How to turn your bank manager into a raving fan

How to turn your bank manager into a raving fan

A bank manager who is a raving fan can do wonders for you but on the other hand if you get offside with them your business is never going to get the treatment it deserves. Over many years on both sides of the banking fence I have observed the behaviours of customers which turn bankers both on and off.

Every SME owner fortunate enough to have a bank relationship manager wants and needs a good relationship with that person. Achieving this goal requires acceptance of some fundamental rules about dealing with banks as well as an understanding of the behaviours that turn bankers on and off.

The most important rule when dealing with banks is the Golden Rule – whoever has the gold makes the rules and the banks have the gold. You might elect not to play by your bank’s rules but remember the big banks that dominate the market all play by the same set of rules.

The second rule is you need them more than they need you. You have only one bank and banker but they have many customers. This means if you want to build the relationship you need to take the initiative to make it happen.

The third rule is your relationship manager is your best advocate. He or she is the most important person in determining how the bank sees you and your business. A raving fan will go into bat for you with limits, pricing, conditions and turnaround times. At the other extreme, if you have a poor relationship with your banker you’re not going to get much support.

The vast majority of bank relationship managers are absolutely committed to doing the best for all their customers but the pressures they are under make it difficult to find time and given their concerns about job security they will not unreasonably only put their reputation on the line if they have a high level of confidence in you and your business. So whilst they monitor your performance in relation to repayment schedules and other KPIs they are also closely observing the values and behaviours you display in your personal interactions.

To turn your banker into a raving fan here are four “do” and “don’t do” behaviours.

DO THIS.
1. Keep your banker fully informed.
It takes time and effort keeping your banker up to date with what’s happening in your business and industry especially when they change frequently but the investment is worth it in the long run. If in doubt about how much information to provide, work on the basis of “more is better”.

2. Deliver on commitments.
Credibility with your banker is easy to lose and hard to regain. It might be something simple like providing annual accounts by due date but if you fail to deliver your credibility suffers. Of course it’s not always possible to do exactly as you intended when you signed the bank’s offer letter but it’s your responsibility to deliver on your commitments. Businesses rarely get into trouble when they meet the terms and conditions they signed up for.

3. Respond when they call.
You probably get annoyed if your banker doesn’t return your calls or emails as promptly as you would like but remember who needs whom more. If you fail to respond when your banker makes contact it wont help your cause.

4. Help them out.
Ask your banker how you can help them achieve their KPIs. You might be able to give them more business by way of a cross sale or by referring a friend. There may be a customer satisfaction survey coming up where you can give your banker a good score – make sure you tell them if you do this.

DON’T DO THIS.
1. Mislead or lie.
Don’t bury your head in the sand over a looming problem or overlook something they should know about. An uninformed banker represents a serious threat to you and your business. Don’t tell your banker what you think they want to hear. A misinformed banker is even a bigger risk. Don’t lie. This is a guaranteed way to get any banker offside instantly and permanently.

2. Take the relationship for granted.
Don’t assume that because the relationship with your banker isn’t broken, it doesn’t need fixing. More than two thirds of the business owners we deal with thought they had a good relationship until it was tested. Those most likely to get this wrong have been with the one bank since inception.

3. Go over his/her head.
If you don’t get the answer or service you want think carefully about going over your banker’s head. This remains an option but only as a last resort. Your banker is nearly always the messenger and not the decision maker so if you shoot the messenger who will advocate for you?

4. Don’t lose your cool.
We are all human but losing your temper in the heat of the moment is not going to endear you to your banker. If you think you might have difficulties in keeping your emotions in check maybe just sleep on it or get someone else to deal with your banker.

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