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When Picking a Banking Partner, Pull in the Team

Date: Sep 16, 2015 @ 07:00 AM
Filed Under: Banking
Related: Capital One

When it comes to a banking partner, businesses should not expect one individual to represent an entire bank. Rather, they should engage with an entire team because a true banking partnership includes a variety of experts, working together to bring specialized services to the client.

Even today, the prevailing philosophy at some banks is that one commercial banker should meet all the needs of a client. This generalist approach was long thought to be the most efficient; and in a world where trust is a critical part of the relationship, many banks assumed that customers would not want to establish and develop multiple relationships. However, when it comes to specialized services — especially equipment financing — a generalist may not have sufficient experience and knowledge to offer, explain, and recommend a full suite of products to his or her clients.

As the leader of the Equipment Finance business at Capital One, I’m fortunate to work at an enterprise that supports and encourages our team to directly interact with clients. Over the past few years, we have made a concerted effort to grow our specialty finance business and support our relationship managers by bringing in industry experts with a deep understanding of particular markets and solutions. Our leaders understand that we’re not competing with our own commercial lenders, but rather supporting them in their overall mission to act as a trusted, strategic partner.

Getting To Know Each Other

On the surface, a lender’s job is to provide financing for essential equipment for businesses. However, we also want to offer customers financing solutions that will best fit their size, growth, financial profile and other factors. Bringing in that extra, specialized knowledge of the client and their industry gives the team an edge in understanding how to structure unique financing solutions that support long-term growth.

By learning about needs specific to their industry, we get to know our clients -- and by introducing them to the myriad products and services available to them -- the client gets to know us.

Mutual Interest

Like any good partnership, a bank’s first interest should be the success of their client. That’s not just a slogan, it’s a practical fact: when a partner’s business fails, we fail.

Consequently, lenders should have a vested and mutual interest in helping clients get their equipment by offering the best financing option available. Clients need to know their equipment financing options are being explained and executed by experienced specialists in the field, and not just someone looking to simply close a transaction. It’s important to us that they stay on track.

In this hyper-competitive environment, our in-depth understanding and specialization, help us establish credible underwriting standards. We are in it for the long haul, side-by-side with customers.

Interact (Not Just Transact)

In fact, a partnership is a fluid relationship, an ongoing series of interactions and evolutions. We bring that belief to startups and massive, nationwide corporations alike, as well as businesses in between.

The needs of a startup are vastly different from an established corporation. So to truly address the needs of a client, a bank’s relationship with its clients must rise above the transactional level, and become interactive.  Small businesses often have a limited understanding of the complexities of equipment financing, and the paperwork that comes with it. As a team, a good banking partner will consult and guide those clients through the products and the processes. Larger businesses may be more familiar with the solutions and the workflow, but have more complex needs. It is the lender’s job to recognize where they are, and adjust our service to meet their evolving needs. That is our mandate as experts in equipment financing.

Picking a Partner

Banking relationships should not be taken lightly. Whether a new business is establishing its first one, or an existing business has had one for years, many people find it intimidating to choose a bank, or to switch to a new one. For equipment financing in particular, it is worth the time and consideration to choose the right bank. So how can a borrower tell if a bank will make a good equipment financing partner? Here are the hallmarks of a true partner:

Direct interaction: A commercial lender should be eager to make introductions and set up meetings so the client can work directly with the equipment financing team. If the borrower isn't working directly with that group, he or she won’t be seeing the full picture.

No pressure: Any bank wants to have as much business exclusively to themselves as they can. But an exclusive relationship may not be best for a company. Any bank pressuring a borrower to sever the borrower's existing financial relationships likely doesn’t have its long-term interest at heart. I encourage businesses to do a single transaction with us so they can get a feel for what we have to offer, and see how easy we are to work with. If we do our job right, the deal will succeed, and so will the business, and they’ll want to work with us again.

Enterprise-Level Support: Lastly, the borrower should look beyond the equipment financing team. How much support does equipment financing get from the executive level? The support and service a business gets from the equipment financing team will be commensurate with the support it’s getting from the bank’s top leadership.

Finding the right banking partner can be a challenge for borrowers, but when it comes down to it, the benefits of finding the perfect financial team for any business is well worth the effort.

Dan McKew
Senior Vice President & Business Manager | Capital One Equipment Finance
Dan McKew, Senior Vice President, Capital One Commercial & Specialty Finance, is the Business Manager for Capital One Equipment Finance. In this role he is responsible for directing a team that invests in equipment finance transactions with qualified borrowers nationwide.
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