Updated: Tue, 08/21/2012 - 16:13

Relationship banking's always in style at community banks

Photo Provided Pam Parker, The Coastal Bank
Photo Provided Pam Parker, The Coastal Bank
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The return of relationship banking has been making headlines in recent months, but at local community banks this timeless approach has never gone out of style. During the recent economic downturn, community banks maintained strong ties with business banking customers, supporting their clients through good times and bad times.

That’s because community bankers understand that relationships serve as the real foundation for financial success. After all, there’s more to banking than just dollars and cents. Relationship banking offers added value by making bankers part of a company’s trusted team of financial advisers, serving as an important spoke in the wheel of business success.

A contributor to Forbes Magazine recently wrote: “Relationship banking is back in vogue, and those bankers that understand how to provide the right mix of technology and hand-holding will find a fertile field of customers that are looking for the experience that serves them best.”

In fact, a new international banking study by BT and Avaya found that U.S. banking customers prefer localized, personal services to be at the center of their relationships with financial services institutions. The study reports that despite the growing use of online banking in recent years, two-thirds of American customers see their local banker as the most vital link with their bank.

These results indicate that banking customers want the same personalized service that local banks deliver, regardless of whether the transaction takes place in person, on the phone, over the Internet or on a mobile device.

Relationship banking focuses on serving the customer in a more holistic, coordinated manner, delivering superior service and multi-channel support.

However, as banking has become increasingly high-tech, there’s still a real need for face-to-face communication. Community bankers work closely with business owners to analyze previous successes and failures and develop a customized road map for future success.

Understanding financial statements, cash flow cycles and profit drivers is part of our job description and enables us to help business owners make smart decisions.

At its best, banking is a two-way street that’s a win-win for both parties. A successful banking relationship starts with understanding a customer’s business and goals, utilizing a collaborative, client-focused approach.

Community banks offer exceptional products, from cash management services to construction loans and from SBA financing to residential mortgages. But what really sets community banks apart is a commitment to first-class service and to helping local businesses succeed, which not only helps our clients but also supports the communities where we live and work.

The next time you hear about the return of relationship banking, remember that a commitment to relationships has always defined the heart and soul of community banking. Whether bankers build existing relationships or develop new relationships, that personal connection with customers is what makes community banks unique.

As the economy continues to improve, it’s more important than ever for financial institutions to be client-focused and to offer local expertise, innovative solutions and smart advice. Community bankers are truly invested in the success of business customers and have the knowledge, expertise and services to take clients to an even higher level of success in the future.

Pam Parker is senior vice president and commercial banking division manager at The Coastal Bank. She can be reached at 912-644-1653 or pparker@thecoastalbank.com.

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