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Money / Financial management

Six ways to be your business banker’s BFF

A good relationship with your business banker can make life much easier. Here are six ways to be their star client: your business will benefit hugely as a result.

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True story. One business banker turns to another business banker and says, “This client just sent me an application with everything included”.

The second business banker replies, “What, totally complete?”

“Yeah, cash flows, servicing, scenarios and a business plan. The application was practically written for me!” Then, in response to his colleague’s look of disbelief adds, “No, I’m serious. I am applying all the discounts I can!”

The moral of the story, kids, is that it pays to make your banker’s job as easy as possible. This business owner has not only saved on fees but now has a banker who will happily go the extra mile for them – and wouldn’t we all like one of those?

"The moral of the story, kids, is that it pays to make your banker’s job as easy as possible."

Here are a few insider tips about how to be the sort of client every banker dreams of, and benefit as a result.

TIP #1 Be prepared

If you’re applying for finance there is basic information that your banker will need in order to prove you have the ability to pay back the loan. This is not avoidable. Having that information ready before you talk to your banker will make you very popular and it might just get your application bumped up the queue.

The basics are generally your latest financials including cash flows and your ATO portals. If your accountant-prepared financials are more than six months old include current management prepared financials as well.

TIP #2 Allow plenty of time

Do yourself and your banker a favour by allowing plenty of time for things to be processed. Have some empathy for them, they aren’t miracle workers and are typically busy behind the scenes doing work you don’t see. Talk to your banker as soon as you think you might want something and ask about the necessary timeframe. Then add a few days to that if you can before chasing up with them.

Obviously, sometimes short timeframes are unavoidable. But if the short timeframe is because you’ve been sitting on plans for months and didn’t bother to check how much time was needed it will not be appreciated. You will quickly earn yourself a bad reputation, and you might even make it physically impossible for your application to be approved.

TIP #3 Provide information promptly

Bankers operate in a heavily-regulated industry and also have a lot of hoops to jump through thanks to the increasing centralisation of internal processes. So, if your banker has asked you for information, provide it as promptly as you can.

You may not understand why they need it, but they sure haven’t requested information for the fun of it. Your banker does not have time to chase you for information or argue with you about why it’s necessary. Work on your application may get pushed back in favour of quicker and easier tasks.

If you can provide additional information quickly (within a few hours) you may also keep your place in the queue with any centralised departments reviewing your application. Delay and your application might need to be completely resubmitted. That can add days if not weeks to the processing time.

TIP #4 Follow instructions

It might sound obvious but your banker will be eternally grateful if you read your emails carefully and follow instructions to the letter. For example, if you banker has sent you a form to fill out, don’t just sign it and send it back blank. You would be amazed the number of times bankers see that or have clients say “Oh, but can’t you just do it for me?”.

There are actually two issues with that statement. One, your banker does not have time to fill out your forms for you.

And two, these days unless it’s in your handwriting it is likely to be rejected for legal reasons.

TIP #5 Don’t call to follow up every hour

Further to Tip #2 remember bankers are not magicians and processing your application is actually a lot of work. It’s fine to follow things up, but calling repeatedly, especially if you’ve already been given a timeframe, simply slows the process and is likely to put your banker off-side. Try to be patient (within reason) and give them time to get the job done.

TIP #6 Be polite

This one is a basic common courtesy. Acknowledge that your banker is a fellow human being and treat them with respect. Yes, they are working for you but that does not give you the right to be a jerk. It’s like being that guy at the restaurant who feels entitled to give the waitress a really hard time. No-one goes the extra mile for that guy.

Hand in your application early along with your complete information, forms, and supporting documents, and watch your banker’s jaw hit the floor. You will become an urban legend, and you can be sure that your banker will go above and beyond to make sure you are taken care of and retain you as a client.

Natalie Cavanagh

is the Owner/Operations Manager at Insight Business Plans & Analysis providing quality business plans, cash flows, and scenario analysis to SMEs, as well as tailored analysis solutions. Connect with Natalie on LinkedIn and Facebook.

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