Rolling Out

Assistant vice president Katrina Barber explains how U.S. Bank is granting entrepreneurs access

The 32-year-experienced executive is well-versed in helping business customers with financial goals.

Katrina Barber is the assistant vice president and hub manager for U.S. Bank in the Pullman Branch location in Washington state, where she oversees a total of three local branches. In her position, Barber identifies financial resources for customers and helps them find the best products or services to obtain monetary benchmarks.

Barber shared the importance of establishing a relationship with a banker, why everyone should budget their finances, and why people should consider homeownership.

What are two things you would tell your younger self to help to increase your superpowers earlier in life?

Well, the first thing that I would tell my younger self is to max out my 401 K. I’m in my mid-50s and I’m thinking about retirement. Even though I’m in a good position, if I would have maxed out in my early 20s, I would be in a better position and ready for retirement. That would be my first thing: to max out my 401 K, because 20 years old is not too young to think about retirement and getting your money and your finances together. My number two thing would be credit. Make sure that you keep your credit together, keep it organized, pay your bills on time, and save ten percent of your salary. So, those would be the two things that I would tell my 20-year-old self.

How would you encourage younger people to establish a relationship with their banker?

So, I would say it’s all about the relationship. So many times, a person will go to a bank, they will just randomly choose a bank, and they will go open up a checking account. For most banks, a checking account is a checking account: you’re going to be able to write checks, use your debit card, make deposits, and pay your bills, but it’s all about developing a relationship with your banker. That banker is going to be with you through all the stages of your life. So, when you start your relationship with a banker, you’re going to get your checking account, when you’re thinking about buying a house, they’re going to help you save and help you go through the homebuyer process. When you’re ready to buy your car, they’re going to be the person that you go to, to help you get the paperwork, help you get a loan, and pick out the car, maybe referring you to a dealership. When you’re ready to have a baby, guess what? They’re gonna be there for you to help you save to get the things that you need for the baby vacation, they’re going to help you with the credit card or the line of credit you need to pay for those vacations. Again, when you’re planning for retirement, that banker and that relationship that you have, that person is going to be there to guide you through the way to help you make sound financial decisions. So, I would definitely tell my young brothers and sisters listening, to get a solid relationship with your banker. That is so important to you.

What do you see as the biggest challenge that people can overcome if they have a relationship with a banker?

The biggest challenge that you can overcome by having that relationship is establishing your credit, getting your credit in order, and understanding what you need when you’re ready to lend money. That is so important, especially for my small business owners, a lot of times they know they need money, but they’re not ready and they don’t know how to get ready. So again, that’s why it’s so important to have that relationship so we can help you. We can refer you to different organizations. Since that can give you funding that can help you with your business plan. So again, it’s so important to have that relationship because we have connections with so many people, such as CPAs, not-for-profit organizations, micro-lenders, and mortgage officers. We’re like a quarterback: we have all of these connections that we can throw in there and help you grow personally and professionally.

What type of paperwork is needed for a CPA?

You would need to at least have your tax returns. That’s so important, making sure that you file your taxes every year and making sure that you have those [documents] ready, like your check stubs and any financials that you have. When I talk about a CPA, that is the certified public accountant that will help you get all that paperwork together, help you have a financial plan, and know your assets and liabilities on a financial statement. That would be the minimum paperwork that you would need. But the great thing is, a lot of things are digital, so you don’t even need as much paperwork as you needed before. That’s great that we have the ability to send you a link via cell phone and you’re able to fill out an application. With no paperwork, we were been able to close the loans for business accounts. So, that’s a great thing as we move into the tech future of where we are right now.

Why should someone pick a career in finance?

I’ve actually been in finance and banking for 32 years and I really fell in love with banking, because my passion was teaching. All the while I was growing up, I would tell everybody I wanted to be a teacher. When I went to college, I needed to pay for it because my mom was a single parent. So, she needed help and I started here [at U.S. Bank] as a teller to help pay for college. I always just thought of banking in terms of being a teller and that a banker never knew about all the different careers that you can have in banking. Once I started working here, I just fell in love with it. I grew and blossomed. I had a lot of great leaders that poured into me and helped develop me.

But to answer your question, there are so many careers in the banking realm that young people can get into, such as the banking side to the credit card processing side. So many different careers. The options are unlimited.

If you gave a speech at an HBCU or state university, how would you challenge the graduates to be ready with their finances?

I would definitely talk about saving and preparing for retirement. I admit, and I know I keep talking about that, but it’s so important in your 20s to start preparing for retirement and to set yourself up for that. I can’t stress that enough.

The number two thing that I would talk to them about is making sure that you have a nest egg for emergencies. That is so important because you never know when it’s going to be a rainy day. If you have your umbrella, then you’re preparing for that rainy day. So, you want to have your savings set aside for those emergencies that come about, and then also keep your credit together.

The third thing that’s so important is credit because with your credit, that’s your name and that’s your reputation that tells lenders and creditors who you are. When you have great credit, can keep your credit together, and pay your bills on time, then you can go get what you want. I always remember when my daughter was around 12 years old, I wanted to buy an Infinity, right? So, I called and said “appointment” and, of course, working at the bank has always kept my credit together. So, we went there. I gave them my license. I’m having a conversation with the salesperson, the manager came out to us, and he said, we have your car ready, we’re washing it, sign here, 0%, you’re good to go. So, my daughter looked at me, and she was like, “We have only been here like 15 minutes and they already have your approval?” I said, “When you have your credit together and you’ll have your finances together, this is the experience that you have. When you can go in sign your name, get 0%, and drive off with a luxury vehicle. Now she’s in banking as well and she fell in love with it like I did. She followed in my footsteps and she’s a banker as well. I really passed on those lessons to her, such as saving and keeping her finances together. When she walks into the dealership, she can go in there, sign, and then drive away without any hassle. Those are definitely the three things that I would tell the young people if I was giving a speech.

Why is it important to budget?

You asked the right person that question because I live on a budget, and I believe in budgeting. For the last 20-plus years, that’s how I’ve maintained my finances. So, it’s so important. Again, it’s going to keep you financially set and it’s going to keep you organized. It also allows you to know where your money is going when it’s coming in, and again, it’s preparing you for those emergencies. When you have your budget, you’re paying your bills, you’re paying yourself, and you’re preparing for the future. It’s so important to keep your finances and everything organized. That’s what I love about a budget. I live by it, and I swear by budgets.

What are the characteristics that successful people live by?

I see people who are structured, I see people who want to provide and have that generational wealth for their kids, as well as their grandkids, and great-grandkids. I see discipline because it does take a lot of discipline to live on a budget. Of course, who doesn’t want the finer things in life? When you start to make more money, you tend to spend more money, right? But when you have that budget, you can say, “Okay, so I need to pay this amount for my bills, this amount for my savings, this amount for play, because of course, you want to make sure that you have an amount in there that you can shop or whatever your hobby is. So, just making sure that you have that discipline, that structure, and that you can enjoy some of your money as well.

When you think of the idea of sacrifice, why is having the ability to say “no” today, important for a better tomorrow?

It’s all about what you want for your future and how you want to set up your future. If you know you want to retire at 50, then you have to make that sacrifice. I have to do these things because at 50 I want to be able to walk away from my job, I want to be stable at 50, still be able to pay my bills, enjoy life, travel, and enjoy my grandkids. So, it’s all about setting your goal and reaching that goal. The payoff is having that money set aside and being disciplined now and sacrificing where I can say, “Okay, grandson, I got this for you and now I’m going to teach you how to have your own budget and be disciplined. Enjoy some of it, and then you’re going to pass it on to your son and your grandson.”

Why should people consider owning a home and how is it important for their wealth, growth, and life?

Homeownership is one of the greatest things that you can accomplish in your life. So, just being a homeowner gives you a sense of security. It gives you that asset that allows you to choose to pass it on to your kids and your grandkids. It’s important that you get yourself ready and put yourself in a situation financially where you can be a homeowner. That’s a great thing about working at the bank, we’re touching lives, and we have that first-hand ability to help you start saving. First, with 25 dollars then in a year and a half, you’re up to 5,000 dollars. Then we can have an educated conversation about putting your 10% down and talking to a mortgage officer to see if you pre-qualify for home. In the end, let’s get you with a realtor, and help you find your dream home.

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