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  • Tom Matthews

It’s the Banker not the Bank

Updated: Nov 19, 2019

We care about banks the most when we need to borrow money. Now that we are in that position, we have to find the right bank. Right?

Surprisingly, the answer is no. We, as business owners, do not deal with banks. We deal with the bankers that work there. Our efforts should go to finding that right person.

With very few exceptions, banks follow the same set of rules when making loans. They are all conservative. They all care about preserving capital more than they care about making money.  The difference comes with your loan officer’s presentation to the decision-makers (the loan committee, the boss, etc). How good is she at presenting your case? How good is he at gathering all the facts so an informed decision can be made? The decision-maker (the loan committee) does not meet with you. Their only access to you is through the loan officer’s presentation of your case.

While banks do have a very similar set of rules in making loans, loan officers come in all variety of shapes and sizes. We all know about the 80/20 rule. I believe that rule applies to the banker you are doing business with: 80% of bankers are not very good and you are at risk. 20% of bankers are good and will present your case in the best way possible.

How do you find a good banker? What are the qualities that you are looking for?

The best way to find a good banker is through your referral network. You have business friends that have dealt with the good bankers. Reach out to them and get their names. Your CPA should also be a good referral partner. CPA’s understand bankers and know the good ones from the bad ones. 

Anytime we need to make a decision on someone, we want proof of concept that they can and will perform. In this case, we need to know that the banker has made loans on tough but good deals. It’s surprising to me that the literature a banker gives you is always about the bank. How big they are, how many branches they have. We, as business owners, don’t care about that. We would rather have a series of case studies. Tough deals where the loans were made. Maybe even tougher deals where the loans weren’t made. We need that proof of concept.

The qualities of a good banker are the same qualities that we want to see in anyone we do business with:

- They do what they say they will do.

- No smoke and mirrors. Authenticity.

- You like them. 

- They give you an honest picture of deals they can get done and deals they cannot get done.

- Their approach to sales is consultative. 

- They work with you to improve the quality of the loan request.

- Velocity is important to them. They work fast.

I know many good bankers. Feel free to reach out to me if you would like to meet one.

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