Regional Economic Sentiment on the Rise

Thursday, November 20 at 09:30 AM
Category: Arvest News

Arvest-backed survey shows consumers are feeling more confident about the economy.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Regional consumer opinion regarding the economy is on an uptick, according to the Fall 2014 Arvest Consumer Sentiment Survey released today.

The current regional index is 72.6, up from June’s inaugural index of 71.4. That number, however, still trails the national index as reported by Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan. The national index was 86.9 for October, up from 82.5 in June.

Of the three states included in the Arvest Consumer Sentiment Survey, Missouri showed the biggest change, with its index jumping from 68.6 to 77.4. Arkansas showed a modest gain, from 67.4 to 68.1, while Oklahoma was the only state to show a decline, from 76.4 to 72.6.

“We’ve been eager since our initial survey was released a few months ago to learn how consumers’ opinions evolve,” Arvest Bank Marketing Director Jason Kincy said. “These latest results seem to indicate consumers are gaining confidence not just in the regional economy, but their personal financial situations, too. Getting a glimpse of that optimism through these results helps us know how to help anticipate and facilitate the financial needs of consumers.”

The Arvest Consumer Sentiment Survey is conducted by the Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) in the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas. The University of Oklahoma’s Public Opinion Learning Laboratory conducted the 1,200 phone surveys. CBER, Missouri State University and Oklahoma City University provided state data analysis.

The survey is conducted twice a year, with the next survey expected to be completed in May 2015. With each study, the index score will be released first, followed by additional information regarding specifics of consumer outlook for the near future and plans for savings and spending.

Information about the survey, copies of this release, summary documents and print-ready logos can be found at: www.arvestconsumersurvey.com.

About Our Research Partners
The Center for Business and Economic Research, Sam M. Walton School of Business at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville (CBER) provides excellence in applied economic and business research to federal, state and local government, as well as to businesses currently operating or those that desire to operate in the state of Arkansas. The center further works to improve the economic opportunities of all Arkansans by conducting policy research in the public interest.
 
The University of Oklahoma Public Opinion Learning Laboratory (POLL) serves two functions: to provide a learning environment for the teaching of survey design, public opinion research and data analysis for the purpose of developing student capabilities to conduct academic and professional research and analysis; and to conduct research on public opinion, in order to foster knowledge about public affairs and to assist in the conduct of research on public policy of import to state and local governments, media organizations, other public and private entities, and the general public.
 
The Meinders School of Business (MSB) at Oklahoma City University, which includes the Steven C. Agee Economic Research & Policy Institute, offers a full range of undergraduate, graduate and professional development programs. MSB prepares graduate and undergraduate students to be socially responsible leaders in a global economy through teaching excellence and faculty scholarship in business practice and the disciplines. Faculty and students engage with the business community, local government and regulatory agencies as part of the teaching-learning process.
 
The Bureau of Economic Research, housed within the Economics Department at Missouri State University, serves as a clearinghouse for data and publications on economic conditions within the region, state and nation. The staff has a wide variety of experience and is able to provide consulting services, produce detailed GIS maps, economic and industry forecasts and other relevant reports.

Data released as part of the Arvest Consumer Sentiment Survey, summary and news releases is free for broadcast, publication or use in presentations. Please cite “Arvest Consumer Sentiment Survey” as the source each time information is referenced.

Tags: Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Press Release
 

Friday Financial Forum Nov. 21 in Bartlesville, Okla.

Thursday, November 20 at 05:05 AM
Category: Arvest Community News

Join us Friday, Nov. 21, at 10 a.m. for our Friday Financial Forum. We’ll meet in the Friday Forum Room at Arvest's Eastside Branch located at 4225 Southeast Adams Rd., Bartlesville, Okla. Every Friday we invite customers like you to attend our one-hour Financial Forum. This week, we welcome Clay Nickel, CPM. Clay is a Portfolio Manager and Director of Investment Strategy for Arvest Asset Management.

What you can expect at the event:

  • News: "The Scoop" about businesses coming, going and expanding in Bartlesville (Amelya Wilmott, Arvest Bank)
  • Information: Community leaders share topical, local and state information (Sen. John Ford, Rep. Earl Sears and city councilman Mike McGrew)
  • Updates: Arvest provides current economy and stock market trends (Josh Randolph, Arvest Bank)
  • Hilarious Anecdotes: Jim Bohnsack, Arvest Bank

We look forward to having you join us! There is no need to R.S.V.P.; just join us if you can! If you have any questions about the event, please contact Amelya Wilmott at (918) 337-4358.

Tags: Bartlesville, Community Support, Oklahoma
 

Mistake to Avoid -- Not Monitoring Your Competitors

Wednesday, November 19 at 06:40 AM
Category: Business Banking

Along with your customers and employees, your competitors are critical people to know and understand. Often, competitors are just thought of as the "enemy." These individuals or companies keep you from getting more business.

However, competitors can be more than the "enemy." They can:

  1. Help you better understand your current and future markets.
  2. Be the source of additional business.
  3. Be the source of growth through acquisition.
  4. Potentially, provide an exit strategy for you.

Most business owners know their competitors and generally how they compare with the owners' own company. Having a greater understanding of competitors can provide clues for making enhancements to business owners’ own activities.

Understanding your markets
Market leaders get to be leaders by doing things right. What is it they are doing that is leading to their success? Often, it is not lower prices, but better marketing, better customer service, more efficient operations or more innovative products. By identifying their strengths, you can also identify your weaknesses and begin taking steps to improve in those areas.

Getting competitive information on others in your industry is easy. Visit their website or walk through their store. Either way, you will probably learn a great deal. If you attend or exhibit at trade shows or conferences, be sure to pick up some competitive materials or talk to their representatives. You learn about the company and you may meet a prospective hire.

If your competitors are publicly held, be sure to review their annual reports. The CEO letter at the beginning of an annual report is often where the CEO tells the world about his plans, brags about the company's strengths/accomplishments and addresses the critical issues facing his company.

You can also talk to your customers and prospects about the competition. Getting their insights will give you an idea of why they do business with your company or what it would take to make them a customer. Most customers and prospects will be relatively frank in those types of discussions.

Understanding your strongest competitors can identify areas where you can improve and potentially some niches the strong competitors are ignoring. Knowing more about your weak competitors can help you identify your strengths that you can take advantage of. You may even be able to identify a competitor's customers that would be your best prospects. Customers usually know their vendors' strengths and weaknesses.

Getting additional business from competitors
The business world is becoming more interconnected and interwoven every day. Joint ventures are commonplace. The common characteristic of most joint ventures is that both parties receive a benefit. Most companies have strengths in only a few areas and weaknesses in others. Their weaknesses may be capacity limitations, product limitations, financial constraints or something else. If their customers want something they don't have and you do have, it may be beneficial to "share" that customer. Consider working with your competitors on a subcontract or joint venture basis.

Acquiring your competitors or parts of them
Staying abreast of your competitors may enable you to identify if they may wish to sell their business or part of it. Every business goes through an ownership cycle. If a competitor is closely held, pay attention to the owner's age, especially if there are no younger family members involved in the business. Most owners of successful businesses recognize that ultimately they will sell the business. Without a family member present, the logical sources of buyers are key management employees or competitors (namely you).

An exit strategy for you
When it time for you to consider selling your business, a competitor may be the most logical buyer. They understand the business, probably understand your operation and they can evaluate whether there are economies of scale if they acquire your business.

With this better insight into your competitors, you’re likely to find ideas to improve your own business.

Tags: Arvest Biz, Business Banking
 

Social Consciousness ... On Wall Street?

Monday, November 17 at 09:30 AM
Category: Personal Finance

You may want to be socially conscious and do the right thing, both in your own community and in the larger global community. Perhaps you are concerned about environmental issues or about opportunities for fair trade and human rights, or maybe you are passionate about protecting wildlife or promoting healthy diet and exercise for young people.

Whatever your area of interest and moral or ethical position, you may want to act in a way that is in accordance with your personal beliefs and convictions. But at the same time, you may be interested in making money in the stock market. Many see this as an irreconcilable conflict, but it doesn't have to be, thanks to many stock funds that have been created to specifically cater to the needs of people who want to play the market without compromising their own personal values.

Mutual funds are a great way to delve into the socially conscious side of Wall Street. These are not single stocks, but groups of stocks that are managed by trained professionals. When you buy a share in a mutual fund, you are essentially contributing funds to a mutual fund, and then the fund's manager will use that money to buy stocks that he or she thinks will do well and meet the goals of the mutual fund's investors. Because these funds value diversity of assets, they are somewhat protected from the risk of only owning shares of an isolated company. And these days there are many mutual fund companies that specialize in socially conscious investing.

When you buy into their funds, they promise to use your money only for investment in companies that promote the things you believe in, so you get two benefits. First, you get the peace of mind of knowing that your stock market investments are for good causes. Secondly, you get to promote your causes and support the companies that share your values, by putting your hard-earned money behind your commitment to those values. You get to own shares in companies that are trying to succeed by doing the kinds of things you want to see done in the world, so you have a chance to reap both financial rewards and personal satisfaction.

You can also buy stocks in individual companies, by doing some background research to find out which ones meet your standards. For example, if you want to help protect the environment from companies that pollute, you could buy stock in companies that make "green" products like alternative fuels that don't contaminate the atmosphere. Or you can buy stock in companies that clean up oil spills, plant trees, or manufacture biodegradable consumer products.

The idea is that you can have your cake and eat it too. It is possible to make money in the stock market and at the same time remain committed to socially conscious values, by putting your money into the right stocks. To learn more, you can talk to a client advisor with Arvest Asset Management.

Tags: Financial Education, Investing
 

Merchant Data Breaches Prompt Card Replacement

Thursday, November 13 at 10:00 AM
Category: Arvest News

Arvest is replacing debit and credit cards of customers who are at an increased risk of fraudulent card usage as a result of data breaches reported by several national retailers over the past few months. This was not an Arvest security breach. It impacts customers who made purchases with their debit or credit cards directly from compromised merchants and includes customers of different banks from around the country.

What is Arvest doing?
We have contacted the customers affected by the recent merchant breaches, and they should have received their replacement cards in the mail. Cards of at-risk customers will be deactivated when they use their new card or on Dec. 31, 2014, whichever is sooner. If customers have not been contacted yet, then their card is not at an increased risk.

Our systems routinely monitor card activity and attempt to identify unusual and potentially unauthorized transactions. While our systems may not detect all unauthorized use, we attempt to promptly contact any cardholder who we determine may be the subject of unauthorized transactions.

What should customers do?
Customers should begin using this new card as soon as possible and destroy their old card. They also need to update any automatic payments tied to their old card with new card information. If cardholders had ATM preferences with their old card, preferences will need to be re-established when using the new card for the first time at an Arvest ATM. Arvest will ensure new cards have the same limits as old cards, same PIN as old cards and are tied to Arvest Rewards, if applicable.

As always, we recommend customers monitor their accounts for unauthorized transactions using web banking, mobile banking, telephone banking or monthly statements. If an unauthorized or otherwise suspicious transaction occurs, report the activity to Arvest immediately by calling (866) 952-9523 or visiting your local Arvest Bank branch.

Tags: Consumer Protection, Privacy and Security

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