3 Questions Featured

8:00pm EDT April 25, 2010

Gary Dowell is the regional vice president for commercial markets at RBC Bank, where he works primarily with medium and small businesses. Dowell has worked with the bank for more than 22 years and has worked in its Atlanta offices for more than four years.

Q. How can a business develop a strong relationship with its bank?

Communication is critical and will always be key to the relationship. A client should seek to know several key bank employees. Personal introductions are usually appropriate. Other than the relationship manager, other key employees include the relationship manager’s manager, the administrative assistants and other branch staff. The more bank employees the client personally knows, the better. Bank employee turnover often presents many challenges for the client. A client doesn’t want to be alone when their only contact leaves the bank.

Clients should be forthcoming and timely with business information. I work with certain clients who bring updated financial statements to every meeting. We never have to wonder how the business is doing because the owner always tells us.

Q. How can a business work with its bank to become more efficient in this economy?

Clients should ask their relationship manager for a formal review of their bank accounts. Annual reviews of services are considered reasonable. The review should include all bank services. The client can ask for a treasury management specialist to be part of the annual review. If credit is part of the relationship, the client can ask for a risk employee to be part of the review. This is a significant part of the relationship-building process. The bank appreciates a business owner who is trying to be more efficient and profitable.

Q. Is it any more difficult now than it was in 2009 for a business to obtain a loan from a bank?

Companies with high leverage and little or no equity will continue to find credit difficult to obtain. There are certain industries that banks have a limited appetite for. Banks want to make loans to creditworthy borrowers. As part of the relationship process, clients should ask their bank if their industry is desired.