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Small businesses : how to work with your bank

We are often asked this question :” Could you introduce us to a good bank ?” and seriously we answer: “There is no good or bad bank, only a good banker or a bad banker”. This is not completely wrong but not completely true either. The bank moulds staffs' personalities and their characters to deliver the highest impact of bank policy.

More seriously, choose a bank where people are able to understand you, that means if you don't speak fluent French ask for an English speaking member of staff if you have something important to ask. But it's not enough even if the man or woman you meet is likable, with a charming French accent, he may have no power to agree to giving credit. So you must know what you need : a branch near your work for depositing cash each day, or a technician you can contact by phone or mail for more detailed needs. You must know that each manager of each branch has what bankers call a delegation to grant loans or not. Try to ascertain what the decision power of your contact is.

When you have all the information compare the cost of the services and don't hesitate to make estimations on two or three hypothetical case scenarios to see what is the best offer.

When you wish to get a loan, don't delay in speaking with your bank. Ask what is needed to make a decision, along with the timescales to receive the cash. Better not to use the accomplished fact policy ; it would not be the best way to obtain a loan and it could possibly cause loos of trust in you. You should not go over drawn without previous authorisation. When you are clear as to what the bank wants, ask your accountant to prepare with you, a forecast. Remember that the figures the accountant draws up are your forecast and the banker only looks at the repaying of the loan.

When you are ready to aply for a loan, don't hesitate to go and see your bank with your account. You need not follow all the advice of the bank concerning the financial status of companies without first consulting your accountant, bankers are not at the same level on these topics. These decisions have important impact on fiscality, grants, relationships with partners, succession rules…

So ask for advice. Sure, time is money but speed is not to rush.