Banking partners you can count on to help you achieve growth goals
Agriculture helps stabilize the economy Dubuque Bank & Trust, a division of HTLF Bank, serves and Drew Townsend, bank President and CEO, says that stability and potential for an interest rate drop is reason for optimism in 2024.
“We read and see in industry forecasts from a variety of sources that everybody is suggesting or predicting in the latter half of 2024 we might start to see some decreases in interest rates, which would be welcomed. It would help control some of the costs that have been elevated by inflation recently,” Townsend said.
The bank’s portfolio is about 50 percent commercial and industrial, 30 percent commercial real estate and 20 percent agriculture.
Agriculture and a low unemployment rate help the economy in the Tri-State area.
“There’s a heavy influence of ag industry in the state. That’s pretty stable and keeps us a little less volatile,” Townsend said.
Low unemployment is a positive. But it’s also a double-edged sword, Townsend said.
“Staffing continues to be a challenge,” with companies focused on employee retention through job satisfaction and compensation.
It’s an issue in the Tri-State area, but also across the state, which Townsend hears from community boards on which he serves.
“It’s an Iowa issue of attracting and retaining the next generation, allowing us to grow our community and economy,” Townsend said.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
There’s much business leaders can consider to counter inflation and thrive.
“I think we’ve done a nice job of showing our clients how they compare to the top performers in their industry. What are their cash cycle days compared to those high performers? It really resonates,” Townsend said.
Cash cycle and liquidity are one of many issues they discuss with clients.
“Reducing carrying costs in the operation where possible. Discussing capital expense needs and making sure it’s a need and not a want,” Townsend said, adding the bank’s experts can help their clients with important decisions.
“We try to facilitate or initiate conversations to get people thinking about buying a piece of equipment, a building or a location. Is it a strategic addition to the company and has a clear return as opposed to ‘I’d really love to have that?’ Whatever it is, we help our clients make sure it’s well thought out.” he said.
Townsend’s also seen clients grow through acquisition with industries consolidating as Baby Boomer business owners retire without another generation to take over.
“Agriculture is a great example of that,” he said, mentioning the ongoing transition from family farms to large corporate farming enterprises.
It’s not just farming, he said, mentioning a concrete company client.
“They have had opportunities to buy nice-sized, family-owned concrete businesses,” Townsend said, saving money by merging administrative and behind the-scenes overhead to help pay for the addition.
An oil company that deals in lubricants has made deals adding millions to their revenues.
Townsend also sees it in the banking and financial sector. “We continue to see consolidation of family-owned banks where there isn’t that next generation to become president,” he said.
HOW WE CAN HELP
Dubuque Bank & Trust, a division of HTLF Bank, has several products to help with cash flow, liquidity — and fight fraud.
“We have spent a lot of time with our clients throughout 2023 and as they prepare for 2024 around managing their cash cycle — their receivable days, payable days, inventory days,” Townsend said.
The Commercial Card and Treasury Management help businesses stretch their cash cycle, fight fraud and more.
To illustrate, he mentioned a family-owned outdoor and ag retail business that started in Dubuque now being run by a third generation.
“They have a chain of stores across the Midwest. We were looking at their utilization of our card programs and it has grown nicely year over year,” Townsend said.
As the company’s vendors accept the card, the company gets a rebate, but it also cuts bookkeeping or administrative costs of writing checks.
Then there’s “float.”
When a company pays an invoice, the vendor gets paid. But the business doesn’t get the statement for several days and it’s not due for a longer time. It builds in weeks of “grace” where the business can hold on to its cash.
Between cost savings and rebates, the company has earned around $300,000 using the program.
For companies still writing checks, Positive Pay helps fight fraud, allowing customers to review account numbers, check amounts and payee names before the bank pays the check. The Commercial Card adds a layer of safety if customers carefully monitor charges and report fraud within the required window of time.
Get Your Financial Feed Today
The Financial Feed is the premiere publication for banking insights. Each issue prioritizes strategies on how business leaders can continue to grow despite possible economic headwinds. We hope these findings help you conquer potential challenges and capitalize on opportunities.