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What Should You Expect From Your Bank?

S DiProjetto 2015
Susan DiProjetto
Senior Vice President, Business Banking Sales Manager
[email protected]
(585) 419-0670 x50614

If you are a business owner, you are likely trying to navigate this new and hopefully, temporary landscape. Many businesses have been closed since March and, for security reasons, your Bank may be only accessible by phone, online, drive thru or appointment. Regardless, most small business customers have a group of trusted advisors to guide them: their attorney, CPA and banker. Even while limited, these three advisors should play important roles in your business’ financial recovery.

Many are doing things on instinct today, due to these challenging and unprecedented times. You had employees that you had to lay-off. You are trying to figure out when you can open and what you need to do to bring your employees back; timing is everything. It is also about whether your employees are willing or able to return to work. With schools closed, many have had to remain home to take care of their children and provide home schooling. There are so many hurdles that none of us have ever dealt with before. We are in unchartered waters.

Whether you are a small business owner or a consumer, you should expect to have your bank on your side. Your banker, as a partner, is one to look to for advice and counsel. Over the past 3 months, statistics from across the banking industry have shown that the outreach from customers unable to pay their obligations has been staggering. Banks have recognized the need: car loans, personal loans, mortgages, credit card payments, business loans, etc., have been deferred for many bank customers. The needs are basic: how can you pay your bills with no revenue? The lights need to be kept on, and more importantly, the needs of your family and loved ones have to be met.

I am sure many have heard of the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program. This program— effective through June 30th, or as long as funds are available—is designed to provide small businesses with funding to re-hire employees who were laid off when their employer was unable to operate. There were 2 phases of the program due to need and high response; Phase 1 ran out of money quickly, so a second round was opened shortly after. Billions of dollars have been provided to small businesses to enable them to rehire their employees--even if they were not yet able to open their doors. The program gave business owners hope that they could remain viable, pay their employees and their bills. The program was well intended; however, I don’t think anyone could have foreseen the extended time of this pandemic or that the re-opening guidance would be as restrictive as it is. Since the inception of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the SBA has released additional, adjusted guidance on how the loan proceeds can be spent and has extended the time that it can be used. This will go a long way in helping businesses as they either re-open or await their time to do so.

It was during the initial roll-out of the PPP program, when business owners were in a panic, that relationships and clear lines of communication with your banker rose in importance. The general message was to apply ASAP or run the risk of the program running out of money. Nationally, it was reported that it was the community bankers that were the “best” administrators of this plan. I could attest to that; my colleagues and I heard from our customers as well as many non-customers. So why did we hear from other bank’s customers? What they told us: they did not have a relationship with their banker and did not know who to call. Or, they tried to reach their bank, only to be put on a call back list that in many cases never occurred. We were happy to step up to the plate, not only to help our customers, but other business owners within our community. To date, CNB has helped over 3,700 local businesses. We strive to continue to provide consistent service to all of those we helped during this crisis; we look to expand our relationships and continue to support the various needs of these new customers as we move beyond this pandemic.

So, the question is, what should you expect from your bank—in the good times and the not-so-good times?

You should know who to call at your Bank. A direct line. 1-800 numbers and on-line banking services are necessary for the day to day “regular” issues, but there is nothing like being able to really talk with someone that knows you and your business. Every situation is different, being able to talk with your banker anytime is what you should expect. If you do not have someone that you can call, I would suggest that you reach out to your local Branch Manager and make an introduction. As a business customer, you should expect to hear from your relationship manager at least once a year. Even in normal times, your situation can change from day to day, month to month or year to year.

Your Bank should provide you with education and advice, and you should want to work with a bank and a banker who has your best interest at heart. When you talk through your situation, you should expect to be offered some options, so you can make the best decision for you. The scope should also include for you. The scope should also include solutions beyond the immediate need, with a focus on your future.

This is my experience as a local banker associated with a community bank: we have a vested interest in our family, which is the community that we serve. We take pride in putting local money back into our market area. Whether you are a business owner with 300 employees, a sole proprietor, or a consumer, we are here to help guide you in your financial journey. We are 130 + years in the making and have built our programs to lead with Service. If you do not feel like you are getting what you need from your bank—if the expectations that I have referenced have not been met-- please reach out to me or any one of my colleagues. We would love to have the opportunity to prove our difference.