Your business can derive the most benefit from a bank that does more than just process your transactions. Your financial institution should provide you solutions that allow you to focus on your company’s mission and operations. Here are some tips for making sure you are getting what you need from your bank.
- Include your banker in your circle of trusted advisors. He/she should be able to act as both a sounding board and a resource. Considering an expansion, a large contract, a new hire, or a new market? Your commercial banker should be able to help you determine potential outcomes and provide input on how they can help support you.
- Invest the time to read your account statements. I know – they bore us, too. But you need to make sure you have a good understanding of the rates and fees that are applied to your accounts. Ask questions if you are unfamiliar with anything on your statement. Every charge should have an offsetting benefit to you, and your banker should be able to explain it to you.
- Apply for a loan…before you need it. If your business has not borrowed money before, find out what the process would look like, should the need ever arise. Does the bank have experience lending to businesses of your size? Does it typically work with the Small Business Administration (SBA) to lend to your type of business? What type of terms can you expect? If you find out you aren’t qualified to borrow now, ask what you need to do to obtain credit in the future.
- Ask your banker to perform a review of your account security controls. Make sure you have procedures for oversight and dual control when processing incoming and outgoing payments. Ask what types of account fraud the bank is seeing, and if there are any vulnerabilities you can address. The bank should be able to provide you a list of best practices to consider and be willing to spend the time discussing the feasibility of each of them.
- Plan to sit down with your banker at least annually to discuss your account relationship. This is a great opportunity to ask about new products and services that might benefit your business. Keep in mind that it is your bank’s responsibility to ask the right questions and determine how they can help you, but be prepared to ask questions as well. Don’t be afraid to interview your current banker to make sure they are committed to serving you now and into the future.