Recently I had to phone the pension providers of the company where my late mother used to work, in order to sort out an aspect of her estate.
There was no human at the end of the line – their phone system was fully automated. It was so frustrating.
The really silly thing? The mechanical voice on the other end of the line couldn’t even pronounce the company name properly. Can you imagine!
When you’re under pressure, you don’t want to speak to a machine. You want to deal with a human being who can actually help you.
Invariably, I find that my clients feel the same when they phone their bank – often with an urgent request or need for their business. Yet all too often they spend hours navigating the automated answer system, only to get through to a call centre.
This can be worse than frustrating. If they have noticed a suspected fraud, need to change who can access their accounts or require answers quickly, it can actually cost them money.
That’s why, when you’re picking a bank for your business, one of my key criteria is an account manager who you can deal with personally.
In my last couple of emails, I’ve explained why it’s a mistake to stick with the bank you’re with simply out of inertia.
If anything goes wrong with your bank or with your own company finances, your choice of bank will make a huge difference. Most business owners should be a lot more thoughtful about this, because the right bank can smooth your financial management – particularly in difficult times.
But how do you choose which bank to use?
This is something we help many of our clients with.
As I said, you need a personal relationship with a manager who you can reach out to when necessary.
Criteria #2: You need to ensure that the online systems the bank uses are robust, sensible and deliver for you.
As banking becomes less personal, you and your team are more likely to interact with the bank online. But banks are investing in these platforms at different rates, and what they offer in terms of secure transactions, ease of use and advanced features differs greatly.
Most importantly, you need an online platform that enables your team to have a proper division of responsibilities. The worst systems are entirely controlled by one person, such as your bookkeeper. The lack of oversight is a recipe for errors and in the worst cases, fraud.
Best practice is for one person to set up your transactions and another person to approve them – and your online system must allow for this, for your own safety.
Finally – Criteria #3 – your bank account should be cost-effective.
Look at the financial side: What fees will you pay? What interest rates are offered on your deposits? It’s easy to think that “all banks are the same” on these counts, but it’s simply not true. Some banks will be much healthier for your bottom line than others.
So how does your bank score on these counts?
If the answer is “not very well,” it’s time for a rethink. This is not a trivial matter – it could be critical to your finances at some point down the line.
This is the kind of issue we help you deal with when you work with us…
…Finding the right bank (or rather banks, because as I explained in my email a couple of weeks ago, we recommend that you have two business accounts for security)…
…Developing the right relationships within the bank…
…Dealing with the bank on your behalf…
It’s all part of our hands-on approach, where we work with you every single day to actively manage your finances and make you more profitable and help your business grow faster.
Then email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01279 647 447 to arrange a no-obligation chat about your financial management needs, and how we can help.