Why you can’t afford to wait to address concerns with your bank

Business owners have numerous responsibilities that must be fulfilled in order to enable their companies to run at peak efficiency.

This may involve managing day-to-day operations, meeting with potential new customers, working with employees to put them in the best position to help your company grow or finding new ways to meet the needs of existing customers.

Whatever the current status of your company, it’s likely you have very little downtime in the course of a typical day.

Time is valuable, so you want to maximize the value of each task on your calendar. This includes external relationships that your company has with partners like your accountant, your legal counsel or your bank.

If you feel like you’re doing too much of the heavy lifting to keep your financials in order and not getting enough support from your bank, it’s time to assess the relationship and perhaps even consider making a change.

Smart Business spoke with Patrick Paoletta, Vice President, Commercial Lending at Northwest Bank, about how businesses can evaluate the existing relationship with their bank to ensure they’re getting the most out of the available services.

What are some tried and true methods to evaluate a bank’s client services? How do you ensure honest feedback?
Reflect on the recent experiences you’ve had with your bank. Most companies have one person who serves as a primary link between the company and the bank.

Consider the following questions: Has your banker taken the time to develop a relationship with your business and understand your financial needs and challenges? Do you consider your banker a trusted adviser? Does your banker take a personal interest in your business and provide solutions to match your needs? Does your bank’s technological capabilities meet your company’s needs when it comes to treasury management, reporting and other services?

Bring in your financial team and anyone else who has regular interaction with your bank and gather everyone’s feedback as to their sense of your company’s working relationship with your bank.

What can you do to help your bank provide a higher level of service?
Request periodic meetings with your banker and time them to coincide with the release of new financial information or announcements of new strategic initiatives so you can have meaningful conversations about the growth of your company.

When there are tangible items on the table to be discussed, it makes it easier to review where you’re at and assess your bank’s ability to help you maximize these opportunities. As a leader, your goal is always to develop solutions to keep momentum moving forward. If you run into any financial challenges along the way, don’t wait to talk to your bank. Schedule a meeting promptly so you can work together to develop a solution.

To make the most of your bank’s services and your partnership, invest the time in maintaining a strong relationship with your bank. Expect your bank to be responsive to your financial needs and be a trusted business partner.

What’s the best approach if you have concerns about the level of service your bank is providing?
If there are concerns, you should set up a meeting with your bank and address the items that have become a problem.

When you’ve evaluated your relationship and found your overall experience to be negative, you may want to consider exploring new relationships with other financial institutions. Developing relationships with other banks can help you determine if there are better solutions elsewhere.

Northwest Bank is Member Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC), Equal Housing Lender

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