When was the last time you met with your banker? If it’s been a while, or you don’t have a banker, you may want to schedule a meeting soon. Cultivating a strong relationship with your bank can be a great asset to your business. Sooner or later, most owners will need to secure a line of credit, finance a piece of equipment, obtain the funds to purchase real estate or otherwise seek assistance from a bank. Therefore, it is essential that you establish a relationship with a banker who knows you, knows your business and understands your needs.
Even if you feel that you have a good relationship with your banker, you should arrange a meeting at least every year to provide an update on your business. If your banker consistently seems uninterested in meeting with you, it might be time to shop for a new bank. The goal is to have a working relationship already in place when you need the services that your banker offers.
Whether you are planning your annual meeting to update your banker or planning to request financing, there are three things that you should bring with you to ensure that the meeting goes smoothly and efficiently.
1. Bring your most recent income statement and balance sheet. These should accurately reflect your company’s financial condition for the last period. For example, if you are meeting with your banker in late October, your financial statements should cover the period ending September 30. If you are applying for financing, you should also bring your financial statements for the last two years or from the inception of your company if you have not been in business for at least two years.
2. Bring in a current cash flow statement. Cash flow is very important to bankers; it helps them determine whether you will have sufficient operating capital to meet your obligations. If you are planning to ask your banker to finance a purchase or loan you money, you should prepare a projected cash flow statement covering the next two years. Due to the complexity of projecting income and outgo for an extended period, you might want to engage the services of a chief financial officer to prepare these statements for you.
3. Bring evidence that you understand how to manage your business. A formal business plan can be helpful, but you might need to enlist the help of a chief financial officer to prepare this document. You can also prepare a list of all the decisions you have made during the last year that helped you control expenses as well as the steps you have taken to increase revenue. Attach a written statement of your business strategy to show that you have a clear picture of where you want your business to go and that you have a plan for achieving your goals.
By addressing these three items, your meeting will be much more productive and your banker will be in a better position to help you by having a clearer understanding of your business and your goals. While your banker may ask for additional information or for more detail, this will go a long way toward building that strong banking relationship every company needs.
If you would like some help preparing for your next banker meeting or assistance with other business matters, please contact me at (901) 277-6165 or complete the contact form.