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Jan Moore - Worried about your bank? Heres how to check
080307 BIZ FMB
Ricky Nessmith, president of Farmers and Merchants Bank, is seen in the August 2007 file photo - photo by FILE
    This past Friday, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) announced that the Florida Office of Financial Regulation closed First Priority of Bradenton. First Priority is the eighth U.S. bank to fail this year in the aftermath of the mortgage crisis, and the first Florida bank failure since March 2004.     
    Many financial experts are predicting that more banks will fail this year due to their exposure to the real estate market, predominantly in the construction lending area. The purpose of this column is to address the concerns that many of you may have about the "safety" of your money, and to give you resources for monitoring the institutions that are holding your deposits.
    Farmers and Merchants Bank CEO and president Ricky Nessmith said every bank customer should feel free to call their bank to discuss their deposits and how they are structured.
    "There are ways to make sure that your deposits are insured," Nessmith said. "You can go to your bank, sit with a customer service specialist, and look at all of your deposits. Most of the time your deposits can be structured so that your money is FDIC insured. However, it may be that some of your money might need to be put into another bank. You just need to work through it and see."
    Nessmith said the FDIC has a very helpful website that allows you to look at your deposits to determine how they should be configured to achieve FDIC coverage - www2.fdic.gov/edie.
    "If you don't want to go to your bank, you can go online and use the FDIC's online electronic deposit insurance estimator," he said. "I am not aware of any bank in Bulloch County that is in distress, but for those of you with concerns, call your bank, go talk with them, or visit the FDIC website."
    BauerFinancial, Inc. has been analyzing and reporting on the financial condition of the nation's banking industry since 1983. Their website - www.bauerfinancial.com - lists bank and credit union financial ratings using a star system. Five stars is the highest rating given to a bank or credit union.
    At this time, BauerFinancial has issued all of the banks and credit unions operating in Bulloch County a three star or above rating. Three stars is deemed an adequate rating, four stars is excellent, and five stars superior. None have been given a problematic, troubled, or zero rating as of August 1, 2008.
    If you are interested in your financial institution's rating, I would encourage you to go to BauerFinancial's website and click on either Bank Star Ratings or Credit Union Star Ratings. Both are in the menu on the left side of the company's home web page. Once you are on the proper page, just type in the name of your institution.
    If you type "Georgia" in the "state" area, you will see a list of all of the institutions in this state and their star rankings. I am afraid you will see a number of them with a troubled or zero rating which is probably a foreshadowing of some unfortunate banking news to come for our state. However, again, no bank or credit union operating in Bulloch County has a rating of that nature at this time.
    "We are in tougher economic times," Nessmith said. "We have been through these cycles before, for those of you who remember the 1970's and 1980's. Bulloch County remains strong, but people aren't necessarily going to be making the kind of money that they have been the last several years. If you are concerned, I really, really encourage you to sit down and talk with your banker. That is what they are there for."

    Until next week, I bid you au revoir.
    Got a scoop for Jan? Call her at (912) 489-9463 or e-mail her at jmoore@statesboroherald.com