The Bankers' Quiz Score
The answer to every question is yes.
To be your bank's best customer, you need to score 200 points or better on this quiz. Here's why:
1. Today, so much of banking is branch banking that you need to know where the decision making power is and where your banker fits into it.
2. When I say a small gift, I mean something like a book -- if you know he has a hobby, like boating, give him a book that relates to that. It lets him know that you think of him as a human being.
3. One of the first things two people do when they get to know each other is to look for some common ground. Knowing what school your banker went to will not only tell you something about him, it can often provide an opener like "We played you in football" or "My brother did his undergraduate work there."
4. Again, people tend to trust familiarity, so it helps if you know your banker's spouse's name, and ask after him or her once in a while.
5. It's the nature of the banking business that bankers tend to move up quickly in their jobs -- either changing banks or bouncing from one branch to another. If you know your banker's boss (and he knows you), then it's possible that when your banker moves, your account will be passed up to the boss rather than down to the new loan officer. And the higher the person you're dealing with, the better off you are.
6. Ninety percent of the time, your loan officer will make the decision on your loan, but he still has to get it approved by the loan committee. If you know who's on the committee (and, again, if they know you), then that will smooth the process, not to mention speed it up.
7. Again, familiarity and common ground are the keys to a good relationship. And the more you know about your banker, the easier it is to strengthen and develop those ties.
8. Whenever I mention that it's a good idea to give your banker a quick phone call on his birthday, people laugh and tell me that's just a little too corny. They laugh, that is, 364 days a year, but on their birthday they get a kick out of the fact that someone remembers. (Also, calling your banker on his birthday tells him that you have a good memory for dates and will remember the date your loan payments come due.)
9. A banker has an amazing change in attitude when he actually see a product being produced, sold, and shipped. (If you're in a service business, like real estate, more important than showing your banker your office is driving him or her past houses you've sold in the past, as well as houses you currently have listed.)
10. When I say you should take your banker out socially (for instance, for dinner), I mean socially. No business. And don't make the mistake of asking an especially touchy question after a pleasant meal. (Something like "My wife is a little worried about the fact that you want her signature on a loan, and she thinks it would be a good idea to discuss it with you while your wife is here" is a definite no no.) And let your banker do 90 percent of the talking. The more you let him talk about his interests, the better impression you'll make.