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Good for business: Having a strong relationship with your banker

Profile Photo Jenn Ryan
02.10.22

Business owners rely on a dedicated group of partners, advisers and consultants. Having good working relationships with all these people can help business owners ensure their business is running smoothly and on the right track. As a business owner, you likely know your accountant or CPA very well. You also have a good relationship with your landlord, lawyer, and other vendors. Your banker and financial institution should also be high on your list of trusted advisers. But many people treat their bank as simply a place to deposit checks and cash and maybe apply for a loan.

If that relationship works for you and your business, that’s great. But many businesses benefit from having a deeper relationship with their banker. Your banker can help you make the most out of your banking relationship by:

  • Helping you obtain funding such as loans and lines of credit

  • Recommending resources to help you manage money

  • Providing guidance to help you achieve revenue goals

  • Maximizing your funds through potential investments and wealth management

Any successful business will tell you that having a good relationship with your banker can make a huge difference in your business. Here’s why having a great relationship with your banker is great for your business.

They are knowledgeable

Your banker is a wealth of information. They know what’s going on in the community and they understand the current business climate. You’re also not the only business that they work with. They know what challenges other companies are facing and may have insight into what works and what doesn’t.

When your banker understands your business, they can recommend other products and services that might improve efficiencies and save you time. They can work with you to streamline cash operations, payroll and payment systems.

If you have a big decision to make for your business and you want extra input, your banker is a great resource. While they can’t advise you on every aspect of your business, they can give you guidance and make sure your decisions make financial sense. For example, your banker can help advise you on how to finance opportunities you have to grow or expand your business.

They’ll take care of you

Having a close relationship with your business banker can help you get what you need faster. We saw how fast PPP loans went. Having a banker who understands your business can help speed up the process of applying for loans, help you obtain federal funding and keep your loans moving through the process. Your banker knows what is needed to complete the process and can help advise you on the application process.

Your banker is not the only person at the bank you will work with. If your banker is unavailable, they will ensure you have access to other team members who can help. If your banker is on vacation, out of town or busy, they can make sure they have a team that is familiar and available if needed.

Uncomfortable conversations are much easier

It is much easier to have a difficult conversation with someone you know and trust. This is one of the biggest reasons I keep in touch with my clients regularly. Establishing a strong relationship allows us to work through difficult situations in a more productive manner. If you go into your bank during a low point for your business and you do not know anyone, it is much more challenging.

Think about the past two years and the pandemic. We have seen shutdowns, operational changes and changing local conditions that have likely affected your business. Being able to talk with your banker about the challenges you are facing, whether internal or external, is much easier when you have a relationship with that person.

Start building now

Having a banker who knows your business, goals and challenges takes time. It is helpful to meet your banker early on to discuss your business model and challenges. This should not be thought of as a sales meeting. It is your chance to help the banker get to know your business so they can offer you the products and services to help you achieve your goals.

My best advice is to regularly check in with your banker. Over time you will be able to add them to your list of trusted advisors who will be there for when you need them.

Profile Photo Jenn Ryan

About Jenn Ryan

Jenn Ryan has nearly 30 years of accounting and financial services experience, most recently serving as senior business advisor at Alerus Financial. Prior to that role, Jenn was a commercial banker for National Bank of Commerce and served in a similar commercial banking role at U.S. Bank. She also has worked at Wells Fargo as a business relationship manager, and started her career with Dahl & Associates, working in a variety of accounting and contract administration roles. Jenn also offers her leadership to the community, currently volunteering on the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee, committee member for the Duluth ...

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