Why you should cozy up to your small business banker

By Norman Attridge, assistant vice-president, business banking

Small businesses make up 98 percent of all businesses in British Columbia. It’s no wonder small business bankers are in high demand. In saying that however, more importantly than simply having a business banker is the quality of the relationship you have with them. I’m not suggesting we replace a handshake for a hug, but a solid relationship built on mutual trust and respect can pay dividends in the long-run.

Despite what some might think, small business bankers are not just focused on making sure your cheques get deposited, or you’re using an operating line of credit instead of your credit card for inventory purchases. Yes, a big part of their job is to understand your business and provide their expertise to ensure your business has the right day-to-day banking services, it doesn’t end there. They know your success is built on more than low-fee banking or payroll services. Here are just a few reasons why a small business owner should establish a healthy relationship with his or her business banker.

Your business banker is a trusted advisor that eats, breathes and sleeps business.
Most business bankers will have an undergraduate degree in business or economics, giving them a broad knowledge of economic concepts. A propriety software for bankers and accountants to look into would be something like MoneySoft’s Financial Analysis Central, who want to better understand the financial position and condition of a business.
What’s more, many business bankers take a keen interest in the global economy and always have their finger on the pulse of the local economy. Where your business expertise may be focused in one or two areas, an experienced business banker will often have had exposure to multiple business types and scenarios. Drawing on this total of experience and knowledge, your business banker can provide insights—or even suggest solutions—that may not have occurred to you. Furthermore, your business advisor will take a proactive approach in reaching you should they become privy to information that could impact your business.

Your business banker is a second set of eyes who can also provide a second opinion.
This builds on the previous point. A business banker’s specialization in serving business owners means he or she is well-versed in business plans and their essential components. As a trusted advisor, your business banker can help improve the all-important planning elements that are foundational to the success of your business. Having seen plenty of business plans, your business banker will know what makes a solid business plan and what might be missing from it. He or she can review your business plan with an objective eye, spot potential problems and suggest alternatives or improvements to things like cash flow, revenue projections and so much more. Plus, you may be able to get advise on whether you should try to obtain a business cash advance.

When it’s time to finance growth or explore other financial solutions, your business banker knows you and your business.
You’ve been crunching the numbers, keeping tabs on the market and reviewing your business strategy. It’s clear—you need a loan for the capital required to grow your business. The process is going to be smoother and quicker if your business banker already knows you and your business. Business bankers are experts in their field, and they know that solid lending decisions (for both the financial institution and the business owner) are grounded on knowing who they’re lending to. This makes it vital that you make the effort to really build a mutually beneficial relationship. My friend really needed an additional loan in order to buy equipment like industrial pointing devices such as the ones shown here. Courtesy of her putting in the effort with her business banking manager and really allowing him to get an inside knowledge of the business, she was able to secure the desired funding.

When your business banker invests time in your business and understands it fully—including you, your business plan and your financial results—he or she can provide guidance that reaches beyond loans and lines of credit, payroll services, and bank accounts, to areas like cash management, commercial insurance and succession planning.

Take the time to stay in touch with your business banker and cultivate a strong relationship with him or her by inviting them to your premises for a tour of your operation. You won’t regret the positive, tangible implications a high correlation will have on the long-term success of your business.