Get the Most from Your Banker
For companies to make the most strategic use of their financial resources, the quality of their banker is as important as the breadth of financial solutions offered by their bank.
At its core, banking is about deposits and loans, assets and liabilities — but for companies to make the most strategic use of their financial resources, the quality of their banker is as important as the breadth of financial solutions offered by their bank.
A good banker is indispensable. Like a CPA or attorney, good bankers act as critical advisors and sounding boards and as sources of market intelligence and best practices. They are proactive and creative. Having listened to management describe their goals, they can suggest financing options that their customers might not have considered and devise a customized loan structure to best fulfill those objectives. Bankers are also advocates for their clients within the bank, shepherding their loan applications through the approval process. Finally, good bankers deliver on their promises. During these times, certainty of execution is especially important.
At the same time, the value a banker adds to your relationship must be based on extensive financial expertise and experience. A good banker brings:
- Financial sophistication. The more bankers know, the more options they can offer their clients. For companies in fields like healthcare or professional services, having a banker sophisticated enough to offer cash flow lending is more productive than working with a banker who is comfortable only with asset-based lending. Treasury management is another area of banking where knowledge counts. A banker who understands the latest online banking and treasury management products can offer solutions that can help companies improve their cashflow and streamline their accounting.
- Industry expertise. Every business sector has its own financial dynamics. A banker who is thoroughly versed in your sector — or able to draw on the expertise of colleagues who are — is better able to assess your risks and see potential where bankers with more general experience may not.
- A single point of accountability. The ideal banker should be experienced in every aspect of lending, from structuring terms and underwriting to managing the credit. Before and after a loan closes, customers should be able to turn to their banker for information and insight on their loan — and they should be able to count on their banker to respond promptly.
- Extensive local contacts. Whom bankers know can be as valuable to customers as what they know. A good banker is always looking for opportunities to help customers grow their businesses, putting them in touch with potential clients and vendors and even connecting companies interested in merging with ones considering an acquisition.
Finding the Right Banker
If your banker falls short in any of these areas, it may be time for you to explore a replacement. Your search might begin with the products and services his or her bank offers but should quickly move on to the professional and personal considerations that make a banker exceptional. There are a number of ways that you can identify candidates to interview:
- Ask your attorney and other financial professionals for recommendations.
- Explore your professional network. Talk to counterparts at other companies, the professionals you’ve met while serving on community organizations, and your colleagues at professional associations.
- Get back in touch with bankers who have solicited your business. Their ability to reach out is an indication of their desire to work with you.
While the financial expertise and work ethic bankers bring to the table are critical, it is nonetheless important that they are part of a financial institution that brings out their best. While assessing candidates, be sure to reach out to their bank’s other customers to learn more about its philosophy and operating structure. Is its hierarchy relatively flat? Do bankers have ready access to key decision-makers? Are bankers’ views valued? And most importantly, does the bank value long-term relationships over individual transactions?
There’s one last point you should consider when selecting a new banker—and that is character. After all, you will be working closely with your banker for several years. You’ll sleep better at night when you know your banker is someone you can trust.
This article is provided as a free service to you and is for general informational purposes only. Cadence Bank makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of the content in the article. The article is not intended to provide legal, accounting or tax advice and should not be relied upon for such purposes.