Bremer is not your typical bank. Sized just right and poised to pivot with the ever-changing financial climate, Bremer has chosen to implement unique concepts which allow it to stand out in the financial industry. Small enough to be creative and collaborative, yet large enough to provide many of the services and technology you might find at a larger financial institution, Bremer has balance.
Julie McDonough, Bremer’s Director of Private Wealth, shares part of what drew her to Bremer eight years ago was its reputation as a “great leader” and a large focus on giving back. Julie explains that Bremer’s long-term involvement with organizations such as United Way, Habitat for Humanity, and their business practice of providing employees with annual volunteer hours to work within the community make it a rewarding company. Employees are encouraged to volunteer and give back to charities and causes they themselves are passionate about.
Not only is Bremer committed to giving back to the community, but they are innovative and focused on embracing the future of banking. Their Linden Hills location, which opened in November of 2017 is one such example. Julie considers herself lucky to have been part of the build-out from start to finish. She comments that the Linden Hills location was a “pilot in terms of being the first cashless location.” There is no cash on site, no ATMs, or items one might find in traditional banking branches. Thinking ahead to what the future of banking might look like and staying relevant was the goal. With current online options and the apps via mobile phone, people just don’t go to the bank as much anymore. Julie elaborates, “we wanted to create a space where we could still connect with our customers in the community when they weren’t being driven there to cash a check or make a deposit.” The location is strictly a meeting place, with a focus on community and business owners. One benefit of not having cash at the location is less stringent security constraints, allowing flexibility so people can conduct their business and meetings during off-peak hours. Design wise, the space is comforting and homey and Julie adds that it “was intentional for the space to be open and bright, warm and inviting.” The ‘moss wall’ reflects nature, the city lakes, Farmers’ Market and incorporates the Linden Hills’ neighborhood, and a love of the outdoors. There is a full-time manager on site whose sole job is to coordinate the logistics of the space, from booking time in the offices and conference room to catering lunches, and helping businesses run meetings smoothly. Bremer employees also use the space to work remotely when needed. There is no cost to using the space, but a reservation is required.
Bremer also provides sophisticated products and technology to their customers, including online and mobile banking, digital wallet, and an investment management portal and mobile app. Like many others, they have quickly adapted to using video conference technology to connect with clients. Their team is very “proactive in reaching out to customers for personal connection.”
On the financial planning side, Julie explains that the Bremer Wealth Planner software allows their team to have strategic and real-time conversations with clients on how certain financial decisions can predict their future. Whether in person or via video conference, information and goals can be plugged into the software for quick, flexible answers and a strong picture of the future. Bremer also uses discovery and life planning worksheets in their planning protocol which help uncover the client’s current situation and future needs before developing or updating a financial plan. From estate planning to investments, Julie says the team can “be proactive in how we approach the planning and allows us to break it down so it doesn’t feel overwhelming.” Julie wants clients to understand that Bremer advice is regulated and fiduciary. She stresses, there is a duty “to always act in the best interest of the client.”
As far as ensuring strong financial stability, Julie says it is “Prudent to make sure you have what we call a strong balance sheet. Always be looking at what you are saving and investing, and make sure the debt you are taking on makes sense.” It is also smart to have 3-6 months of liquidity in savings for unforeseen circumstances. Julie recommends making sure you trust your advisor, communicate about the plan regularly, and try to avoid making rash or emotion-based decisions. “Stay focused on the long-term goals that you have. You should have a plan in place and know what your goals are.”
If you would like to reserve time at the Linden Hills office space, please call (612) 782-2860 for more information.