Two separate conversations encouraged me to write this post. One was a chat with a client commenting on his great banker and the other was with a banker who jokingly said, “What is it you borrowers want?”
Yes, low rates, low fees, flexibility, etc., are great, but in my opinion what borrowers really want (or should I say need) is an ally they can call on for resources, support, and help. To me, this is more important than a few basis points (an opinion I’ll quickly deny next time I’m negotiating loan pricing). I drafted a short list of top things I look for in a banking relationship:
- Banking experience, particularly in the industry of the client.
- Intelligence. Be able to understand a complex financing or transaction structure to the point of explaining it clearly and defending it to their loan committee.
- Proactivity. Be thinking about the client. When you have a new idea, product, or resource you think would be helpful, make sure to bring it to their attention for consideration. Can you help them get new business?
- Think like the borrower. Put yourself in the shoes of the borrower. What’s important to them? What needs might they have you can help with?
- Be the client’s advocate. First, you have to believe in your client and their business. Hopefully you appreciate the value they provide their customers and are enthusiastic about their success. If you don’t, you’re probably not the best banker for them. If you do, then be prepared to go the mat for them when needed.
- Be straight. Always be honest, direct, and do what you say you’ll do.
And finally, have a sense of humor.
During my career on the borrower side of the table there have been many times I selected a lender because of the above over pricing. To me, relationships, trust, and resources are what matter.