Dispelling the myths of community banking
Community banks are "small." Community banks are "not close to me." Community banks are not "high tech." Shall I go on?
There are many reasons a business owner chooses a bank, but mostly we find it is either because that bank was close to their office or was the one they were using for their personal accounts.
This is not the logic that is used while choosing other vendors and advisers. You choose based on who can provide the best service/product and who has the most knowledge to help you make better choices for your business. Cost is the final component that completes your decision.
And what are the reasons you need a bank that is close to you? Is it because your lender asks you to come to them? Or is it because the technology is costly or you are haven't been given ideas on how it can improve your efficiency?
This is where an experienced banker, supported by a bank that has modern technology, can become a valuable service provider. Time savings is a component in business that is becoming even more important in this fast-paced environment. We are all working varied hours that include weekends and evenings -- sometimes to manage customer needs, sometimes to balance work/life opportunities. There are ways to leverage your technology that can provide safety for your hard-earned revenue while effectively moving your accounts payable and receivable functions to your staff.
None of the above can be accomplished unless you have a bank that is focused on its customers as well as its technology platform. Large banks often provide the technology necessary to service the volumes of consumer accounts they manage.
But are they really a resource to your business? Do you find yourself caught up in the revolving doors of a big bank's small business unit?
There will always be a place for small businesses like yours and ours. We fill the need of smaller product runs and outsourced expertise. We are "close" to our customers, not in the physical sense, but in the ability to pay attention to their needs. We stay in our niche to be the best at what we are and to be a valuable resource to those who need us.
So why not consider the bank that is best for your business? The size of a bank only defines its regulatory maximum lending amount. This limit can affect some middle-market companies borrowing tens of millions of dollars that are serviced by large institutional lenders. And those lenders pay attention to those customers.
As a small business, you need your own resource of lenders that understand and pay attention to you. You don't have a large staff of in-house financial officers. You need to rely on your outside financial sources.
And that is where an experienced, small commercial bank comes in. Ask your local lender. I think you will find they can satisfy your lending needs, and so much more.
• Anthony F. Catanese is manager of business development at Union National Bank.