The vast majority of businesses will already have established banking relationships. However it is sensible to have another lender as a first reserve, namely someone who already knows your business and has made it clear that they would be interested in providing banking services to you. They are useful in circumstances where your existing funders are unable to meet your banking requirements.
Ask your contacts in organisations you are involved, peers and colleagues which lender they use? What has their experience been? Who do they recommend?
Ask the bankers you are speaking to for contact details of existing customers who can validate their claims that they are competitive, experienced and relationship driven . This is a better way of gauging a lender's service than just reading their marketing materials.
Who to approach
Everyone's situation is unique – so it is worth investing time in determining which lender will be the right fit for you.It is worth exploring beyond the main UK clearing banks. There are now a number of challenger banks, specialist lenders and alternative finance providers that may be able to provide you with the services and products you require.
Sectors and Geography
Look for a lender that has experience in your sector and as a consequence will have a far better understanding of your business and the regulatory and financial environment you are operating in.
If you have operations or customers/suppliers overseas or have international aspirations, you will need a lender that can provide you with international banking services in the right jurisdictions that you will need to run operate your business efficiently and effectively.
Questions to consider
What types of services and products can the lender provide to assist you in meeting your business goals and objectives? Will you have a dedicated relationship manager? How do they envisage building your relationship? What is their expertise and knowledge about businesses similar to yours? How can they help you grow your business and address the challenges you face? Will they be able to make valuable introductions to you Do they have sector experts that can provide you with insight and analysis of your customers and marketplace? What demands will they make on your treasury/ finance team?
Inertia can dominate thinking about changing lenders or building a relationship with a new potential lender. However relationship managers are often tasked with building and running a shadow portfolio and are happy to invest time getting to know businesses that are not currently customers, but have potential to be in the future. It makes sense to tap into such a resource.
Author: Helen Corner