Committed partners Featured

8:00pm EDT September 25, 2009

You use your bank for a variety of business services each day, such as payroll and accounts receivable and payable, but you may not realize what else it can do for you.

Banks can offer numerous services to you and your employees, including financial programs, new products or simple financial advice that cost you nothing to take advantage of. Developing a relationship with your bank and offering these benefits to your employees can help you save money and retain employees.

“The partnership is a personalized, hands-on service that allows employees to work closely with the bankers and develop a relationship similar to the one that you as a business leader have with a bank,” says Rose Kurhayez, vice president, retail business development at MB Financial Bank. “A partnership can be a value-added service and it can also save your company money.”

Smart Business spoke with Kurhayez about how to develop a relationship with a bank and how doing so can benefit a business’s employees.

What benefits can a bank offer to business leaders and their employees?

Many banks offer packaged programs that give employees special benefits, such as premium rates on savings products, discounts on loans, special checking programs, health savings accounts at special rates and 401(k) plans. The programs are designed to educate employees and assist them in achieving their financial goals. By participating, employees can get rates not offered to the general public.

Banks can also assist businesses with employee services such as payroll. Implementing direct deposit can help decrease a business’s rising payroll costs because it doesn’t have to cut checks to employees, put stop payments on checks, or worry about lost or stolen checks. A business can also tailor banking services to its individual needs and those of its employees.

And if a business has a large number of employees from a particular ethnic background, some banks can offer training and assistance to these employees in their native language.

What educational benefits can businesses receive through working closely with their bank?

A business may have employees who spend an inordinate amount of time and money on things such as cashing checks, paying currency exchange fees, money transfers or loan fees. These employees are in need of financial training, which can be offered by some banks through a variety of seminars.

Numerous topics can be covered during these sessions, including credit counseling, how to prepare a budget, how to save money, how to buy a home, etc. These seminars can also be done at no cost to employees or the company.

How can business leaders use these benefits within their companies?

Businesses can leverage the partnership and benefits package as a way to recruit new employees. And when these employees do join a company, the bank relationship should be discussed as any other benefit would be so they are fully aware of the products and services available to them.

Businesses also need to promote this package of services as a benefit to the company and the advantages that employees will see from using these bank benefits.

How can a business develop a relationship with its bank so that it remains strong and continues to grow?

The best way is to have regularly scheduled visits by the bank to the company, either monthly or quarterly. This allows employees to develop a relationship with the bankers, so they’re more willing to ask questions and bring up concerns. Having that expert available for guidance and support on the various benefits is important to help employees make the best financial decisions.

Having these meetings also allows the bank to keep up with the lives of a business’s employees. Things change so quickly today, with people and in the market, so it’s important for the banks to get that periodic update.

The bank can then help the employee accommodate any changes, if necessary, or take advantage of a new program or service. Having a banker there on a regular basis helps develop that comfort level among employees.

If an employee happens to leave that company, he or she can still maintain that relationship with the bank.

What value do business leaders and their employees get from partnering with a bank?

Business leaders demonstrate to their employees that they are caring, that they are looking out for their best interest and that they want them to succeed. Employee loyalty and retention are offshoots from it, allowing a company to develop a good, loyal staff.

In addition, employees will receive all the special rates and discounts that the average customer wouldn’t get, and they get hands-on training, expert services and personalized banking that others would not get. There is also a cost savings by taking advantage of these benefits. Companies may be dealing with the growing cost of benefits, but receiving these benefits through a bank will save them money.

Rose Kurhayez is vice president of retail business development at MB Financial Bank. Reach her at (847) 653-1137 or