Running a small business can be both a daunting and exciting time in your career. So it is important to have an excellent relationship with the people you’ve brought in to be part of your team. Your banker should be at the top of that friend list.
Why? Your banker is quite possibly the paid professional who knows the absolute most about you.
“My banker, Conrad Marshall, knows very personal things about my financial history and I trust him with that information. It makes sense that we’ve become good friends, he knows everything!” says Kristen Haines, owner of Euphoria Spa. Haines banks at Sovereign Bank in TriBeCa. “Your finances tell a lot about you. Conrad knows a lot of personal information about me, but he had to gain my trust. It’s nice to know I have someone on my side when I need him.”
Haines and her banker have both made an effort spend a lot of time face-to-face together. “He’s big on visiting his clients,” says Haines. “So I’m a very familiar face for him. And when I’ve had a problem, he was there immediately as my calm contact person. Because he knows me, he fixes things immediately.”
Having someone on your side can mean keeping a close eye on your account when you are traveling. For one hedge fund manager, his UBS banker has practically become family. “I always send her something for the holidays and remember her birthday. I pay even more attention to her, the assistant of the account manager, than the account manager because she is the one dealing with my money more regularly.”
As a result, says the hedge fund manager, there is a pair of eyes actively watching for fraudulent activity as he travels and transfers money internationally. “She fights for me when it comes to commissions and fees,” he says “We chat regularly, and when she doesn’t know I’m traveling she calls me right away to make sure I was on vacation or working and not a victim of fraud. She is awesome!”
When your banker personally knows you and trusts how you manage your money, he or she can make it easier for you to get a small business loan. The reputation of being a good person and coming from a good family helped Jeff Scheck, president of Scheck Outdoor, a mobile advertising company get a small business loan with his parent’s banker. Patty Davino at Valley National Bank in Wayne, NJ, is a longtime "friend" of Scheck’s parents. “She helped my Dad start his business 15 years ago. That bank has my parent’s mortgage, so my Dad’s reliable reputation with them helped me get a loan for my small business.”
Now that Scheck is trusting Patty with his money, he finds he gets the same service his parents have been getting. “She always calls me back and answers all my questions quickly,” says Scheck. “She was the reason I was able to start my business. As my business grows, as a thank-you to Patty, I will switch my mortgage for my apartment to Valley National.”
The preferential treatment for creating a lasting relationship with your banker reaps some very convenient rewards. For Beth Neville Evans her good relationship with her banker in Virginia has been paramount when dealing with wire transfers necessary for developing her non-profit, Ixtatan, in San Mateo, Guatemala. It’s also of great assistance to Evans in the launching of a spin-off gourmet black salt business in San Mateo that she hopes to bring to the U.S.
“International wire transfers cost $50, but if there is a corresponding American bank, then it’s only $20,” says Neville. “I make monthly wire transfers to Guatemala, so that adds up.” The banker at Neville’s small bank worked it out so that she saves $30 with each transaction. “I like that they ask questions about Guatemala, [and that] they know what I need so I don’t have to spell it out every time.”
The same goes for Tracy Piper, co-founder of M.A.R.C. Holistic Center. Piper’s banker is in sync with her super busy schedule. “When you’re in a rush, it is great being able to call someone directly and have things ready. Then later, you can walk in and out without waiting in a long line.” Her rapport with her banker extends to the point where if her funds are running low in one account, they’ll alert her and make a transfer. “With my banker, my checks never bounce,” says Piper.