Your banker can make a big difference in your long-term business success. Is yours working hard for you?
The right partnerships can play a big role in the success or failure of a business, so enter into any partnership with an eye toward how it can advance your goals.
Choose a bank the same way, not because it’s next door and you’ve always gone there. Finding the right bank for your needs doesn’t take a lot of work, but it can offer a lot of rewards. Asking the right questions and building a strong relationship with your banker can save you money on interest rates and result in new business opportunities.
These American Bankers Association tips, discussed by Joe Taylor at Small Business Computing, can help you improve your current banking situation or help you find a bank that works for you.
(MORE: Talk Your Way to Success)
1. Make it Personal
Personal connections are more meaningful and memorable, so get to know the people who make decisions at your bank by having face-to-face conversations throughout the year. Discuss your accounts and let them know you’re willing to help bring business to their bank if they’re willing to help you grow your business.
Banks often reward this kind of loyalty with free services or lower interest rates on credit cards (both for you and your employees) and other financial products. Be sure to ask how you can qualify for these types of discounts.
2. Request an Annual Review
Banks have experts who specialize in helping other companies grow, but many small business owners fail to take advantage of their expertise. Request an annual review, where your team can present to the bank’s relationship manager and other relevant members of the staff.
Ask them to share their view of your firm’s financial performance, possible business opportunities, and your prospects for growth within your industry. The information you receive can be invaluable when you’re ready to pitch your business to potential investors.
3. Monitor Give and Take
Does your current banker suggest business ideas to you, or do you only hear from him when he has a new financial product to sell? Bankers are experts at creating collaborative ventures between clients and for customer match-making when one client’s services or products can solve the problem of another. If your banker doesn’t do this for you, consider looking elsewhere for one who will.
4. Ask the Tough Questions
Don’t shy away from questions about the bank’s track record and what it does to promote business within your industry and in your community. If your firm exceeds the limit for federal deposit insurance, ask about programs covered by the Certificate of Deposit Account Registry Service and whether you would benefit from participating.
Finally, be sure to review and familiarize yourself with the security measures your bank relies on to protect your funds from fraud or mismanagement. Also, ask whether your bank provides help in the form of a real person—not a remote call center—should your business suffer theft or fraud.
Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of Small Business Computing. Follow Lauren on Twitter.