Whatever happened to relationship banking?
MOORE: Whatever happened to relationship banking?
By Laura Moore
With today’s expanding technology, we are able to perform almost every standard banking service at the touch of a button.
Whether you’re transferring money or checking your account balance, consumers today are enjoying an expansive list of new technology and modern banking conveniences online and through mobile banking. In fact, mobile banking has increasingly become a preferred method for daily banking activity by providing instantaneous services.
As technology has made certain banking transactions easier and more convenient, big banks are trying to replace customer relationships with computer technology. For many, there’s still something missing from this model when electronic services do not suffice — an actual person who knows you and knows your community.
What happened to relationship banking?
Although you may actually like the idea of never having to step foot into a bank, you should at least ask yourself this question: Who is providing pro-active oversight of your unique financial circumstances and needs?
Is it a banking representative 400 miles away or a software system that lacks critical thinking and decision making ability? Unfortunately, in most cases, the answer is yes, especially in Savannah where 80 percent of the local market share is controlled by national and regional banks.
While technological advancements in banking serve as a great additional tool, there is nothing online or on your smartphone that can replace the benefits of having a relationship with a banker who understands your specific needs and the community in which you do business.
Relationship banking is not in contradiction to using modern technology to perform banking needs. Rather it’s an additional service that can make a large difference in your overall banking experience. If someone were to ask you, “Who’s your banker?” could you reply with a person’s name? If not, it is in your best interest to develop a relationship with a trusted banking ally.
Someday you’re going to want a relationship with a bank. Here are five key reasons why building a relationship with your banker can increase your financial success:
As any business owner can attest, creating trusted relationships with the people who help manage your business is critical to its success. This concept is no different when it comes to banking. By establishing a banking relationship with someone you trust, you are setting the expectation of a higher level of service and gaining valuable access to a financial expert to help meet your long-term goals.
Consider developing your next banking relationship with a community bank. They often enjoy greater agility when it comes to making important financial decisions for their banking clients, largely due to their increased knowledge of their customers’ needs and close ties within the communities they serve. Because of these relationships, decisions on loan approvals and other key banking transactions can be kept local.
Speed of transaction
By having one point-of-contact, your financial needs can be handled in a timely and efficient manner. This is especially important when you need a quick turnaround on paperwork or require a speedy approval process for a lending transaction.
No one likes fair-weather friends. Another perk to knowing your banker is pro-active communication centered on your unique needs and opportunities. This type of communication helps develop a close relationship with you as a client. So, in times of need, not only do you have fast access to your personal banker, but they are also up to speed on the particulars and don’t have to waste precious time getting the scoop.
If you’ve ever been in a pinch and listened to on-hold music longer than speaking to an actual person, you know the difference having a direct line can make.
Small businesses in particular have critical lending needs to help grow their company, whether it’s to launch a new business or expand an existing one. If you already have a strong relationship and history with your bank or banker, the lending process can go a lot smoother (which will make everyone happy).
Don’t wait for your time of need to find a banking institution that can serve as your trusted banking partner. Start the “dating” process now. Set frequent meetings with your banker, learn more about each other’s businesses over lunch and don’t be afraid to ask for advice.
By doing this, you will quickly develop a strong and lasting banking relationship.
Laura Moore is the president of BankSouth in the Savannah market.
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