Every business can benefit from having a select group of external colleagues who act as professional resources and allies. Aside from accountant, lawyer and investors, another resource that is just as important (but not always tapped) is the credit union professional. This relationship can be a critical long-term engagement for both parties–one that will hopefully last long after the first loan is paid off. By offering your services as a trusted financial adviser, not simply a lender, you’ll begin to build stronger, longer lasting relationships with your clients, the most important assets to any financial institution.
If you build a sense of familiarity with your clients, it will encourage them to think of you as a more general adviser and ask for relevant advice crafted to fit their specific business needs. Take the first step, and offer advice outside what’s expected. For example, you might offer advice regarding overall business strategy or cash flow forecasting.
As an experienced financial professional, you are a tremendous asset to your business clients. They have much to learn from your experience, knowledge and expertise. At the same time, the clients, like the customers of any business, are the lifeblood of the credit union. By offering your services as an adviser, not just a source of funding, clients are much more likely to stay with the credit union and continue to do business with you in the future.
The foundation of the relationship with your client is trust. If your client doesn’t feel comfortable being totally honest with you, this foundation becomes compromised. Actively ask them about the challenges their business faces. When things aren’t going well, it’s easy and instinctive for businesses to hide or downplay troubles. Let them know that you’re not here to judge, only help.
Find ways to keep in touch that aren›t necessarily business-related.
Every conversation doesn›t need to be about financial matters. Make it a habit to touch base with them on a quarterly or monthly basis even when there are no financial updates to report. Send a holiday card to the company in the winter season. While you shouldn’t feel compelled to be best friends with your clients, performing small and thoughtful actions outside of credit union-related transactions will show that you value them as professional colleague and client, not just as another number.