VOL. 129 | NO. 159 | Friday, August 15, 2014
First South Financial Launches Business Products
By Andy Meek
First South Financial’s tag line “You can bank on us” now applies to a wider group of customers.
The Bartlett-based credit union is offering small- and medium-sized businesses an alternative to the traditional providers of such accounts and services with its own newly launched suite of products for businesses. It includes business checking and savings accounts, as well as escrow accounts, health savings accounts and credit cards.
First South Financial also has teamed up with two other companies to begin offering services like payroll processing, merchant card services, workers’ compensation reporting and more.
First South president and CEO Craig Esrael said that the motivation behind the launch is for the company to “help businesses succeed,” the same way it’s done for the rest of its members for more than half a century. And it was partly in response to customer demand.
“We have a lot of people who would start using us for their personal banking needs, and they’d say, ‘You know, I’d really love it if you guys could also serve my business needs,’” said Delynn Byars, senior vice president of marketing for First South Financial. “So that’s kind of how it got started. We got enough business accounts opened that we thought we ought to go ahead and launch a formal set of products and services for basically small- and medium-sized businesses.”
First South, which has about $474 million in assets and 15 locations in the Memphis area, decided to focus on small- and medium-sized businesses, according to senior vice president of branch operations Summers Townsend, because that’s the market the company felt it can serve the best.
Alternatively, there are plenty of other organizations, she explained, that are capable of handling large corporate accounts.
“Everything’s designed to meet a business need,” Townsend said. “For the checking and savings accounts, we have one of the lowest fees in our market for checking and savings accounts. We also can accommodate some of the larger businesses, too. The bottom line is service is what we pride ourselves in, because we’re a credit union.
“In addition to products we have in-house, we’ve partnered with some great organizations that can take a growing business and help them with just about any need they have. Payment Express Systems, they offer merchant card services, remote deposit capture, and a number of other different products. We’ve also partnered with Heartland Ovation Payroll.”
Among other recent news at First South related to new features for customers, the credit union last month rolled out an upgrade to its online banking capabilities that promised a number of enhancements.
Those include the ability to transfer funds from other financial institutions into a First South account, and vice versa; to download transactions in a format that can be imported into financial software such as Quicken; to set up a customized home page for online banking; and to set up a range of email alerts for accounts, among other things.
First South Financial’s eAlerts platform gives customers the ability to set up a variety of alerts, such as when an account balance falls below a certain dollar amount, when a direct deposit has occurred and when loan payments are due.
First South was founded in 1957 and counts more than 50,000 members among its base of customers.