5 Questions to Ask When Choosing the Right Bank for Your Small Business
Regardless of what stage of growth your business is in, consider these factors when searching for the institution to meet your unique needs.
By Beth Braverman
Selecting the right bank for your company is one of the most important decisions you can make as a business owner when it comes to the success of your enterprise. Ideally, you’ll find a bank that acts as a partner, can help as you grow, support you in difficult times, and work with you to improve your business from the ground up.
Of course, finding that perfect partner is easier said than done. A bank that works just fine for your personal accounts may be sorely lacking when it comes to your business needs. You’ll need to do some legwork to find the best bank for your business. Start by answering these five essential questions:
What are your business's banking needs right now?
Beyond top-notch security and 24/7 visibility into your account, which all businesses need, businesses of different sizes and at different stages in their journey require different things from a bank. Startups, for example, may simply need business checking and savings accounts, while a larger business might also need assistance with payroll or cash management. It makes sense to evaluate a bank’s services with an eye toward what you might want in a year or two, even if you don’t require it now.
While nationwide banks offer convenience and a suite of impressive tools, a smaller, regional bank, like Central Bank, may offer a more personalized experience and the capability to provide tailored cash management strategies for your unique business. With the technology of enterprise banks — like their award-winning mobile banking app — and a focus on serving local entrepreneurs, Central Bank is the best of both worlds, offering support for early stage businesses with the tools to take your business to the next level when the time is right.
What might your business need from a bank in the future?
If you have growth aspirations, consider if the bank with which you’re working now has the capacity and products to help finance potential growth. If you expect to borrow money to cover things like equipment or real estate, look for a bank that, like Central Bank, has the ability to make loans catered to your business’s specific needs.
“Having the right financial partners is vitally important to the growth of your business,” says Tim T. Mercer, entrepreneur and author of Bootstrapped Millionaire: Defying the Odds of Business. “Capital is fuel for your business, and you can't grow if you don’t have the right fuel.”
Do you feel like the bank values your business?
As a business owner, you likely already know the importance of listening to your gut when making important decisions. One of the most important factors in choosing a bank is looking for one where you feel comfortable, and to which you feel connected.
For most small businesses, that means working with a regional or community bank, rather than a national bank, says LJ Suzuki, a fractional Chief Financial Officer and founder of CFOShare.
“Community banks tend to specialize in smaller and medium-size businesses, and they’ll focus on your relationship,” he says. “You’ll have a banker who knows you by name, who knows your business, who is interested in seeing you succeed, and who touches base with you on a regular basis.”
Central Bank, for example, is a 120-year-old family-owned community bank that’s invested heavily in both its community, and its banking capabilities. By leveraging award-winning technology and tools of the likes one would expect to find at a national bank, with the personal touch of a community bank, Central Bank offers solutions for businesses of all sizes. Finding a Goldilocks bank of this sort can give a business a leg up, whether just starting out, ramping up growth, or settling into maturity. It’s clear why Forbes ranked Central Bank the 4th Best Bank in America in 2021, making it the top bank in every market they serve.
How convenient is the bank for the way you do business?
If you’re the kind of person who likes to do business face-to-face, you may want to look for a bank that’s near your home, shop or office, making trips to the bank easier to fit into your life. Still, in today’s world, it’s also important to make sure your bank has up-to-date tech offerings that allow you to conduct much of your banking from your phone or computer, without having to set foot in the brick and mortar at all.
Are the fees and interest rates competitive?
Just as you shop around for the best price for office space or accounting services, you should make some price comparisons before choosing the best bank for your business. Carefully examine the fees for any products or services offered by the bank. Fees can vary significantly from bank to bank — and so can interest rates, so be sure to compare those as well if you’re planning to open a business savings or money market account. That said, paying a bit more in interest or fees can be worth it for products to fit your needs or access to funding when you need it.
Like every other decision you make as a business owner, selecting a bank will ultimately have an impact on your bottom line. While the choice you make now isn’t permanent (you can always switch banks down the road), making a careful decision in the early stages can ensure that you select the best bank for your business, both now—and in the future. To find out how an acclaimed institution like Central Bank can help you and your business grow, visit their small business analyzer tool to see what set of banking solutions are right for you.