For businesses, choosing the right banking partner means more than finding an institution that can accurately process financial transactions or lend money when a need arises. A bank that’s a good fit for your business can add value in many other ways, such as:
- Suggesting innovative banking solutions that save you time and money.
- Providing financing options customized to your needs.
- Offering expert advice from experienced financial professionals.
But how can you determine which bank offers the best fit for your business? Shane Sewell, VP & Chief Lending Officer, Athens Federal, offers four tips.
1. Evaluate Strength
“First, and perhaps most obvious, you want to do business with a financially strong and stable bank—one you feel confident will be there to serve you well into the future,” Sewell notes. “Athens Federal continues to be a stable top-tier institution . . . financially strong, profitable and well capitalized.”
2. Determine the Bank’s Target Market
“Second, a banking partner should be focused on businesses of your size and in your industry. You should be in their target market,” Sewell suggests. “Based on your size, location, and other factors, be sure your business will receive the attention it deserves.”
Ask them how your business compares with the bank’s existing client base. “It’s important to find a bank that understands your industry,” Sewell notes. “This is especially crucial if you’re in an industry with specialized borrowing needs. At the heart of your banking relationship is a financial partner that understands your business enough to be able to respond with financing options that fit your specific needs. Nothing is more important than working capital—it’s the lifeblood of your business.”
3. Assess Capacity and Capabilities
You’ll want to ensure that the bank can handle your business’s borrowing needs. Also, determine whether the bank offers all the products and services you need to operate effectively. “An integrated, comprehensive suite of financial products and services can enhance your efficiency significantly,” Sewell notes. “It’s convenient to have one lead relationship manager when you have an urgent need.”
4. Assess the Team
You will have a primary contact at the bank, and you’ll want to be comfortable with that person’s knowledge, integrity, and responsiveness. But there will also be a team of individuals behind the scenes supporting your primary contact, and it’s important to learn about those people, too. “You want to be assured that your business will be well cared for,” Sewell says. “Can you rely on and trust the whole team?”
Evaluating potential banking partners requires more thought than creating the typical spreadsheet of banking proposals and pricing. “Choosing an outlier on price alone could compromise your other long-term objectives,” Sewell warns. “Demand expertise, advice and exceptional service. The best banks become your partner, not just a vendor.”