Regardless of the type of business you run, you need to have solid relationships with your bank and your banker. But what the bank should expect of you? Perhaps more importantly, what you should expect of the bank?
After 45 years in the financial industry, I’ve made certain observations on both sides of this equation that may prove valuable. I’m happy to share them here:
- Utilize top advisors to guide the search for and process of selecting a business bank
- Utilize your CFO, CPA and Attorney to create an ideal selection criteria
- Identify no more than three banks by matching your company’s size, growth, specialty, geography, and experience with each bank
- Use Cliff Notes version of an RFP for vetting your short list
- Set high standards and expectations for the bank to live up to and insist that they demonstrate what it means for you to be considered a “valued client”
- Be 100% prompt, forthcoming, and truthful with all bank requests
- Create interview questions, such as:
- Who is the ultimate decision maker?
- Do you have committees?
- Are the skills and experience of the calling officer a perfect match for your company’s level of sophistication and need?
- Who will manage the relationship once you are a client?
- Is there immediate access to the bank’s senior management?
- What impediments come along with your industry?
- Has this bank ever backed off of your industry? If so, why?
- When will I meet your Chief Credit Officer? (Insist on it!)
- What is your credit underwriting, sponsorship, and approval process?
- How will the bank respond if (and when) you breach a covenant?
- To what degree are financial projections important?
- How does the bank’s online product and services compare to other top banks?
- What is their true timeline for implementation?
- Who will do the online training?
- Completely understand the client’s business
- Be crystal clear about:
- Your brand
- Client service orientation
- Product and service offerings
- Decision-making infrastructure
- Define and demonstrate the bank’s differentiators, using case studies and testimonials
- Be sure the bank can manage the client’s growth with the correct suite of products and services
- Be certain there’s a perfect match between client needs and your client relationship management orientation
- Set timelines for decisions and responses that suit the client’s timeline and requests
- Work with and demonstrate a sense of urgency during the underwriting process
- Provide a quick and definitive response to any client request
- Ensure the appropriate calling officer is engaging with the right C-level executive
It’s rare to find a perfect union between client and bank. Miscommunication and other issues may arise along the way.
However, if you follow these guidelines at the outset, you’ll improve your chances of having a long-term marriage that can withstand those bumps in the road.
Win Englebert is Director of Business Development for Bank of the West in San Diego and Orange County and a veteran of 30 years in the banking industry. He serves family owned and privately held businesses in the $5-$75MM range offering commercial and consumer banking, originating small-medium business loans, lines of credit and leases, cash and treasury management services, investor and owner occupied commercial real estate financing, for both individuals and businesses. Win’s customized approach serves the needs of his clients with consistency and discipline providing a highly personalized client relationship management environment. You can reach him at email@example.com.
Bank of the West is a subsidiary of BNP Paribas, with offices in 74 countries bringing a global reach to Bank of the West’s local focus.