Regardless of how many business banking relationships you have — many corporations have more than one— it's important to assess how things are going. To determine if your current banking partner is addressing your needs, you might ask the following questions:
Does the bank offer the services you want?
Are you satisfied with the attention you’re receiving from your business banker?
Do you feel valued as a client?
The answers to these questions will help you assess the state of your current commercial banking relationships, as well as decide whether it's time for a new bank.
What should you look for in a commercial banking relationship?
There are many things to consider when choosing a business banker. Depending on your industry, size, preferences, and service needs, some will be more important than others. Consider what's essential to you and the goals of your business.
Start with trust. Reputation should be a non-negotiable element of your business banking relationship. If a bank is in the news for the wrong reasons, look elsewhere. You need a bank that is stable, well-resourced, capable, and innovative. You want to associate your brand with a bank that shares your corporate values and supports your business vision.
Cover the must-haves. Fifty-six percent of respondents to a recent survey want best-in-class products and services.1 What's on your list of banking product necessities? Most corporations need the basics, such as business checking and savings accounts, business credit and debit cards, business loans and lines of credit, and access to wire transfers, ACH payments, and certified checks. But you should also consider the bank's online banking capabilities.
Look for a trusted banker. Business is easier with a relationship manager who understands your goals and can offer the right customized lending products, whether loans or lines of credit. Affinity with a business banker is important, as you'll have someone advocating for you in front of the corporate lending committee when they are making financing decisions.
Moreover, you want to have a banking relationship that will withstand the ups and downs that all businesses experience over time. The pandemic is testing many banking partnerships as the economy adjusts. Talented, dedicated bankers help business executives manage a variety of serious challenges and should be an integral part of your team.
Seek knowledge. A recent survey of corporate treasury professionals indicates 52% want to work with a bank that understands their business and operations.2 It's essential to have knowledgeable advisors — financially savvy professionals who can offer insights on your industry, as well as creative solutions.
Business bankers who are aware of your niche's typical business cycles, regulatory changes, and key performance indicators add value to the relationship. Some bankers know your industry so well they can quickly point out opportunities and warn you of pitfalls. They can help you navigate risk, offer ideas you haven't thought of, and provide custom solutions based on your specific business circumstances and goals.
Knowledgeable bankers can also refer you to other trusted advisors with specific skills and business intelligence you might need, such as insurance and legal professionals. Your banker will likely also have other clients with experience relevant to whatever business decisions you are contemplating and can help you frame the issues you are facing.
Think strategically. In a survey of corporate banking clients, more than 57% said they want a bank that acts as a “strategic and long-term partner."3 As you grow, you need bankers committed to your company and its success. This means access to forward-thinking and sizeable financing to support mergers and acquisitions, market expansion, business development projects, and other capital needs. Think big and think long-term: Does the bank have the capital assets to support your growth? Can the banking team help propel your business to the next level?
Expect attention. Your company deserves personalized attention from your entire advisory team, including your commercial bank. As a client, what are your expectations for the banking relationship in terms of proactive outreach, responsiveness, and deal management? Customer service (81%) and ease of doing business (73%) were the top selection criteria in the U.S. for choosing a cash management provider.4
Look for a bank that's interested in delivering a positive client experience, including reducing pain points and red tape, and streamlining processes for greater efficiency. Be sure you're a priority client for the bank. You want to be top-of-mind with your banker.
Test the digital experience. Eighty-two percent of commercial banking clients say the digital platform is a key reason they are loyal to their financial institutions.5 Banks that fully understand business needs are redesigning their online platforms for an enhanced user experience. Responsive design ensures you’ll get the same online experience no matter which device you use to access your accounts – the screen size and menu design automatically adjust. This allows you to perform daily cash management tasks from anywhere, using any device you choose.
Seamless integration. Is your provider’s solution compatible with your accounting, cash management, and payment software? Seventy-three percent of corporations are reviewing bank payments solutions, while 68% are looking into cash management options.6 Integrated software that automates daily entries, helps with budgeting, and helps to manage payroll cash flow will save valuable time that you can use for other tasks. Scalable solutions enable your business to grow and adapt to changing needs.
Secure data and access management. Fraud prevention is a top selection criterion for 60% of corporations.7 Your and your customers’ data should be securely managed. It’s not only good business – the Payment Card Industry Security Council requires merchants and card data processors to protect payment information. There are stiff penalties and fines for failure to do so. It’s important to ask your financial institution how it protects card and other financial data, as well as how they would respond in the event of a data breach.
Another critical element of security is internal controls. Every employee shouldn’t have access to financial applications and data. Does your bank offer solutions with which you can grant specific employees permission to access accounts, transactions and reporting on a “need-to-know” basis?
Use your network. Do your professional and industry colleagues work with commercial banks — or specific bankers — they love? Are there services or products others in your industry are taking advantage of that you are missing? Ask for input and recommendations.
As companies emerge from what has arguably been the most disruptive global event of a lifetime, it's crucial to be on the same page as your commercial banking provider. In fact, now is the perfect time to review your loans and credit lines, discuss your business plan, and update your banker on anything that's changed about your strategic approach, outlook, and goals.
Contact a Synovus Business Banker or your Relationship Manager for more details.
This content is general in nature and does not constitute legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment advice. You are encouraged to consult with competent legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment professionals based on your specific circumstances. We do not make any warranties as to accuracy or completeness of this information, do not endorse any third-party companies, products, or services described here, and take no liability for your use of this information.
CGI, “The Global Treasurer’s Transaction Banking Survey,” 2021
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