Choosing the Right Banker: A CFO's Perspective
The CFO of Bravas, a smart home company, shares his experience in finding a long-term banking partnership that adds real value to his growing business.
The best bankers don’t just manage your finances—they bring expertise that adds real value to your business. That’s why choosing the right banker is one of the most important decisions a CFO can make. It’s also one that comes with a lot of considerations.
Doug Klein, CFO of Bravas, a leading national technology integrator into homes and offices, wanted a bank with strong technology experience and a banker whose values aligned with his own. His insights might help you pick the banker that’s right for your business.
Know What Your Company Needs
To choose the right banker, you have to know what your business needs to operate successfully. For example, when 15 companies merged to form Bravas, there was no existing infrastructure, no banking relationship and no centralized system to track business activity.
“Bravas had the elements of a startup, but also had developed many characteristics of a national brand and enjoyed longstanding business relationships,” Doug says. The need to maintain and serve existing clients meant that any banking solutions Bravas needed to implement were not allowed to disrupt existing operations.
To find a banker up for the challenge, Doug was specific in his RFP. He needed to have good visibility into cash flow, be able to project future growth and have a means to collate extensive financial data. “Instead of simply giving me what I wanted, the team at JPMorgan Chase came back with a custom proposal that was far better suited to our needs,” he says. For Bravas, the focus was to ask for what it needed, but be open to solutions it hadn’t considered. When potential bankers are simply delivering on an RFP, there is likely a better partner out there.
Look for a Strategic Partner
Because your business won’t look the same down the road as it does today, your banking partnership should be one that can grow with you—through mergers, market changes and shifts in strategy. Look beyond the cost of bank products and services to the qualities that will form the foundation of your partnership. “What matters most aren’t the things with dollar signs next to them, because cost is usually only a short-term value,” Doug says. “It’s the relationship.” Bravas believes you should work with someone you trust and respect, whose expertise you value and who can help you think in new ways.
For Kris Reeder, a banker at JPMorgan Chase, creating custom solutions is his favorite part of the job. “I love finding needs we can help solve, putting solutions in place and watching our clients grow over the long term,” Kris says. Pay attention to how a potential banker responds to your inquiry. Do they want to know more about your vision? Or are they more interested in selling products? If they’re attentive to your needs, it’s a good indicator they’ll be committed to your company for the long haul.
A good banking partner can be key to the success of your business. While it’s important to assess the capabilities of the institution behind the person you’ll be doing business with, the relationship you develop with your banker is the crucial aspect. Your banker should be someone who can meet your unique needs, come up with creative solutions and help you put changes in motion in a way that feels seamless.