Tips on Dealing with Your Banker

I’ve been on both sides of that big banker’s desk. Early in my career I worked as a banker, which gave me invaluable experience on learning how the money guys think. We learned the things that would make us fire CEOs and shut down companies.

These were lessons that were invaluable to me during my entire career as the Turnaround Authority. I know what bankers, investors and other creditors are looking for when they analyze a business. I know what they want to hear from CEOs and business owners.

Businesses need money to operate. That means they generally need bankers and investors — the money guys. But many CEOs treat their bankers as the opposition, like Mr. Potter, “the richest and meanest man in the county” in “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Having a good relationship with your banker is so important, I devoted an entire chapter to it in my book “How Not to Hire a Guy Like Me: Lessons Learned from CEOs’ Mistakes,” which covers the 10 C’s of bank relationships for CEOS.

Here are just a few tips on how to have a good relationship with your banker. (For more info, you can always buy my book!)

1. Always keep your banker informed

Communication is one of the 10 C’s I discuss in my book and is the key to having a good relationship with your banker. We’ve all gone through difficult situations where we didn’t want to share bad news with someone, preferring to stick our head in the sand or hope the problem goes away. But not telling your banker when your company is having problems paying a vendor, collecting receivables or going through a cash flow crunch is the exact wrong thing to do. In fact, if your banker finds out you have not been disclosing crucial financial information, it can be the quickest path to having your bank loan called or to losing your financing.

2. Have contingency plans

Bankers and other money people like stability. They want to know you have a plan in place in the event that one of the 3 D’s happens — death, disability or disappearance. Yeah, I’ve had a few CEOs vanish on me. You can add that to the list of behaviors that won’t endear you to a banker.

While acting as CEO at one company I hosted a cookout with the employees. You’d be surprised what you learn while chatting around the grill. One employee mentioned excess inventory purchasing. Turned out it was a case of multi-million dollar fraud. The previous CEO knew something was wrong but didn’t deal with it. I found the problem and had four executives arrested. The CEO? Gone with the wind.

Do you know what will happen to your business if any of the three D’s occurs? Make a plan and show it to your banker.

3. Demonstrate good character

Do what you say you will do. Make your payments when they are due. Keep your banker informed. If you have and demonstrate good character your banker is more inclined to work with you, rather than against you.

The money people want to trust you — indeed, they are placing a great deal of trust in you when they close on that loan to your company. Make them happy they extended that trust.

A banker can be a powerful ally for your business. One of the best things you can do for your business is to have a good working relationship with your banker.

Look for me November 10 at 4:30 at the Book Festival of the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta. I’ll be discussing my book,  “How Not to Hire a Guy Like Me: Lessons Learned from CEOs’ Mistakes.” The event is free and open to the public. Click here for more information. Hope to see you there!