Why working with a mutual bank can help transform your business

From coast to coast, businesses have thousands of banking options. So, why should they choose a mutual bank?
The answer is simple: the power of mutual banks lies in the community and everything it encompasses, including giving special attention to its customers — both individuals and businesses.

Smart Business spoke with Kurt Kappa, chief lending officer at First Federal Lakewood, about why mutual banks are an attractive contender when it comes to business banking.

What makes a mutual bank stand out?

By working with a mutual bank, businesses are contributing to a cycle of support and improvement in their communities. As more businesses establish relationships with a mutual bank, the bank can support the community — other businesses, a neighbor down the street, local organizations — and perpetuate the cycle of support that benefits all and makes a vibrant community. Community investment, personal relationships and local service contribute to the strength of these financial institutions. The more success businesses experience, the greater the positive impact on communities and, ultimately, the greater the success for mutual banks.

What is the biggest benefit of banking with a mutual bank?

Mutual banks are looking to build relationships with their customers, understand their unique circumstances and offer solutions that support them. They’re in it for the long run and are ready to help businesses succeed now and in the future.

Mutual banks are proud to offer their business customers accessibility to decision makers. From the branch employees to the CEO and chairman, businesses often get to meet everyone and get a one-on-one experience, eliminating the feeling of being ‘just a number.’ There’s a relationship there and part of the relationship is knowing the decision makers.

What steps can a business take to ensure a mutual bank can handle their needs?

When selecting a banking partner for your business, first investigate the institution’s history of financial performance and stability. If that is strong, it indicates that its risk appetite will remain steady and it has the potential to be a consistent partner. Additional criteria to examine are the bank’s suite of service, products and the depth of its expertise and markets it serves.

Second, it’s important to know if a bank has a track record of interacting with businesses in your market segment, and if the banker and team who will own your account have experience applicable to your business requirements. Make sure they’re a good fit for a long-term relationship by delving into whether or not they have an aptitude to understand your business and to anticipate your needs as they evolve over time.

How can a business make the most of its relationship with a mutual bank?

The key is to invest time getting to know each other. A financial partner is a critical player in a company’s success, so it’s vital the bank and business know what each other’s priorities are, as well as how each party operates internally and goes to market. In order to achieve that, open communication at every level is critical, including branch staff, members of the bank’s treasury team, and operations and support personnel.

To further get the most out of your relationship with a mutual bank, your banker should act as a trusted adviser. They have experience with cash flow cycles and expansion opportunities and will be ready and willing to help you with early advisory initiatives for financing. Not only that, but having a working relationship with your banker could also help you be prepared to work with your CPA and attorney regarding your business needs. It’s often more economical to work consistently with your bank because you’re already sharing important information. ●

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

Kurt Kappa

Chief Lending Officer


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