Sean M. Foley is executive vice president and regional chairman of Southern California commercial banking for U.S. Bank. Prior to joining U.S. Bank, Foley was executive vice president and group manager of commercial banking for Mellon First Business Bank and held senior positions at Bank of America and Community Bank in Pasadena.
Q. How can a business develop a strong relationship with its bank?
You should share your short- and long-term strategic plan with your banker. Then, when your banker talks with you about products and services, those products should be flexible and change as your short- and long-term strategic plan changes.
Also, have a holistic approach. Lending may drive your banking relationship, but you should also consider your cash management and your personal needs as you move forward. How will your personal needs change as you move into the future? And how will that change your business?
Finally, you should get to know several bankers in your bank. Having that one person, that quarterback of the relationship, is important, but it’s also good for you to get to know your local branch managers and more senior people at the bank.
Q. How can a business work with its bank to become more efficient in this economy?
An experienced relationship banker will be able to guide you through all the products and services that are available to you through the bank. As they get to know you, they’ll be able to match those to help you streamline your operations. Of course, once you do that, you can increase revenue.
Q. What has changed during the last year in how a business works with its bank?
There’s been tremendous consolidation in our industry. The last few years there may have been 13, 14, 15 choices for a middle-market business in choosing a bank. Today there are five, six or seven, depending on your reach and how large of a bank you want to deal with. You have to be careful to choose the right partner moving forward. You have to choose a bank that’s proved it can sustain itself through tough times, a bank that has broad capabilities, and a bank that has been consistent with its client base.