October 2016

Interesting facts*: Financial markets in the United States are the largest and most liquid in the world. In 2014, finance and insurance represented 7 percent (or $1.223 trillion) of U.S. gross domestic product.

Financial services and products help facilitate and finance the export of U.S. manufactured goods and agricultural products. In 2014, the United States exported $104.7 billion in financial services and had a $35 billion surplus in financial services and insurance trade. The financial services and insurance sectors employed 6.08 million people in 2015.

In our grandfather’s economy, manufacturing led the way, but that has changed. In the North Country we’ve retained many of our manufacturing jobs and even added to the count, but overall the service sector is now king. In today’s economy 79 percent of jobs are now classified as service while just under 20 percent are manufacturing and 1 percent are agriculture.

In this issue of Strictly Business we take a look at financial sector services in the North Country.

We begin with Community Bank and its investment services division on Route 3 just west of Plattsburgh. Community’s 150 years of banking and now investment services to clients in New York and Pennsylvania position the company well as times change and customers’ needs expand.

If you think bigger is better, you may rethink that notion after you read our article about CPAs Mike Boulrice and Steve Wood. These two men were friends first and are now partners in a small, but dynamic accounting firm that meets customer needs and still finds a way to balance family needs.

Champlain National Bank is another financial entity that believes in the stay small concept. In this issue of Strictly Business you will meet Steve Cacchio, the bank’s new CEO. Chairman Peter Paine has a history of identifying talent and handing them the reins. Steve has been with the bank for about a year and has found his niche. We welcome him to the North Country business community.

If you’ve traveled outside the U.S. in recent years you’ve likely experienced the frustration of trying to exchange currency. Who knew the solution was not at your local bank, but at the Currency Exchange operated for more than 50 years by generations of the Dergham family? Read their story in this issue.

While financial planners Heidi Clute and Christina Ubl work with individuals, couples and small business they have developed a specialized service for women in transition dealing with investments, insurance, personal retirement, college funding, acquisition and sale of real estate, business formation, business transfer, managing through illness, death, divorce. Don’t miss their unique perspective.

And then there’s our Insight article featuring Hannah Hannford, an amazing woman who started at CVPH Medical Center and then moved on to the foundation at Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake. Hannah’s caring and concern for the families in our area is legendary. We’re fortunate to have her as our advocate.

Also in this issue, attorney Jacqueline Kelleher writes about the Americans with Disabilities Interactive Process, Bonnie Black advises how to jump start your holiday saving and Garry Douglas wraps up this issue with news about the North Country’s Regional Economic Development Council’s Priority Projects application.

A strong financial services sector is critical to the success of our economy. Whether it is through basic banking so employees can be paid and companies can collect their money, or it is support of international trade or the advice that helps individuals make good decisions and plan for the future, financial services is an enabler of growth and well-being and that’s good for business.