3 Questions Featured

8:00pm EDT April 25, 2010

William R. Cave is president of U.S. Bank’s operation in Orange County and the Inland Empire. Cave leads a team of commercial bankers who work with businesses in the region and also facilitates the collaboration across all U.S. Bank lines of business as head of the region’s leadership team. He has more than 28 years of industry experience.

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

It is critical for businesses to work with a bank that has that track record through thick and thin times. The financial industry certainly has its ups and downs, and trying to find that bank upfront that will be there is critical. It’s also important to work with lenders and bankers who are really looking out for your business as more of a strategic partner, rather than as someone to whom they can sell another product. The biggest thing is you should always be thinking ahead. Having regularly scheduled meetings is important, at least on a quarterly basis, and the companies should ask for them if a bank is not scheduling them.

Q. What has changed during the last year in how a business works with its bank?

As businesses try to realign themselves, that discussion about fine-tuning and coming up with the right size of credit facilities is more important now than nine or 12 or 18 months ago when businesses and banks were retrenching. Over the last six or nine months, we’re starting to see a shift because the credit cycle is now changing. People talk about business cycles and we have seen that the industry as a whole overextended itself. The reins have been pulled back and we’re all starting to see some improvement there as the strong banks continued to perform and the weak ones got their house in order. So there is more lending that is starting to occur now.

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

The credit market seems to be back in good stead again for those companies that can qualify for a loan. So I don’t think there’s an issue about credit availability.