Shahla Gholami, Senior Vice President, Commercial Banking Team Leader

It’s been said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.*” To help create your future, you need the right strategic partnerships in place. This includes a strong partnership and meaningful relationship with your banker.

While having access to various banking services, including depository accounts or lending, is important, having a relationship with your banking relationship manager could mean a lot more to you and your business than you may think.

There are six areas where having a solid partnership with your banker helps your business:

  1. Act as your business partner. Most commercial banks have dedicated relationship managers who work specifically with you. Banking services are evolving and improved upon regularly, making it difficult for you to stay up-to-date on what the latest services are for your business. An experienced relationship manager will get to know your business and recommend new products and services that would enhance your daily operations, while making necessary adjustments to meet your changing needs.
  2. Provide sound advice. Your relationship manager should be reviewing your financial statements periodically. This gives him or her the opportunity to notice positive and negative trends that your business is experiencing. This type of valuable information could potentially help avoid financial problems, or issues, with your lender that would result from missing your financial covenant requirements.
  3. Plan for future growth. It’s important to discuss your immediate and future business growth plans with your relationship manager. This will help you strategize and prepare to meet the bank’s requirements to provide you with the needed financing. You want to be in the right financial position when you need to buy your office building, equipment, or additional inventory.
  4. Make the right connections. Your relationship manager can be a valuable resource in referring you to the right advisor who can provide you the services you need, such as a CPA, attorney, bookkeeper, or additional business consultants.
  5. Provide you with market data and research information. Most lenders have various resources available to them that could be useful in providing additional insight into your new project. This could be real estate market information or business industry data.
  6. Provide value based on the overall relationship. At First Bank, we place great value on the relationship we have with our clients. Having a comprehensive and full relationship with your bank will allow your relationship manager more flexibility to request better pricing on services you use. Additionally, the longer you’ve been with your bank, and the more historical experience they have with your company and its real estate investment strategy and success, the easier it could be when it comes to financing your projects.

In my many years of banking experience, I’ve personally witnessed the importance of having a “full relationship” with your banking partner. For instance, we had a client who came to know First Bank through a referral from his real estate broker while looking for financing on a mixed-use commercial property in Santa Barbara. The client planned to lease out the first floor’s office space and live on the second-story penthouse. We were able to provide the commercial real estate financing needed to acquire this building in a short period of time, allowing our new client to move into the property quickly.

The relationship has grown to much more than a simple banking relationship. During the loan due diligence, we discovered this client traveled extensively and truly didn’t have sufficient time to manage his financial portfolio and other finances. Introductions were made to First Bank Wealth Management Group in which he chose as his financial management company as well as the trustee of his family trust. What’s more, we’ve made connections for this client with multiple external advisors who have made his life easier.

Such valued First Bank clients continue to seek our advice and recommendations, knowing we’re acting as holistic trusted advisors and long-term strategic partners. Rest assured, we’re always looking out for the best interest of every client.

*Abraham Lincoln@Inspiring Thinker

Shahla has over 28 years of banking experience, including 16 years at First Bank. She helps commercial real estate investors with their financing needs both on owner-user and investment properties, structuring loans and lines of credit between $2M and $20M. Shahla strives to develop meaningful, long-term relationships with her clients.