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Janice France-Pettit: Build a relationship with your banker

Union Bank of California

Posted: May 28, 2010 9:05 p.m.
Updated: May 29, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Do you really know your banker? Many people who are asked this question often respond by naming their bank, not their banker.

Having a personal relationship with your banker may have many benefits. For example, once your banker becomes familiar with you, he or she can notify you about new financial tools or provide you with valuable information about interest rates and loan options that may benefit you.

Your banker may also be able to develop personalized solutions to help you reach your financial goals. In addition, when you need financial assistance, your banker may serve as a trusted advocate.

Here are tips for getting to know your banker better:

* Do your research. Discuss with your banker his or her experience and professional background, and research the financial institution. Does your banker specialize in certain services? What is the bank's history? Does the company support small businesses and the community in general? What is the institution's lending track record?

Know whether your bank has the products/services and expertise required to service your specific personal and business needs. Also, discuss with other customers what services they utilize.

* Make time for face time. Despite the ease and convenience of telephone and online banking, face-to-face communication is still an important part of getting to know someone. Make sure to visit your banker in person and visit the branch regularly.

* Talk to your banker. Make sure your banker knows you and your financial goals. If your banker is aware of your plans, such as saving for college, preparing for retirement or starting a business, he or she can provide services and make suggestions tailored to meet your financial needs.

* Establish more than one bank contact. Develop relationships with more than one banker and make sure other bankers know about your personal and business strategies and goals.

If by chance your main contact is transferred or leaves the company, it will be easier to maintain your banking relationship.

* Stay connected. Get to know other clients, tellers and staff at your branch. Join local organizations and attend networking events. If your bank hosts a client appreciation day or open house, try to attend - it may provide an opportunity for you to meet other bank executives. Some banks sponsor financial workshops or seminars that may be beneficial networking opportunities.

Maintaining a strong relationship with your banker may help ensure that you are included on the guest list for such activities.

* Trust your banker. Trust is truly the key to building a solid relationship. If you trust your banker, you'll likely trust his or her suggestions. You should also be honest with your banker, alerting them about any concerns or issues you may have. If a financial problem arises, trust your banker to help offer solutions.

Having a strong relationship with your banker is central to building a solid team of professional resources to help you reach your financial and business goals. Set up a face-to-face meeting with your banker today.

The foregoing article is intended to provide general information about foreign-exchange strategies and is not considered financial or foreign-exchange advice from Union Bank. Please consult your financial or foreign-exchange adviser.

Janice France-Pettit is a senior vice president and regional manager for Union Bank, overseeing the Simi Valley, San Fernando Valley and Antelope Valley regions. Her column reflects her own opinion and not necessarily that of The Signal


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