Building a strong relationship with your business banker

From expanding your business to helping grow and improve your company year after year, your banking partner should be your righthand individual when it comes to helping you succeed.

“Overall, your business banker should act as a trusted adviser,” says Matthew Lay, relationship manager, small business banking leader, at First Federal Lakewood. “They’ll have experience with cash flow cycles, expansion opportunities and more, further helping you with the financial side of your business.”

Smart Business spoke with Lay about how business owners can strengthen their relationship with their business banker and how it can benefit them.

How can you make the most of your current banking relationship?

When it comes to building on a current relationship with your business banker, taking the time to get to know each other is key. Your banking partner should be aware of your business priorities and what your goals are. This will ensure they recommend the best products and services for your business. It will also help resolve any potential issues quickly and easily.

From the branch staff to the bank’s treasury team and anyone in between, open communication at every level is vital, too. When your banker acts as your financial advocate, it helps form a solid, working relationship.

Plus, your banker’s guidance can prepare you to work with your CPA and other advisers you have on your team.

What should a business look for in a financial institution?

Transparency and a one-on-one personal experience are important when looking for a banking partner. The right banker will guide you through the ebbs and flows of your business — both good and bad. Find a banker you can connect with and a financial institution that falls in line with your company’s goals.

You may find that speaking directly with the bank decision makers give you comfort when doing business with them — and that’s where a mutual bank comes in. Businesses that work with a mutual bank can benefit from that personalized experience they seek, including having the possibility of meeting everyone involved from the front-line branch staff to the CEO.

For many businesses, contributing to their communities is important and that should be reflected in your relationship with your mutual bank, especially if your deposit dollars are invested back into the local neighborhoods. Mutual banks are always looking to invest into their communities and continue the cycle of support. They’re constantly working to strengthen local business relationships and bring together community stakeholders.

What banking products should a business explore?

From treasury management products to a variety of business loans, your banking partner should have an array of products and services available to you to support your goals. Treasury management tools help you save time and eliminate inefficiencies within a variety of processes in your company. For example, you may consider ACH origination. This useful service protects your company’s information while transferring or moving money. It also saves you time from issuing checks. Although not a product, your financial institution’s treasury management team will also have the tools and expertise required to recognize abnormal transactions and alert you of any potential problems.

Fraud prevention tools like Positive Pay provide peace of mind. This secure service guarantees that you’re paying the right person the right amount by alerting your banker which vendors or individuals need access and are allowed to take money from your account. Sweeps are another useful treasury management tool that simplifies money transfers so you aren’t moving funds manually — sweeps do it for you automatically.

No matter what your business goals are, your banker should guide you through available products to see what can work for you. The ideal banking partner will continue to build a relationship with you over the years and offer smart choices for your business ventures. ●

INSIGHTS Banking & Finance is brought to you by First Federal Lakewood

Matthew Lay

Relationship Manager, Small Business Banking Leader


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