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The Foundation of Banking: Lasting Relationships

In the dynamic world of banking, where trends shift and economies fluctuate, one constant remains: relationships matter.

A 2023 study by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) found that community banks approved 49% of small business loan applications compared to 26% for national banks.  Some larger banks may pivot their lending focus based on national or global trends. They may move in and out of commercial sectors based solely on what is happening on the coasts. They may even stop lending to an entire industry. But, what makes sense in California or New York often does not make sense in St. Louis.

As a business owner and leader, it is in your best interest to evaluate your banking relationship regularly to ensure that it remains mutually beneficial. Here are some factors to consider.

Has the bank demonstrated continuity through all economic cycles?

It’s easy for a bank to be there for you in good times, but what about in difficult times? Banks that have knee-jerk reactions to trends often cycle through their relationship managers at a higher rate, leaving you, the client, scrambling.

You need a bank and a lender who have proven stability over the long term. Tenure builds trust. Midwest BankCentre has been serving the St. Louis community for 118 years.  Our experienced team has provided consistent support through all economic cycles.

To what extent does the bank know the region?

A deep understanding of the local market is critical in a banking partner. It not only helps you make smart decisions; it opens doors, as community banks leverage their many local connections. These can turn into beneficial business partnerships, as bank clients do business with one another.

Local community banks have their finger firmly on the pulse of St. Louis’ economy and are committed to its advancement. Midwest BankCentre is a trusted advisor to nearly 10,000 local business owners. Like you, we are a part of the St. Louis community. We understand the intricacies of the local economy and are dedicated to fostering its growth and resilience.

Do you have a banking partner that understands and prioritizes your business?

Choose a banker that not only understands your needs but is also invested in your long-term success. Do you have a direct line to your banker? Do they answer when you call, or get back to you quickly?  A 2023 J.D. Power US Commercial Banking Satisfaction study found that satisfaction with “relationship manager accessibility” and “relationship manager understanding of business needs” were two of the strongest drivers of overall satisfaction.

Fundamental to our Bank’s approach is having dedicated relationship managers on each account. They are more than bankers; they are your partners. They know your business cycle. They can help you decide whether or not you should take on a project. And they can help you decide quickly, as our clients have their relationship managers’ cell phone numbers. They immerse themselves in your business needs and goals to provide you with strategic advice and tailored financial solutions.

Looking ahead at the coming year, a persistently tight labor market, geo-political risk, and a divisive election season continue to cast doubt on the direction of the economy. While we hope for the best, we prepare for a broad range of outcomes so we can consistently deliver for our clients, no matter the environment.

Where you bank matters.


Originally published in the St. Louis Business Journals Ask The Expert Column on 3/1/2024 by Danny Pogue, President – Commercial, Retail & Small Business Banking.