15 Minutes With…Annie Simon

Annie Simon visits a local high school to teach young people financial matters.

Annie Simon visits a local high school to teach young people financial matters.

Marketing Director for the $97 Million-Asset Bay Port State Bank in Bay Port, Mich.

IB: Tell us about Bay Port State Bank?
Simon: Our bank was recognized by Independent Banker magazine in 2015 as the community bank with the 28th highest overall loan-to-assets ratio in the nation for banks with $250 million to $500 million in assets. That was something to be real proud of. We’re giving those big guys a run for their money.

IB: You developed a homegrown financial literacy program.
Simon: Yes, it’s called “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly about Credit.” I use a PowerPoint presentation, but it’s basically about talking to students. I tell them stories. I change it up a little bit every year. You have to keep it lively, you have to keep it real, and you have to keep the stories positive.

I have done many financial education programs for both the elementary schools and high schools for 14 years, talking with as many as 700 to 800 students in 15 schools.

IB: Does your program help millennials?
Simon: Yes, basically right now it does. Most banks like to start the savings talk with elementary schools, which is important. But I tell you what, these high schoolers are not remembering their little talk in second and third grade. I just see a lack of knowledge about credit being a big issue right now.

IB: What is it about credit that millennials don’t know?
Simon: These 20-year-olds are not savvy at all about credit. Everything is charged, everything is credit. They go, “Oh, well, so what, I missed a payment.” That’s their mentality. They don’t see the long-term effect that that’s going to have on you. I explain to them, “Well, you don’t realize it now that it’s a big deal, but when you want to buy that house down the road, it’s really going to hurt.”

IB: What’s your message to community bankers?
Simon: This generation that we’re seeing coming into the bank, they don’t know banking. And they say they really don’t need a bank. Well, they will need a bank at one point.