According to the Bank of Canada, banks are responsible for 58 per cent of all funds loaned to businesses in the form of business loans, short-term promissory notes, non-residential mortgages and other lending products. That means choosing the right business bank is a key decision for business owners.
And the Canadian Bankers Association (CBA) says a good relationship between a business client and a bank is important in good economic times and bad.
“As we move through the business recovery phase and towards a more sustainable growth path, banks will continue to be there to support their business clients, just as they were during the financial crisis,” according to CBA.
Andrew Biers, manager, Equipment Financing Group, for Canadian Western Bank based in the Coquitlam, British Columbia branch, says there are five key points to consider when choosing a business banker.
- Availability: “You want a banker who is engaged and genuinely looking after your best interests. Someone who will work for you and your business, providing the level of service you expect and more. This includes not only timely and accurate service, but also the little things like accommodating a busy schedule by meeting a client at his or her office, or returning a call or email without delay. Strong organizational skills are likely to be one of the attributes you will find in an effective business banker.”
- Competency: “You want to ensure that your banker has the ability to help you achieve your needs. CWB is structured in such a way that allows us to specialize in various sectors of lending. For example, I work within the Equipment Financing Group, and by concentrating on specific industries and equipment, it correlates to a better understanding of the environment in which our clients operate. That experience can translate into added value.”
- Adding Value: “Choosing a banker should be more than just saving a few dollars. An effective banker can also provide insight or ideas to help an individual or business achieve long-term objectives.”
- Effective Communication: “Be an active listener and ask important questions. Provide thoughts in an easy to understand explanation that will be beneficial. Whether it’s good news or bad, honesty is the best policy.
- Strong Character: “Just as a banker looks for strong character as one of our five C’s of credit, you will want to choose an individual and financial institution that shows you integrity. Dealing with someone you trust, have respect for and can relate to will aid in building a long-term relationship, which at its most effective is more like a partnership.”