How to Select and Work with a Banker

Marshall Rathmell |

Knowing how to select and work with a banker to maximize your financial success is an important objective which we see people fail to achieve on a regular basis. To help people understand how to navigate this process, I asked a group of private bankers to share their thoughts about what people should know about banking.

In the first three parts of this four-part series, I am sharing the responses I feel will be of greatest benefit to most people. In Part 4, I offer my own comments on the bankers’ points and what anyone shopping for or using a banker should consider.


Question 1: Can you describe the kind of person who needs a personal banker?

“Everyone needs a personal banker. It doesn’t have to be a ‘private banker’ or a wealth manager. If you open an account inside a branch, you should know the person who opened the account and have a relationship. Don’t just be a number at an institution. Things happen and when it’s your turn, you need to have someone you can call who knows you.”
- Jeremy Tuggle, Bryant Bank

“Everyone. If you have financial aspirations, then you need a banker. As you get older, financial needs typically get more complex. Why wait?”
-Layne Held, ServisFirst

Question 2: What is the best advice you can give someone who is looking for a banking relationship?

“Look into a credit union. A lot of people think they don’t qualify to join, or that a credit union can offer all the same services as a bank. This could not be further from the truth. There are a lot of credit unions that offer the same, if not more, than most banks.”
-Alex Lawley, America’s First Federal Credit Union

“I believe the two most important aspects in a banking relationship are trust and competency. It is important that an individual develop a level of trust with their banking partner and also choose a partner who has a broad level of competency in many areas of the financial services industry so that they can be a valuable asset to the individual or business.”
-Josh Petty, BB&T

“Don’t look for a bank that is always the ‘low cost provider,’ rather, look for a banker who you actually like personally, and enjoy dealing with and being around. Also, look for a bank that is nimble and has the ability to make decisions quickly, along with a banker who not only strives to understand all of your objectives, but has the wherewithal to provide value and guidance outside of just buying and selling money with you. Forming a positive relationship on the front end, and allowing a little time to familiarize your business with the bank and vice versa, will give way to a very healthy and valuable professional relationship between you and your banker.”
-Patrick Thompson, National Bank of Commerce

Question 3: What makes one bank different from another?

“Most banks have very similar products and services. The biggest factor I believe differentiates various banks is their ability to make decisions at the local level, coupled with their ability to provide a wide spectrum of products and services. In an ever-changing regulatory environment, it is important a client understands the long-term position of their bank and how they intend to abide by federal regulations, which is very much dependent on the strength of their balance sheet and capital position.”
-Josh Petty, BB&T

“Service. We all sell the same stuff. Yes, you may able to find a different structure or lower rate at different places, but the end of the day, it comes down to service and the personal you’re your banker provides you.”
-Jeremy Tuggle, Bryant Bank

“Execution and delivery of the products and services. How quick, how reliable, and how consistent is your bank? When you are in a bind, are they able to give you feedback, whether good or bad, in a timely manner? We pride ourselves on speed of service. A quick ‘no’ is very important, though it’s not news we like delivering. In addition, we spend a great deal of time getting character references on those we are talking to; customers should feel free to do the same on their banker. See if others you know and respect do business with the banker you’re considering, and ask if they can speak first hand to their relationship. There is no better source of information than someone who has direct experience.”
-Layne Held, ServisFirst

“People and service. Most all of the banks and credit unions offer the same services, but the employees make the difference in how those services are delivered.”
-Alex Lawley, America’s First

“Many things, but to name a few: the bankers they hire, their internal processes, and the culture of the bank itself.

“A commercial banker should be someone who is enjoys building relationships and serving their customers in any way possible. That characteristic is critical in a commercial banker.

“A bank’s internal processes will affect the relationships they have with their customers. If a bank is very slow moving from a loan approval and decision making process, that should be a red flag to the business owner.

“Finally, if the culture of the bank does not cater to making sure their bankers have plenty of time to spend on nurturing the relationships with their customers, that should also be a red flag. If a business owner never sees their banker, or much less, doesn’t know them, that is not a healthy banking relationship for that business.”
-Patrick Thompson, National Bank of Commerce

Question 4: What questions should you ask to determine which bank/banker is right for you?
“Do you understand what I am trying to accomplish? Do you like my game plan? How could I improve it? Is there anything else I need to be doing?”
-Layne Held, ServisFirst


-Marshall Rathmell-