How to build a relationship with your banker

Having a relationship with your banker makes financing business needs far easier. But like any relationship, it needs time and attention. Here’s how to keep your banker close to bring your financial goals even closer.

A business owner’s relationship with their banker is among the most important when guiding a company. A solid relationship can help secure necessary funding for starting up or expanding, and it can also ensure the right fit of financial products and services that can help a business run smoothly. Forging a strong connection takes patience and consistent effort, and developing the following habits can help:

Communicate Regularly

The first step in strengthening any relationship is regular communication. Consistent, positive outreach transforms you from an account number to a personal contact. A banker can’t champion you if they don’t know who you are. The key is consistency. A good practice is to touch base with your banker at least quarterly. It’s simple, but it separates you from the pack.

Move Beyond Small Talk

Make discussions with your banker valuable. Share what’s happening in your business and where you want to take it next. Ideally you can establish good practice from the first meeting: introduce yourself and your business, present your business plan, and review financial statements. While first impressions are important, following through on expectations is what earns trust, so be sure to provide progress reports at subsequent meetings.

Be Honest

In addition to providing funding, bankers can offer guidance based on knowing how other local businesses navigated similar issues. Novice entrepreneurs can be guarded about problems that arise, but a bank expects transparency in good and not-so-good times. Facing negative news is a part of running a business, and withholding material information can undermine your credibility in the long run. Offering honest insight into business challenges strengthens trust and lets banking partners help.

Apply Early for Loans

Bankers appreciate entrepreneurs that take a long-term view. Consider applying for loans well in advance of when funding is needed to ensure there is enough time in case you run into questions or need additional documentation.

Share Goals

Regularly discussing your business goals with your banker is crucial. Companies with a clear, comprehensive plan to grow appear less risky for a loan. Bankers can help guide ambitious entrepreneurs to realistic targets and to growth opportunities. They often have expansive local networks, so they can recommend vendors, introduce potential customers and provide merchant services.

Give a Tour

Businesses invite customers and vendors to visit their facilities with no hesitation, so why not extend that courtesy to your banker? A tour can showcase what a financial statement can’t: the employees, brand and customer service that position your organization for success.

Build a Track Record

The best relationships are built over time, so don’t expect on winning over a banker in a single meeting. Consistent communication that demonstrates a company’s financial fitness is most effective over time. Taking a disciplined, long-term approach will go a long way toward ensuring that your banking relationship is a win for everyone.