How a segment specialist banker can be a boon to your professional service business Featured

7:00pm EDT November 25, 2010

Any bank can make a loan, handle your business deposits and help with investments. But to establish a truly enhanced banking relationship it requires a bank with segment specialist bankers that know your industry and understand your business, says David Jochim, senior vice president and division manager at Union Bank.

“Our segment specialists for legal, medical and accounting professional service businesses are dedicated bankers who are focused on a specific industry. They manage a portfolio of similar clients and are seasoned professionals that deliver the best client experience,” Jochim says. “In addition, these individuals have the knowledge and expertise to work with the owners and executives on their personal banking needs. It’s a very holistic approach, where one point of contact, the relationship manager, can assemble the appropriate team to deliver the right products and services to the client.”

Smart Business spoke with Jochim about how a relationship with a segment specialist banker can provide substantial benefits for both your business and personal finances.

What is a segment specialist banker?

A segment specialist banker has a deep knowledge of a particular industry, whether it be law firms, medical practices or accounting firms. The banker is knowledgeable about the unique banking requirements for that industry, including its trading cycle, working capital fluctuations, capital investment requirements, expansion opportunities, real estate needs and treasury management platforms. The professionals and the businesses they own and operate are closely linked together. The specialty segment banker is in a position to assist both.

Because the banker specializes in a particular industry, they understand all the nuances of their business. They have completed industry-specific training as it relates to bank requirements and continually stay current on industry trends and issues. In short, they immerse themselves in the field and, over time, develop a keen proficiency that becomes an asset to the clients they serve.

How can forming a relationship with a segment specialist banker benefit a business?

Initially, it will save time because the business owner doesn’t have to explain the fundamentals of the industry, only specific nuances of their business. The banker will be a strong advocate within their institution for the client due to their extensive knowledge and experience. For example, if the entire industry segment is experiencing a downturn, the banker understands and can apply the appropriate actions to assist their clients accordingly. Their effort is centered on successfully helping the client weather the storm.

Another important benefit is that entering into a specialty banking relationship can often entitle the owners/partners, executives and employees of that business to a preferential array of banking products and services. In this way, all the participants of the firm can derive benefits from the relationship.

In what other ways can the owners or partners benefit from this type of relationship?

These individuals will have the ability to optimize their personal banking needs as the result of having access to the resources of a private bank. Whether they want to set up a trust to protect their heirs or develop a wealth plan to grow and preserve their assets or simply require a jumbo mortgage for a new home purchase, they now have access to a team of experts who can help them make the best financial choices.

If you want to make the switch to a segment specialist banker, where should you start?

Start by seeking out a bank that specializes in your industry. If you don’t have this information, your accountant, lawyer and industry colleagues are good resources. Then sit down with the banker to discuss your specific business goals and objectives. The banker needs to understand how they can assist you on this journey. Every client within a specific industry is unique, but they all have similar banking requirements. The banker will use his or her knowledge of the industry and your business to tailor appropriate cash management, credit and other financial solutions.

The goal is for the owners to feel confident that their banker is delivering consistent banking solutions that help the business and the individuals succeed in meeting their financial objectives.

David Jochim is senior vice president and regional director responsible for specialty banking at The Private Bank of Union Bank. Reach him at (949) 553-2520 or David.Jochim@unionbank.com.