Does going inside your bank make you cringe? Do you have to steel yourself outside the doors and prepare to spend the next hour or more trying to get something done that seems so simple, yet generates a foot of paperwork and may not even happen at all?
I have to tell you, that’s how I’ve been feeling for some time now, and I (thought) I had a great relationship with my business bankers. But personnel come and go, through promotions, branch moves, and attrition. As the folks I’ve dealt with for several years moved on, all of a sudden I began hearing things like, “Oh you have an LLC, that’s not a real corporation,” “Why do you have two business checking accounts?” or “It’s against the law for an LLC to have a non-US owner.” Then there’s my favorite, “Series LLC? What is that? We don’t support those here.”
Then, last week, I had a breakthrough. I went into the corporate office of my bank.
I needed to get some fairly complex banking done, and didn’t want to bang my head against the wall anymore than I had to. I was introduced to John R., a corporate banker, and we got down to it. To make a long story short, I had to change signatories on about a dozen accounts, order some new bank cards, destroy some old ones, make some changes to various account owners, and try to get some questions answered about whether or not I could continue to refer my Series LLC clients to this bank to get their accounts opened.
What a joy! John R., got through all that paperwork in under an hour. Then we started talking sweep accounts, Series LLCs, and things got even better. He understood the value for businesses to have two checking accounts (one is your merchant account, the other is your operating account. By having two, you can sweep funds out of the merchant account regularly, and avoid cash-crunches caused by unexpected chargebacks). John wished that more of his clients understood why this was such an important, yet simple, administrative function.
Even better (for me), John also knew all about Series LLCs, and was already working with several Series LLC-owning clients. I repeated some of the refusals, reasoning and obstacles my clients had been encountering, and John was able to refute all of them. I walked out with a handful of business cards and a rolodex full of clients I wanted to refer.
But it got better. The next day John called and asked me if he could send referrals MY way, too. Seems he’s got all sorts of clients who don’t know how to get their paperwork filed, and he wants to make sure they’re properly protected. He knows that having filed Articles and a Tax ID number aren’t enough to give his clients legal protection, and he wants to help them as much as he can.
John also mentioned that he’d performed a review of all our business accounts and had come up with some changes he wanted to implement. By following through, we’d be able to save hundreds of dollars in service fees.
There’s a difference in banker terms between a personal banker and a business banker. A personal banker may deal with anyone from a teenager to a very high net-worth individual. But they’re always focused on looking at things from the personal side. A business banker, on the other hand, deals strictly with business owners. He or she is trained differently, and understands more of the key issues that business owners face – including in-depth training on business structures.
I would love to refer all of my clients to John R. In fact, for those who live in states where his bank has a branch, I will. It’s a big bank, so that’s a lot of states! If you’re not a client, that’s okay too. Drop me a line, to firstname.lastname@example.org, if you want a referral and I’ll be happy to send you on.
So … the lesson for me was clear. If your banker can’t answer your questions, or if you feel like you’ve gone as far as you can with the relationship, maybe it’s time to meet the business bankers at your bank corporate offices.