Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Our Current Rates:
For a listing of our current deposit and loan rates, click here.
GCFBank.com Grew In 2011
What a busy year it's been at GCFBank.com. The new site design launched October 2010, and we've continued to build and grow it to serve our visitor's needs.
ZashPay was added to GCF Online Banker's Web Pay function. What is ZashPay? Merely the fastest, easiest way to send money to anybody with an email address or mobile phone number. "Better than PayPal" is what we hear from folks who have already tried it. Login to Web Pay and click the "Pay People" tab. The rest is so simple you'll become a regular user.
We've made it easier than ever to find something on our website by adding Google site search in April. Want to find something from a past issue of GCFlash? Need to know how long it takes a check to clear? Thinking about refinancing your mortgage? Simply enter the appropriate keywords in the search box that appears at the top of every page to find every instance of that phrase on our entire site.
The most important improvement to our website is the upgraded Security Center. We all became a bit numb to the dangers when we hear of yet another fraud alert. Yet we can't ignore the reality - the face of fraud has changed. Even those in the security community have fallen victim.
Our Security Center may well be the most extensive in the industry. New this year is a video and game library designed to make learning fun. Test your likelihood of getting fooled by playing the Spam Scam Slam. Find out if you have the tools to stop a cyber thief by playing the Case of the Cyber Criminal.
Hear the story of an online scammer by viewing Internet Fraud: Web of Deception. Learn the difference in legitimate jobs and scams while watching Work-at-Home Scams: They Just Don't Pay. Both are courtesy of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
GCFBank.com went mobile! We began offering a mini-version of our most popular informational pages in June, including a link to the full site for visitors looking for more. By July, our mobile landing page was already one of the most popular on our entire site.
No need to learn a new site name to access the mobile version. Simply visit GCFBank.com via your smartphone. Our server will automatically detect your device and deliver the appropriate version. Or you can capture the QR code above with your scanner and bookmark the site!
As always, you can visit our Community Outreach page to learn what GCF has contributed to the communities we serve. None of it would be possible if it weren't for the generosity of our customers. See how many children you made happy this Christmas through all the toys collected for those in need.
Our calendar of events lists items of interest occurring in your own backyard. We include fundraisers and programs offered for the benefit of our communities. We'll be happy to include any event our readers submit as well. Send details to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our People page is continually updated to provide you with the name and contact information to reach the proper person to answer whatever question you may have.
We won't rest on our laurels. We're already working on new features that will appear in 2012. Keep visiting to learn more.
Yet this is not OUR website. It's designed to serve our customers. Is there anything you'd like to see added? Any comments you would like to share on existing features? Your webmaster wants to hear from you.
The staff of GCFlash wants to wish all of our readers a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2012.
GCFBank.com's Top Ten
Would you like to know what you're missing on GCFBank.com? Wonder what pages may be important or what they contain? Find out what others find important on our website?
In keeping with year end tradition, we present the Top Ten visited pages on GCFBank.com for 2011.
10. Loans: Find information on the various types of consumer loans GCF has to offer. Whether you're looking for a new car, planning your vacation, paying for a college education or want to add that dream ride to your car collection, GCF has a loan for you. Need a personal loan to consolidate debt or pay off medical bills? We've got a loan for that, too.
9. GCFlash: We have the last three years of GCFlash archived on our website for you to reference any article whenever you need it.
8. Checking: We offer accounts to fit every need. Find which is right for you!
7. Contact Us: Our website is simply a tool. It's humans who make GCF Bank successful. And we make it easy to find contact information so your question can be directed to the right person - the first time.
6. Discover Online Banker: More customers come through the "door" of our website daily than we often see in our branches. Why? GCF Online Banker is a quick and accurate way to do your banking. It's simply the best.
5. Mobile Site: Banking channels have changed. Busy people don't have time to visit a brick and mortar establishment very often. While we don't yet offer transactional banking from the palm of your hand, we do have a mobile informational site that provides locations, contact information, rates and a link to our full site.
4. Locations: For all the electronic channels available, there will always be a need to conduct certain functions in person. Locations, phone numbers and a map to each branch are only a few keystrokes away.
3. Rates: Loan rates, savings rates, CD rates, IRA rates, every rate is current at all times. And all in one place.
2. Security Center: Our Security Center is the cornerstone of GCFBank.com. We have tips for preventing fraud, and resources for those who have become a victim. Online security is a topic we focus on heavily in GCFlash. Find the best and most relevant of these articles in our Security Center. We post fraud alerts that may impact our customers and offer a video/game library to provide the tools you need to stay safe online. If you haven't yet visited our Security Center, check it out now to learn what you're missing.
1. Speedbumps: That nasty little page that you have to click through to link to any page that isn't directly on our website. While they may be a bit of a nuisance to you, they make the regulators happy. Our industry is mandated to include them whenever we offer an external link to avoid any confusion that may arise with a visitor who thinks they're still conducting business with the bank when they're actually leaving our site.
Why would we be so happy that this speedbump page is our number one visited? Because you only reach that page when visitors find something we've offered to be of value. And that's the entire purpose behind GCFBank.com. Not only can we fill your banking needs, but we can provide you with resources that affect your daily life.
A top business headline this holiday week trumpets: "Sears Holdings to Shutter up to 120 Stores." As is typical with the media, even the business media, this headline is supposed to be interpreted as bad news. Store closes... company hurting... jobs lost... economy in the crapper.
Not so fast. If you take the time to actually study the company issued press release, it reads almost like a textbook chapter on "creative destruction." For example, "120 stores" sounds like a lot. But the company, including its K-Mart division (merged with Sears in 2005), has more than 4,000 retail stores in total. So the announced closure affects no more than three percent of the company's outlets.
At the same time, Sears announced the posting of nearly a billion dollars of earnings. True, this is nearly a 50 percent decline over last year's earnings, but the company remains respectively profitable in these extremely harsh economic times. I did not take the time to research it, however, it is a foregone conclusion that an increasing percentage of Sears Holdings sales are conducted online, and invariably a large investment has been made into technology infrastructure to support these virtual store transactions.
So it actually seems prudent that a retailer would cull its least profitable stores to improve overall profitability. The press release mentions other steps to improve performance, including reductions in fixed costs of between $100 and $200 million. This will undoubtedly not be without pain, but almost certainly necessary in a process that economists commonly refer to as creative destruction.
Creative Destruction was first coined and used more than a century and a half ago by Karl Marx and others. Marx, and many of his colleagues at the time, astutely concluded that the "devaluation of wealth" was the inevitable outcome of the process of "wealth creation." Marx probed no further other than to lament the constant cycle of creation and destruction that lacked "the order" he sought. That order, of course, was Socialism. And it formed one of the basic premises of his economic theory.
By the middle of this century, economist Joseph Schumpeter had redefined the definition of creative destruction to be economically synonymous with "innovation." Empirical evidence supports Schumpeter's conclusion, and modern mainstream economic thought generally recognizes the essential role of creative destruction in overall economic well being.
Of course, opinions differ substantially on what to do about those "temporarily displaced" by the forces of the market that tear down the value of old assets and processes to make way for the new. Indeed, many modern social programs such as unemployment insurance are aimed at assisting the temporarily displaced make the transition to more productive pursuits.
In his fascinating book "Turbulent Times," former Federal Reserve Chairman Dr. Alan Greenspan credits creative destruction as one of the primary ingredients necessary for a prosperous society. It is sometimes very painful, Greenspan concludes, but absolutely necessary. He points to the lack of this force as one reason for the collapse of the centrally planned economies of the world, most notably the former Soviet Union.
Stated more simply, only the market with its millions of decision makers can correctly pick the economic winners and losers - and thus the proper allocation of capital. Any other method is hopelessly inefficient and ultimately doomed.
Still a skeptic? I offer the following as supporting evidence of the incredible power of creative destruction. Forbes first listed its top company picks in 1917 (there were 100 on that first list). Of the original 100, only 39 of the companies remain, and fewer than half of those are still in the top 100. Just four have outperformed the market overall. So why would well over half of top one hundred companies from a century ago cease to exist today? The answer is simple: Failure to adapt to the forces of creative destruction.
Back to Sears: Of course, a more accurate holiday headline would be: "Iconic Retailer Takes Tough, but Absolutely Necessary Austerity Measures in Order to adapt to the Changing Retail Marketplace." But it doesn't quite seem to have the same ring...
Editors Note: For a brilliant modern day adaptation of creative destruction, I recommend Creative Destruction (2001) by Sarah Kaplan and Richard Foster.
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