Michael Barbini is a banker with Libertyville Bank & Trust (member FDIC and equal housing lender), a Wintrust Community Bank (tel. 847-247-4038 and mbarbini@libertyvillebank.com). He has been in banking for 17 years, starting as a teller when he was in college. Currently, he is a Vice-President of business banking. Barbini is involved in a great deal of outreach both as a banker and volunteer by educating the public about financial literacy. As well as being a banker, Barbini is also an entrepreneur, dealing art and antiques at the Gurnee Antique Market.

Barbini attended North Central College and obtained a degree in international business with a minor in Spanish. Though he thought of conducting business overseas while in college, the reality of the dotcom crash in the early 2000s, led to a scarcity of such jobs. However, Barbini did secure a bank job and has worked his way up from personal banker and personal loan officer to Vice-President in business banking.

Barbini enjoys helping small businesses succeed where the biggest issue is usually timing of cash flow. He takes time to visit small businesses in Lake County so that he can understand their issues and needs. He is also involved in Money Smart presentations to the public. Money Smart is a FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) program designed to teach financial literacy on a variety of topics. Barbini has made numerous presentations in schools, libraries and regularly at the Haven, a shelter for homeless women and children.

One topic that is part of the Money Smart program is credit scores. A credit score is perhaps the most important number in a person’s life. Three different reporting agencies; Experian, Equifax and Transunion calculate credit scores as well as compile credit reports. The score is calculated using past payment history, outstanding debt, length of time credit has been held and new applications for credit. A credit score can be looked at by future employers, prospective landlords, insurance companies as well as mobile phone and utility companies. Anyone can obtain a copy of their own credit report for free (once a year) at www.annualcreditreport.com. A credit score is not included in these reports but can be obtained for a small fee from each reporting agency.

The importance of credit scores and reports has been highlighted by numerous data breaches such as the 2017 Equifax data breach which affected over 143 million people. It is wise to periodically check credit reports for errors or identity theft. If such problems occur, it is possible to correct errors or deal with identity theft. A helpful website for identity theft or credit report issues is www.ftc.gov/idtheft.

Through the Money Smart program, Barbini also teaches about how to build and repair credit. The first step is to assess the situation by looking at the credit report and see where the problems are. Where is the debt? Is there a way of paying off some of that debt, whether through a tax refund or negotiating with creditors for a lower settlement amount or interest rate? Additionally, Wintrust does make credit repair loans to eligible individuals to help repair and build credit and savings.

Barbini is involved in a number of volunteer programs that make use of his financial background. He sits on the board of the Haven, a Lake County shelter for homeless women and children. Additionally, he teaches a financial literacy class once a week at the Haven as well as meets individually with Haven residents to help them obtain their credit reports and work on improving their financial situation. Barbini also presents Money Smart programs at numerous area schools and other groups. Another group that Barbini utilizes to help small business clients is SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives). SCORE is a nonprofit network made up of retired business executives who act as mentors to small business owners and members from that group are available at the Wintrust banks in Libertyville and Mundelein once a month (www.scorechicago.org).