Who is your banker?

Money Matters

By Sharon Martin, Old Point National Bank

In the ever-changing landscape of banking, many have lost sight of the value of having a dedicated banker. Consumer banking behavior is changing significantly due to major changes in technology, shifting demographics and emerging financial technology, or as it is referred to in the banking industry, FinTech competitors.

Digital banking can be done without time and geographic restrictions. Consumers all over the world access their accounts 24/7 and use apps such as Zelle or Venmo to send money to people. The convenience of these options is unparalleled. With this new technology comes more options, flexibility and availability — all equaling less personal interaction. So what happens when there is an emergency or life event impacting your finances? How do technological advances intertwine with the banking assistance you may need?

There could be several reasons why you may not have a banker:

  • You have a small business and haven’t had the need to use a banker. It’s quite possible you’re doing fine without one. However, as your business grows, your problems become more complex and decisions get bigger. If your banker knows you and your business, the conversation becomes easier and more productive when you need one.
  • It’s no secret that bankers often move from one bank to the next. In this scenario, you may have lost track of your “go-to” person.
  • Chances are at some point you’ve been affected by a bank merger or acquisition. Perhaps the effect was minimal but more than likely, it was more than that. You may have been a big fish in a little pond and overnight you became a small fish in a big pond.

Having a dedicated banker offers many benefits:

  • Your relationship can be beneficial in times when you need an exception to bank policy, such as waiving the requirement to place a hold on a large check you’d like to deposit into your account.
  • If you’re applying for a loan, your banker is your advocate in obtaining the loan approval.
  • Bankers typically have a lot of connections and can assist you in developing networks that could help grow your business.
  • If you’re a business owner, it’s important to keep close ties with your banker. In good times and in bad, your bank plays a key role in the health and growth of your company.
  • Being aware of your financial goals and objectives, your banker can be a great resource for you when financial needs arise. This is especially true if you are a busy professional or business owner.
  • Should an emergency arise, your banker will be there to assist. For example, I have clients (husband and wife) who were business owners. The husband ran the business operations while the wife managed the financial operations for their home and office. After the wife had two major strokes, her husband was crippled emotionally and financially. She was fighting for her life and he was devastated that he may lose her. At the same time, he had no idea where to begin in managing their finances. Based on our relationship, I was able to teach him how to use our online banking so he could continue paying bills, reconcile his accounts and transfer funds as needed.

If you don’t currently have a banker who knows you by name, understands your financial goals and objectives and could spring into action at a moment’s notice if needed, consider these ideas in finding the right person for you:

  • The personal relationship is very important. Make sure the banker is caring, genuine, trustworthy, knowledgeable and a good fit for you.
  • You should be able to contact your banker directly should a need arise.
  • Your banker should be proactive in managing your accounts and assisting you.
  • Your banker should listen to your needs and look for ways to add value and provide financial advice.
  • Your banker should be connected to the professional community and willing to connect you to others. If your banker is well respected, it can help win respect for you.

The financial institution you choose is important because at the end of the day, people bank with people!

Sharon Martin is vice president and private banker with Old Point National Bank. She can be reached at 757-325-6108 or by email at smartin@oldpoint.com.

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