Wednesday, January 20, 2021Canada's Leading Online Business Magazine

A Frequently Answered Question

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Which Bank is Right for You?
By Mara Ashraf
 
In my 20-plus years in banking I have been asked and have answered my fair share of questions on a number of different topics. The question in the title of this article is a recurring one. For instance, the reader of this article may have contemplated this question from time to time. Similarly, the writer of this article has reflected upon the question, especially because the response is subjective and varies with the context within which the question maybe asked. Over the years, I have answered this particular question primarily in the realm of business banking needs.
 
This article will attempt to provide, as objectively as possible (which is a challenge given the subjective nature of the question), five answers to the question asked. Yes, not one answer, but five answers are presented. The five answers that are listed below are only a few of many possible answers, and have been used by myself in one way or another at some point.
 
The Simple Answer
 
As one may probably guess, the Simple Answer is, “Well, it depends on the circumstances,” or something to that effect. While this may be a simplistic answer, it is none-the-less a logical one. What is right for you depends on the situation at a particular moment. At the same time, I do admit that this answer can be referred to jokingly as the “wishy-washy” answer because it is indeed so vague. However, I prefer “simple” as it is a less pejorative adjective.
 
The Short Answer
 
The Short Answer is that the bank that is right for you is the one that can adapt to your needs as they evolve over time. Basically, the bank of your choice will grow with you. As your financial needs would change and develop, your bank’s financial services would adapt to match your changing needs. This succinct Short Answer favours a long-term approach to deciding which bank is right for you.
 
The Longer, but not necessarily a very long answer
 
The Longer Answer leaves aside brevity and builds on both of the preceding answers. As the name would imply, it adds more nuances in an effort to provide a more comprehensive answer without being excessively long. For example, in conjunction with the question of which bank is right for you, this Answer raises the notion of which banker is right for you because people make a difference in the experience you have with your bank of choice. The importance of the individual is added to the importance of the organization because the individuals operate within the framework of the organization. Since your contact with the bank would include people and technology, the bank that is right for you would provide the optimal mix of both. I ask myself whether that statement is sufficiently subjective or objective and continue with this Answer.
 
The banker you choose would ask you questions in order to understand your needs. Furthermore, the banker would explain what services are available and how those services can help your business now or later. With reference to commercial lending, the banker would also explain lending requirements and possible avenues to help you to achieve your financial goals. Because the banker and bank would have understood your needs and would have the ability to grow with you, they would proactively suggest ways to improve your operations. Does that sound like a bank that may be right for you? It certainly sounds good to me.
 
Moreover, the bank that is right for you would clarify roles and demonstrate its ability to accompany you in its role when and as your needs evolve. For example, the bank would adapt in its capacity as a bank to the stage your business would be in, whether it be for expansion or at maturity. What does that mean specifically? From a lending perspective it means that the lender (bank) has a different and complementary role to that of the investor (entrepreneur), and that a balance has to be struck between both for the sound functioning of the business. From a banking services standpoint it means that applicable cash management services would be discussed at the appropriate time.
If that were not enough, the Longer Answer also asks the question, “What type of interaction are you as the client looking for” and sub-questions such as: Are you just looking to execute a transaction or do you seek to build a long-term business relationship with the bank? Have you considered the benefits of building a long-term relationship with your bank? Do you wish to tap into a bank’s advisory services that may be useful in your daily operations or do you prefer to keep your interaction on a transactional level, etc.?
 
The Longer Answer addresses both form and content to help you to determine what bank is right for you. The type of relationship you want will impact the nature of the interaction between you as the client and the bank. Client service remains a key value in banking especially in this technological age that we live in.
 
In closing this Longer Answer, the bank that is right for you would also encourage you to become better informed on the subject of financial services. It is always a good idea to do some homework in the form of checking out information on the Internet with respect to the types of financial services available (for example, on the websites of banks as well as that of the Canadian Bankers’ Association) and to talk to your friends and business associates about what they like about their bank.
 
The Shorter Answer
 
The Shorter Answer summarizes the preceding and posits that the bank that is right for you is the one takes the time to understand what you need.
 
The Jovial Answer
 
Last, but not least, let us end this article with the Jovial Answer, and that is: why, where I work, of course.
 
Levity aside, I hope that the topic discussed herein holds some usefulness for the reader and helps you when you decide which bank is right for you. Also, as a parting note, while banking is serious stuff, it is an enjoyable endeavour as well – in this banker’s point of view in any event – and it is important to remember to have a pleasant experience as you work with your banker.  
 
Mara Ashraf is a professional businesswoman with more than 20 years experience in the financial services sector. She can be reached at ashrafm40@gmail.com.
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