Choosing the right bank for your business by Dave Deicke
Your success in getting a Bank to support a request for finance you may need does depend upon you choosing the right Bank in the first place. Even if you don’t initially intend to borrow any money, you should keep this possibility in mind when you are researching the market for the right Bank.
With competition increasing you can get some good deals if you are prepared to shop around. Also, don’t pass over the Banks which offer only telephone or Internet Banking for small businesses. If you operate a very small and simple business then an Internet only Bank account may be right for you.
So where should you look and what criteria should you use when searching for a Bank for your small business?
Your Existing Bank
If the Bank where you have your personal account offers business banking facilities then this may be a good place to start. You already know their level of service (good or bad!), the layout of the branch and perhaps some of the staff if you are lucky! This can make the whole process of opening a new account much easier.
But don’t open your business account at the same Bank just because it will be less hassle. You must still ensure that the services which go with the business account are what you are looking for and at the right cost.
A New Bank
Even if you have a good relationship with the Bank that has your personal account, don’t discount the opportunity of looking around. One reason to consider opening your business account at a different Bank is that of total separation between the two aspects of your life – your business and personal life.
Consider whether you want one institution to have complete control of your business and personal finances. If you do go through a sticky patch in the business, would you feel comfortable with the Bank seeing what you have sitting on your savings account?
If you have no preference for a particular Bank then location of your Branch may be more of a priority, especially if you will be paying in a lot of cash where a bank just around the corner would be very useful.
Some businesses have very simple needs when it comes to banking. If you don’t handle cash or large volumes of cheques and are happy banking over the telephone or Internet then location is obviously less of an issue! But be mindful that the lack of a ‘real person’ to talk to could be a frustration when you have a major problem to sort out.
If you have no particular Bank in mind, or you are only interested in getting the very best deal, visit as many as you can so you can make an informed choice. Ask to speak to the Manager and tell them you are interested in opening a Business account and that you are looking for information.
The good ones will spend time with you, offer you brochures, talk you through the process and the leaflets and tell you about their range of services. How you are treated at this early stage will give you a good idea of how you are likely to be treated later on.
Now is the chance for you to get to know about what services and benefits they can offer your business. Ask questions such as,
• Do they offer on-line banking or telephone banking?
• Will you have a named point of contact? Or will you be put through to the dreaded Call Centre?
• At what point will you be able to apply for borrowing facilities and what are the standard terms?
• Do they provide help and support?
• What are the charges to operate the account?
• If you decide to open an account with them, what information such as ID or application forms will they need from you to open the account?
• Do they offer an opening incentive such as 12 to 18 months free banking?
Could You Do Business With Them?
Once you have done all your research take some time to assess all the information you have gathered. Which Bank offered you the best deal? Which Bank is the most convenient? Which Bank offered the services or products most suitable to your circumstances?
I have not mentioned probably the most important aspect for many business people – the person who is going to be looking after you; your point of contact to sort out the things that will go wrong! Ask yourself whether you could get along with him or her. A good relationship with your Banker is vitally important.
And Your Decision Is?
So, based on all your findings, which Bank stands out head and shoulders above the rest? Which one did you feel most comfortable with? Make an informed decision based on all the information you have gathered and then move on to the next stage which is actually opening your account.