Investing in a strong banking relationship can deliver significant returns for business owners.
For small business owners, building a relationship with a bank is critical when it comes to navigating the many financial challenges that arise over time.
Most business owners seek financial support at various stages of their lifecycle, and establishing a strong connection with their bank can facilitate the process.
Despite face-to-face interactions disappearing from many aspects of our lives for much of this year, business owners can still benefit from the personalised and interactive relationships inherent to traditional banking models, says Joe Formichella, Bendigo Bank’s head of small business.
“Every one of our business customers has a dedicated business banking manager, who will spend time with the customer to understand what’s unique about their business and what their goals are,” he explains.
“These business bankers understand the local market and environment in which that business operates and work with the customer to deliver a tailored solution that meets their needs, not only now, but also in the future.”
Solutions for any business phase
Bendigo Bank’s business bankers offer customers a range of smart banking solutions and financial support relevant to their circumstances. Start-ups, for example, might require assistance preserving capital and structuring cash flow to cover the shortfalls that often arise during the early days of operation.
“That’s where a good, strong relationship with your bank comes in handy,” Formichella says.
“You can meet with your business banker, go through your business plan and your budgets and quickly identify periods over the coming 12 months where your business may have timing challenges around cash flow and establish an appropriate overdraft.”
For established businesses entering a growth phase, support might take the form of flexible finance options that enable owners to expand the business interstate or overseas, or purchase property.
Business banking managers can also provide insurance, superannuation and investment solutions, as well as transactional strategies.
Help is always available, Formichella adds, especially when times are tough, as many business owners discovered throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“During those first few weeks when COVID-19 took hold, we called every single customer,” he explains.
“All our customers have felt supported during this period, with their business bankers regularly checking in. We’ve very much held their hand all the way through.”
Mapping a vision for growth
Business owners seeking advice or support should be prepared to share information with their bank – namely, a clear and succinct business proposal that includes a definition of success and how it will be achieved, a detailed SWOT analysis and risk evaluation of the business, a marketing plan, and a financial analysis of the business’s ability to service all their commitments.
Formichella encourages customers to work with their accountant to compile these reports – templates for which are available as “Helpful Tools” on the Bendigo Bank website – along with the financial history of the business, current performance and projections for the next 12 months.
“It’s about making sure that any current and/or additional debt a customer is looking for can be comfortably serviced by the business’s cash flow,” he explains.
Customers can benefit from regular communication with their business banking manager, Formichella continues, not just when they need a specific product or service, but also to discuss new opportunities, monitor the market or flag potential problems before they arise.
“Having a business banking manager that works closely with you, and connecting with them on a regular basis, helps us to have a deeper understanding of our customer’s business,” he says.
“It puts us in a good position when customers do want additional debt or support, because we’ve got all the up-to-date information available and can turn requests around very quickly, which is ideal for small business.”
To find out more about Bendigo Bank’s business banking support, visit www.bendigobank.com.au/business