Naples bank waives service charges on IOTA accounts

first_imgNaples bank waives service charges on IOTA accounts Associate Editor Citizens Community Bank in Naples apparently believes that the “community” in its title is more than a word.And that’s good news for Florida lawyers looking to boost the returns on their IOTA accounts.The bank is offering its “Escrow Management Account Service” and “IOTA Plus Program” to law firms, according to bank Vice President Ray Schwedhelm.The premise is simple. At a time when most banks are paying well under one percent on IOTA accounts and then deducting from that service charges, and at least one major bank charges more for services than earned by interest, the Naples bank plans to do better.Citizens Community Bank, Schwedhelm said, is waiving all service charges for its trust fund deposits. And it will pay 2.5 percent interest — almost three times the state average. And as an additional bonus, the bank is making a separate contribution to Florida Rural Legal Services, Inc., and the Legal Aid Society of Collier County. Both those organizations are beneficiaries of The Florida Bar Foundation’s legal aid to the poor grants through its IOTA program.“As an independent community bank in Collier County, we are concerned about our neighbors in more ways than just one,” Schwedhelm said. “The Golden Rule is very important to us in building long-term relationships that are truly win-win for all parties.”The win for the law firms, he said, is not only will the program boost income for the Foundation’s IOTA program and directly provide funds for Florida Rural Legal Services and Collier County Legal Aid, but the Escrow Management Account Service takes over much of the paperwork lawyers face in managing their trust accounts. (If the interest generated can be economically attributed to clients and therefore is not part of the IOTA program, then the account will boost their interest earnings.)The Foundation, supported by the Bar Board of Governors and the Young Lawyers Division, has embarked on a campaign to encourage lawyers with trust accounts exceeding $100,000 to invest in sweep accounts, which currently earn four to six percent returns, but also have higher expenses.The CCB program, however, is open to all trust accounts, regardless of size.Aside from the better interest, Schwedhelm said, the bank is trying to make the administration and paperwork of trust accounting easier for lawyers.“The escrow management service simplifies the back office record keeping of escrow accounts,” he said. “There is one master account and under that one master account, an attorney can establish a variety of subaccounts for individual clients. On a monthly basis, Citizens Community Bank provides the attorney with a statement that shows interest earned for each subaccount, not only for the month, but for the life of the account.”Frequently, attorneys open a new trust account for each client, with the resulting necessity for a trip to the bank, signing signature cards and other paperwork avoided with the CCB plan, he said.The bank also prepares 1099 forms at the end of the year and has a courier service to pick up deposits, which are posted to the subaccounts on the same day, Schwedhelm said, and checks can be cut or wire transfers made on instructions from the attorney.The IOTA program is not the first effort of the bank to tie banking services to a charity. The bank continues to offer customers a nine-month certificate of deposit. Those taking advantage get a higher, one-year interest rate and free checking. In addition, the bank donates an additional 0.25 percent to the March of Dimes.So far, there has been considerable interest in the new IOTA account program, Schwedhelm said, and he added that the bank can work with interested law firms and lawyers anywhere in the state.Schwedhelm can be contacted by calling (941) 430-1773 or by writing him at Citizens Community Bank, 2373 Tamiami Trail North, Suite 100, Naples 34103. Naples bank waives service charges on IOTA accounts September 1, 2000 Gary Blankenship Associate Editor Regular Newslast_img

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