3 Questions Featured

8:00pm EDT April 25, 2010

As senior vice president for the business banking division in Greater Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky and Western Ohio, William Thatcher manages business banking officers who provide financial products and services to the small business segment. Thatcher has more than 20 years of financial services experience, including commercial banking and credit, treasury management services, and retail banking.

Q. How can a business work with its bank to save money, reduce costs, perhaps even generate revenue and, in general, become more efficient in this economy?

Clients are uncertain as to the appetite of the bank to perform such functions. A bank has a number of technological tools to aid a client in increasing its cash position, streamline its accounting function and reduce its borrowing costs. Furthermore, bankers have opportunities to aid clients in hedging interest rates, commodity costs and foreign exchange risk. A bank can also effectively help clients as they look internationally for additional revenue. Exporting product has its own set of unique risks and a banker can help clients protect themselves from these, as well. Finally, most bankers have a good ear to the ground as to what successful companies are doing to be more efficient and can make recommendations for processes or make introductions to new advisers.

Q. What has changed during the last six to nine months in how a business works with its bank?

The primary change is the depth of questioning around a company’s future operations. Most clients have reduced profitability in 2008, 2009 and possibly early 2010 as compared to years prior. As a result, the banker is requesting balance sheet and income statement forecasts that detail the company’s operations. This allows the banker to more effectively anticipate meeting the client’s needs, whether it is borrowing needs or other solutions.

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

The best way for any business owner to build a solid relationship with a bank is for the business owner to have willingness to engage the banker transparently in a proactive manner. Whether the situation is difficult or a positive growth opportunity, this will allow for the best outcome.