daughter, Jovie on November 9, 2018.
  • Morrisville Teller Nichole Jones and husband Dean welcomed their first born, a daughter, Leona on November 24, 2018.
  • Derby Finance Assistant Amber Roberge and fiancĂ© Dave Desrochers welcomed their son Emmett on January 29, 2019.

Wellness News
Our Wellness Committee hosted a Thankfulness activity throughout the month of November in recognition of the Thanksgiving holiday. All employees were encouraged to express what they were thankful for to be entered into a raffle for a chance to win a gift card.

Throughout the month of December the committee presented a Healthy Dish challenge for holiday office potlucks. Employees who brought a healthy dish to share with their peers were included in a raffle for the opportunity to receive a gift card.

The 2019 wellness initiatives kicked off with the American Heart Association’s National Go Red for Women Day on February 1. Employees wore red to show their support of heart health and donated money to go toward the cause. We are fortunate to have such a dedicated group of employees and look forward to sharing more highlights in the next newsletter.

Linda Cloutier, Community Circle Director and Julie Mossa, Community Circle Assistant
Linda Cloutier, Community Circle Director and Julie Mossa, Community Circle Assistant

Join the Community Circle Club for a “Niagara Falls Tour”

Listed are a few highlights:

  • Four days deluxe roundtrip motorcoach transportation aboard Premier Coach
  • Three nights at the Hilton Niagara Falls
  • Welland Shipping Canal and Niagara-on- the-Lake Guided Tour
  • Konzelmann Winery Tasting Experience
  • Niagara area guided tour
  • “Niagara – Miracles, Myths & Magic” IMAX Film and the Daredevil Exhibit
  • Hornblower Niagara Falls Cruise

Please call Community Circle Director Linda Cloutier or Community Circle Assistant Julie Mossa at 334-7915 for a detailed itinerary.

Shellie Wright, CTFA, VP & Trust Officer, Community Financial Services Group, LLC
By Shellie Wright, CTFA, VP & Trust Officer, Community Financial Services Group, LLC

The new year brings new and increased retirement account contribution limits. Retirement plans such as an employer-sponsored plan or your Individual Retirement Account offer tremendous tax advantages and, as important, a way to save for your dream of retirement.

Most individuals can now save up to $6,000 in 2019 in their Individual Retirement Account (IRA). People age 50+ can contribute up to $7,000 to an IRA. These limits apply to either a Traditional “pre-tax” IRA or a Roth IRA, or a combination of the two up to the limit as long as you have earned income at least equal to the contribution amount. Tax deductions for Traditional IRA contributions could be limited if your employer offers a retirement plan and your adjusted gross income exceeds certain levels. Likewise, contributions to Roth IRAs may be limited for individuals with higher incomes. In either case, it would be wise to consult with your tax advisor before making any IRA contributions.

Traditional retirement accounts offer a great way to reduce your income taxes and defer taxation on investment returns for many years. Roth retirement accounts usually completely avoid taxation of investment returns, though contributions to Roth accounts do not reduce taxes on current income.

If your employer offers a retirement plan, such as a 401(k) or 403(b), you may be able to defer up to $19,000 of your compensation (or 100% of your earned income, whichever is less). In addition, individuals age 50 or older can contribute another $6,000 to their 401(k) or 403(b) account. Be sure to ask if your employer offers a matching contribution, as that is an additional benefit. Over time, a disciplined retirement plan contribution strategy can increase the chance that you will attain your retirement goals down the road.

As a reminder, key ages for retirement planning are

  • Age 50: You are allowed to begin making “catch-up contributions” to IRAs, 401(k)s and other retirement plan accounts.
  • Age 59½: After this age, withdrawals from your tax-deferred retirement accounts are not subject to 10% early distribution penalties.
  • Age 70½: Required Minimum Distributions must begin from most traditional retirement accounts by this age, otherwise you may be charged heavy penalties. However, distributions from 401(k) and 403(b) plans may be deferred if you are still working, unless you own 5% or more of the business. Distributions from Roth retirement accounts are not required at any age unless they are inherited from someone other than a spouse.

Community Financial Services Group manages $800 million for hundreds of individuals, families and non-profit organizations. If you are interested in meeting with a CFSG representative for unbiased investment and financial planning advice, please call 877-334-1677. Our Trust Officers can meet with you at any Community National Bank office or other convenient location.

Community Financial Services Group, LLC (CFSG) is the Trust and Investment management affiliate of Community National Bank. CFSG accounts are:

  • not deposits or other obligations of the bank
  • not guaranteed by the bank
  • not insured by the FDIC; and
  • the investments are subject to risk, including the possible gain or loss of principal.
Executive Director of Orleans Essex VNA and Hospice Lyne Limoges, Dr. Denise Niemira and CNB Marketing Assistant Anne Quirion
Executive Director of Orleans Essex VNA and Hospice Lyne Limoges, Dr. Denise Niemira and CNB Marketing Assistant Anne Quirion

Dr. Niemira Recognized for Outstanding Service

Newport, VT—Community National Bank’s (CNB’s) Marketing Assistant Anne Quirion had the honor of presenting Denise Niemira with the bank’s Community Service Award. This award was created to recognize remarkable people who give back to our communities making them better places to live, work and grow.

Since 1994, Dr. Denise Niemira has shown a sincere passion to palliative and hospice care through her work with the Orleans Essex Visiting Nurses Association (VNA) and Hospice. Dr. Niemira recently retired from her successful medical practice and is volunteering her services to the organization. She has provided quality home care to many and has been known to stay with hospice patients when needed most.

Dr. Niemira’s commitment to provide compassionate home health and hospice care has given many individuals and their family members the guidance and resources to care for loved ones at home. The VNA provides our rural communities with vital services that are greatly valued. The dedication to her profession reaches beyond the Northeast Kingdom. Through her missionary work, with other local physicians, she has extended medical care to people in small remote villages in South America.

CNB is proud to present Dr. Niemira with the bank’s Community Service Award for the fourth quarter of 2018. The bank honors and recognizes our recipients by making a $500.00 contribution to a local non-profit organization of the recipient’s choice. Dr. Niemira has requested that her donation be made to the Orleans Essex VNA and Hospice.

For more information about this award and to nominate a deserving recipient complete a nomination form.