Are you happy with your bank? Do you consider what you pay in fees to be a good value for the services provided? Do you consider your bank to be a source of support for your business? If the answer to any of these question is “no” or “maybe”, read on.
The choice of a bank is a serious decision in our personal and business lives and size matters, as regards the account, business or personal, and the bank as an entity. As with all planning, the expected needs of the individual and/or the business must be considered when choices are made. Banks have become competitive and expensive over the past couple of decades and as a consumer and a businessperson, you owe it to yourself to get the most for your money and your needs met as you do.
As a private citizen, you may want to buy or refinance a home, make home upgrades, or finance your child’s education. As a business owner or Freelance consultant, you may have equipment or technology upgrades, growth and expansion plans that will benefit from outside financing. Whatever your financial plans, a helpful banker will be an essential building block toward the realization of your goals and obligations.
How should Freelancers and business owners choose a bank? A good way to start is to identify two community banks, two regional and two large national outfits and pay each a visit. Walk in and ask to meet the business banker, who is also usually the commercial loan officer. If you need an appointment make one, so that you will have time to talk. Tell this individual about your business and your plans and perceived needs. How can the bank augment and support your business?
If business credit is a priority, ask these two questions:
- What is the amount of the credit line that the business banker can personally approve?
- Does the bank offer SBA loans and is it a Preferred SBA Lender and able to approve and underwrite such loans independently. How much SBA loan business is done and what percentage of applications are approved?
Below is a general guideline as to what type of bank is likely to be appropriate for your business venture. Remember to ask about merchant credit card processing fees if you accept cards.
- Freelancers, small and medium businesses
- Fees can be on the high side
- Technology can be slow or not comprehensive
- Service is typically excellent. This is old-fashioned banking. Customers are taken care of. The tellers and managers know you.
- Loaning decisions are made locally. They know you and your business. They want to help. Your character will count.
- Small – medium size businesses that plan to grow
- Fees are average
- Technology will meet expectations, the basics will be available
- Service is usually good, the regionals are capable of delivering personalized service
- Loan decisions will be made with an eye to the local economy, along with what your financials indicate about your ability to repay
- Medium-large business that do out-of-state and/or international business
- Fees are usually the lowest available, the result of economies of scale
- Technology will be the most cutting-edge available. Banking can be almost entirely done online.
- Service is often impersonal because staff turn-over is often high. No one knows you for long. Decisions are not made locally at the branch level.
- Loans are issued strictly by the numbers, the manager will not be able to give you the benefit of the doubt.
Thanks for reading,